Julie Burke of Wattle + Daub writes this month’s blog on the successful conversion of Cheshire Barns

Julie Burke of Wattle + Daub writes this month’s blog on the successful conversion of Cheshire Barns

This month’s article by The Chester Association of Property Professionals is written by Julia Burke of Wattle + Daub Architects.

The iconic red brick Cheshire Barn has become a staple for residential conversion, for families and couples seeking the idyllic Cheshire countryside living.

Planning wise, Councils are generally supportive of conversions, they would prefer redundant buildings be reused, rather than left to ruin. Permitted Development (Class Q) allows the Conversion of Agricultural Buildings into Dwellings. However a Full Planning Application often comes with less constraints and more design freedom.

If the building is Listed, a Heritage Statement will be required to support the application, with a brief history of the building and an assessment of the impact of the conversion. We suggest engaging with an Architect who specialises in working on the conversion of existing buildings and Listed Buildings.

Like any Planning Application, Ecology surveys will be required. This will include protected species such as bats and nesting birds. A Structural Condition report will also be required to demonstrate the building is suitable for conversion.

Not all buildings are suitable for conversion, some require major interventions. Sometimes low floor to ceiling or shallow room depths can hinder conversion. Often, spaces are one-room deep and internal walls may need to be removed. A structural assessment will be required to determine what is achievable. We advise a pre-purchase site visit with your Architect.

We also suggest that all existing utilities are checked. Lets not forget this is rural living. In some cases there may be the chance to introduce renewable technologies. Make sure there is a healthy budget for the basics before getting carried away with the fluffy cushions!

An Architect who specialises in the retrofit of existing buildings will be able to offer advice in terms of the most sensible approach for upgrading the existing building fabric.

Though the majority of the structures are in place, don’t be fooled, the buildings are old and will require significant repairs. A big chunk of the budget will be required for basic repairs, upgrades, utilities, drainage and the landscaping. Working with existing buildings requires a healthy contingency of at least 15% to deal with unknown issues that may arise.

Don’t be alarmed, Barn Conversions can make beautiful homes, and the points discussed are relevant with most building projects. It’s all about getting the right Architect on board and setting sensible expectations early in the project.