If you’re looking for a unique country-living experience, then a barn conversion might be the perfect way for you to achieve this.

A barn conversion is exactly what it says on the tin; the conversion of a farm building into a habitable space for either commercial and residential use.

With their high ceilings, rustic interiors, beam design and generous proportions, barn conversions have become an extremely desirable piece of real estate.

In this guide, we explore just how you go about converting your barn into a home.

Do You Need Planning Permission for a Barn Conversion?

For the most part, a barn conversion will not require planning permission. This is because they fall under the permitted development rights. You will, however, need to submit a Prior Approval application before you begin your conversion to ensure it’s both legal and that your local council is fully accepting.

Can I extend my house without planning permission?

However, there are some instances where you will be required to submit full planning permission before converting your barn. This will likely be the case if your barn is set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a conservation area, a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, a National Park or a World Heritage Site.

Always make sure you check with your local council to see which permissions you need before you begin any construction work.

UK Barn Conversion Cost

Converting a barn into a house is no simple task, and the cost reflects that. To convert a barn into a house, you’re looking at an average cost of £275,000. This amount will vary depending on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to:

  • Materials used
  • The size of the barn
  • The layout of the barn
  • The starting condition of the barn
  • Adding in walls, windows and doors
  • Adding utilities such as gas, electric, and water
  • Finishing and decorative touches such as carpet, tiling and painting

There is also the potential for additional costs that should be worked into your budget, which include:

  • Underpinning to provide stability
  • Wall and timber reinforcement
  • Fixing any cracks or holes
  • Removal of asbestos
  • Properly dealing with any damp or mould and then dampproofing
  • Installing extra insulation

There are also some extra aesthetic costs to take into account if your barn is set within a historic area.

While the cost of a barn conversion is certainly not for the faint of heart, those who complete the task without cutting any corners are more than rewarded for their investment!

The Benefits of a Barn Conversion

Whether you’re looking to rent, sell, or live in your barn conversion, there are plenty of benefits that come from completing the project. Some of the great benefits of converting your barn include:

  • The opportunity to create a one of a kind living space
  • Having a home set in the countryside with fantastic, picturesque views
  • The opportunity to incorporate the barn’s original features such as large open space and beams
  • The opportunity to design your entire layout, including room sizes and shapes
  • If the property is empty, it can be zero VAT rated, which makes it cheaper to work on than a standard conversion
  • Barn conversions make for appealing properties for both buying, renting and even using as holiday lets

A barn converted into a bar

How to Convert a Barn

Once you’ve found your barn, sorted out your budget or financing and gotten any permissions needed, then it’s time to get your project underway.

Here are the key steps you need to take to convert your barn into a home.

Get a Survey

It’s a good idea to get a professional such as a chartered surveyor or structural engineer involved early in any conversion projects, but especially when it comes to converting a barn.

This is because almost all barns were built for storage or to meet another agricultural need. As such, barns were built as cheaply and quickly as possible, so their stability isn’t assured.

It’s always best to get a survey of the barn done before you begin any conversion work. The key things to check are:

  • Load-bearing walls
  • Roof structure and foundations
  • If any underpinning is needed if you’re adding a second storey

By getting a professional in early, you can find out the issues in the barn’s structure and then plan and budget accordingly.

Finding a Designer

Just because the barn is built doesn’t mean you don’t need a designer. It takes a lot of skill to maximise the potential of the shell of a building. This is especially true when that building was initially intended for agricultural needs and not as a dwelling.

By getting a designer on board, you can ensure you’re making the most of your building by creating a practical and unique living space. A designer can also better explain how you can make the most of the barn’s original character, such as the wide-open and double-height space.


The majority of barns consist of four stone walls and a roof with no insulation at all. That’s why when it comes to the physical conversion, installing new insulation that meets modern standards should be one of your top priorities.

Aim to keep the barn’s external cladding intact and insulate the walls internally. If you’re going to retain the barn’s vaulted ceilings, you’ll likely need to fit insulation between the rafters and also look at adding both dampproofing and insulation underfoot.

Installing Utilities

It’s unlikely a barn will be hooked up to mains water, electricity, gas or sewage systems. Get in touch with local utility suppliers and find out how much you’ll be looking to pay for installation. This would also be the perfect time to consider more sustainable and renewable energy options such as solar panels and heat pumps.

Create More Natural Light

When it came to building barns, natural light wasn’t high on the list of priorities, with few or even no windows.

To satisfy modern living standards, you should look into how best you can add more natural light to the barn while still preserving its character.

This can be done by adding conservation-style skylights to allow natural light to filter down through the property.

Converting a barn into a home is no small task, but once complete you can reap all of the benefits of having a fantastic and desirable living space that will last for years.

If you’re looking to start a big conversion project and would like the help of trusted professionals, get in touch with us today and speak to an expert member of our team.

contact our team today