This was a Scottish Grade B Listed former industrial building on two levels built late in the 19th century. It was a single project on a derelict watermill in the far north of Scotland with a final floor area of approximately 210m2 which we managed from some 300 miles away. It posed some design challenges both in terms of how to use the space effectively and how to achieve maximum impact from the existing features of interest. Project management also proved demanding. Finally, it honed our understanding of our requirements for advice and how we worked with experts during future projects.
This was a small project on a modern stone-built building, a garage on the site where we were living. It was a modern build of approximately 35m2 and is described because it illustrates how we used the available space and why we did so, and also because it describes a few of the simpler building decisions we took. This will be of most interest to the less experienced reader. We do not have any photographs for this small project, but plans are included as an example of the simple conversion of a small space.
This English Grade II Listed derelict complex of three directly attached farm buildings was broken down at the time of the original builds into three separate projects: a farmhouse, a barn and its former horse-drawn mill and a cow byre. The original builds ranged from 70m2 to over 250m2 in floor area and all raised their own individual challenges. These projects needed the most extensive work.
This was a derelict period farmhouse, thought initially to date from the 18th century, with an attached Victorian cottage, typical of the area, which would have been added on to accommodate a farm worker. At the outset we thought we had features from two different periods, to preserve in the building. Combined with a space ‘stolen’ from the attached barn we were working with a floor area of approximately 260m2.
The rooms were already defined by the internal walls and although the building fabric was sound, overall the interior of the farmhouse was in an extremely poor state. The building contained a wealth of old features, some immediately apparent and others which were revealed as the project progressed, including a window and other structures from the 13th century! So a few particular, but interesting, challenges and some lateral thinking was needed.
The Barn was a derelict building consisting of two areas, one large (for animals) and one smaller (for a shepherd), attached to a hexagonal building, a former horse-drawn mill. It also probably dates from the late 18th century. The combined area, excluding the space which had been stolen to provide the kitchen for the farmhouse, had a floor area of approximately 170m2 which included an upper ‘shepherd’s bedroom’ mezzanine over the smaller part of the building.
The floor area was increased by approximately 20m2 by adding an upper mezzanine to the larger area of the barn, overlooking the rest of the building. In this project the conversion created a very large (and rather magnificent) single open plan area, with an opening created into the farmhouse; it was later converted into a three-bedroom dwelling described in the ‘Barn Conversion’ section of the book.
This was a 70m2 former byre probably built later, in the mid-Victorian era. It led from the Barn but the connection was closed in order to turn the space into a one-bedroom dwelling. Although not as old as the other buildings on the farm, it still had attractive features. Like the small earlier garage project one challenge was to optimise the usable space and at the same time preserve internal (and external) features to create the best possible end result.
The following series of images also includes photographs of a later internal upgrade carried out after the book was written. This mostly involved replacing internal fixtures and fittings, which are not described in any detail in the book as they are mostly a question of personal choice. These are included here as a ‘mini example’ of what can be achieved in practice with very limited resources.
The short set of images here show a few before and after illustrations of simple upgrade of the original Byre build and what was achieved for a little over £4,000: bedroom, sitting and dining area,
kitchen (not quite finished) and bathroom.
This later project, a small (20m2) extension to the farmhouse, was built to provide additional living accommodation to the Farmhouse. Despite being a small, straightforward project, it illustrates a number of points of interest specific to this type of build, particularly in terms of materials and renewables.
This is the most recent project covered in the book and was carried out in 2016. It was essentially an extension of the original barn conversion some 15 years previously. The original barn, designed to provide a large open-plan living and dining area, was converted in this later project into an independent three-bedroom dwelling.
An additional 20m2 of floor area came from constructing a new glazed open mezzanine overlooking the remainder of the open barn space. Our aim was to preserve the open appearance of the original barn space as much as possible while at the same time creating three bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen
in the space.