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Barn Conversions

Barn conversions can become amazing places to live, as long as the design works with the character and the existing structure. With planning laws relaxing around converting barns or agricultural buildings, it is increasingly easy to create character rich warm homes in rural areas. Barns vary in size but generally are long rectangular buildings. This gives us architectural designers a big job to do in making modern living spaces.

barn conversion design in Leeds
barn conversion design in Leeds
barn conversion design in Leeds


As with all new build designs you need to consider impact, amenity, utilities, access, services & ventilation. Then it needs to get passed through building regulations. The size orientation and outlook will be the key factors in designing a barn into modern living spaces. They are typically long buildings, through rooms are not always avoidable, but with high apex roofs you can create wonderful open mezzanines and gallery’s. Insulation will typically be formed within the fabric of the building, leaving the existing structure as external finish. All additional openings, windows and roof light will be in keeping, no one wants white PVC windows within a brick and timber structure.


Creating the right design you will need to decide how many rooms you want and which rooms need orientating to the best outlook. Generally, the space you have available is the size of the outer walls, with some deduction for the new insulated internals. Once the rooms are laid out, access, hallways, toilets, en-suites and the all-important glazing can be worked out. Split levels can be a great feature too. Sometimes you can make up in height what you may not have in floor area.

barn conversion design in Leeds
barn conversion design in Leeds

Planning Permission and Permitted Development

Barn conversions usually face stiff opposition from local authority and local residents, due to be farm building protection, open country side development restrictions, infrastructure, sustainability etc. However, the Barn Conversion clause comes about as part of a new Class – MB – into Part 3 of the Second Schedule of the General Permitted Development Order. This new class authorises change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from use as an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 – dwellings. It also authorises building operations ‘reasonably’ necessary to convert the building to residential use.

The site must have been used solely for agricultural use and have existed as a barn by 20th March 2013 (no building new barns!). New barns can be built and converted into homes but must exist as solely agricultural buildings for at least 10 years. The total floor space of your barn to be converted must be no more than 450m².  If the barn is bigger, you’ll only be able to convert to a maximum of 450m². The 450m² can be divided into three separate dwellings. If the site is subject to an agricultural tenancy, landowners must have the express consent of their tenants. Transport, noise impact, contamination, flood risk. and ‘Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential use. Find out more about the Planning Process.

Barn conversions are subject to the same rules as any new build. You will need to provide the following:


SAP calculations, this will design the energy efficiency of the home and give requirement for insulation and heating performance.


 Disposal of waste and drainage, access.


The building will need to be assessed for structural stability


Sound testing will be required on completion but all construction elements effecting sound need to be detailed and built in accordance with approved plans.


All other document of the building regulations will need to be checked via full plans approval prior to commencing.

Find out more about the Building Regulations Process.

Approved Documents

Part A


Part B

Fire Safety

Part C

Site preparation and resistance to contaminates and moisture

Part D

Toxic Substances

Part E

Resistance to the passage of sound

Part F


Part G

Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency

Part H

Drainage and Waste Disposal

Part J

Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems

Part K

Protection from falling, collision and impact

Part L

Conservation of fuel and power

Part M

Access to and use of buildings

Part N

Glazing Safety (Withdrawn)

Part P

Electrical Safety

Part Q


Building and Builders

They are no guarantees when it comes to Builders, but you need to give yourself the best chance of ending up with the kind of builder that’s right for your project. If you are going for high end grand design make sure they have the right knowledge and experience. Do your research and read reviews.  We can help with the tendering processes and provide architectural project management should you want it.