Planning your conversion

Converting a building to become your home gives the opportunity to create a unique end result that reflects the character and previous use of the original building.

Under-used space like a loft, garage or a cellar can be converted to create added habitable areas in the main home as a study, games room, cinema room, gym or simply an added bedroom and en suite. Entire building conversions, however, take the whole notion even further and can yield even more imaginative results.

Old barns, churches, former pubs, hospitals, former military structures and water towers can become the most magnificent family homes. With the eye of an expert, a conversion should manage to retain the character and heritage features of its host, to serve as a reminder of its history. Naturally, as part of its reinvention, an old building needs to be updated to meet current building regulation standards. This needs to be done in such a way that the original building is protected and this is part of the challenge for the architect.

Barn conversions

Converting a barn brings the opportunity to create a unique home with an abundance of character.

Barns were originally built to enclose a large volume of space without the interruption of columns or structure. Added to this they encompass a history often with original features that makes them an exciting prospect for conversion. Many barns in Norfolk and Suffolk have already been converted but there are still opportunities out there, especially if you are prepared to be on the look out and tour the area.

The essence of a good barn conversion is to retain the integrity and fabric of the original structure while also making it suitable for 21st century living. Old agricultural buildings have a vernacular style that can be exploited in this way.

By glazing barn doors, exposing timber beams and adding mezzanine levels a real dynamic can be given to the resulting living space. Nevertheless, there will be some challenges to overcome. Barns will generally not be connected to mains services and will therefore need their own sewerage system.

Some will be listed due to their historic value and conversion will require a listed building application to be submitted. And the challenge will always be to preserve as much as possible of the existing structure whilst bringing the home up to modern day building standards.