Barn Conversions: What factors can influence cost?

Homebuilding & Renovating magazine asked me to contribute to an article about factors that influence the cost of a barn conversion. Along with everyday living expenses the cost of undertaking building work along with has escalated in the last few years. In this blog post I have expanded on the themes identified in the original article.

What factors influence the cost of a barn conversion?

A major cost of any barn conversion is labour as often there are materials on site that may be re-used. The roof on a barn is one of the main elements, having a large span and a deep pitch. It is therefore one of the most expensive items to replace.

A good proportion of your costs will also be spent on repairing the existing structure of the barn ahead of any actual conversion work. You will probably have to replace damaged or rotten timbers and strengthen up the structure in some areas. It is not unusual to find that an essential part of the structure has been sliced through at some point by a farmer keen to drive his tractor into the building.

Barns are agricultural buildings and were repaired ad-hoc. A lot of barns only have agricultural grade floors, often laid to fall. You often find that you need to install a new structure floors, or underpin areas of the existing structure.

Are there any cost factors that should be considered when looking at potential barns (such as access and services)?

You will need to have a good understanding of which services are available to the barn and how far away the junction with the statutory supply is. The main connections will be water and electricity. Many barns already have electricity to some degree and sometimes a cold water supply, but check. The electricity supply will need to be separately metered from any other supplies and single phase. Be aware that statutory undertakers lead times are often lengthy. Sewerage will normally go to a new private treatment plant. Surface drainage should also be considered.

Check the ownership of any access roads. Ensure that you have the right of access to the barn as well as adequate parking spaces. Also check if this access will be shared with farm vehicles, whether there are suitable passing places and who will be responsible for upgrading the access for domestic vehicle use. 

Is it difficult to get a mortgage on a barn conversion?

If you are converting a barn and you require a mortgage for the works you can apply for a self-build mortgage. The rates are generally higher than standard mortgages and it makes sense to switch to a standard mortgage once the barn inhabitable. Self build mortgages usually release funds in lump sums in arrears for completed works following inspection by an Approved Surveyor. Therefore you will need to have some funds in place to pay for up front costs.

Should you wish to discuss a particular issue about a potential project please do get in touch.