This client purchased their barn with planning consent and was looking to create a lovely, characterful family home that they could enjoy for years to come. When they approached us, they were looking to make amends to the current plans, which required a resubmission, and then the complete design and building works, all of which we took care of for them.
They approached Vernacular Homes having initially received quotes from two other companies; they chose us as they had confidence in our price specifications and felt that we had the knowledge and experience to make their dream project a reality.
This was the first project the client had undertaken and so although they had a vision when it came to the style and feel they wanted, we advised them on many elements of the design, build and finishes to help expand on their brief and explore different ideas.
The barn was in a very poor condition and the main two-storey element of the building required substantial rebuilding, and the addition of first floor areas. All that was left once the cladding was stripped off were the sticks of the frame – and even this required complete restoration. The brick single-storey areas were walls only; we constructed all the roof structure from scratch.
We involved and managed our full range of approved tradespeople, including ground workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers and plasterers; overall, the total build took 11 months.
The main issue during the build was that bats were found to be nesting in the barn. As a protected species, we had to be careful not to disturb them unnecessarily and so we applied for a European Protected Species Licence. This licence was approved some 12 weeks later. The protected species mitigation works included the construction of a bat loft for brown long eared bats and this was constructed in the roof space of one of the barns out-shots, over a bedroom suite.
We installed a ground source heat pump for the heating and hot water. Being such a large property with a high ratio of external wall to floor area and a lot of single storey space, a heat-pump of significant size was required, involving over 1000m of external underground pipework!
The end result was a beautiful, big barn conversion. The conversion of the buildings led to the forming of a courtyard, surrounded on three sides by the converted barn. The large open spaces of the main barn contrasted with the lower, narrower brick built elements, all working together to provide a stunning luxury home that is practical to live in. We feel we surpassed the client’s brief, and they were very happy with the build.
What the client said…
“We’re so pleased that we chose Vernacular Homes, because we really felt they worked with us and listened, so that we got the home we wanted.
When we first met with them, we’d had two other quotes already, but we just didn’t gel with the other companies. The moment we met Trevor and the team they immediately gave us a great deal of confidence in their ability to work with our vision. They came across as specialists and showed us lots of their previous work, even taking us on a site visit to Kent. The fact they’re a family business really came through; honesty and authenticity just oozed out of them. Pricewise, they were in the middle of the quotes we’d had, but what we really liked is that they were very comprehensive in how they created a budget.
This was our first project and so we perhaps had a slightly naïve approach but we found their guidance to be gentle and sympathetic. The customer is always right but sometimes we weren’t – and in those instances, they took the time to listen and give advice without being prescriptive. During the whole process, there was never any friction or cross words; it all ran smoothly.
The quality and workmanship have endured. We’re very happy with the barn and there is very little that we would change. The fitting and everything internally worked extremely well. We went big when it came to the windows and the light is just fantastic. We’re also really happy with the use of timber; in some barn conversions, the amount can be a bit overwhelming, but we went for minimal timber and it works so well.
We also expected that there might be an element of movement in the wood as it’s a live product and it could have affected the plaster, but we’ve never had any problems – structurally, it’s still very sound. That’s down to how it’s been built and assembled and the people working on the job: the tilers, joiners, electricians – everyone vernacular brought in, was of such a high standard. There were minor snags as you’d expect with any build, but Vernacular Homes has always been very responsive and still are today; I feel I could pick up the phone any time if I needed them.
The shape and layout is my favourite thing about the house now. It’s always hard with a barn to make it work because you’ve got one big open space, but it works really well; it’s U-shaped, with a south and west wing with a large courtyard area so it creates a big impression when you come through the drive. I also love the curve in the roof; it had a natural ‘wave’ in it that falls down into the front porch; rather than straightening it, they incorporated it into the design.
Some people thought we were mad when we first bought the barn, as it was in such bad condition but now, every time someone visits, they comment on how fantastic it looks.
This was always intended to be a family home that we could live in for the long term and that’s just what it is. We have five children and although they don’t all live at home now, it’s perfect for when they all come and visit.
I always recommend Vernacular Homes and have had several visits from their prospective customers who we’re always happy to show around.”
Our views on the project…
“It’s always a pleasure to work with clients who want to achieve something out of the norm, who have the imagination and confidence to see such a project through the design and build stages. Such belief was critically important on this project, as the timber frame to the main barn was in poor condition and on some elements of the building, the roof had long fallen in! The end result was a mix of a wonderful historic building, with all the requirements of a modern home.
We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with our clients to produce such a truly unusual and fantastic home.”