Barn Conversions

1. What does a barn conversion involve?

The conversion of barns involves the conversion of old farming barns to commercial or residential use structures. Many older farm buildings are being converted for holiday use, partly due to modern farming practices making many of the older type buildings redundant.

2. What are the types of Barns are there?

Generally they are Timber Barns, Stone Barns and Brick Barns. Timber Barns can be seen in South and East While Stone Barns are common in the North and West. Brick barns can be found close to areas historically associated with large brickworks. Both brick and stone barns tend to feature just small openings while timber barns tend to offer a much more vast volume of space. Stone barns are the most expensive to convert, while brick are the cheapest.

3. Do I need permission to convert my barn?

Unlike building plots, you can't obtain Outline Planning Permission for a barn, as the planners will always closely scrutinize any plans for conversion before permission is granted. If you find a barn without planning permission that you wish to convert, you may have to first prove that there is no viable use for it, meaning you'll have to instruct a surveyor to carry out a business viability survey. If you can prove that a commercial conversion is not viable, you then need to organize a detailed structural survey.

4. What restrictions are there on barn conversions?

Below is a non-exhaustive list of typical restrictions placed on barn conversions.

  • New roof lights and dormer windows are not allowed. And you probably won't be allowed to turn tiles or add new tiles - second hand and original materials are generally preferred.
  • Gutters and downpipes should be discreet - councils may stipulate the use of traditional cast-iron versions.
  • Chimneys are usually not allowed - though slender metal flues may be acceptable.
  • In many cases councils will insist that traditional wain doors should be retained. Glazing may be allowed in the opening, though usually behind original doors - if they still exisit.
  • Adding new windows is often restricted - and new ones must be unobtrusive. Specific window types are often stipulated. You won't be allowed to add neat rows of windows - they don't want it looking like a house.
  • New openings in the original structure are usually unwelcome. Where they are allowed, they must be done in a traditional style and using materials in keeping with the rest of the building.
  • Any changes or repairs to the original timberwork should be done in the style of the original building and using conservation-level materials.
  • Stone cleaning is usually not acceptable.
  • Ventilation openings, owl holes and dovecotes should be retained.
  • As much of the full-height internal space as possible should be retained and internal framing and timbers should remain exposed.
  • The setting is important - manicured lawns and other suburban features will be frowned upon - some like the grass to run up to the door openings.
  • Service boxes, satellite dishes and TV aerials are a no-no.