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Barn to Workshop Conversion

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Chazaxl

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Hi all, just registered - hope to ask some questions about my plans and also then keep this going as a build thread hopefully.

We are hoping to complete on a property near Witney, in Oxford at the end of this month.

There is a barn which has been there for 20-30 years (or more) that I'd like to convert into a workshop. I have spoken to a few architects about planning and it seems unclear as to what I can and cannot do.

The overall property sits on about 1/2 an acre. The property was build for the local farm's labourer and I believe the Barn / Shed has evolved over time and currently is about 75m^2 big, right adjacent to the property border and around 2900mm at peak height.

There is some concrete poured under the roof but its poor and needs to be removed.

It is difficult to tell from the pictures but the main structure is steel, some corrosion, with a mix of steel and wood bracing going over the top. It certainly doesnt look sturdy and whilst the centre columns look to be sunk into the ground, the outside ones look to be sitting on some form of a block. How this has remained standing for so long is beyond me.

So options, 'fix it', completely remove and rebuild (planning might be an issue) or something else?

I'd like to end up with around 100m^2 of workshop space. I have a few CNC machines and often retrofit / fix them, so space with roof height is key for me. Then the usual messing with cars / bikes etc.

Thank you.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-08 at 13.04.42 (3).jpeg


WhatsApp Image 2020-03-08 at 13.04.42 (2).jpeg


WhatsApp Image 2020-03-08 at 13.04.42 (1).jpeg
 

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Sheptonphil

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Welcome to the forum.

Looks like asbestos roofing, cement sheet at best.

That is going to be one major project whichever way you go. If planning is an issue, how much can you replace, structural wise before it becomes a ‘new building’ I’d be loath to spend thousands, tens of thousands even without knowing it was within legal parameters. Pre planning advice for £120 may be a worthwhile exercise, you would then know what your chances of doing anything are.
 

Chazaxl

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Sheptonphil":ynm3kjvj said:
Welcome to the forum.

Looks like asbestos roofing, cement sheet at best.

That is going to be one major project whichever way you go. If planning is an issue, how much can you replace, structural wise before it becomes a ‘new building’ I’d be loath to spend thousands, tens of thousands even without knowing it was within legal parameters. Pre planning advice for £120 may be a worthwhile exercise, you would then know what your chances of doing anything are.
Thanks. My concern with asking is poking the dog. That said, this structure is borderline unsafe I'd guess. I could 'repair' it which in fact means its replaced like for like with new stuff, one side at a time but agreed, speaking to someone in the planning area is key.
 

Chazaxl

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Selwyn":21ek571a said:
Build a new one. Steel framed
That's one option - planning / building regs of course to be considered.

Ideally id like something that is warm enough to use in the winter but do not want to create something that is seen as 'living space'.
 

Aquachiefofficer

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Seething with envy! :twisted:
Best of luck with the conversion, I can only dream of such a space.
Paul
 

u38cg

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My understanding was that if you are replacing like for like then planning isn't required - my mum had a barn dismantle itself during a storm some years ago and the insurance replacement needed no planning. Obviously you'll want to replace with a slightly tidier looking job so the question is what point does the planning kick in?

My concern with asking is poking the dog.
As long as the current, uh, thing, is legal, I wouldn't worry about it. Councils have better things to do than to put everyone who enquires on a list and then inspect their properties for signs of unplanned illegality.
 

MikeG.

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Is this an agricultural holding? If not, has the building been up for a (provable) substantial period?

Assuming "yes" to either of the above, if you substantially rebuild this to the same shape using the same materials, without changing the external appearance, you don't need Planning Permission. If you rebuild it to a different shape, or using different materials, or both, you need Planning Permission.

What you have there is a typical Gerry-built farm shed. It's little more than an umbrella, and just as vulnerable in a high wind. It's in the way of a decent building, in my view, and should be taken down and replaced. There is no amount of fixing up ever going to make that into a good building. However, it has a major positive attribute: in Planning terms it exists. In other words, getting permission to replace it will be a doddle, whereas if you started with a flat bit of open land getting permission to put up such a building would possibly be much more difficult. If you were my client I would be advising you to keep the building up (prop and brace if necessary) until you have permission to replace it, and then replace it with something much nicer.
 

Fitzroy

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That sagging span on the second picture, with timbers joined together, is a little terrifying. Amazed it’s still in one piece!
 

Chazaxl

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MikeG.":2umavz6u said:
Is this an agricultural holding? If not, has the building been up for a (provable) substantial period?

Assuming "yes" to either of the above, if you substantially rebuild this to the same shape using the same materials, without changing the external appearance, you don't need Planning Permission. If you rebuild it to a different shape, or using different materials, or both, you need Planning Permission.

What you have there is a typical Gerry-built farm shed. It's little more than an umbrella, and just as vulnerable in a high wind. It's in the way of a decent building, in my view, and should be taken down and replaced. There is no amount of fixing up ever going to make that into a good building. However, it has a major positive attribute: in Planning terms it exists. In other words, getting permission to replace it will be a doddle, whereas if you started with a flat bit of open land getting permission to put up such a building would possibly be much more difficult. If you were my client I would be advising you to keep the building up (prop and brace if necessary) until you have permission to replace it, and then replace it with something much nicer.
Thanks to all the responses.

No, I don't believe agricultural in terms of actual status but was part of a farm when it was built in the 1950s. There are pics of the property over the years (we should get them when we complete at the end of the month) that I have seen which shows some form of structure which, over time, has evolved to what it is today.

The current owners have been in the property since 1969 and currently have Chicken / Geese etc. I believe at one point they had sheep too and I think this building would have been used for that.

The building is an eye sore. Its even uglier from the outside which overlooks someone's property as it is in effect the 'wall' between the properties, with a small private road between us.

The house is in a hamlet of about 8 houses in total. What's interesting, our neighbour's house started as a 3 or 4 bed bungalow but now looks like a small palace / castle and I cant see any planning permission ever listed, so perhaps the community turns a bit of a blind eye, not sure.

I had been told (perhaps misinformed) of examples where someone has taken done a structure completely but then were told they could not replace like for like (not talking about building regs stuff, referring to size / shape etc). One way to do this, if there is perceived risk, is to take off the shell, perhaps 1 wall at a time, install new steelwork inside and rebuild, never actually taking the structure down - it will simply be 'refreshed'.

That said, I'd far rather I was on the right side of the law, specifically when it comes to selling the property in future.

If planning is not an issue, I presume Building Control will need to be involved in terms of both the size and the electrical installation etc? I'd like to get 3 phase but dont have the means to get a quote yet.

Coming back to 'provable' - not sure how to do that - the photos are old, but how to prove dates? I dont recall if they have any form of date stamp on the back, will need to confirm.

I'd be happy with a steel structure with cladding. The idea would be to create an insulated working space 'inside / under' the steel.
 

Chazaxl

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Fitzroy":esopbj0y said:
That sagging span on the second picture, with timbers joined together, is a little terrifying. Amazed it’s still in one piece!
Indeed. No idea how its survived considering the weather we have had over the last decade, or more, to say the least.
 

Chazaxl

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Aquachiefofficer":28t3ka2x said:
Seething with envy! :twisted:
Best of luck with the conversion, I can only dream of such a space.
Paul
Thanks. Finding the 'right' property can be tricky, so many options and we can get more for our money going further out but then you have to balance other challenges like distance from office / weather (Wales was an option).

Sometimes I think this is the best thing we could have done then other days I think, what have I got myself into? The house is tiny, stuck in the 70s and needs money spent on it which, once we have bought, we wont have a lot of.

That said, I'd like to have something functional this year before winter but not sure if its feasible. I've got 2 milling machines and a lot of garage tools that will be 'homeless' and not usable till I can get use of this space with a suitable floor at least.
 

Chazaxl

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Perhaps if I ask about construction method / options. Im not a builder, I happen to be a qualified Electrician, trade tested in South Africa, working on the largest open cast mine in the World and know a small bit about the UK laws regarding home wiring, but certainly not enough. I work in Telecoms now, so whilst the engineering background is useful, its not really that relevant anymore.

Ive seen and researched a lot of options for the actual structure. I have a friend who built a massive workshop for his property in Wales but went completely overkill (and spent £40K on it).

He basically dug a hole, 20 meters x 10 meters x 0.3 meters, put waterproofing / rebar down, poured a floor with Aquilia concrete and then put up a structure on top of that. Thing is, his depth was a foot which is a lot as far as I understand. He has big CNC machines etc, so didnt want to mess around. As far as I understand, no foundations were poured.

If I do go down the steel structure route, what's the sequence of events (let's assume a clean canvas).

Do I need 'foundations'? Could the steelwork be placed on concrete pillars / columns? Ive seen agricultural buildings where there is no floor - the steelwork looks to be installed on concrete 'blocks' in the ground. My terminology might be wrong.

It would help me to get a floor down ASAP (to get my machines sorted) - is there any ways in which (assuming planning was sorted etc) I could pour something and work around the existing structure or am I wasting my time thinking this way?

If I can avoid foundations and simply just pour a base, any suggestions as to thickness? Weight loading I reckon the heaviest machine Ill have will be 3 tons - likely with a load space of 2.5m x 2m or similar, typically with 4 feet, so max loading will be around 0.75T per contact point.

Thanks once again.
 

Chazaxl

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A few more pics of what's there. In the one pic Ive put a blue line, that looks like an upright that's collapsed or moved off its base.

TilW8.PNG


Ugly? This is what is seen from outside.

TilW3.PNG


And two images showing the property, the house and a mockup of a workshop done in Fusion 360.

Til1.png


Til2.png


This is a vid of the workshop I refer to in my previous post - this is the base being poured. Shows the size of it. The nice thing about the Aguilia stuff is that its like water and doesnt need vibrating and smooth finish once done with minimal effort afterwards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctdvJ6Z ... ture=share
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axoYPJWHu_w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTEy9J2AuPs

This is his workshop as it stands now.

KW1.GIF
 

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MikeG.

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Chazaxl":to4qyxxg said:
..........I had been told (perhaps misinformed) of examples where someone has taken done a structure completely but then were told they could not replace like for like (not talking about building regs stuff, referring to size / shape etc). One way to do this, if there is perceived risk, is to take off the shell, perhaps 1 wall at a time, install new steelwork inside and rebuild, never actually taking the structure down - it will simply be 'refreshed'.
You've been misinformed. People think there are all sorts of wheezes for getting around Planning requirements*, but it really is much simpler and less risky to simply get permission. Where there is an issue is if there is no building there at the time of an application, so the building being applied for is new-build, rather than replacement. That's why I say keep the building up, at all costs, until you apply for something in its place.

If planning is not an issue, I presume Building Control will need to be involved in terms of both the size and the electrical installation etc? I'd like to get 3 phase but dont have the means to get a quote yet.
Yes, they will be involved, but that isn't a huge issue.

Coming back to 'provable' - not sure how to do that - the photos are old, but how to prove dates? I dont recall if they have any form of date stamp on the back, will need to confirm.
Old photos help no end. As does previous occupants testimony (I've never had a council query that). If the building has stood for more than 12 years there is absolutely no issue at all. For some buildings the time period is as little as 4 years. Knowing which period applies to which building is a little more awkward.

I'd be happy with a steel structure with cladding. The idea would be to create an insulated working space 'inside / under' the steel.
Obviously this is now a domestic rather than agricultural setting, and so any new building is going to need to take the local context into account. A steel clad building might not be suitable for your situation. There are umpteen different solutions available, and having something well designed for the locality will help you achieve Planning Permission much more smoothly.

-


* That particular wheeze is wrong. The council will treat that as new build without permission, and you could have enforcement action taken against you (ie you could be forced to demolish it).
 

AJB Temple

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You do not need to have completed before getting the planning permission process moving and you can usefully spend a bit of time now getting the hamlet residents on your side.
 

Blackswanwood

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I agree with the points above about planning being easier than people think.

Slightly different circumstances as we are listed and the house was derelict when we bought it with quite a few collapsed buildings including an odd collection of 1970’s agricultural buildings. We had to show where all the buildings which had accumulated over time were which I thought was going to be difficult but turned out to be easy. Just looking at previous versions of Ordnance Survey Maps showed up quite a lot.

Planning Departments tend to be overstretched but most of the people I have dealt with want to help and are happy to have a discussion about what is in the art of the possible.
 

Chazaxl

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Thanks all. When I talk to the planning people, do I talk about 'restoring' the barn or do I talk about conversion to workshop?
 

MikeG.

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You let the professional who is working on your behalf talk to them about replacing the building. ;) The thing is, many if not most councils no longer offer informal advice. Most now offer a pre-application advice service for a fee....a very substantial fee... and for this you will need drawings. Your best bet is to find someone to do your design, and bounce this backwards and forwards with him/ her. Then you go to the council (for a pre-App if they won't do it informally) and say "this is the sort of thing we are after, what do you think?"

By the way, a barn is a specific thing, not just any generic agricultural outbuilding, and this isn't a barn.
 
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