Barn A was a large steel framed barn, likely built in the 1960s. Although it had some minor ongoing use to house cattle, it was largely redundant.
The existing floor area was 370m2, so adding first-floor space would have created a huge home. It was decided to convert this barn into two semi-detached dwellings; one with three bedrooms – Ash Tree Barn, and one with four – Lime Tree Barn; both with generous sized rooms.
Having been impressed with our design and building work on three previous conversions (The Potting Sheds, The Tractor Shed and Home Farm), Vernacular Homes was instructed to carry out the design and local authority-required planning to convert Barn A, along with another barn on the same site (Barn B) into dwellings.
Initially we proceeded down the Class Q application route. Class Q falls under the General Permitted Development Order which allows barns and agricultural buildings to be converted to residential use within certain criteria. However, during this process, the entire estate was given conservation area status which meant that a Class Q application was no longer acceptable.
Consequently, the application was withdrawn and a detailed planning application was submitted in its place. Although this led to a delay of about 12 weeks, both Barn A and the brick and timber framed barn nearby received planning consent.
The brief from our client developed into providing a pair of quality semi-detached homes of mid-range quality with good sized reception rooms. As the intention was to rent both properties, keeping costs within the expected parameters was important.
Demolitions were followed by the groundworks. It was good to find the expected sand and sandstone when excavating for the foundations, but not so good finding a natural spring – which filled any and all of the foundations that we dug with pure spring water! This meant that dug foundations had to be concreted the same day in order to avoid the foundation trenches collapsing and added about three weeks to the allowed time for this element of the work.
The external finish of the barn is a mixture of vertical larch boarding, face brickwork and some areas of render. The roof finish, guttering and windows were all matching aluminium. The challenges of allowing natural light into a building with such a deep plan were overcome by recessing two significant areas of external walls, creating a horseshoe shape. The loss of floor space was a small price to pay to achieve natural light into all areas of the barns.
Another challenge was the post-Covid material shortage, with its related price increases. Once again, we found we were working very hard at keeping processes within the realms of affordability. At one stage, we struggled to buy plaster for less than three times its usual price!
We converted a large barn into two new semi-detached homes – Lime Tree Barn & Ash Tree Barn.
Lime Tree Barn is a 5-bedroom property with private garden and courtyard.
Ash Tree Barn is a 3-bedroom home with private garden.
Both barns were completed successfully, within budget and on time, quickly let to people keen to live in such lovely barns in stunning countryside.
What the client said…
“While the Vernacular Homes team was working on three other projects for us: The Potting Shed, The Tractor Shed and Home Farm Barn, we started to consider what other buildings they might be able to work on for us. Being well-versed in barn conversions, we thought they could do a great job on two of our other barns – this one, Barn A, and also, Barn B, Loddington Lane, so we asked them for ideas. They came back with amazing proposals – something we really liked about working with them.
On all our projects, they produced detailed plans, with lots of images which worked well for us, being very ‘visual’ people. If there was anything we wanted to change, they’d sit with us to go through and explain everything, so it was all in place before planning was submitted.
There were a number of challenges with Barn A, mainly due to Covid and Brexit but we were really impressed with how Vernacular Homes dealt with them. A shortage of lorry drivers meant getting the materials to site was a challenge. Prices were also increasing dramatically, especially wood which became very scarce – a real issue as these were larch clad buildings. However, Vernacular Homes managed to keep working and altering the schedule around what materials were available.
The only item that caused a hold-up was the metal framework for Barn A as it had been produced in the north of England and could only be transported via lorry. Vernacular Homes did not let this delay work, however, and got on with Barn B while they awaited its arrival.
To mitigate the rising costs, the team did their utmost to get materials on site and into storage there before they were needed. We didn’t have space for everything, so they created a special storage area for the wood to prevent it from warping in the wet. They also took the time to source a local supplier for the aluminium windows which helped to bring the cost down considerably and avoid any delivery delays. I even went to see them being made which I enjoyed – not something you see every day.
Another difficulty arose when we broke ground and discovered a spring which we were not aware of. Plus, the ground underneath was clay, so a lot of drainage had to be installed. There are two Victorian cottages close by, so we had to be mindful of any noise and disruption to the residents while this work was being carried out. Vernacular Homes was very considerate and instead of driving large muck lorries up to the property, they took any waste down to the nearby field where it was later removed by lorry. They also crushed a lot of the concrete which we were able to recycle and use as hardcore.
The end result is two beautiful homes; I especially like the high staircase in Lime Tree Barn which splits into two, creating two ‘wings’. The idea to recess the walls and create a courtyard was also great; it means that both barns are flooded with light from either side, despite the fact they are surrounded by trees. They’ve really made them look interesting, even the little slit windows at the back of the property let in so much light and were really well thought through.”
Our views on the project…
“Despite having the effects and after effects of Covid 19, we were able to work with Linton Park Estate to convert the barn into two lovely homes.
We were keen to give our clients the level of service, as well as the design and building quality they had become used to receiving from us.
We are so pleased that they are happy with the end result, as indeed we are.
Working with the Linton Park Estate over a period of three years was such a positive experience for the management, design and on-site build teams of Vernacular Homes.
It’s great to see these unused agricultural buildings being given a new, different lease of life, now providing people with characterful homes to live in for many, many years to come.”