A Guide to Barn Conversions

A Guide to Barn Conversions

Over the last century, there has been a huge increase in property purchasers seeking out a new challenge by choosing to covert a barn. Of course, this can be a quite a challenge, but the end result is usually completely worth it. Converting a barn takes a lot of planning and commitment, but there is usually only one rule to follow, and that is to try and stay as true to the structure as possible. If you ignore that rule, you will often lose the incredible character which the barn has. Ideally, you should think about this rule when designing your conversion and implement it through every aspect of the design.

Unused or derelict barns are highly sought-after structures on the property market due to their potential. It is often because of their history and beauty that so many decide to try their hand at converting a barn. When looking online, you will probably find many barns which are ready to go and have already been granted Planning Permission. Even though barns have great potential, they weren’t built to be homes, and can sometimes be difficult to convert. We have put together this guide with some advice if you are looking to convert your own barn.

Buying Process

When looking at the property market, you may be able to find an already converted barn, or you can look at an empty structure as an investment opportunity and convert it yourself. Due to their potential, an unconverted barn can often fetch 6-figure sum if it has the correct Planning Permission in place.

When an estate agent values a barn, they take into account its potential worth as well as the cost of conversion; the price of an unconverted barn is usually valued at around 40% of its expected value after it has been converted.

It is essential that once you have found a barn you are interested in purchasing, you consider any pitfalls as well as ensuring that it ticks all of your boxes.

Listed Buildings

There are many restrictions in place when a building is listed, and this could limit your plans significantly. Listed barns should be approached with caution, and thorough research should be carried out. However, they should not be avoided completely as with the right commitment; the finished product could be incredible as well as having a great resale value.


It is important to remember that barns weren’t built to be comfortable homes, so one of the most troublesome tasks can be ensuring that the property is connected to water, electricity and gas.

Planning Permission

When looking to purchase a barn, you may already find that it has Planning Permission for change of use already in place, and this will save you some hassle but will come at a higher cost.

If you have found a barn, but it doesn’t have any Planning Permission, you should be cautious about parting with any money until the planning authority has given your architect’s drawings the green light. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we have experience in the conversion of barns and can provide you with a detailed report to support your planning applications in Cornwall and the surrounding area.

Once you have been granted Planning Permission, you should ensure that you do a cost analysis before you commit to your purchase. This is particularly important if you intend to get a mortgage as well as paying for any extras like surveys.


As with any property you purchase, you want to make sure that it is structurally sound as well not being too fragile to support your renovation.

If not, to meet minimum safety requirements you may be forced to tear most of it down and build from scratch which will defeat the object of the project.


When converting a barn, one of the aspects you want to keep hold of is the character. Therefore, if you opt for PVC windows and doors, the structure will end up losing its character completely.

Many planning officers will want to see signs that you are going to respect to the heritage of the barn, so it may be worth budgeting and investing in authentic building materials.

If you have any questions regarding planning permission for your barn conversion or require some in-depth advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01579 345777.

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