This client had been consulting with other architects for many months on this 230-year-old period farmhouse renovation with extension to adjoin their adjacent 400-year-old barn, which also needed a partial conversion. They approached us, as they were looking for an alternative view on how to update, enhance and extend their home in an exciting, yet cost effective way within their £900k budget. They looked to us to provide imaginative solutions, give them ideas and make proactive suggestions, while still keeping within the realms of buildability and budget.
Both of the existing staircases were insubstantial and uninspiring. Omitting one of the staircases made it possible to walk through the proposed extension into the first floor of the adjacent barn that we converted for them. We replaced the remaining one with a dramatic staircase leading from the entrance hall.
We began by carrying out a detailed survey of the existing property, followed by providing design ideas and options that were both innovative and practical, taking carefully into account how our clients wanted to use their remodelled home. We then submitted the planning application.
Once planning approval was received, we developed the brief, providing a detailed priced specification for the design and building works. Once this was agreed with the client, we began works on site during August 2022 with a projected finish of July 2023.
One of the main challenges, and a critical area of the design and build was the joining of the barn to the house. This required much discussion and working through issues with the local planning authority as they were keen to maintain a distinct visual separation of the barn and the house. The barn is on a lower level than the house, and so adjoining it to the house on both floors presented an interesting challenge, both for the design and build, largely because we had to work within planning imposed roof heights, and because part of the ground floor was below external ground level.
The finished project produced a home that internally looked, felt and worked entirely differently from the original. The design and build works were entirely transformative and made sense of what previously was a series of disconnected spaces.
What the client said…
“We’d been living in the house for about four years and although it was in good condition, it was quite dated. It was also separated into lots of different rooms, and we really wanted to open it up and change the footprint by linking it to the barn.
We’d already spoken to two or three architects and had actually taken one on, but it didn’t quite feel right, so that’s when we approached Vernacular Homes. The fact that they take care of everything from the architectural side, through to all the trades was really appealing.
They started out by asking us to focus on our top three requirements – lots of light, a more open feeling, and to connect to the barn on two levels. We really liked that although they had lots of suggestions, they were very open to our ideas and listened to what we wanted; we didn’t feel like we had a big flashy architect telling us what to do – it felt very collaborative.
We were very particular about preserving the character of the property in certain areas; we didn’t want everything to look brand new. So, although the downstairs of the barn looks like a lovely modern room, which is what we wanted, they retained the beams in the house and two inglenook fireplaces, and the exterior has remained in keeping with its age. Even the radiators look just as they should and we chose French doors, rather than bi-folding, which fit the look of the house.
The biggest challenge by far was joining the barn to the house; it was very labour intensive and therefore the most expensive part of the build by far. However, from the start, they were very precise and open about the budget; there was negligible movement on every cost they’d estimated, meaning we didn’t overspend at all.
I can honestly say we found them extraordinary to work with. Everything was so timely and planned well. We knew in advance exactly when we would need to decide about things like paint colours and bathroom fittings, so we never felt like we were being made to make last minute decisions. We’d have meetings every couple of weeks or so, and nothing was too much trouble; we could edit the plans in situ, within reason, which was really helpful. It’s quite stressful, taking on such a large project; I didn’t anticipate how hectic it would be picking fittings for six bathrooms, but they were great at taking piecemeal information from us, which really helped.
We’ve only been living in the house for around three weeks and we love it. It’s everything they said it would be and more. One of the things I love is the staircase; we had two in the original property, but they turned it into one and it’s a lovely feature that connects the barn to the house.
They’ve already been back once to check everything and take care of the first snag list; I feel I can call on them at any time. We’ve been singing their praises and have already recommended them to multiple people.
We definitely got what we wanted; it’s a dream build that we want to live in forever.”
Our views on the project…
“Our clients were great to work with and we are so pleased to have been able to provide them with a lovely home that fulfilled their brief, and hopefully their highest expectations!”