Barn conversions have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to repurpose historic structures and create unique living spaces that blend modern convenience with traditional character. This trend has also contributed to the preservation of many old barns that might otherwise have been demolished or left to decay. In this briefing note, we look at barn conversions in more detail and discuss the costs and considerations relating to such projects.
What is a barn conversion?
A barn conversion refers to the process of transforming an agricultural building, such as a barn, granary, or stable, into a residential dwelling. These conversions have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more people seek unique and characterful homes that offer a sense of history and tradition.
The conversion process typically involves significant alterations to the building’s interior and exterior, including the installation of modern amenities such as heating, plumbing, and electricity. The goal is to create a comfortable and functional living space while preserving the original features and charm of the building.
Barn conversions can vary in size and complexity, from simple renovations of small barns to extensive projects that involve multiple buildings and complex architectural designs. They can be found in both rural and urban areas, and can range from modest cottages to luxury homes.
Why choose a barn conversion
There are several reasons why someone might choose a barn conversion as their preferred type of home:
Unique character and charm: Barn conversions often offer a unique sense of character and charm that cannot be found in modern homes. They may feature original timber beams, exposed brickwork, and other historic details that can add a sense of history and character to the living space.
Spacious living: Barns are typically large, open spaces, which can be converted into spacious living areas that are perfect for entertaining guests or accommodating large families.
Eco-friendly living: Converting a barn into a home can be an eco-friendly choice as it involves repurposing an existing structure rather than building a new one, which helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the project.
Rural or semi-rural location: Barn conversions are often located in rural or semi-rural areas, which can offer a peaceful and tranquil lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Increased property value: A well-executed barn conversion can significantly increase the value of the property, making it a worthwhile investment in the long term.
How much does a barn conversion cost in the UK?
The cost of a barn conversion per square meter in the UK can vary widely depending on several factors such as the location, condition and size of the barn, the level of renovation required, and the materials used.
According to a 2022 report by Homebuilding & Renovating, the average cost of a barn conversion in the UK is about £1,700 per square metre, but there are many factors that could significantly affect this and push the cost up to £2,500 per square metre or higher.
In general, the cost of a barn conversion in the UK can range from £100,000 to £500,000 or more, depending on various factors mentioned below. It’s important to note that these costs do not include any land or property acquisition costs, planning permission fees, or other associated costs. It’s always best to consult with a professional builder or contractor to get an accurate estimate based on your specific project requirements.
Some of the main factors that can influence the cost of a barn conversion include the size of the building. Larger buildings will generally cost more to renovate than smaller ones.
The condition of the building is also an important factor. The cost will be higher if the building requires significant repairs or upgrades, such as structural work, new wiring, or plumbing.
Location also impacts the cost of labour and materials where this can vary depending on the location of the building. Adding to this, the cost can also be influenced by the level of finishes and design features that are incorporated into the project, such as bespoke joinery, high-end kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and custom lighting.
It’s important to note that the cost of a barn conversion can also be affected by local planning regulations and building codes, which may require certain materials or design elements to be used. It’s therefore advisable to consult with a professional architect or contractor to get an accurate estimate of the costs involved in a barn conversion project.
How to insulate a barn conversion
Insulating a barn conversion is an important step to ensure that the property is energy-efficient, comfortable, and cost-effective to maintain. A professional energy assessment can help to identify the areas of the property that require insulation, such as walls, floors, roofs, and doors/windows.
There are various types of insulation materials available, including mineral wool, rigid foam, and spray foam insulation. The choice will depend on the specific needs of the building and the budget.
Insulating the walls of a barn conversion usually involves fitting insulation batts or boards between the existing timber frame, followed by a moisture barrier to prevent condensation.
The roof of a barn conversion can be insulated using either rigid insulation boards or spray foam insulation, which is applied directly to the underside of the roof.
To insulate the floors, one can use a combination of insulation boards and underfloor heating, which can help to provide warmth and comfort.
Double-glazed windows and doors can also help to prevent heat loss and reduce noise levels, and sealing any air likes such as gaps or cracks in the walls, floors, or roof will help to prevent air leaks, which can reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
It’s important to consult with a professional builder or insulation contractor to ensure that the insulation is installed correctly and complies with building regulations and fire safety requirements.
Do you need warranty on a barn conversion?
Yes, it’s important to have a warranty on a barn conversion. A warranty provides protection for the property owner against defects or issues that may arise after the completion of the conversion. It can also provide peace of mind and help to increase the resale value of the property.
There are several types of warranties that can be applied to a barn conversion, including:
Building warranty: A building warranty, also known as structural warranty or latent defects insurance, covers the cost of repairs to structural defects that may occur during the first 10 years after the completion of the conversion. This type of warranty is often required by mortgage lenders.
Homeowner warranty: A homeowner warranty covers the cost of repairs to non-structural defects, such as plumbing, heating, and electrical systems. This type of warranty can be purchased separately from a building warranty.
Warranty from the contractor: The contractor who performs the conversion may provide their own warranty to cover defects that may arise due to poor workmanship or materials.
It’s important to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of any warranty before purchasing it. The warranty provider should be reputable and financially stable, and the warranty should cover all the necessary aspects of the conversion.
Barn conversions – In summary
Barn conversions can be an exciting project for homeowners looking to create a unique and characterful home. However, there are several important considerations to keep in mind when undertaking a barn conversion project.
Firstly, it’s important to consider the location and suitability of the barn for conversion. Factors to consider may include the condition of the building, the accessibility of the site, the surrounding environment, and the planning regulations that may apply.
Secondly, it’s essential to carefully plan the design and layout of the property to ensure that it meets the requirements of modern living while preserving the historic character and charm of the original structure.
Thirdly, it’s important to consider the insulation, ventilation, and heating systems required to ensure that the property is energy-efficient and comfortable to live in.
Overall, a barn conversion can be a rewarding and fulfilling project, but careful consideration and planning are essential to ensure that the result is a beautiful, functional, and comfortable home.