The Barn Conversion

Two years, lots of money and patience, and the skills and dedication of local craftsmen; that’s what it took to convert our beautiful stone barn into our three holiday cottages. After a lengthy search for the property that would offer us the right combination of life and business, we fell in love with The Green and its barn and moved here in December 2005. The previous owners had already obtained planning permission for conversion of the barn to three holiday lets, however the plans they’d had drawn up ruined what we thought – and still think – to be one of the most attractive defining features of the barn, the front aspect with those four original slit windows. Amazingly, the planning authorities were happy with the idea of enlarging the four slits into a couple of large picture windows – we thought it would be sacrilege.

With a bit of local searching, we were guided to an architect who lived in a barn conversion of his own design and was sympathetic to our barn, and what we wanted. The slit windows could stay, and there’d be no issue with putting in velux roof windows to allow light in. The planning department decided that this constituted a significant change, so we had to cough up a full fee just for them to rubber-stamp our new plans to preserve the appearance of the barn.

Looking for the right contractor to take on the building work wasn’t too difficult; living in the village was the owner of one of the foremost stonemasonry businesses in the country, and by a happy coincidence he’d grown up in our very house and knew the old barn rather well. The craftsmen who worked for him took a real pride in what they did, as did the sub-contractors brought in for the interior fitting and the roofing. Patrick learnt a lot from watching them, and undertook some of the time-consuming laborious jobs such as cleaning up old timber. He used this as an excuse to buy more tools.

After the planning stage, work finally got under way in June 2006; we had our first guests in May 2008. The photos show some of what took place  up until about August 2007, after which the work mainly involved fitting out the interior, decorating, and landscaping. A lot of the fitting out was done with a view to quality, longevity and ease of maintenance to keep it in top condition. The staircases were a big item, but we felt that the initial expense of solid pitch pine would be in keeping with the nature of the barn, and require very little long term upkeep. Some of the nature of the interior was dictated by regulations; we had to have fire doors, which put paid to ideas of building old style ledged and braced doors from the reclaimed timber, and we had to be very aware of the need for convenience, practicality and comfort for our guests.  Most of the furniture had to be sourced quickly, and in the years since we started the business we’ve gradually been able to replace a lot of it with period items from a number of antiques centres; visiting these places is a favourite pastime of Anne’s!

We love the barn, and we are still making ongoing improvements. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

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