Commercial & Residential Planning Services

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Commercial Planning Services

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Residential Planning Services

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How much do barn conversions cost?

This is a difficult area to quantify.  Costs will depend on numerous and variable factors, including the barn’s location, the materials used to build it, its general state and what your plans are, as well as potentially unforeseeable issues.


A good starting place is to look at the costs of your architectural and legal advice to get you to through the planning stage.  These can then be deducted from your overall budget, this will give you an idea of what you have left to spend and you can work backwards from there as to the specifications you work to.


We would always strongly advise that you make sure you have a good contingency fund – a barn conversion will invariably throw a few unexpected challenges your way.


As a guide, costs vary between £600 – £1,250 per m2 to convert – more than a typical new build. Stone barns tend to be the most expensive to convert, followed by wood and then brick barns as the cheapest, although this obviously depends on the starting condition of the barn and your plans for it.


Private individuals can reclaim VAT paid on labour and materials on a barn conversion. If you use a VAT registered builder, they will invoice their work at the reduced rate of 5%. Any materials you buy directly will be charged at standard VAT rate. On completion of the project, you can submit your receipts and claim your VAT refund – this claim must be made no more than three months after the conversion work has finished.

What do we need to consider when planning a barn conversion?

Is it the right location for you?How remote is it from public services and amenities? Do you have a car? Can all members of your household drive?  Is public transport available? Do you need to be a few minutes drive to schools, shops or hospitals?  Do you value the company of neighbours?Check the viability of the agricultural structure.Will it take too much of your project budget to make good?Do you have a clear understanding of what land is included with the purchase of the barn and whether it meets your purpose?Is there suitable access to the property?Are utilities such as gas, water, electricity, sewage, phone lines already connected? Can they be connected and if not, what are the alternatives?How dark is your barn? Local authorities generally insist that you only use existing openings as windows.Are you able to reclaim and reuse original materials, or other local materials, so the barn retains its relationship with the landscape?

‘Permitted Development’ and ‘Prior Notification’ just Planning Permission rules under different titles?

Being an experienced barn conversion interior design company, history tells us that putting forward a robust planning and architectural case that answers all the criteria for the planning officers can be instrumental in getting permission to proceed with a barn your conversion.


We caution our clients to understand that ‘permitted development’ is not all it seems and that there are grey areas to be negotiated.  Planning laws have been relaxed but plans for your barn still need to meet all the strict criteria under the new rules of ‘permitted development’.


Firstly, you must notify the local authority of your plans for the agricultural building.  This is a process known as ‘Prior Notification’.  The council will look at your proposals and if the criteria under ‘permitted development’ are not met they have the right to refuse your proposals or put conditions on the project.  These criteria are very strict.

What are the essential criteria under ‘Permitted Development’ rules?

is the building larger than 450m2?is it in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beautyis it a listed buildingIs it an agricultural unit or an outbuilding e.g. a garage in a large garden?Will it require major reconstruction or replacement to achieve a successful conversionWill the original shell be left standing, or will it require new structural elements to be built to make the building suitable for conversion?Do the external dimensions of the converted building extend beyond the external dimensions of the existing building at any given pointWill it require works other than the installation or replacement of existing windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls, or bringing services such as water, drainage, electricity or gas that would be considered reasonable in a home.

What if my barn conversion in Essex doesn’t meet all the permitted development criteria?

If your barn does not meet with all the permitted development criteria then it is unlikely to receive permitted development permission.  If this is the case, we will need to put together a strong case to the local authority.  To be considered in these circumstances we will make sure we put forward a design proposal that is:

in keeping with its original surroundingsmaintains the character of the original buildingrespects protected wildlife species and their habitats

Our practice has long established, good working relationships with local planners which means that we are well placed to put forward designs that should meet the demands of the various local authorities. However, we may recommend a feasibility study to discover whether your proposed plans will be able to meet the local planning regulations before you make any significant financial outlay.


Converting an old barn can represent a significant investment on your part, it is important therefore that the design and refurbishment will stand the test of time. At MP Chartered Architects we aspire to guide you towards a sensitive design that encompasses the heritage of the existing barn but embraces the best of contemporary design and new technology to ensure the property is one you are proud of and remains attractive to any potential investor in the future.


So, if you are looking for the best Barn conversion architects Essex has to offer, make sure to contact us today!

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