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How Former Farm Buildings Convert To Homes In The House-short Uk

By Author: Chris Westerman
Total Articles: 133

Planning Order 2014 allows that barns can be converted to houses in England and Wales. Guides exist on how owners and investors can accomplish this architecturally.



The building of new homes in the UK can and is taking place on both brown field and green field sites. With a full 76 per cent of the landmass in the country dedicated to agriculture, there clearly is opportunity to increase the housing inventory so sorely needed by the growing population.



Brownfield lands offer opportunities in that they are typically in cities, often near public transport and with utilities already in place. But remediation of buildings and the land itself of a toxic chemical past can increase costs considerably and prohibitively. Construction on green fields and sometimes greenbelt land is preferable when it better serves the housing needs of a community. This is particularly the case when employment is growing and employers want workers who can live nearby.



Joint venture investment groups concerned with land often lead the charge in this process, identifying where land would be most appropriate and feasible for residential conversion. And while new homes are what get most of the attention, existing farm structures can be saved, repurposed and recycled to create necessary and exceptionally interesting homes.



The Town and Country Planning Order 2014 has pushed this building trend along a bit further when, as of 6 April 2014, conversions of agricultural buildings for residential use fell within Use Class C3 (dwelling-houses). This means simply that agricultural buildings can be retrofitted to residential use without seeking planning permission. This comes with certain restrictions, such as keeping any one building to three residences or less, and that no such residence can exceed 450 square metres in size. The intended effect is that more residences will be made available, and that aging farmers can remain on their land while succeeding generations can move in.



But prior to this law, barn-to-home conversions were expanding perceptions of what makes a house. English Heritage (the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England), which champions historic places and is the Government’s statutory adviser on historical environment, published a guide to good practices in such conversions that offers options for changed use of traditional farm buildings. The orientation of this organisation is to preserve historical and landscape significance of those traditional farm buildings. The organisation prefers continued use in actual agriculture, but acknowledges some farm structures are derelict or redundant and that reuse in other purposes is more sustainable than other options. The guide, "The Conversion of Traditional Farm Buildings: A guide to good practice," goes to great lengths to describe farm building types, their respective histories, and it provides detailed advice on sensitive renovations.



Meanwhile, architects revel in the ways in which these fine old structures can be turned into lively new homes. By and large, the lofted rooflines serve as ceilings, while the open floor plans are often maintained to allow a modern, flowing interior. One online publications, homebuilding.co.uk, provides a guiding rule: Be "true to the building" - ensure the structure keeps its essential character and form, such that it looks like a barn-house, not just another house. And with such character in the exterior facings, internal structure, doors and windows, it's hard to imagine why anyone would change anything about these treasured buildings.



These conversion architects make distinctions between stone and timber frame buildings. Stone structures will require a layer of insulation, which generally means the character of the interior wall will be lost under insulation and an alternative (often plaster) interior surface. Timber barns are more adaptable, allowing that such necessary insulator materials can be inserted between interior and exterior cladding.



Meanwhile, land around such barn conversions might still be re-zoned for denser development - this is the work of land fund managers who identify locations for new housing. When they can achieve planning authority approvals to convert agricultural land to residential use, that land then helps towns build up - which makes those areas more attractive to employers who prefer to have their workforce living close by.



Investing in barn conversions and raw land can be exciting for all participants. But as with all matters pertaining to personal finance, individuals are urged to speak with an independent financial advisor. This is to ensure the investment fits the risk profile of the investor.

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