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DESIGNING a barn conversion

Many people love the idea of turning a barn into a home, but the wrong design could ruin the agricultural charm of the structure. Julian Owen shares his top design tips for taking on this kind of project
Designscape Architects have turned this grade II listed barn into a contemporary home. The building was previously in a bad state of disrepair, but the revision has retained as many of the original features as was possible

Three years ago, a change was made to planning rules that has made it possible to convert a barn into a house under permitted development (PD) rights. This means you may not need to formally apply for planning permission to undertake this kind of project. Offering authentic rural charm, often in secluded locations, barn conversions have a number of benefits, and the ruling change has further encouraged their popularity. But successful schemes have to strike the right balance between satisfying the practical needs of the occupants and retaining the appeal of the original structure.

A catch-all term

Barns are generally recognised as any buildings used in the course of farming, including stables, dairies, haylofts and more. Many have been erected using traditional construction materials and methods, which is often a key part of what makes them so attractive. However, they were not created with a view to being lived in, so their production was usually as cheap as possible. Although most poorly built examples have yielded to natural selection and fallen down, many of the survivors have been patched and propped up over the years, meaning they need significant repairs to be transformed into enduring family homes.

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About Build It

The June edition of Build It magazine is packed full of inspiration and advice for your self build, renovation or extension project - including: • An amazing oak frame self build (page 20) • Total makeover of a 1960s house (page 39) • How to self build on a budget (page 64) • Can solar hot water panels save you money? (page 71) • Design details: exposed beams (page 74) • Guide to designing the perfect barn conversion (page 90) • Assessing a building plot's potential (page 100) … and more!