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Spectacular location brings its challenges

Spectacular location brings its challenges

Working under extreme weather conditions 1280 metres above sea level in the Tararua Ranges, Manawatu’s R & R McIntyre Contracting Ltd is plying its proven expertise building the 32-bunk Powell Hutt visitor accommodation for the Department of Conservation.

High winds, torrential rain and sub-zero temperatures presented challenging working conditions not just for men on the ground but also the helicopters flying materials and equipment in and out of the site.

Tony McIntyre, managing director of R & R McIntyre Contracting says the use of helicopters has been a major part of the project, flying 200 loads in and out to date.

“The helicopters struggle with the exposure of the site and the unstable air currents that we have here all the time. “The site is very exposed at the end of a ridge and top of a valley so you get all the different air currents.”

the project through competitive tender, the scope of works included the demolition and removal of an existing accommodation hut, site excavation, building retaining walls supporting the new development and the turnkey construction of the new building.

Prefabrication of much of the building’s structure with external cladding commenced in December last year in R & R McIntyre Contracting’s Kimbolton yard.

Demolition of the existing building commenced mid-January 2018 after which a 1.7 tonne digger was helicoptered in, excavating 60 cubic metres of material before 122 holes were drilled for the retaining walls and foundations.

“Weather conditions have been the biggest challenge for us,” explains Tony. “That was the purpose of prefabricating the structure as much as we could. When we got here we stood the whole building up in a day. It took three days to get the roof on. So it’s minimizing that on-site exposure to get it weather tight.”

Exposed on the end of a spur and sitting on the edge of a tussock line, the hut has been designed for a 250kph wind load—at 78 metres per second—an indication of how windy the area gets.

Covering a floor area of 144sqm, the building is comprised of three independent bunk rooms, a warden’s quarters, a large kitchen/dining facility with wood burner, internal lobby with steel grated floor for visitors to remove wet gear, and a porch with wood and coal boxes. A 100sqm deck is cantilevered over the forest below providing views over the Waiararapa.

“The views are just magic. On a beautiful bluesky day you can see through to the north and south as far as the eye can see over the Wairarapa right out to the coast.”

Closed in and weather tight, the exterior cladding and windows are being installed, with internal linings set to commence.

Operating for over 40 years, R & R McIntyre Contracting was founded by Tony’s parents Roger and Ruth and remains a family business. “We’ve done a lot of backcountry construction work in the past,” says Tony.

“We’ve worked in Kapiti Island, Ruahine Ranges, Manawatu Gorge, and right up the east coast. We’ve done a lot of pre-fabricated work and understand how critical it is to minimize site-time because productivity in these environments drops right off.”

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