This project was originally to convert an unlisted barn into a three bedroom residence for a client of ours in Goudhurst Kent, who we have previously done an enormous job for before. The barn is on their land and they intended to use it as a holiday let or a residential let. The project changed because the original oak structure of the barn was not suitable for conversion and the engineer condemned it – we had no choice but to take the whole thing down and start again.
The client’s architect and engineer had already designed the build with their input, what we had to do was build the barn from scratch on the existing footprint. The build consisted of an open plan downstairs lounge/dining/kitchen area, with a cloakroom. Upstairs there’s a master bedroom with en-suite and walk-in wardrobe, two further bedrooms and a bathroom. Being essentially a new build, we looked after the full heating system (including underfloor heating), wiring and plumbing.
The first and most obvious obstacle was the condition of the barn due for conversion. The barn wasn’t listed because it was bought and moved from another site, but unfortunately put together in such a way that it was simply dangerous and practically falling down – the condition of the oak was also very poor. The barn was carefully dismantled and the oak set to one side. Once we had the original footings checked and properly levelled, we could begin building a new barn. Being a new build in the countryside, we had the challenge of getting it on mains electricity, water and drainage. Access and space also proved a little challenging due to the build being on a hill, with only a small track to access it.
As with all of our projects we always consider energy efficiency, insulation and waste. On this project we also had to look after an endangered species. On inspection bats were found in the loft, which are a protected species. The conservation team that visited us made sure the bats in the loft of the barn we were due to demolish were carefully caught and released elsewhere. Because the old barn had bats living in it, we had to make sure that the new barn could accommodate them too, in case more bats made it their home in future. They consulted with us and visited the site several times to inspect what we had done and that it was suitable. This included sectioning off one area of the loft (which we made bigger than they asked), leaving the insulation out from between the roof joists so the bats could hang from the felt, and leaving a gap between the weather boarding and soffit from them to access the loft.
Again, Kate and Richard are good friends of ours. We first me them after being commissioned to build their mansion family home and this is the third job we have done for them. The barn we built for them was just a couple of hundred yards from this house, so we saw them on a daily basis. Despite the project changing because we had to demolish the old barn, doing it that way saved them a great deal of time and money – a fact that we explained to them and proved it was the best course of action. While the oak frame of the old barn wasn’t in a suitable condition to convert, it was still worth money to someone, so we helped them get it sold and picked up.