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My Barn Conversion


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  • December 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm #3949



    I live in Llandysul, in Wales and I am intending on converting my mothers barn to live in. It is shown on planning laws as the original house.

    The barn was rebuilt as a barn in 2000, so it has a damp course, a new roof, a second floor (stairs of which are outside), and is sound structurally.

    So where do I start?

    I want to do the conversion as ecologically friendly as possible, but I am a nurse by profession, I am also a single parent, so I do not have unlimited funds to make it happen.

    December 9, 2010 at 9:23 am #5462

    Key Master

    Do you have planning permission for the conversion? Welsh councils are getting quite restrictive on these types of projects (I think there’s a realisation that the loss of viable farms through splitting up into multiple dwellings is becoming an issue). Make sure they’ll allow you to convert before going too far into making your own plans.

    You may also have a raft of (costly) issues that you don’t expect around building regulations. You say it was rebuilt in 2000 what from – what material are the walls constructed from? How was the roof renovated – does it have the necessary ventilation for a dwelling? Does the floor contain the insulation and the radon barrier you may need. You’ll need to insulate floor, walls and roof – that’s quite a loss of space, is the barn big enough to accommodate it. I also guess those stairs will need to come inside – again is there room for them?

    So first establish:

    a) That you can get planning permission &

    b) That you can afford to do the work that will be necessary to meet building reg’s

    …then consider the nice stuff. Personally, my list of must-do’s on this type of project would currently be – solar thermal hot water, loads of insulation, rain-water harvesting (even if only for non-domestic use), a renewables based heating system

    and some other nice-to-haves like under floor heating and grid connected PV panels if the budget runs to it.

    I think there are a number of architects / architectural designers in your area, I’d contact one of them to at least have a initial discussion and to start to answer the questions I pose above…

    Please keep us updated,


    January 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm #5463


    I have contacted an architect, I know planning would not be an issue as I am a key worker (being a nurse) I also am technically homeless and also the barn would be a tied dwelling to the original dwelling, also the barn was the original dwelling before it fell into disrepair, ironically it is on the planning map as still being the original dwelling. The architect agrees and is working at drawing up plans to sort things out.

    What I find sad is that for a degree educated person I am unable to put in a planning application without the need to resort to paying for extra for an architect with all the surrounding expense.

    Anyway I am unsure as to the validity and cost effectiveness of using PV for hot water. I felt more driven to use PV for electricity and use underground geothermal for my heating requirements. There is a large field next to the barn which I felt would be usable (and is part of our land). I also wish to use wood for a main heating and cooking source as I feel this is a very effective way of maintianing carbon neutrality. I have enough wood on the holding to keep me going for a long time and with copicing and also with effective planting I should be able to be self sufficient in wood.

    January 18, 2011 at 11:54 am #5464

    Key Master

    Like many things in British life, the planning system is designed in such a way as to require you to employ lots of highly paid professionals to help you navigate through it…

    One thing – solar thermal hot water and PV are two very different things. Solar thermal hot water can be installed for a few thousand pounds whereas PV is a far more costly exercise. Have a look at these links back on the main site that start to explain both…

    …both articles are a little old now, but I think serve as an introduction.

    When you talk of ‘underground geothermal’ are your referring to Ground Source Heat pumps? If so be cautious when specifying the system – they can consume large amounts of electricity (and as such are not considered a ‘green’ technology by many people interested in sustainable technology). Also don’t forget you’re best off with underfloor heating running off such a system as it requires a lower input temperature in comparison to radiators (but with more work / higher cost). Personally, I prefer the cheaper, simpler, lower technology of solar thermal panels with the backup of a multi-fuel burner for the cold winter months.

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