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Barn Conversions

We are specialists in barn conversions and can work through the design, planning and construction phases of your barn. The area we cover includes Kent, East Sussex and the eastern part of Surrey.

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What is so good about living in a barn?
Whether a Class Q conversion or a traditional threshing barn, barn living offers unique interest.

What are the advantages of a traditional barn conversion home?

Kent, Sussex & Surrey contain some of the most beautiful timber-framed agricultural structures in all of England. The most common barn type is the threshing barn which is a large, almost two storey structure often timber frame and weatherboarded on a brick or stone plinth. The roofs in the Weald and downland are often tiled, slated and occasionally thatched.

Converting a traditional barn makes a great home and the success in the design process is innovative use of the existing space, large glazing areas in the central midstrey threshing bay and double-height spaces which are well proportioned. Good design and a build from our specialist understanding will create a unique home.

What are the advantages of a modern 'Atcost' type concrete portal or steel framed barn?

Modern portal frame structures usually have large spans are typically used for housing livestock or farm machinery. Turning these structures into homes requires expertise and imagination.

As with the traditional barn conversions of the 60s, 70s and 80s the design and build methods are still in their infancy, so not everyone gets them right. Working with Vernacular Homes we are able to create a space which looks and feels right.

What are our best tips for a successful barn conversion?
Having worked on so many different agricultural buildings over the years, we have a good working knowledge of what makes a good barn conversion.

How would we design a barn conversion?

Space, light and interest are the key governing principles.

Space

Firstly, the barn has to work for how our clients live. What rooms are needed? How big should they be?

Secondly those spaces need to be positioned to make the best use of light, views, access to driveways, garden areas etc..

Light

Most barns don't follow the conventional pattern of house design - which is one reason why we like them so much!

Existing openings and windows are often in the wrong place for conventional layouts. Where new windows can be added, care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t end up looking like a pretend house, as that’s rarely a good look!

Working with the existing layout, effective sharing of light from big openings can create a lot of useful space. With modern barns it is important to not have too deep a plan otherwise it will be like living in a DIY store and there will be significant need for artificial lighting in the daytime. There are a number of ways of overcoming this issue.

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Interest

Barns often have a wealth of features reflecting their previous life. There may be opportunity to highlight a particular aspect of the barn's history or structure. Most barns are by definition in countryside location with views across farmland.

What are the things to look out for during the build phase of a barn conversion?

Converting a barn requires a methodical approach, and most importantly, experience. Structurally, approaches will need to be tailored to each individual barn, whether it is a historic timber framed or masonry building or a modern steel or concrete portal framed building.

Most barns were not built to modern building control requirements, so an understanding of working with historic structures is vital. Ventilation, insulation and structural aspects will all require careful thought and workmanship to ensure the barn functions well as a house.

How would we get planning approval for a barn conversion?

Planning approval is the first step to converting a barn. A carefully put together planning application will be required (unless the specific circumstances mean that a Class Q prior approval is an alternative route).

The planning application will require details of the location, site, existing building, proposed scheme, details of the repairs and structural works necessary to convert it and protected species reports.

Having converted and gained permission for a large number of barn conversions means you can be confident we will guide the process in the right direction.

Is it possible to join a barn to a house?

In many cases, barns are located near to houses, particularly historic farmhouses. It may be desireable to have some additional accommodation for the house rather than a separate dwelling, and if so linking the two existing buildings may be desireable.

Often ancillary accommodation can provided within an outbuilding, barn or oast with the appropriate consents. Creating a link between the two buildings may be possible if they are in close proximity. In particularly sensitive locations, we have gained consent for frameless glass links between historic buildings.

Traditional or Contemporary
Class Q has opened up a whole new style of living, but the appeal of the traditional agricultural barn conversion remains.

What is a Class Q prior approval barn conversion?

Class Q was introduced as part of the General Permitted Development Order in 2013 allowing barns in agricultural use to be converted to residential use within certain specific criteria.

This may be a useful way of obtaining consent for modern concrete or steel portal framed barns of the Atcost variety as well as historic timber framed, brick or stone barns. Many barns do not actually meet the criteria for Class Q but opportunities to convert may still be available.

How do I convert a barn?

Once planning consent or Class Q prior approval has been obtained either through our design process or has previously been granted, Vernacular Homes has developed effective and efficient established methods of converting various types of barns.

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