Features

Cover story: Alpine Buildings

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Bob Vernon’s Alpine Buildings structure in the Bombay Hills enjoys a commanding view, but this impressively sized eight-bay shed is well worth a look at in its own right, too

Combining farming and rural earthworks contracting, Bob Vernon has plenty on his plate. His primary focus is two separate beef farm blocks — 100 acres at Paparimu in the Hunua Ranges and a further 220 acres at Ramarama, which he calls home.

But with a need to establish a conveniently located base for the silt control and earthworks side of his operation, Bob looked towards the Bombay Hills.

“It’s a good spot. It’s close to the motorway and convenient for me because I do a lot of work around the Bombay area. I just wanted a base for my tractors and trucks and to store the hay I use for silt control.”

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The clearspan design allows ample storage space for bales and machinery

Bob first came across clearspan design and construction experts, Alpine Buildings’ site at New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays®.

“The first thing I noticed was the rafter design, which I liked,” he says. “I got talking to Alpine and I also realised quickly that I didn’t have to take something off the peg. They’d be able to work with me to build a shed that’d work for me and my budget, and I could control the design of it.”

Modular approach

The shed Bob came up with is split into two sections serving two purposes. The bulk of the building is open-sided, allowing him to store a mix of hay, agricultural machinery, and implements across six six-metre bays. He landed on the width of the bays after some careful cost analysis.

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A 2.5m overhang provides extra rain protection for bales and machinery

“I could have had wider bays — Alpine said we could push out to eight metres. So, I played around with the design and cost. We decided that six-metre bays with timber posts was the most cost-effective way to go.”

At the northern end of the building is a closed-in two-bay workshop featuring two 4.5-metre-high roller doors. Bob’s mate, Hayden Grant from Empire Electrical Services, currently leases the space for a combination of company equipment and as a secure lock-up for a few boys’ toys.

Alpine Building’s signature clearspan gable design maximises available floor space, allowing for a large degree of layout flexibility.

“Originally the design had two two-bay lockups, one at each end,” explains Bob. “I decided to delete one and go with the open-sided bays instead. Changing the plan was never an issue for the Alpine guys though; they were really good to work with like that.”

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The Alpine Birdproof System stops birds from roosting in the roof area

A concrete floor in the open-sided section of the building isn’t something Bob needs right now — “I need roof space overhead more than I need concrete on the ground,” he says — but because the pour wouldn’t be structural, it can be added later, if need be, without much fuss.

Above, beyond, and done

Bob says that Alpine Buildings pulled out all the stops when it came to getting the shed finished. They worked to his deadline, not the other way around.

“I initially talked to Alpine and got the ball rolling in November, with the idea that it’d be all up and ready by May. Then we had a bit of a delay while Council dragged their feet on a couple of aspects. But once everything was signed off, Alpine leapt into action. They moved heaven and earth to make that original deadline.”

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The 20m span means large farm machinery and trucks can be comfortably stored

The shed took a month to build in the end, and Bob says, between Alpine Buildings’ impressive dispatch and component delivery systems and the skills of Travis Conway from Hamilton-based TC Shed Builders Ltd, the construction process was absolutely first-class. “Everything has a process, and everything is where you expect it to be,” he says.

“I guess you have two teams who have done this multiple times before, so they know what they’re doing.”
Right from the beginning of the build, it was clear that the kitset shed was efficiently packaged, well-designed, and logical to construct.

“Two b-trains brought everything onsite — the iron, the posts, downpipes, the lot. We had Travis recommended to us by Alpine, as he’s done a few of their sheds before. That was good to have on tap, too: they know the builders around the country who they trust to do a good job, so that took the guesswork out of it for me.”

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Bolted connections make Alpine sheds very fast to install

Quality on show

Alpine utilises both strong materials and sound methods of construction when designing their buildings. As with all Alpine Buildings’ accurately engineered buildings, Bob’s shed displays a uniformity of design and structural solidity evident at even a quick glance.

Look closer though and you’ll see posts and portals that interlock together to create a solid structure. In the covered-in section of the structure, plenty of bracing is evident along the walls, while above, the rafters are constructed from hot-dip galvanised steel for maximum longevity.

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Two lock-up bays and six open bays

Here a comprehensive molten zinc coating gives much better overall coverage inside and out, resulting in
a coating that is 2.5 times thicker than cold-formed steel.

Overhead in the open bays, Alpine Buildings’ signature Zero-Bird-Perch rafter design — which eliminates nooks where birds might nest, thanks to a special ‘slot and bolt’ design — is another key ingredient in ensuring Bob’s equipment remain as pristine as possible.

Finishing touches

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Bob Vernon’s 20m x 48m long Alpine shed

The final finishing touches to complete on the shed are the installation of stormwater drainage and freshwater tanks for cleaning machinery. A generator purring away in the background reveals the shed isn’t wired up for power yet either, but Bob’s not too concerned about that right now.

“To be honest, the shed is so light during the daytime that we’re not missing having lights. We’ll get them up and running eventually, of course, but we’d rather get the groundwork sorted first.

We have the genie there, but that’s mainly to power the roller doors.”

Sitting proudly on a hillside above the busy (and rapidly growing) Bombay service centre at the very southern edge of Greater Auckland, the shed certainly stands out.

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6m bays provide excellent access into the shed

“I’ve already had a couple of enquiries about it from people. They’ve come in for a look and to ask me what I think. Obviously, I give them plenty of good stuff to go away and have a think about,” Bob says.

With its commanding view of the busy roads below, Bob should probably be expecting plenty more visitors coming through the gate, enquiring about his Alpine Buildings shed in the months and years ahead.

Images by Michael Rensen

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