Advice

Home is where the barn is

Exposed beams, whitewashed walls, rough woodwork and a fireplace, that’s the barn style in a nutshell. Building a barn, or decorating a home in the very same style, will create a welcoming and warm atmosphere. Barns are certainly not a modern concept, however you can make them far less traditional by incorporating industrial and minimalist features, keeping its shell rustic. Should you prefer staying true to the original look, put time and effort into exposing brickwork and preserve those aforementioned beams.

Project Atelier S

Exposed beams

Contrast dark wooden beams with a white ceiling and it will exude warmth and give a room character. Remember to check what condition the beams are in, and get in an expert who can tell you what work needs to be done. As long as the wood is dry, it’s not necessary to paint a protective coat. In fact, there’s little need for any attention at all as long as you want to keep them as they are, with no sanding, staining or painting involved.

What you need to do however, is to ensure that the wood hasn’t been attacked by wood-boring insects or been exposed to humidity. It’s very important to check that the bearing ends of the timber haven’t been affected by damp, as this can lead to rot, which in turn can be dangerous if the timber is load-bearing.  Areas close to gutters and downpipes are particularly exposed so this is where you need to check for soft wood.

Insulation

For a barn conversion, and stone barns especially, it’s important to think of energy-saving aspects so the house doesn’t turn damp or draughty. Barns weren’t constructed with people living in them, hence they can be very chilly. Everything from sheep’s wool to glass fibre and polyurethane can work to insulate the home, but do think about their green credentials. Sheep’s wool is a powerful insulation as when it absorbs moisture it converts it to heat, it’s also fire resistant and sustainable.

Spray foam (polyurethane), on the other hand, is sprayed directly towards the area intended for insulation, which makes it quick and easy. It seals any small gaps and you don’t have to completely re-fit the roof. The downside with PU however, is that it’s not a green method since its manufactured from petrochemicals.

Planning permission

Original agricultural barns might not have electricity or even hot water. Before you buy a property, it’s important to find out what alterations you can make. Most likely, you’ll have to keep its original features, beware that you can’t do too many risqué changes. Although windows tend to be small, you’ll have a big space that lends itself perfectly to airy open-planned living.

With high ceilings it’s also possible to create a mezzanine level, acting as a bedroom, guest room or storage. Drastic cosmetic changes however, won’t go through planning permission, so ensure that you’re as happy as can be with the space you’re buying.

If you’ve acquired your very own barn, or if you want your house to embrace a barn style, post your job on RatedPeople.com. We’ve got thousands of builders,  rated by a previous homeowner, who can help you with your project. Up to 3 tradesmen can quote for a job and when they’ve contacted you, you can then read their reviews and look at images from past projects. That way, you know you’re getting the right person for the job.

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