Our client asked us to convert their barn to allow them to move into it while we then renovated their existing home. They planned to eventually rent out the barn and move into their main home. The original four bedroom design was changed with the addition of a second floor to provide a fifth bedroom, with one forming part of a master suite. The ground floor design incorporated a kitchen, utility room, WC, hallway and a huge living/dining room.
As with many barn conversions, the only element of value in the building was the timber frame although this needed extensive repair. Everything else needed replacing including new foundations, plinth walls, the ground floor and all materials inside and outside the timber frame required replacing.
Soon after the build started, our client decided that it would be hugely beneficial if we could add a second floor to the property, adding an additional bedroom that could also be used as an office. Care always has to be taken when adding a second floor especially in relation to fire escape, and smoke and fire alarm systems. The route from the second-floor room to outside air needs to include 30-minute fire protection in the form of fire doors. On this project we were required also to add a sprinkler system due to the open plan nature of much of the conversion.
The barn was in a low-lying area, subject to occasional flooding. The proposal allowed for the barn to be raised 500mm up from the ground. This was a critical requirement to allow the ground floor level to be high enough for an adequate fall for the drainage, enabling it to function properly. We also had to excavate down to ensure there was sufficient headroom for the second floor. The work involved careful balancing of the various levels.
The build took around 10 months and utilised our full team of tradespeople.
Raising the barn, and the associated excavation to mitigate any flooding risk, meant the team had to work very precisely to ensure the ground and ceiling levels were spot on. However, this is not an unusual situation when working on such buildings, and one that our team is very experienced in and was well prepared for.
The project was finished on time and our clients were able to move into the barn for a year whilst we renovated the main house, the grange. The budget had to increase to accommodate the second floor, but this was expected. The client was very pleased with the overall result.
What the client said…
“We moved to the area in 2010 and lived in the grange before we had any work done. The plan was to convert the barn first so we could live there while the grange was refurbished. I first approached Vernacular Homes as I was looking for someone with barn conversion experience. Trevor was the first person from the team that I spoke to and he was very accommodating. They’d worked on around 50 barn conversions so it was clear they had a great legacy and history. Trevor came and looked at the property which was a hay barn, and within a week he’d given us an estimate. They clearly know how to price a project because we ended up coming within just 5% of that original estimate. That really impressed me – to hit that kind of budget so closely.
When I met the rest of the team, you could tell how good they were. I liked that they were a family-run business; you just got that extra sense of customer service, and felt that they really wanted to do right by their client. It’s personal; you’re not dealing with a corporate machine.
The planning process was very smooth even though we changed from a four to a five bed property. We added a significant amount of square footage and an amazing atrium. We did all this in conversation with the team pre-planning.
The barn’s timber frame was in fairly good condition and Trevor was confident that it wouldn’t require a major rebuild. He was very confident about material selections and walked us through the whole process. Aesthetically, where they’ve needed to add timbers it’s been done very sympathetically. The craftsmanship with the wood is excellent. The timber is naturally misshapen and knarled, but the detailing in the plasterwork around the beams is exceptional; I’ve had a lot of properties refurbished and this is some of the best plaster work I’ve ever seen.
I love the atrium in the barn. The two barn doors are all now glass and double height, and there’s a walkway on the first floor; it’s my favourite spot when I’m working from home. I sit at the dining room table in the middle of the room and have light flooding into it. I love the feeling of light and space.
For the work on our existing house, the grange, originally we were thinking of using a company with more experience of old buildings. Although it’s not listed, it has that appearance. However, we were so pleased with the end product of the barn and their approach to sourcing, hitting the budget, and quality, we just knew we wanted to use them for that project too.”
Our views on the project…
“We really enjoy working on barn conversions and this is a particularly lovely example of our work. It’s always great to get good feedback from a client but to then be engaged for a further project with them – and one that involves a completely different property – is the best endorsement we could ask for.”
We have also worked on two other projects with this client:
The dairy – case study coming soon.