dance621

2* Church conversion. Lacking confidence

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Hi all, I spent 6 years getting planning permission for a church conversion in Bedfordshire. Finally got the approval but the quotes for archaeology were eye watering. 10k for a trial trench and there was going to be a lot of trenches!! 

 

I have also been warned by a local estate agent that the extension will not add enough value to pay for itself. With this in mind (and on a limited budget) I have decided to apply for permission to convert with no extension. There will be a garage built in a wooded area at the rear but that apparently in not an interesting archaeological area. 

 

What I need advice on is budget. I have 200k tops to complete this project. The lead roof is on reasonable condition and does not need replacing. I plan a mezzanine level in the tower and a raised floor for services under. The walls need insulating, garage needs building, roof need insulating with sheep's wood between rafters, kitchen bathroom etc. Underfloor heating. I think the sewege outlet can go under the path to the front door which is on a slight slope and goes down to the road there main sewage pipes are. Electricity is already inside. 

 

Some family members think I am made and are using terms like money pit. Is 200k an overly ambitious ask or is that the sort of sum that people would work with? 

 

Here are the original plans with extension. 

 

 

 

Many thanks, and hello by the way. 

IMG_0660.jpg

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15 minutes ago, dance621 said:

 

The lead roof is on reasonable condition and does not need replacing.

 

 Must be the only church in Bedfordshire that hasn't had it stolen. I live next door to a church in Cambs. Had most of the lead stolen 2 years ago and the rest last year. Never heard a thing despite evidence they used something like a hydraulic scissor lift to get access to the roof.

 

Fit alarm and floodlights asap if not already got one.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dance621 said:

....

What I need advice on is budget. I have 200k tops to complete this project.

...

 

Then plan to spend £150,000, and no more.

It doesn't matter who thinks you are mad. It's the measure of your ambition that matters. This is not the time for grandiose 'big pictures' . It is the time for realism, based on evidence. 

If the ambition matches 75% of your budget, then you will have the last laugh

  • Identify the size of the problem: pay for a thorough survey done by a really reputable company. A really reputable one.
  • Identify what I call The Knitting: stuff that has to happen before (say) the mezzanine.
  • Plan.
  • Network. Stress realism in relation to the money you have.
  • Accept that some expenditure headings might well have to wait for a while.
  • Stick to The Knitting.

I bet @Ferdinand will have some good ideas..... Ferdi?

 

Welcome - by the way

Edited by ToughButterCup
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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, ToughButterCup said:

 

 

I bet @Ferdinand will have some good ideas..... Ferdi?

 

Yes you are mad 😜.

 

(Will try and do a bit more later)

 

Quote

It doesn't matter who thinks you are mad. It's the measure of your ambition that matters.

 

Isn't that a quote from Mrs Icarus? 😎

 

We probably need to bring Sisyphus and Prometheus in as well, but I'll start thinking constructive thoughts.

 

Edited by Ferdinand
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4 hours ago, dance621 said:

the quotes for archaeology were eye watering. 10k for a trial trench and there was going to be a lot of trenches!! 

Are here any special requirements?

 

I had quotes from the local council dept and other people they regularly worked with, then decided to look outside the county and found a self employed guy who was very good for less than half the price.

He even gave me a hand for a day on the tools demolishing the old building, which helped me but also gave him the chance to do a better job reporting on the site history because he could see the methods of construction and date things better.

 

He was on site for foundation digging and again happy to assist on the end of a shovel rather than watch everyone else.

 

Drop me a message if you'd like to contact him and I'll dig out his details. I think Bedfordshire should be within his area - he's Leicestershire based.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

You're a guy who likes a challenge, yes? Sorry if I am repeating stuff you have covered.

 

I think we would need to know more about where you are with planning for detailed comment, as there seems to be no-PP post-2015, which means that if that is so you need to repeat the whole thing, including the Bat and Tree reports, and possibly the Archaeology one, too. Guestimating, that would be up to 5-10k for the Planning App if it all has to be redone.

 

It would be useful to know how big the floor area is.

 

As a Grade 2* listed church, it is one of the top 6% of listed buildings, and one of the more (ie in the middle between most and least 🙂 ) important church buildings. There's a lot of detailed stuff mentioned in the listing (below), with a lot of bits going back to Medieval (you won't be able to lay a finger on any of that).

 

You will have close supervision by conservation officers, as well as Bat Men, Tree Officers and Archie the Ologist. I think for work on the most important building in the village, in the High Street where everyone can see it, with a diverted public footpath round the edge of your site, you will be doing it by the book - though you can probably create a less expensive version of the book than otherwise by adjusting the scope of your work.

 

I think the Heritage Report which is part of the Design and Access from 2015 is important. I think you have some tension between the statement therein not to divide up the interior vs your proposal for a mezzanine (are you even allowed to bolt it to a Grade 2* listed wall - I have no idea?). Also if I am correct it says that the roof needs work, but also gives hope that you can change some of the 19C and early 20C accretions. 

 

It says that the building was unsafe and in need of urgent repair - that counter to your suggestion that the roof is usable, and the 2015 scheme involves raising the roof. One problem is that if any one of these type of issues explodes in your face, it can be a 50k hole in your budget overnight (KEY ISSUE - Risk Assessment up front). Little villages routinely raise 6 figures for repairing the structural elements of church buildings eg roof or chancel or porch. You need to have confidence that the once-a-century need will not land on your watch.

 

Was this building ever on the Buildings at Risk register? An FOI to English Heritage for all their information may be very fruitful.

 

Is there any risk of disturbing skeletons and bodies? That could be painful, though the churchyard being closed since 1900 may help.

 

One technique I have seen used is to fill in discovered voids with sand rather than doing archaeology.

 

So what to do? Suggestions

 

All those drains through the churchyard and the French Drain look bloody expensive for archaeology. The quotes may sound expensive; unfortunately it is. It will have to be done if the ground is disturbed, so scope out the need if you can. Need to focus on minimising archaeology. if the interior floor was disturbed by Victorians or 20C people, then I would consider running drains and pipes etc under the floor or a raised floor rather than digging up a medieval churchyard - unless you can show it is previously disturbed. There may be a lot of value for you in running things under the path.

 

Or perhaps there is a plague pit and voids underneath? We found one in a church in Nottingham where I was once on the Church Council while reordering - would have required us to find somewhere for an extra 4 months for a congregation of 500, so we filled it with sand and put the new floor in with cantilevers, rather than let Archie back.

 

Do you have good advisers to argue your side? Thinking of eg the architect who used to do Quinquiennial Inspections when it was a church, or the one who worked on the 2015 application. This is important, and needs to consider your proposals - are you allowed, for example, to stick insulation between the beams of an ancient roof?

 

Are you familiar with how church buildings work - consider taking up churchcrawling, perhaps especially the Churches Conservation Trust buildings.

 

I think you need to consider yourself in attitude the custodian - almost long-term janitor - of the building, and make everything reversible if you can. 

 

Doing nothing where it is not necessary is an important technique, and beware of ologists and officers who want to spend your money on their enthusiasms.

 

You should be able to find a lot of info about the interior and the fabric, perhaps from the Ecclesiological Society or former church warden etc, or perhaps the "Church Recorders" from the Arts Society have done this one at some point since 1971. If all else fails Cameron Newham has had a 20 year project to record photographic surveys of every building mentioned in Pevsner, and especially rural churches, and has now done about 70-80% or rural parish churches and his photo archive is getting on for a million - he will talk to you but will probably want money if you want photos. I think he did Bedfordshire quite early, so you may be lucky. Or find someone who crawled it whilst it was still a church; just find a group and ask the question or email bedfordshireparishchurches.co.uk .

 

I very much like the suggestion in the heritage statement about re-rendering the walls that were stripped back to stone due to former fashion, though some "freeze it in aspic when it was listed" people may have a blue fit (probably a good thing for their mental attitude).

 

I am not at all sure that UFH will work in this sort of space.

 

Take great care with ducting fat and stuff out of your kitchen. Much potential to damage the old fabric.

 

I think the key is exploring the cost and risk of each element before you do anything substantial. I can't overstate that.

 

(Update: should have mentioned that some parts of the listing will be out of date by now, but I think eg the bellframe and bell are stil there - or were in 2015.)

 

Really, really wishing you all the best.

 

Ferdinand

 

--------------------------------------------

TL 13NW GRAVENHURST HIGH STREET 4/65 Upper Gravenhurst

23.1.61 Parish Church of Saint Giles

GV II*

Parish church, originally a chantry chapel. C12, C15 and c.l900, the latter work by Sir Arthur Blomfield (Beds. Times and Independant, 14th March l902). Coursed ironstone rubble witn ashlar dressings. Chancel, N vestry/organ chamber, nave, S porch, W tower. Chancel: c.1900, replacing a brick structure. 3-light E window, 3-light and 2-light S windows in C15 style. Embattled parapet. C12 round-headed chancel arch with zigzag carving to W side, the paired columns and scalloped capitals being c.l900 replacements for Jacobean wood columns. Flanking round arches also c.1900. N vestry/organ chamber: c.1900. 3-light and single-light windows to N in C15 style. Plain parapet. Nave: C12, with some C15 reworking. C15 2-light windows to E bay of N and S elevations. Blocked round-headed doorway to N. C15 S doorway with 4- centred head. Embattled parapet, patched with red brick to N elevation. S porch: c.1900 replacing a brick structure. Pointed arched doorway, single lights to sides, plain parapet. W tower: late C15. 3 stages. Diagonal buttresses to NW and SW angles. Semi-octagonal stair turret projects from lower stages of S elevation. W elevation has 4-centred 3-light window to lower stage. Bell stage has 2-light pointed arched window to each side. Embattled parapet. Pointed tower arch. Interior: Plain 12-sided font, Cl5, reworked C19. C15 nave roof has moulded beams and braces, carved bosses, and angels holding shields and musical instruments, some parts of roof retaining traces of painted decoration. Other fittings C19.

Listing NGR: TL1130535987

Edited by Ferdinand
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Hopefully no bats? If you weren't asked by ecology for a survey, then you are in the clear (add another £5-10k if you have bats).

 

I'm doing a very simple 60m2 conversion and have a working quote of about £100K. It's relatively expensive to convert. However, if you can live on site in a static and go slowly and allow yourself plenty of time to research everything you will save a lot. It's a really steep learning curve.

 

You will make lots of surprise discoveries: for example, I had read that conversions attract just 5% VAT and you must ensure each and every invoice is charged at this rate if possible. But I've just discovered that I can actually claim back this 5% (!), seems daft, but there you go. Also, once the building is habitable and signed off, any future extensions will be charged at 20% and this can't be reclaimed, so it pays to plan properly and do your pros and cons calculations. 

 

My experience with structural engineers (SE) was that I needed a second opinion and saved £15-30K.I needed calculations to prove I wasn't changing the loading. The first SE wanted to underpin everything. 

Advice I have had is to start with the SE, as an architect may design something fancy but expensive. 

Good luck. I'm guessing at the very least you can camp in there if you have services, to avoid rent?

 

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Posted (edited)

 

x

Edited by Jilly
x
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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Jilly said:

 

x

 

She loves you .... Yeh Yeh Yeh

 

(sorry - too much gin in my blueberries)

 

(Update:

Cameron Newham project link: https://www.parishchurches.org/)

Edited by Ferdinand
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Now you have planning, have you had it re valued ?

unless you are in love with it you might be better off selling it. 

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'x' perhaps should say oops!!

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3 hours ago, JFDIY said:

...found a self employed guy who was very good for less than half the price.

 

Me too.  It seems like some of the big archeology business have the market stitched up in some areas.  I used an independent guy in Peterborough, so would probably cover your area.  Just let me know if you want contact details.

Looks like a great project!

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7 hours ago, Jilly said:

 

I'm doing a very simple 60m2 conversion and have a working quote of about £100K. It's relatively expensive to convert.

 

Jilly, that's just over £1500 per sq meter if my maths is correct. What are you getting for that? Where is most of the money going if you don't mind me asking? And yes, I have bats. Will have to redo surveys but they are going into the roof of the new garage apparently (not sure who tells the bat's that though). 

 

Some great helpful replies on this thread. Thanks all. I will reply in more detail tomorrow. 

 

James

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Ferdinand, 

 

Thanks for the detailed comments. Just to clarify a few things. 

 

1) the roof. My architect spent a lot of time persuading English heritage that the roof could be changed to a zinc roof. To achieve this the emphasis was put on making the current roof seem as distressed as possible. In fact I have since had some conservation lead roof guys up there who felt it just need a little tlc. I have put aside maybe 10k to get roof in good shape. 

 

2) the French drains etc. One wall of the tower has some damp at the bottom. This is probably because the earth on the otherside is higher up the wall. Some sort of solution for that wall will need to be found. But what about run off from the gutters. Needs some external drainage. Could that be achieved without archaeology. 

 

3) archaeology. Our 2015 pp had a large North aisle extension that required extensive digging for foundations. The county archaeologist insisted in trenches rather than piling that would have been cheaper. Up to her I guess. Anyway, the new plan I would submit would require no external extension. The only archaeology required would be a) to skim 2ft depth off a patch near the entrance to the site for a driveway (6ft x 10ft x 2ft deep). I might get lucky at that depth. B) a watching brief while the slab foundations were prepared for the garage c) digging under the pathway down to the road for the sewage (I think 2ft again should do it) d) the drainage for gutters and the damp wall mentioned above. Archaeology remains my big cost unjust own I think. 

4) mezzanine would be freestanding and probably braced against the walls. Conservation officer didn't seem to bothered about the mezzanine. 

5) the 2015 pp stipulated a raised roof. This is something I am desperate to avoid and would be unnecessary if the current roof and be kept. I think the general consensus with the conservation officer was that insulating the lead roof 'might' damage it but if you are going to swap it for a zinc one then why not try. The worst that can happen is that you have to replace with lead. I did a little research on insulating Church roofs. Tricky area to keep moisture out. I did get the impression that underfloor heating might be best solution though. More research needed. 

6) I think the internal area of church with mezzanine will be under 180sq m. So 200k would be a big ask. However, I have a guy. I've used before. An old Hungarian actually. He is slow but can put his hand to anything. He would be doing all the conservation plastering, raised flooring (with my help), wool insulation in rafters (CO actually had that suggestion as a breathable insulation. Wool held by thin oak box), He has a mate who can also help erect garage, do landscaping, driveway etc. He is quite skilled but like so many Eastern Europeans are not properly utilised and spends his time at the moment in a meat packing pet food plant. I can put a kithen in. Done a few. Flooring likewise. 

 

So I'm thinking

12k oak garage

20k landscaping 

7k mezzanine

10k total archaeology

8k roof repair

8k kitchen

3k raised floor

5k Oak floor materials

7k bathrooms

25k plumbing

5k electrics 

5k heating underfloor

8k secondary glazing to windows (using large sheets of perspex similar to airplane cockpits apparently)

15k insulation

15k pastering

25k Hungarian goulash

5k stone work to repair loose stones at top of tower. 

10k professional fees

Unknown cost drainage

 

These are my own fantasy costs. Are they looking feasible or do I need more? 

 

Thanks again for comments. I know I am asking the impossible but I suppose I am looking for some reassurance that 200k should give me a sporting chance.

 

To be honest, I can't see the big costs risks if archaeology is mostly removed from the equation. But I have always been an optimistic SOB. 

 

 

 

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Mine will be turn key for that, but excludes services (about £7K) and all the professional fees have totalled about £20k, I think.

I could do it for less by using subbies and project managing, but feel under confident about co-ordinating the parts before first fix.I haven't included landscaping.

 

Random thoughts:

At a glance, the oak garage would be good value if you could camp in it, but the cost of foundations might push the costs up.

Could you compromise/ wait on the landscaping?

Secondhand kitchen?

Electrics might be more.

Sheeps wool is great but relatively more expensive.

Stonework might cost more if you need conservation specialists

Do you need scaffolding?

I think glass secondary glazing would look better on non opening windows (Sorry!). I'm renting an old house and its surprisingly good.

 

I may be naive too, but if you can design as much as possible to reuse what you have, could you avoid so archeology by not digging?

 

Have you considered compost loos? They are getting better all the time. Some are up to building regs and would avoid the need to dig?

 

Grey water reuse (careful not to flood the grave yard?!) for the same reason?

 

 

 

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PS, I think you might need nearer £300-400k as a gut instinct...

 

The next thing you need to do is work out how to get through Building Control with all these bits of legislation fighting each other, as its much safer to do a Full Plans submission and get the loadings and design stage SAP calculation approved etc. A Building Notice could go horribly wrong. An experienced architects technician will help you comply with BC (there is little leniency with conversions, but not much). 

 

Get experienced people for everything here: think if a mistake can be made, it will be, and try to prevent it. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, dance621 said:

So I'm thinking

12k oak garage

20k landscaping 

7k mezzanine

10k total archaeology

8k roof repair

8k kitchen

3k raised floor

5k Oak floor materials

7k bathrooms

25k plumbing

5k electrics 

5k heating underfloor

8k secondary glazing to windows (using large sheets of perspex similar to airplane cockpits apparently)

15k insulation

15k pastering

25k Hungarian goulash

5k stone work to repair loose stones at top of tower. 

10k professional fees

Unknown cost drainage

 

@dance621 - First of all I think @Ferdinand should be applauded for his efforts in assisting with this thread. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into it and this should be commended as it not only reflects well on him but the forum as well. Top job.

 

Anyway, the costs you have budgeted for above - you say they are fantasy figures. Are any actually based on researched costings? Do they include labour? VAT?

 

My thoughts are as follows - The plumbing budget appears high - that said the UFH budget appears on the low side - Are you intending to have an ASHP - If so which budget is that in?

 

Oak floor materials? How much square footage do you need? - seems on the low side to me what with all the sundry items you would need.

 

How long to envisage this work to take?  If I have read this correctly, it seems the work is to be carried out by you and your Hungarian chap - A 26 week build with a budget of £25k for his services amounts to less than £200 a day. 

 

All said and done, I wish you luck and look forward to seeing it progress.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Redoctober said:

 

@dance621 - First of all I think @Ferdinand should be applauded for his efforts in assisting with this thread. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into it and this should be commended as it not only reflects well on him but the forum as well. Top job.

 

 

Absolutely !

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2 hours ago, Redoctober said:

How long to envisage this work to take?  If I have read this correctly, it seems the work is to be carried out by you and your Hungarian chap - A 26 week build with a budget of £25k for his services amounts to less than £200 a day. 

 

 

 Hi is in hos 60s. I have known him for yours. Built like an Ox. He self built several properties in Hungary a decade or two ago. His English is pretty terrible so he works for just over minimum making pet food. He would love the chance to do something more suited to his skills. He is not the fastest but very careful in his work.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, dance621 said:

Ferdinand, 

 

Thanks for the detailed comments. Just to clarify a few things. 

 

1) the roof. My architect spent a lot of time persuading English heritage that the roof could be changed to a zinc roof. To achieve this the emphasis was put on making the current roof seem as distressed as possible. In fact I have since had some conservation lead roof guys up there who felt it just need a little tlc. I have put aside maybe 10k to get roof in good shape. 

 

2) the French drains etc. One wall of the tower has some damp at the bottom. This is probably because the earth on the otherside is higher up the wall. Some sort of solution for that wall will need to be found. But what about run off from the gutters. Needs some external drainage. Could that be achieved without archaeology. 

 

3) archaeology. Our 2015 pp had a large North aisle extension that required extensive digging for foundations. The county archaeologist insisted in trenches rather than piling that would have been cheaper. Up to her I guess. Anyway, the new plan I would submit would require no external extension. The only archaeology required would be a) to skim 2ft depth off a patch near the entrance to the site for a driveway (6ft x 10ft x 2ft deep). I might get lucky at that depth. B) a watching brief while the slab foundations were prepared for the garage c) digging under the pathway down to the road for the sewage (I think 2ft again should do it) d) the drainage for gutters and the damp wall mentioned above. Archaeology remains my big cost unjust own I think. 

4) mezzanine would be freestanding and probably braced against the walls. Conservation officer didn't seem to bothered about the mezzanine. 

5) the 2015 pp stipulated a raised roof. This is something I am desperate to avoid and would be unnecessary if the current roof and be kept. I think the general consensus with the conservation officer was that insulating the lead roof 'might' damage it but if you are going to swap it for a zinc one then why not try. The worst that can happen is that you have to replace with lead. I did a little research on insulating Church roofs. Tricky area to keep moisture out. I did get the impression that underfloor heating might be best solution though. More research needed. 

6) I think the internal area of church with mezzanine will be under 180sq m. So 200k would be a big ask. However, I have a guy. I've used before. An old Hungarian actually. He is slow but can put his hand to anything. He would be doing all the conservation plastering, raised flooring (with my help), wool insulation in rafters (CO actually had that suggestion as a breathable insulation. Wool held by thin oak box), He has a mate who can also help erect garage, do landscaping, driveway etc. He is quite skilled but like so many Eastern Europeans are not properly utilised and spends his time at the moment in a meat packing pet food plant. I can put a kithen in. Done a few. Flooring likewise. 

 

So I'm thinking

12k oak garage

20k landscaping 

7k mezzanine

10k total archaeology

8k roof repair

8k kitchen

3k raised floor

5k Oak floor materials

7k bathrooms

25k plumbing

5k electrics 

5k heating underfloor

8k secondary glazing to windows (using large sheets of perspex similar to airplane cockpits apparently)

15k insulation

15k pastering

25k Hungarian goulash

5k stone work to repair loose stones at top of tower. 

10k professional fees

Unknown cost drainage

 

These are my own fantasy costs. Are they looking feasible or do I need more? 

 

Thanks again for comments. I know I am asking the impossible but I suppose I am looking for some reassurance that 200k should give me a sporting chance.

 

To be honest, I can't see the big costs risks if archaeology is mostly removed from the equation. But I have always been an optimistic SOB. 

 

 

 

 

A few further comments in random order.

 

I am assuming that your engagement with this building is long term - either decades or 'will only leave in your coffin' (my dad's statement about his small manor house they renovated and lived in from 197x to 2009). 

 

1.  Aha. So your architect management was inspired by Sir Henry Wootton on Ambassadors 👀

"Legatus est vir bonus peregre missus ad mentiendum rei publicæ causâ."

 

2.  I think you need to think about which layers do not contain likely archaeology, which probably means bones or former graves/architecture. My surmise is that you should be safe with accretion since the graveyard closed in 1900, since by definition no one has been buried since then - assuming Bedfordshire has had no reversed version of Burke and Hare inserting bodies in churchyards in the dead of night.

 

I would say that that means you should be safe to dig perhaps 12-18" down around the walls for 12-24" out. Your call if you feel a need to talk to someone first. You may find that that alone will dry your walls over a couple of years. It might be tempting to go for a paved path at the new level so you can just sweep it.

 

It could be a good idea to see if you can get a local Archaeology Department to use your ground for letting their students practise with Ground Penetrating Radar in exchange for cups of tea and a copy of the result, or an email / short report / memo report (they also need to practice writing erports...). It may be that they will be able to discern disturbed layers / areas, which would help you tell where it is safe to dig, and that such an opinion would get it past the Conservation Officer without a full pro report if you need to show them. Get the relationship right and maintained, and you may be able to get informal opinions on the phone or two para emails for free forever just because someone is interested. You would benefit from 20 such relationships - pros who become friends; you need to find ones who are as eccentric as you are.

 

3.  I think your garage also needs to be secure storage and a workshop, with or without the car in there. Think carefully. One thing you are relatively short of is outbuildings. This is important.

 

4 - To keep costs down you need to decide which serious bits of kit you buy rather than hire. I would suggest a scaffold tower high enough to do the entire inside safely, perhaps scaffolding, and some tools.

 

5 - I would also think about transporting things. My technique is to have a car that can tow 2 tons, and a trailer that is the maximum length allowed into the local tip without a householder being charged.

 

6 - It might also be worth developing one or two specialist skills to conservation quality yourself - work out an interest, and which one will be most use. Lime pointing and repairing your leaded glazing, perhaps? Try more than a couple and you may not get the depth of skill necessary.

 

7. Medieval and later stone churches are really forgiving if you work with the building, and you can spend years and years needing to do nothing if they are basically sound. Then every so often a gargoyle winks and something needs 25k or 50k spending on it in the next 5-10 years. There is a lot to learn from the way the CofE manages its buildings - they have a proper professional inspection every 5 years which generates a list of works, which allows planning usually via a dedicated fund in the accounts and sometimes appeals etc. Most have very long term relationships with architects. You could find out more about that by chatting to a local churchwarden or 2 (not usually the Vicar), or reading up on their resource books. The buildings panjandrum in the Diocese is the Archdeacon (known as the Archdemon to their friends), not the Bishop or Chancellor.

 

There is also a huge range of resources on the ChurchCare website, especially the advice and guidance sheets.

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare

 

8.  Glad to see that you are taking a thoughtful approach to adding bits to the building. Excellent.

 

9. Gutters - do you actually need gutters? If gargoyles and waterspouts were good enough for 400 years, what has changed?

 

10. A lot of churches put their secondary glazing outside, as it is aimed at protecting stained glass windows. I agree you are probably better inside - though perhaps a heat model would be a good idea to understand it well. One of members developed a good one here:

 

11. I think one big expense I see appearing at some point will be repairs to those weathering window frames.

 

12. Have you considered how you will manage casual visitors? eg couples married there 40 years ago wanting a photo in the porch? In such a prominent position you *will* get them. What about having a small display board by the gate making it clear that it is now a private house, but sharing a bit of historical detail?

 

Then maybe a display in what will be your porch with any artefacts you have found, and a bit more info - so if you ever decide to do eg Church Open Day or the National Garden Scheme you can satisfy the interest whilst keeping your private space private.

 

My preference is to manage visitors gently rather than totally exclude, as it can be very enriching. At our house we had all sorts of people who had lived there, or knew people, or doing family research at the rate of a couple a year.

 

13. Similarly for the garden - needs some thought for what you will do to keep your eg private sunbathing or child playing space. One useful possibility could be a hedge (hedges not regulated - fences are) round inside the wall. A hornbeam, yew or beech hedge would work wonders for private space.

 

14. Does it need to make money? Depending on what you do, you could use the garden + porch as a location for local wedding photogs. Relatively unintrusive and could bring in say £100-200 a number of times a year to pay for projects.

 

15. If you want historical information, parish registers and things are normally in the public domain somewhere. Perhaps County Archives or scanned by the Mormon Church.

 

16. If you do put wool insulation in, ask about what happens if it gets an infestation.

 

17. Are you in a position - not having started - to get indemnity policies now? eg insure against dry rot. Once you know what is there you can't insure against it. Could be good value.

 

18. I slightly think you are doing your budget process backwards. You've already committed, and what you gotta do, you gotta do. What you can control is more about when you do it, which bits you can delay or avoid doing, and cost control of that.

 

I would suggest thinking about the selection of bits of project you need in order to be able to get in, focus on cost-efficiency on appropriate quality work and accept that the rest will happen in due course.

 

19. I think the mains not a composting loo is probably the way to go.

 

20. I would suggest a habit of being nosey about converted churches, where you can learn a huge amount by just knocking on doors when you drive past it. Perhaps have some photos of yours on your iPad, but people love talking about them. Or visit ones for sale. Also develop an eye for detail of alterations to older churches - huge numbers had loos and kitchens added very well for the millenium, and I find them the most interesting category of listed buildings as the only ones that have been allowed to continue evolving since 1950.

 

21. You may never have to pay in full for a holiday again. You'll be able to do exchanges for Gin Palaces in Florida and Villas in Venice. The Yanks for one would love it.

 

22. Grants. Grade 2* may mean that you have more prospect than others - eg for conservation on your medieval chancel arch etc. You will not likely get things to make your life better - though perhaps there may be stuff under the latest govt eco scheme etc or RHI.

 

Enjoy.


Ferdinand

Edited by Ferdinand
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6 hours ago, Ferdinand said:

18. I slightly think you are doing your budget process backwards. You've already committed, and what you gotta do, you gotta do. What you can control is more about when you do it, which bits you can delay or avoid doing, and cost control of that.

 Thanks again Ferdinand for you comments. I can't tell you how useful they are. Regarding your point 18, this for me is a critical point. To be absolutely honest we first approached the church or England a decade ago. It took 5 long years to get planning and we have sat on it for the last 5 years disillusioned by the scope of the project. After planning we were told by a developer that the extension would cost way to much to add value. That kinda took the wind out of our sails. The new idea of a simple conversion (simple as in no extension!) has been brewing for a while. I might end up living at the church but 10 years is a long time and kids have friends elsewhere now. Really I'm not sure. As for the budget my concern is that I can't get the work finished for my budget of 200k. I have a contingency of maybe 50k on top max but I would struggle after that.

 

I suppose I came on here looking for reassurance that this sort of project 'could' be achieved for 200k. I am a resourceful chap and part of my day job involved reconfiguring and outfitting shop spaces on a very low budget. Very different but I know how to source things cheaply and travel hours to pickup when necessary. 

 

I suppose I have not received that reassurance on this forum but it is probably unfair to expect someone to advise on such limited knowledge. Jilly's 400k top end was sobering. And I don't know how the project gets completed if the project expanded to that level. 

 

I do have an 'out'. A local property auction is wiling to sell it for me. The same agent said that  I probably shouldn't sell it because if I do it up it would lt be worth 650-700k even without an extension. 

 

Maybe I could ask this. Would you be mad enough to undertake a project like this with limited depth of pockets? 

 

Thanks again for all the advice. I wish I had found this forum 10 years ago. 

 

James

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Posted (edited)

On management of this project.

 

I don't think a useful answer to "can I finish for 200k" is possible. Firstly because we have no idea what "finished" means - and everytime you think it is finished the winking gargoyle will think of something else that needs to be done, and secondly because the thing is so unique that opinions from third parties on the Internet on that question are mainly worth diddley squat - at least until they have been and looked and have the knowledge to guestimate in the context of Bedfordshire and your particular building.

 

Even on a self-build new house you can make a +/- 50% difference in a lot of areas just by purchasing and careful (or not) choices.

 

It is probably good to break each bit down with estimates, and so create a constructive cost model that you can assign a confidence level to. Then if you need you can profile your costs down. Here is an excellent detailed thread about how one of our members @Visti did that:

 

 

You will get more directly useful stuff from us on things like what works best for heating systems, how to do particular aspects, and how to get your insulation or your doors for half the normal price. And maybe on overall approach from people who have tackled challenging projects - there are a couple of people who are at bath-chair age or younger but are tackling projects to make my eyes water.

 

I think you have strong financial arsecover in the time you have owned it, and it may be useful to focus on Phases small enough to envision completing so encouraging you at every point, and you can always see progress, and which would each add enough perceived value to give you confidence that the value has increased.

 

The goal should be to move in as quickly as is practicable (yes?), so I would think about what is *necessary* for you to move in, and perhaps talk about 2 initial phases, rather than "finished". If you have reasonable confidence your investment will come back at each stage, you can relax slightly (a Fog Cutter helps).

 

When you come to deal with the Council remember that they cannot set a timescale for *finishing*, so you get to take as long as you like once you have started. If you are somewhat ambiguous you can get a lot of leeway.

 

Phase 1 - Basic Works

 

1A - Outdoors

Driveway and something round the back for parking / storage - garage or a freight container or two, perhaps a secondhand Portakabin for office / site facilities.

Drains.

Minimal garden - mixed hedge yew / holly / beach, and the rest as a wildflower meadow cut twice a year.

Any essential safety building works - that dodgy tower stonework?

1B - Indoors

Stuff you need to do before fitting out can start - services, steel frame, stud walls (?), insulation, whatever you do with the floor. Secondary glazing.

Other stuff you think.

 

Phase 2 - Making the Indoors Liveable

My thoughts - do not touch tower at all, 2 or 3 bedrooms, living kitchen, one bathroom. Create spaces for the rest but leave them empty.

 

Then move in, or after a bit more if you are soft. The experience of frost on the inside of the windows in the morning is a great character builder 🙂. Make them live in the 1920s for a bit, then they will be grateful when you make the 1950s.

 

Then Phase 3, 4 etc.

 

Notes

 

I think you need to reflect on how you will do things. eg I have some ideas for a totally removable floor that I'll post tomorrow.

I think you also need to reflect on ventilation if you are making an ancient "breathing building" more airtight. Is there potential for stack ventilation up the tower stairs - the nice thing about church tower roofs is that they are properly accessible. 

 

Ferdinand 

 

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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12 hours ago, dance621 said:

 Really I'm not sure. As for the budget my concern is that I can't get the work finished for my budget of 200k. I have a contingency of maybe 50k on top max but I would struggle after that.

I suppose I came on here looking for reassurance that this sort of project 'could' be achieved for 200k. 

I suppose I have not received that reassurance on this forum but it is probably unfair to expect someone to advise on such limited knowledge. Jilly's 400k top end was sobering. And I don't know how the project gets completed if the project expanded to that level. 

 

 

@dance621 try not to be so downbeat. It seems to me that the barrier to moving on with this project is the fear that your budget isn't sufficient enough. OK, you haven't managed to gain a degree of reassurance from the forum which would have perhaps give you the confidence you are seeking. That unfortunately is understandable, given the lack of personal knowledge known about the actual project. 

That said though, can you not take confidence that your budget is achievable by what you have researched or received from those who do know the project? What costs do the architects put on the project? Have you priced up the plans yourself or via various trades? Or are these budget figures simply arrived at to suit your budget?  If it is the latter, then who knows, you may have over budgeted!!!

Or is it the case you have been given "ball park" figures and they are too far North of your available budget?  If that is the case then again, that might not be so much of a deal breaker if you willing to adapt you expectations, along the lines suggested by @Ferdinand

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Hey, yes, sorry, don't be down beat because of me, I guess the £400k figure just came from extrapolating from my costs and watching Grand Designs ... there are people who have build new inhere for £1k/m2

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16 hours ago, dance621 said:

Maybe I could ask this. Would you be mad enough to undertake a project like this with limited depth of pockets? 

 

yes... because I'm that sort of nutter who does those sorts of things !!

 

If you are handy then you can make this work for you, and you can make it fly. I looked at something similar and what we came up with was a floating box system in the main church itself - steel framed, not even touching the sides. That way you steer clear of the conservation monsters, and you build something with comfort built in. As it is "internal" you can build a cassette system you make yourself with 8x4 modules - think Walter Segal but inside. Build these with standard timber - even make the I beams yourself - and you can put a lot of insulation in the bedrooms/bathrooms etc and potentially an office or snug on the ground floor and you've got a house within a house. Make the windows from this from things such as standard DG units, or even use office partitions that have the built in blinds and you've solved another problem too.

 

Then think about the tower rooms - they will never meet regs but you will need to do the minimum to get close. If you use those as occasional rooms then in reality you can heat them as and when you need them. A lovely bell tower bedroom is lovely in summer when the walls keep you cool, but your OH will not thank you when its -6c outside and I mean outside the duvet...

 

One thing that a church conversion can live with - and is possibly a good move - is an Aga or similar heat store stove. Yes they are expensive to run, but the constant low heat in the winter will keep the place warm and dry. You can pick up decent oil ones for £500 on ebay, a recon burner is another £500. Use that to pump heat into the old oil rads around the main building or the pipes under the floor, and an ASHP to do the "modern living bit" and you have the best of both worlds.

 

The trick is to think in boxes as @Ferdinand says - build all the boxes, then fit the ones out you need. Think kitchen bed and bath, then work outwards....

 

I think your £20k for landscaping is barking mad btw.... A JCB for 2 hours, a roll of geotex and 40 tonnes of crushed gravel and you will have everything you need for change of £2k and 2 days...!

 

 

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