Author: Zoopla.co.uk property news author Frances MacDonald writes about taking the plunge and converting an old building into a home – but she also warns about planning restrictions and financial snares that can crop up along the way.
Some of the most beautiful and glamorous homes are those that have been converted from older buildings. Barn conversions have a popular appeal because they combine the shells of beautiful old buildings with ample interior space, and are often surrounded by green, countryside settings. Here are some key points to take into account if you’re thinking of converting a barn into a home:
Layout – If you are looking for something cosy with petite rooms, a barn conversion is not for you. One of the advantages of having a barn is the sheer space it offers, which can convert well into open-plan living areas and rooms with high ceilings and large windows. It also offers plenty of room for furniture or shelving – perhaps even that oversized bookcase you’ve always wanted but couldn’t find room for!
Restrictions – Be aware of the restrictions imposed by the local authorities that could leave your dream living room or kitchen looking slightly disproportionate. Many planners will be reluctant to change the central area of the barn or the original roof as this would detract from the building’s character. This may mean that you have to dig down to ensure you have sufficient roof space for both first and second floors. Or you may have to place the bedrooms at either end of the living room area, which may not be appropriate if you are a family with young kids.
Financial and emotional cost – Converting a barn is no easy job and can become exceedingly painful if the building is listed and requires specific materials. Not only this but the cost of renovating such a large space can be extremely high, and if the need for new supporting beams and large structural changes are required, you could blow your budget out of the water. Making sure such a large space is well insulated is another potential pitfall as warming up the place in winter may not be cost efficient at all.
If you have decided you are up for a challenge but there are still some niggling worries, get in touch with people who have done conversions of this kind before. There are a variety of programmes available from Channel 4’s Grand Designs to Escape to the Country, which take you through other people’s conversions. They might just inspire you…