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To buy not to buy and what to expect.


Robw85
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Hi all, I’m looking at buying some land with 5 barns on it.

 

This one (pictured) I think would be the easiest of all as it’ll only be a single story project given the height of the building. 

Now I’m not all familiar with conversions so before I go though is there anything I really need to know? 
The barn frames are of different construction, this one is oak framed supports and trusses. Some of the others are also oak framed and one is of a concrete covered reinforced steel frame.  

All of them have single phase electrics and running water but no sewage waste or gas/oil.
What kind of prices would one expect to convert to a single story, for this one all we’d really want to do is a glass front, bifold on the other side then just bed room partition then open plan kitchen lounge. 
 

sorry for the questions just like to know what one is to expect. 
 
many thanks

 

AA3765AC-E5EA-4EB8-940E-04C28112AFAE.jpeg

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Thank you for the reply,

 

I don’t think mains drainage would be possible as there isn’t a main line in the area to connect to. I think everyone has septic tanks so think that would be the only option on this one and for each of the other builds.

 

certainly a lot to think a about. 
 

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I doubt you will have problems installing a drainage system there as long as you have some of the land to do so (not just the barn plus a tiny bit)

 

But do you know you will get PP to convert it?  Has it gone through the procedure of trying to sell it for an agricultural use?

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Hi @Robw85, and welcome.

 

Is there planning in place? If not, what's the route to planning? Class Q PD? or Planning permission for a Change of Use conversion. I assume there's no chance of a knock down a rebuild, it looks very much in a rural setting.

 

Off mains sewage is no issue with a treatment plant, especially if there's a ditch within the site that's downhill from the house.

 

Depending on route to planning could effect the costs. While Class Q maybe the easier to achieve in planning terms, the requirements for not exceeding the existing building envelope can drive to a more expensive solution to insulate and make airtight.

 

Either way costs are north of £2K/m² to do a reasonable job, unless you are doing much of it yourself.

 

Tell us more about the planning route and what your aspirations are for the site. ie. long term house for yourself, low energy losses etc. etc.

 

 

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Can’t thank you all enough for the replies

 

Drainage ditch is roughly 50m away, some access points along the way from the barns/sheds. 
 

The barns come with afew acres of land around them. 
 

We was thinking along the lines of Class Q PD as this seems to be the best way to get it done. The barns all range from 1800s to 1990 so all beyond the age required. 

We are thinking of converting a couple of them, one for the mother in law and one for my family so would be a long term homes with a good percentage being done by myself so ideally need to be economic with energy etc so concrete floor will need to be done again etc. 

 

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I have met a few people who bought such a building, with planning permission. They were not aware that the structure was beyond use for conversion, and that complete new foundations and mostly new structure were required. (Foundations and structure for agricultural use has no factor of safety, so even if in good condition, everything has to be  redone or strengthened)

The building itself therefore has a negative value, and this should be seen as a building plot with constraints. 

If any of the cladding is asbestos cement, then there is a largish cost for removal and disposal.

The current roof is very light too. you would be increasing the load on the structure.

Drainage is the least of the concerns I would say.

 

Sorry for the negatives, but be sure to build them in to the cost, and off the land value. 

 

On the positive it is timber, not steel and has its attractions, if you can retain, use and show the timber.

 

Are you thinking of ground floor only, or an upper floor? What is the height to the eaves and ties?

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It’s currently being listed as a farmhouse with a range of traditional farm buildings with potential for alternative uses subject to planning with land. 
I’ve been speaking to the owner and he’s only just decided to sell it off as he’s semi retiring. 

Edited by Robw85
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For this one we was thinking of ground floor only.  Due to the height of the trusses but these would be left exposed and a new roof added etc. 
Floor would be broken up and redone so it’s insulated etc. 
each support I guess would be removed one at a time with the pad being reinforced

Edited by Robw85
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33 minutes ago, Robw85 said:

Drainage ditch is roughly 50m away, some access points along the way from the barns/sheds. 

 

That's no distance in the bigger scheme of things, so sewage isn't a real problem that needs too much consideration at this stage.

 

33 minutes ago, Robw85 said:

We was thinking along the lines of Class Q PD as this seems to be the best way to get it done. The barns all range from 1800s to 1990 so all beyond the age required. 

 

Do you know all the rules? have you spoken to a "professional"?

 

It's the "Agricultural Unit" that has the PD for conversion, so not necessarily the Barns if they've already been sold away from a Farm that is still in business.

 

Or, is the whole "Agricultural Unit" for sale, even if it's no longer functioning as a working Farm?

 

The definitions matter with Class Q.

 

If the barns are still part of a working farm and are yet to be parted from the Farm and sold off, the current owner needs to be part of the Class Q Submission, as it has an impact on the working Farm, ie. any further Agricultural PD (Class B) is removed from the Farm for a period of 10 years.

Assuming you can meet all the rules of Class Q, you can then convert to Residential within the envelope of the existing structures. (The open front to the barn you have shown would cause an issue with some LPAs, but not with others).

Most LPAs are quite strict on not extending beyond the existing envelope, so the corrugated sheeting defines your outer skin (but can obviously be replaced). This makes it difficult to then get the primary structure of the barn inside the thermal envelope, so you need to keep it outside, and build you walls inside of this structure, and dovetail the old and new to maximise internal floor area, while keeping the existing structure outside the thermal envelope.

The barn shown is a very lightweight structure so will likely only have pad foundations. Your going to need some foundation structure to sit under the external walls you need to introduce, so again you'll need a new floor structure that can dovetail around the existing pad foundations and provide the support for the new external walls.

 

All doable, but complicates and adds a little cost.

 

A full planning application for a change of use conversion, may open up better value options where you can extend beyond the existing envelope a little and wrap the existing structure inside the thermal envelope.

 

Edited to add:
I can see from your reply, added while I was typing mine, that it appears to be the Agricultural Unit that is for sale, so the next thing to check is that these Barns were last used for Agriculture and haven't had a recent use for fixing cars or storing non-agricultural paraphernalia. 

Edited again to add:
You mention "a few acres". Is the existing owner a farmer, farming the land and possibly renting other land, or a contract Farm worker. Oddly, barns used for contract farming aren't included within Class Q, as agricultural contracting falls outside the Agricultural Unit definition.

Edited by IanR
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Thank you Ian a lot of information there. 
 

The land inc houses and barns etc are being sold separately from a currently working farm.  So from what your saying PP would be the option here? 
 

Although we do plan on getting some livestock that wasn’t on the table till we completed the project so doubt we could get reclassed as a farm again. 

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The barns were last used for cattle, sheep and feed storage. Someone did apply to have the buildings changed for car storage and repairs but this was rejected due to increased flow of vehicles to and from so their pulled out. 

 

The owner is farmer and owned many acres which he’s sold off as he’s semi retiring but still continuing to do small small farming next door to this land. 

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2 minutes ago, Robw85 said:

The land inc houses and barns etc are being sold separately from a currently working farm.  So from what your saying PP would be the option here? 

 

Class Q maybe the only option, depending on how relaxed the LPA are with the re-use of redundant agricultural buildings.

 

The ones local to me like to see some good reasons for re-using farm buildings as residential, ie. that they can't be found another use like light industrial or craft, and they want a reason proved for keeping them such as maintaining the typical scene around a farmhouse (especially if the farmhouse is listed), or the historic value.

 

So, PP is an option, if the LPA are open to the change of use conversion, and it may open up better opportunities for a simpler conversion. The LPA's are generally more open to PP if they know you have the Class Q option. If you can go Class Q then they have little input, so are then more open to PP so that have some control over how the conversion is done and what it will look like.

 

Class Q requires the existing owner of the Agricultural Unit to "be onside". You can't define the buildings as part of an Agricultural Unit without them agreeing to this, and as I said before they have to accept the loss of Class B Agricultural PD for 10 years and the fact the conversion of these barns uses up the Sqr meterage allowable under Class Q, so other barns still owned by the Ag unit may not be able to be converted using Class Q.

 

15 minutes ago, Robw85 said:

Although we do plan on getting some livestock that wasn’t on the table till we completed the project so doubt we could get reclassed as a farm again. 


It needs to be profitable and able to sustain a full time worker to be an Ag Unit (or to have previously done).

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The current owner seemed happy with the plans I spoke to him about of converting them all and keeping them for my family as he didn’t want the land to be sold off for mass development.
It might help that he’s a village council member as well.  PP would ideally be best as you said you can then go beyond the original scope. A lot to consider. 

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Once satisfied that you are really keen, but holding on to your expectations, it would be well worth speaking to a planning consultant. A very local one who specialises in this sort of work, as they will know the policy and the council's interpretation, and also precedents. You would probably need their skills to get permission later.

This will have a cost, but is much better than ending up as long term owners of a very expensive barn.

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Just looking at something a little similar, a dutch barn and there is a stone building also, but in the same field are 2  archaeological features, so I guess it would be difficult or would they not matter as there are existing buildings?

 

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Archaeological features can be astounding or mundane.

If it was a Roman villa then your project stands still for years, at your expense.

However, most investigations that I have had to allow on site have simply been looking for old trenches/field boundaries  and tracks. 

This delays the work, especially excavation, and they make you pay for their investigations (£2k or so)

But then they go away and you are usually allowed to do what you like.

What are your features?

 

I am sympathetic to understanding our history. What annoys me is that planners ask archaeologists if they have any comments, and they then require an investigation for which you pay them.

 

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20 minutes ago, saveasteading said:

Archaeological features can be astounding or mundane.

If it was a Roman villa then your project stands still for years, at your expense.

However, most investigations that I have had to allow on site have simply been looking for old trenches/field boundaries  and tracks. 

This delays the work, especially excavation, and they make you pay for their investigations (£2k or so)

But then they go away and you are usually allowed to do what you like.

What are your features?

 

I am sympathetic to understanding our history. What annoys me is that planners ask archaeologists if they have any comments, and they then require an investigation for which you pay them.

 

Long Barrow and Tumulus about 120 metres from the structures.

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Getting class Q, as others have said, depends largely on your LPA.

Where I live this would never get Class Q as they require a full building suitable for conversion.

 

Where abouts are you in the country, not your address, just the county or area.

 

As others have said the best thing to do is to speak to a local planning consultant and also look at the LPA portal.

Search for Class Q over the last 2 years and look at the Design and Access statement for pictures of the barns being converted.

 

And, the way it works is you can have 3 larger dwelling or 5 smaller ones.  So, if you wish to have a large house for yourself then you won't get class Q for all 5.

 

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My house is a barn conversion in open countryside done via Q planning. If there outside the development boundary (most likely) this will be the only way you will get planning. The checkbox's for class Q conversion are quite simple but they are strict. it has to be former farm usage (you will need proof - a letter from the previous owner should suffice).  I think you biggest issue will be getting a structural engineer report to say that the structural sound and can 'take a building' - LA can be strict on this definition. You have to build within the envelope of the existing building FYI - you cannot go outside.

You'll need a contamination report and then deal with anything it finds. Check how much Amps the electricity connection is (are all the barns sharing it) as that will cost to upgrade for the DNO. Treatment plant for sewage is not expensive really in the scheme of things. Cost/m2 will be more than a new build as you will have to work around the existing structure all the time and this will cost in terms of time and many things will need to be made to fit. Obviously you\ll need to get rid of the asbestosis - there are companies that take the p**s with pricing. Shop around a lot. We had quotes up to 10K (it cost us 1.2K).

Talk to a local planning consultant - money worth spending IMO if you are serious.

Edited by gc100
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