Ashleigh Clarke Architects

Things to know about Barn Conversions


Posted: September, 2020

Author: AC Architects

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What is a Barn Conversion?

A barn conversion is a development and subsequent conversion of a farm building into a habitable building for commercial or residential use. With beautiful high ceilings, rustic interior and generous proportions, a barn conversion is very desirable and popular. The combination of ultra-modern interiors and traditional exteriors provide a wonderful feeling of comfort and history. A barn conversion comes with many key features, most are located in beautiful rural locations with stunning views to look out on. Many people like to live in open spaces, and a barn conversion is very open plan living, providing lots of natural light and stunning high ceilings, The interior inside a barn conversion is simply stunning, with exposed beams, double height rooms and vaulted ceilings what is there not to love? Many modern barn conversions come with modern finishes, such as underfloor heating, mezzanine floors and large areas of glazing.

Before considering a barn conversion you will need to do some homework first. Firstly you will need to check when the property was converted as this could have a big impact on the future energy efficiency rating of the building, and your heating bills. It is also important to check out any covenants, such as rights of access across your land, which neighbouring farmers may retain for their farm vehicles and future parking.

Will I need to apply for planning permission for a Barn Conversion?

In the year 2014, permitted development rights were then extended to allow agricultural buildings (e.g) barns to then be converted into homes this being (Class Q). Before the rights came into place, you were able to apply for full planning permission. However now, this concession in planning policy should never be made a certainty for every single barn conversion. When looking into planning permission there will be a number of certain rules, regulations and restrictions you will have to face. There is likely to be a possibility that permitted development rights won’t apply to your project at all unfortunately. So take sometime to do your research first before applying.

Class Q permitted development allows you to convert both old and new barns without having to request for full planning permission, however this is as long as the building was in agricultural use on or before 20th March 2013. If you are buying an unconverted barn with planning permission, check whether the building is listed or not. Having to use specific materials during the conversion may add extra, unbudgeted costs, which can turn a conversion into a more costly outlay than first thought.

Many people will be wondering if you can extend a barn conversion, In many cases, it is doubtful that major changes to a barn would be suitable to local planners. However, smaller subordinate additions such as a lean-to may be acceptable.

How much roughly would a barn conversion cost?

This would depend on so many factors, it is hard to put a ballpark cost to this question. However, many barn conversions can be more expensive than a new build per square metre, so it would be expected to be towards the cost of £2500 per square metre. When you come to thinking about carefully retaining and upgrading the existing structure and also the fabric of the building, that is when it can become a costly exercise, but when you take a look at the character and history it preserves it can be absolutely priceless.

How do I get Building Regulations Approval for a Barn Conversion?

There are three main routes to obtaining building regulations approval for your barn conversion:

  1. A “building notice” is where you or your builder would give notice to the council that work is about to commence. This process would make things much quicker! However there is more of a risk that you may be asked to make changes to your design as you go along. Also, there might be less scope for you appealing for the decisions they make. This route is common when it comes to small extensions, but for a barn conversion I would recommend you take a look and consider the following other approaches below.
  2. A “full plans” this application to your local council means that you will submit your plans and details before work will commence. This information is often in much more detail than a set of planning drawings. Once this is then submitted, the overall decision can take up to about a minimum of five weeks. Then once work starts on site, regular inspections will then be made,
  3. Using an “approved inspector” is a private individual or a organisation who is employed by yourself to help ensure your project meets with the building regulations. The inspector will check and inspect the work instead of your local council. Using an approved inspector it can be invaluable, particularly if you are looking into a “one of a kind” design or a push on the boundaries in relation to the “approved documents”. Your approved inspector will be by your side to make sure all your proposals ultimately comply with the building regulations.

Finding an Architect with Barn Conversion Experience

As you have probably guessed now, barn conversion is not the easiest and cheapest way to build your dream home. The most important decision you will make as a client is looking into hiring the correct architect with a barn conversion experience. Your architect will help to navigate the planning process, keep your costly budgets under control and help design a home that you will want to spend the rest of your life in.

Author: AC Architects

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