Barn conversion design top tips

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Here at Fibre, we are taking part in an increasing number of conversion projects. One of our favourite types of conversion projects is barn conversions. We love the combination of maintaining the quirks and characteristics of the original building, whilst making the space a habitable, exciting and sustainable home.

However, finding the right balance between maintaining old features and making a modern, functional family home can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to sensitively and successfully approach a barn conversion.

Embrace the functional beauty

The recent changes to planning rules for barns have opened up the possibility of residential conversion for many agricultural structures previously considered not worthy. Embracing what makes each barn conversion unique is the key to a successful conversion. Barns have a real beauty in their pragmatic simplicity, but you have to work with their core character and make the structure, form and materials work for you rather than forcing them to be what they’re not.

The barn form lends itself to so much of what we want in a modern home — space, height and massive openings for walls of glass. They allow for experimentation in affordable, interesting materials, too. Metal, timber, fibreboard, rubber can all be used and you can be bold with your barn conversion’s designs.

Getting the interior spaces right

Another challenge with barns is fitting in all the rooms and functions necessary in a modern home without subdividing the space too much. Large rooms and uncluttered space can create a kind of ‘drama’ to the architecture of barn conversion projects. It is important to maintain this unique quality that barns possess whilst still creating something that works as a home.

The interior and exterior should chime. This could be through simple, rustic, agricultural-inspired construction using traditional materials, or contrasting super-sleek modern minimalism. This creates an interesting take on the project

Don’t forget about introducing light…

When built, barns were not made for human habitation. As such, they usually have very few openings, but those openings which they do possess tend to be either very large or very small. Getting light into all the rooms without punching the building with too many new openings, is one of the single biggest challenges facing converters. Most barns are a simple rectangular shape, so roof lights are key to getting light into the middle of the building while maintaining the monolithic integrity of the walls. Here too anything domestic is the enemy so think large single roof lights rather than multiple small ones.

…and minimising energy use.

Thick stone walls can create lovely exposed internal features but remember to consider introducing good levels of insulation where possible in walls to reduce heat loss, and don’t forget the roof and floor too. Air tightness is also important and well installed high-performance windows, doors and glazing can all help in this respect.

Barn conversions can present challenges, however, the rewards of a barn conversion project far outweigh any of these. If you have a barn conversion project in mind, Fibre can help. We offer a free no obligation review of potential conversion projects, so get in touch!

 

 

artcle source: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/barn-conversion-design-masterclass/

Is pre-fab housing the answer to the UK’s housing crisis?

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There has been a lot of discussion recently about pre-fab housing and its potential benefits to the UK housing market.

Pre-fab (or prefabricated) houses are specialist homes that are manufactured off-site in advance. These homes are made in small sections that can be easily transported and assembled when they arrive.

This type of building grew in popularity in the UK in the 1950s and ‘60s, and were hailed as the future of construction. However nowadays as few as one in six houses are made in this way. With the lack of housing in the UK reaching crisis point, it has been suggested a return to this type of construction could be a sustainable solution. Prefabs allow new homes to be built quickly and cheaply but are they really the answer?…

Just how quickly can pre-fab homes be built?

Although time frames are project dependent, most estimates are that off-site built homes can be produced in about half the time of traditional construction. Some modern-day prefab buildings can even be erected in as little as 24 hours and finished to look very similar to traditional brick or rendered buildings if required.

What about cost?

In our experience here at Fibre Architects, the cost saving benefits of pre-fab housing is entirely dependant on the type of project. Pre-fab housing works well for medium-sized or large projects that involve a lot of repetition. When homes are mass-produced in this way, costs come down and profits increase. Material waste is also minimised compared to traditional building techniques.

However, when using pre-fab methods for individual plots or projects with a large variety of house designs and plot sizes, pre-fab construction soon gets comparatively expensive.

Does quality suffer with pre-fab housing?

Historically pre-fab homes have a reputation for being lower quality than their traditionally built counterparts, but is this entirely fair? In recent years, the quality of pre-fabricated houses has increased considerably thanks to technological improvements in the industry. As with anything, some companies provide a higher quality ‘product’ than others, so do your research about the reputation of the developer and system before buying or considering a pre-fab home.

There are a number of benefits to pre-fab homes (in whole or part) and if you are looking for a new home or development, they are perhaps something you should explore. The quick turnaround on building pre-fab homes combined with their relative cheapness makes pre-fabs particularly attractive, for example, to developers who are looking to get their houses to market quicker and/or for first-time buyers who are looking to get on the housing ladder sooner – so they are certainly an option worth considering.

Pre-fab building certainly has its pros and cons, however, with the government setting out plans to build more of these types of houses in the coming years it looks like the pre-fab housing is here to stay, and systems and costs should continue to improve with time.

Meet Fibre’s new member of staff!

Fibre Architects

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve hired Jess Wormald as our brand new Architectural Technology Assistant.

At Fibre, we always like to help out the next generation of architects and technologists and we love the fresh new ideas they bring to the table.

Jess is currently studying Architectural Technology at Sheffield Hallam University and will be completing her placement year here at Fibre Architects.

Her role will largely involve helping the architectural design team with the preparation of support drawings and technical information.

Jess shares our passion for high-quality, creative design and we’re really excited to watch her grow and develop her skills in her role here.

Jess explains she’s most excited about assisting with the old and listed buildings we often work on here at Fibre.

She says: “I’d heard a lot of good things about Fibre from growing up in Huddersfield. I really like their innovative approach to design and I look forward to gaining valuable hands-on experience in my time here.

We have lots of experience doing conversions and extensions for old buildings, read about our project working with listed building Cote Royd House here.

Our Managing Director Martin said about hiring Jess: “At Fibre, it’s really important to have the right staff on board and Jess has been a great asset to the team and we’re really impressed with her work so far!”

Jess will be with us until her placement year finishes in September, and we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with all the team’s updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Planning permissions are up but constraints remain

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In our last blog, we talked about how more and more people are deciding to self-build in response to a lack of affordable housing. It is no surprise then, that recent numbers show that planning permissions are continuing to climb.

However, the planning system remains a major constraint to the housebuilding industry’s supply, according to the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report.

The report shows that 76,242 homes were granted planning permission in England the third quarter of 2016 (July to September), 10% up on the second quarter, with the total number for the 12 months up to September reaching 289,011, the highest recorded since the survey began in 2006.

HBF, however, said that the number of sites these permissions are on decreased, suggesting that local authorities are approving permissions for an increasing number of large strategic sites instead of the mix of sizes that are needed to deliver more homes. It called for local authorities to allocate a range of site sizes and types as large sites inevitably take longer to build.

HBF also pointed out that many of these recently approved sites are not yet buildable, thanks to the various “pre-commencement” conditions attached to them. They must be all discharged before building can legally commence which HBF said could typically take months, “and is dependent on the ability and capacity of the authority to provide this service.”

Many pre-commencement conditions – such as a local authority needing to approve the design of a children’s play area – are delaying building work and could be agreed once work has begun via a “pre-occupation” condition, HBF added.

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said: “The housebuilding industry is committed to building more homes but can only do so if it has the land on which to build them. It is encouraging that so many headline planning permissions are being granted but we simply have to find a way to unblock the system and reduce the time it takes to get a permission to the stage where builders can actually start building.”

“Construction work shouldn’t be held up by council officers getting round to approving designs for landscaping, playgrounds or ensuring developers are liaising with community artists. These could be agreed whilst infrastructure work gets started.”

At Fibre, having designed homes for many years we are confident that the homes we design will likely achieve planning approval. However, we know all too well that there would be major benefits to making changes to the planning permission system.

Moving forward, we hope that it is made easier for homes of all shapes and sizes to be built and we’re really excited by the fact that it appears there will be a larger variety in the types of homes being built in the UK in the future!