Extension, West Kent

Client Brief

This client had recently purchased an Oast house in the Kent countryside and was looking to develop the site to fulfil their family needs.

The existing main house layout contained small, subdivided spaces and a kitchen area. Whilst the views were spectacular from outside, they weren’t so easily appreciated from within. The client wanted a big connection to the outside, with the ability to open up the building on summer days. An open plan family space was also important, as were alterations to the existing first floor layout to create better bedroom and bathroom spaces.

There were two outbuildings with expired consent for ancillary use. The client wanted to obtain a new consent and make layout alterations to these to use as an annex and an outdoor studio.

They commissioned Vernacular Homes as they were looking for a specialist company in this type of property, and wanted someone who could work with them from design, all the way through to completion.

The Project

The client had already sketched out some ideas of how they envisaged the Oast extension could work. Working collaboratively, we developed these sketches to produce a design which would work within the constraints of the existing structures and bring their vision to life.

Working with a number of trusted trades including our own carpenters, labourers, groundworkers, electrician, plumber and plasterers, we stripped the outbuildings back to the shell and converted them to make some great additional living spaces. Once this was completed, we extended the Oast, reorganising the existing interior and renewing the external cladding with larch to match the extension.

Whilst working on the Oast, we made some layout alterations to lose a ground floor bedroom in favour of a unique two-storey master suite with curved staircase leading from the bedroom area to the bathroom below.

The addition of 9m sliding doors across a whole wall of the ground floor living area gave them the indoor/outdoor connection to nature they were looking for.

We moved quickly through the planning process and were on-site for several months following the purchase. We worked sequentially through the project, converting the outbuildings first so that the clients could live in the annex while we renovated and extended the main house.


Our main challenge was that the Oast was in a green belt area and had already been extended significantly, so we had to work within those constraints. However, the planners were supportive of our design and happy to be flexible on the additional area even though it took us over the typical limits for a rural property.
Our expertise and relationships with planners helped towards agreeing a way forward that matched the client needs and satisfied the planning authority.


This project was a hugely enjoyable experience both pre-construction and on-site. By working closely with, and listening to the client, the end result really achieves the ambition for the project that they set out in their original sketches.

There are so many elements that made this build special, from the open plan spaces, 9-metre sliding doors and master suite with curved staircase and round bathroom.

The development of the design throughout has taken a slightly tired, average property and turned it into a stunning home.

What our client said…

“Originally, our two outbuildings were a cow shed with a sand and mud floor that needed a full refurb, and the other was a farm building that already had a concrete floor but was just used for storage. There was no insulation, heating or electricity in either. The actual Oast hadn’t been refurbished since around the 1980s so it needed a lot of updating. Our living room was an extension with amazing views but tiny windows, so we wanted to extend it and add huge, sliding glass doors.

Vernacular Homes took care of everything from planning to design and construction. The whole team would walk through the space to see how best to use it. They were great at coming up with ideas for maximising space; for example, we had an odd-shaped living room but they came up with some great ways of dividing it up to make it work.

We also wanted to replace one of the bedrooms with a bathroom but didn’t quite know what to do with it; they suggested breaking through from the bedroom above to make it an amazing ensuite room.

We were impressed with their planning too; at the time due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there were shortages of materials and costs were rising, but because they had pre-bought everything and stored it on site, there were no delays and it cost us less. They were always very clear all along about the budget. They also ensured we could live on site throughout; they completed the outbuildings first and we moved into one while the build continued.

Now the build is finished, we have a cottage for family and friends to stay in when visiting, and the other outbuilding is one big room which my wife uses as a yoga studio, and my son plays his drums in there too. The house itself is awesome; we love it.

If we’d simply hired a builder and managed the project ourselves, we’d have got a very different result; it certainly wouldn’t have been as user-friendly. We always felt that being a family business, Vernacular Homes took that extra bit of care: that it mattered to them to do a really good job for their clients and maintain the family name. They even stayed in touch post-build, just in case we had any issues, which we don’t but just a few months ago, we wanted something changed on the sink and they did it free of charge. We’ve recommended them to friends who are now half-way through their build with Vernacular and they’re very happy.”

Our views on the project…

“This project was a highly enjoyable collaboration between the client and our team, with clear objectives from the client brief.

The end result has been one of the best transformations we have undertaken with an ambitious reimagining of the existing building.

It’s very satisfying indeed to build what a client had sketched and imagined as their home, many years before.”

Contact Us

For an informal conversation about your project please call us on 01233 861177 or E-mail us using the form. Your data is not used for marketing – only to contact you.