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Andy & Sam

Andy & Sam undertook a modern barn conversion project tailored to suit their needs, whilst ensuring the new design remained sympathetic to the existing structure.

Could you tell us any interesting facts or remarkable features about your project?

The Barn has a date stone saying 1835. We know some work was done on the roof during the outbreak of World War II as the loft was layered in newspaper from the time. We tried to be as sympathetic as possible with the existing structure; there was a lot of interest from the neighbours!

Submitted plans

Ground Floor & First Floor Plans

Andy & Sam’s Experience at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre

How many times have you visited The National Self Build and Renovation Centre before? Around 3-4 times now.

What would you say is the most helpful feature or resource at the NSBRC? We enjoyed the Renovation House, the Potton Show Home (for ideas) and I also attended a really useful show back in 2016. We also met an architect at the free ‘Ask an Architect’ sessions which was useful for ideas at the planning stage.

What did you enjoy most about your visit to the NSBRC? Gaining new ideas and inspiration for our conversion project.

Would you recommend the NSBRC to a friend, and if so, what aspects of the Centre would you recommend and why? The range of workshops, Ask an Architect sessions, and to just absorb information from the stands, as understanding the practical applications is critical.

The Finished Project

During Construction

Information compiled in December 2022.

Andy & Sam’s Build Experience

What first inspired you to undertake your project – and what did you hope to achieve? This was our second project and the planets just aligned. Ultimately it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass over once we’d seen the place.


How did you find your land / site - and do you have any tips for others currently searching for something similar? This was for sale through a local Estate Agent, which is rare, but it was one of three Agricultural Barns being sold by a Trust which complicated the situation.


Did you have any issues getting your planning permission granted or with building control? If so – why was this? There was local resistance to the conversions, and unhelpfully the Planning Permission in place was not compliant with Building Control - so we had to start from scratch. With Parish Council (neutral) comments it went to Sub-comittee and added 5 weeks to the process, but all ended well. We lost our Solar Panels along the way though, which was interesting as David Cameron was our MP at the time.


What factors influenced the selection of your method of construction? Conversion / Building Regs.


Did you use a project manager, or did you choose to self project manage? Our Builder effectively Project Managed, but we had experience so could anticipate the questions he would present us with. It’s hard trying to confirm the kitchen layout so the Tradespeople can quote accurately and the services can be put in place when changes are relatively cheap when you aren’t even sure where the kitchen will be and what size!


Did you reclaim the VAT, and if so, how much were you able to reclaim? Yes, 5%.


What aspects of the process did you find stressful – and do you have any tips on how to avoid the pitfalls you encountered? Plan Plan Plan, and Talk Talk Talk! Ideas will evolve and every now and again you will align random thoughts to great effect. The kitchen just wasn’t working out where we’d placed it when it came to the units, and we were desperate for an island. When we mentioned our problem to the Builder he said he’d been wrestling with it as well, and wondered why we didn’t use a different area - we never looked back.


What did you find most enjoyable about working on your project? We lived locally, so watching it progress. I enjoyed physically helping as, in my mind, I was literally saving money as the Builders were on a daily rate.


What is one of your favourite features about your project? The wow factor as you walk in through the full height glass door/window filling the original opening; the hall opens up to a full height vaulted ceiling.


How did you tailor your home to suit your lifestyle? Working within an existing structure constrained us to a large extent, so we focused on those things we’ve always wanted: wood burning stove, stone floor downstairs to be dog-friendly, an island within the kitchen. Lots of little details add up to make it perfect!


Is there a possibility you would ever undertake another project in the future? Maybe, but it would have to be something the whole family wants.


If so, is there anything you would do differently? More future proofing such as underground cabling and water pipes to the outbuildings, just in case…


What would your top tip be for other NSBRC Visitors about to embark on their first self build, conversion or home improvement journey? Do as much research as possible on the costs of materials. You can save loads by shopping round and making tough decisions to keep the budget on track – spend on the things you touch, and take risk on the things you only look at.