Practical Guide to Barn Renovations

Practical Guide to Barn Renovations
  • Opening Intro -

    Renovating a barn is a great way to produce a unique home and offers a wonderful opportunity to get exactly the home you want in a beautiful, rural setting.

    There are may challenges when it comes to renovating a barn, though.

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By Amy Fowler

You only get one chance to find the perfect balance between original features and modern comforts — if you go too far with your renovations, you risk destroying the heart and soul of the barn.

Careful Planning is Key

Before you rush off and start work on your barn, take a while to look around it and consider each unique feature. If your barn has exposed beams, a framed ledged and braced door, or a thatched roof, see if you can preserve those features. Conservation bodies are crying out for people to look after old barns, and by taking care of the unique features of your barn you will be preserving an important part of our nation’s architectural heritage.

Simple Rules for Preserving and Renovating a Barn

The following simple rules will help you to put together a renovation plan that will preserve the beauty of your barn, while making it into a wonderful home.

  • Reuse existing doorways. Keeping the original framed ledged and braced door will help retain the building’s heritage.
  • Don’t block any existing doorways or openings.
  • Try not to add any masonry chimneys. If you must have a flue, use a stainless steel one.
  • Avoid making any changes to the roof.
  • If you want to add windows, make these as plain as possible.
  • Repair the existing structure, and if you need to replace something, use materials as close to the original as possible.

Open Plan Homes

Barns are perfect for conversion into open plan homes and when it comes to putting a new design together, open plan living arrangements are the path of least resistance.

Even if you opt for an open floor plan, you’ll still face some challenges. Barns don’t have a lot of windows, and its internal design means that you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to lighting.

Stone and Timber

Timber barns can be difficult to modify as they often lack foundations (in the sense that we think of them now), which means that if you wanted to make any major changes to the structure, you would have to pay for underpinning work to be carried out. This is expensive, so a better alternative is to just keep structural changes to a minimum.

Stone barns offer a special set of challenges. Barns were not designed to be watertight, so you may have to put up with some damp patches. Plugging leaky parts of the wall is a painstaking process, but may be your only option, depending on the age of the barn.

If you’re lucky enough to find a modern barn, made of brick, then the conversion process will be much easier. Brick barns are less desirable than any of its older counterparts, but if practicality and price are a major concern, you may want to look for one. You can always add a framed ledged and braced door and other “country” features if you want to add charm to the building.

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