Barn Conversion, South East Kent
“The barn was on the land of my parents’ home, where I’d lived with them as a child. Prior to instructing Vernacular Homes, I had noticed a number of planning applications being approved for similar barns in the area to be converted. I suggested to my parents that we should also apply for change of use permission and convert the barn into a holiday let. We got initial consent and then didn’t progress with the project for around two years while we decided what to do.
“Eventually, we put the project out to tender. We knew of Vernacular Homes as they’d worked on two or three barns in the area, we’d heard good things about them and knew they delivered high-end projects. After talking to them and being pleased with the quote they provided, we decided to instruct them.
“We started work with them in June 2020, and despite being in the middle of Covid, they were not concerned at all and just ploughed ahead, working within the restrictions of the pandemic.
“They took control over everything, assisted us and amended the planning. They also made suggestions for improvements; for example, we originally planned a covered balcony but they said the cost would be significant and that particular part of the property wouldn’t get much sun, so instead they changed the layout and made the room bigger, which worked so much better. They also gave us advice on the planned dressing room area – they said it would be too small, particularly as it was in the eaves and we were concerned about head height. They worked around it and configured the area so it works really well. They also suggested moving the stairs which has resulted in a much larger hallway.
“They amended and resubmitted our planning to incorporate all these changes, as well as dealing with the boundaries on the application to properly separate the barn from the main house, which my parents still live in. They also organised everything from the building inspector, to liaising with local services such as UK power networks to get us connected.
“It was important to us to make the house as self-efficient as possible with a very high energy performance rating. So we used a local solar panel company who installed about twenty panels; Vernacular Homes worked really well with them. We also installed an air source heat pump as we’re not on mains gas. We kept the property as airtight as possible and put underfloor heating throughout the ground floor and first floor, which also gave us more wall space through not installing radiators.
“We also used lots of high quality technology throughout the home and Vernacular Homes’ electrician was brilliant – I’ve actually used him on other projects since. The whole team is great: we had a really bad snow storm in the winter and the guys just turned up, I couldn’t believe it! They’ve really refined their team and have some great tradesmen. They’re not just workers, they really care about a project.
“What I really liked was the contact and communication. If there were ever any delays or issues, they always kept us updated. You really get the personal touch from them too. When we were picking bathrooms, they invited us to their offices to look at our plans on their computer and show us how different designs might look – it made making decisions so much easier. “The property was finished about a year ago and it’s lovely – we’ve named it Old Harrow Barn. If ever I stay there, it’s amazing to wake up in the bedroom and think about the fact that I used to play in the barn as a child and now it’s this fantastic property. My favourite part of the barn is the cinema room – there were some initial disagreements about it with my parents as it was probably the biggest expense, but it was well worth it as everyone who has stayed there loves it. I also love the kitchen – we’ve had parties up there and it’s a great entertaining room. We’ve had no major snagging issues at all, everyone always comments on what a beautiful property it is. It’s a great family asset and a really popular holiday let.
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