Farm sheds and shelters are often thought of as the simplest of constructions. Built for hardwearing tools, machinery and equipment, many assume that the minimum level of protection is more than enough.

Sometimes that assumption is correct. Other times, however, it isn’t.

The best farm sheds and shelters provide high-end protection to the assets they cover; not just from sun and rain, but from wind, humidity and condensation too. They are built for purpose, allowing a farmer to store all their assets, and work comfortably and efficiently in the space. Finally, they are high quality, built to last in even the most trying conditions, protecting valuable assets all the while.

With 100 years of experience building custom shelters for Kiwi conditions, at SmartShelters we have the knowledge and expertise to design and construct a farm shed or shelter that works for you, and does so in the long term. So here we’ll take a closer look at the considerations you should make when choosing or designing the ideal farm shed.

Common types of design

There are two ways to think of farm shed design; in terms of either materials or blueprint. Let’s first take a look at the common construction materials.


Traditionally farm sheds have been built from stone, and the fact that many remain standing in New Zealand over a century after they were first built is a testament to the material’s longevity. There are reasons why stone is all but obsolete however: it’s an expensive material that is inefficient to build with, which puts a low limit on shed size.


Steel-framed, corrugated iron constructions are now the most popular type of farm shed in New Zealand. Compared to stone these constructions are quick and cost-effective, although they won’t last anywhere near as long, and are vulnerable to severe weather, particularly high winds and intense hail.


At SmartShelters we offer the latest in farm shed material technology: fabric shelters. Compared to stone and even metal structures, fabric constructions are almost instant, and come at a fraction of the cost. You can also expect the shelter to last, particularly in extreme environments where tin sheds can struggle. This case study of a 14-year-old composting shelter is an example of fabric’s longevity.

Materials to one side, let’s take a look at the most common farm shed layouts.

  • Pole mount: A farm shed in its simplest form, these shelters feature a roof held up by posts or poles, minus the walls.
  • Open bay/side/front/gable: Providing your assets with added protection, open bay shelters feature walls on three sides, with the last side uncovered.
  • Fully enclosed: By adding a door to an open front farm shed you create a fully enclosed shelter.
  • Container mount: A fabric-only option, container mount shelters see shipping containers forming the side walls of the construction, with a fabric roof placed on top. The front and back of the shelter can either be left open or enclosed.

Benefits of each design

What are the pros and cons of each of these design options?

Pole mount

  • Pros: Cost effective, easy access, easy to clean.
  • Cons: Can’t be locked, minimal protection from the weather, can be vulnerable in extreme weather.

Open bay/side/front/gable

  • Pros: Easy access, still relatively cost-effective while providing added protection
  • Cons: Can’t be locked, moisture and dirt can get in.

Fully enclosed

  • Pros: Able to be locked, completely protects assets from weather, easier to keep clean.
  • Cons: The most expensive configuration, more time consuming to access.

Container mount

  • Pros: Extremely quick construction, cost-effective, spans of up to 50m, natural light and aeration.
  • Cons: Can rust if not maintained/repainted, containers take up space, so not suited to small yards.

Other design considerations

What else do you need to think about when selecting the very best farm shed design for your situation? Consider the following:

  • Be aware that open bay and to a lesser degree open front shelters will expose your tools, equipment and machinery to dew, frost, humidity and wind-borne debris, which can affect the longevity of these assets.
  • On the flipside, good light and aeration are important for livestock, while heavy-duty wire netting can add security without obstructing light or affecting ventilation.
  • Earth floors are satisfactory in some situations, but concrete offers a perfectly level surface and is able to be cleaned. This often makes it worth the investment, particularly if you are doing repair or maintenance work on expensive machinery.
  • If you choose an open bay shed be sure to point the open side away from the prevailing direction of the weather.
  • Ensure your shed design is capable of not only holding all of your assets up to the largest piece of machinery, but also grants you enough room to work around them, and even to hold your future machinery purchases.
  • Give yourself wriggle room in bay spacing, so you don’t need the accuracy of a heart surgeon to simply park your machinery.

Constructing a farm shed isn’t as simple as choosing a spot and erecting a structure on it. There are a surprising amount of considerations and decisions to make, each of which will affect the protection and usability offered by the structure.

With a team backed by 100 years of experience, and working with the finest materials available, at SmartShelters we can guide you through the design process and construct a modern farm shed purpose built for your needs.

Get in touch with our friendly team today to discuss a truly smart farm shelter solution.