Throughout the 1970s and 1980s we saw the emergence of the first barn conversions, a new phenomena for the building trades. Unfortunately, as these barns were converted into a typical ‘des-res’, many lacked any charm at all once converted as they were permeated with PVC, crazy paving and badly executed extensions. Perhaps due to these rather ghastly attempts at converting these buildings without consideration to their scale, style or location, that much of the planning legislation we have today was implemented. The growing pressure to preserve our historic properties may have contributed also to the implementation of much stricter guidelines governing would-be barn converters.
Finding suitable properties is tough these days, but if you are shopping around seek out those on the private market which may already have planning permission in place. A disused or decomposing unsightly farm building will stand a better chance of having planning permission granted than a property in good and working order. A site with any building on it is more likely to be granted planning permission than an empty plot. In truth, when you start out, buying a barn which has already been converted is the only sure way to be certain your barn will be your home: planning legislation is tough these days and is there to protect the countryside and our heritage.
Barns in the UK have been built for a variety of reasons, in a range of styles and using numerous different materials. Older barns will usually be constructed of locally sourced materials, particularly if they pre-date any form of more modern transport logistics! That is why it is fairly easy to find barns which have characteristic features common to their location: clay lump barns and timber-types in East Anglia, oak barns on the borders of Wales, flint and sandstone in Sussex, stone in Scotland and the Cotswolds, and the fine pine barns in Surrey. Barns which were used to store agricultural produce would have high doors and high mounted windows, whilst barns used to shelter animals would be smaller and darker.
Barns can be divided into three main types. Box construction barns, these rely on the four walls of the building to support and hold up the entire structure. Cruck framed construction uses the internal timber A-frames to provide structural support for both the roof and the walls. Post and truss barns use internal timber frames to support the weight of the roof by adjoining vertically with central posts. No matter what type of barn you are considering purchasing or at what stage of conversion you will be starting, you will need to make sure you have adequate barn conversion insurance. At Westhill Insurance Services we have a great deal of experience in dealing with barn conversions and can provide you with help and advice at each stage of the transformation. Barn conversion is a must for any budding – or experienced – barn convertor and one call to our professional team will allow you to glean all the information you need to get the basics in place – starting with insurance!