What is the Average Cost of a Barn Conversion?

What is the Average Cost of a Barn Conversion?

What is the average cost of a barn conversion and other questions answered by barn conversion expert Clare Nash.

Can I convert my barn into a dwelling?

Mostly the answer is yes if it is relatively intact, has three or more sides and was formerly used for agriculture. Equestrian use does not count as agricultural use. Despite this we have previously converted stables into dwellings or holiday lets. But not under Class Q.

What is the average cost of a barn conversion?

In 2023 post Covid and current Brexit/Ukraine issues we are finding that it’s around £2,500/m2 (calculated using internal floor area including the first floor). Then it depends a lot on personal taste, individual barn characteristics and complexities and of course local builder competitiveness.

Do barn conversions need planning permission?

In general we find this the best route as it gives you more flexibility and longer to complete the build. Permitted Development or Prior Approval insists that you finish building within 3 years of gaining permission.

Class Q is quite limiting but can be useful to test in principle. With most barn conversions we opt for a pre-application followed by a full planning application. This allows you to test ideas with the planners before making an application (that neighbours can see). Also the advantage of planning permission over Class Q or Prior Approval (as it’s often called) is that it gives you 3 years to start building. Prior Approval insists that you complete building within 3 years. This can be tricky to achieve with builder timeframes and high workloads in the industry at the moment. It is also less attractive if you plan to sell.

Is a barn conversion cheaper than a new build?

Not really. Although it has an existing shell to use, there are additional complexities eg potential undermining, additional structure required to support roof loads. Cows didn’t need an upstairs, so headroom restricts layout options etc.

What are the pitfalls of barn conversions?

See this blog for an in depth list of things to be aware of. Or

Download our guide to avoid 7 costly mistakes on a barn conversion here.

How do you prepare for any challenges?

I would suggest working with someone familiar with barn conversions. Barns have unique planning stipulations and  limitations. A pre-application with the council is always a good idea. A structural survey including trial pits to establish existing foundation depths (if any) will help to ascertain costs.

Do you need planning permission to convert a barn into a house?

Yes, although some qualify under permitted development, you will need to apply for Prior Approval. This is determines if you can start building or if you need to provide further information to the council.

How do you harmonise the old and the new?

It’s important to respect the agricultural history of a barn and not make it look too domestic. This means no dormers, porches or perpendicular extensions (something we are often asked about).
There are two types of barn: –

Modern steel-framed barns with concrete and timber cladding and

Traditional barns with stone, brick or timber walls.

The traditional barns carry a regional flavour that you don’t see in volume housebuilding. This makes them attractive homes. Traditional barns make fantastic contemporary homes. The envelope provides a fantastic, textural base to work from. Then it’s up to you and your own personal taste for the interior. Some owners like to emphasise the traditional further with wooden trusses (restored or new insertions), others like an industrial look (with dark window frames and exposed steel. This aesthetic also works very well with modern barns and reflects the agri-industrial heritage. We are usually very inspired by the barn itself – it’s limits and opportunities – and enjoy combining that with individual quirks and tastes.

Some councils have made it very difficult to convert modern barns in the past. Read more here about why. 

How do you design a layout that works for you?

Traditional barns tend to have the big cart door entrances and often planning limits on number of windows and sizing. This often dictates how the layout could work in the first instance. Modern steel-framed barns have a lot more flexibility. In both barn types you need to be clever about headroom around the eaves at first floor level. In this design we situated en-suites at half-landing height with storage underneath, so you walk down a few steps from the bedroom to access the en-suite. Typically barns are also long and fairly narrow, this reduces the bedrooms you can have at first floor level due to the headroom required for a corridor.

We absolutely love barns and would be keen to chat with you about yours. Please do get in touch with us here. Or sign up for our newsletter or follow us on instagram. Both contain more barn inspiration!