In the UK, barn conversions are popular with buyers and developers. Structural engineering input is necessary right the way through these projects, from Planning and Building Regulations to eventual construction and maintenance.
Transforming historical barns into habitable homes can be a considerable challenge. Providing awareness of potential issues from the outset, a structural survey will help to determine whether the project is financially viable.
Structural Consultancy for Historical Barns
As part of the Planning process for conversion of agricultural buildings, a detailed structural survey must usually be undertaken. This provides information as to whether the property is suitable for conversion, and insight into how this can be achieved without compromising the existing structure.
If the barns are listed, a structural survey can provide details of materials and methods that retain original features, whilst the building is developed for modern living. In these cases, the structural engineer’s knowledge of heritage properties and due consideration for sensitive development can help support specialist Planning Applications.
On-going structural engineering consultancy supports the project at all stages of development. This helps to identify and address potential issues before they bring the development to a halt.
Essex Barn Conversions
In 2019, RWA Consulting was engaged as the structural engineers for a project in Essex. Developers, English Concepts, initially asked us to undertake a design and feasibility structural survey on three barns on Jenkins Farm in Stisted. These timber-framed architectural buildings were originally built in the late 14th Century. They are recorded in the rent roll of 1483 and were originally by the monks of Canterbury Cathedral.
Located in the beautiful countryside in rural Essex, in what was once the Stisted Hall Estate, this is a prime location. Like many idyllic sites, the chances of gaining planning permission for a new build would be limited, making converting the barns an attractive opportunity.
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Converting Listed Buildings
The buildings were full of character and history. This had resulted in them being granted listed status in 1988. The Historic England report noted some interesting features. These included evidence of 17th Century wall paintings and an oak ladder which was a 14th Century original.
There was evidence of several alterations and a more significant 20th Century restoration. The major 20th Century renovation of the buildings took place before listed status being granted. Fortunately, this was a professional undertaking. Quality craftsmanship and oak timbers were used for a comprehensive structural upgrade.
Our client was keen to convert these Grade II Listed buildings into three luxury homes. Our construction consultancy was necessary to ensure that the buildings were structurally sound. They also sought our advice on how their development plans could be realised within the restrictions of the Grade II Listed status.
Their intension was to retain the history and unique style of the properties, yet provide all modern conveniences. They were particularly keen to optimise energy efficiency with exceptional insulation and an air-source heat-pump powering the underfloor heating.
In addition to the initial design and feasibility structural survey, RWA Consulting was regularly on-site to provide advice and structural inspections throughout the barn conversion.
High-End Barn Conversions Snapped Up
At the end of the project, we were pleased to receive images and a 360-degree walkthrough of the three completed properties.
- The Kings Barn featured vaulted ceilings, open plan living spaces, five bedrooms and a games room
- The Tithe Barn is a five-bed luxury home, with exposed features showcasing historic details
- The Hay Barn is a four-bed home with floor to gable glazing that overlooks the surrounding countryside
All three properties were finished to the highest specification. They went on the market with Essex Heritage Estate Agents and were quickly snapped up. RWA Consulting were delighted to see the result.
Local Structural Engineers
If you are looking for structural engineering companies with experience and expertise in barn conversions, get in touch with RWA Consulting on 01296 624924. Based in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, our structural engineers work on projects across the South of England.
Our structural engineer services include specialism in historic and listed buildings. From private homes to Oxford colleges, our expertise in heritage buildings has informed sensitive restoration and conversion.