When Jo and Rob Kedgley were looking to upgrade to a larger house in their home village, they considered extending their search further afield when they couldn’t find a suitable property. That is, until an interesting solution presented itself.
‘A neighbour, whose garden backed onto a large derelict farm, received a planning letter from a property developer telling her of his intention to develop two barns and a farmhouse. She suggested we investigate it,’ Jo explains.
The couple contacted the developer, BuildRiver Limited, and arranged a meeting on the farm with David Cox who showed them his plans for the site.
‘It all snowballed from there,’ Jo explains. ‘We loved the location. A farmer’s widow had lived in the farmhouse for many years – however, the two outbuildings had lain derelict for more than a decade.’
The owners: Jo Kedgley lives here with her husband Rob, who runs a photocopier company, and their children, Rebecca, 18, and George, 15
Choosing the barn conversion properties off-plan presented the Kedgleys with an exciting opportunity to work directly with David Cox. He enlisted the help of a team of archaeological historians and conservation specialists to carry out comprehensive conversions of all three farm buildings.
Jo and Rob sold their property and secured a mortgage to finance the build, then they rented a house a short distance from the farm.
‘Our rental house had a large double garage that we managed to fill with our furniture, so that saved us the added expense of storage costs,’ says Jo.
The couple had been given a strict mortgage deadline, however – otherwise the offer would be withdrawn. That meant David had to complete the build within a tight nine-month schedule.
The barn was essentially a brick shell that had been turned into stables with timber partitions.
‘With the help of a qualified Architect we decided to knock down two of the barn’s internal walls and form three new brick walls with stud partitions to create flow within the new layout,’ says Jo.
The lean-to cattle shed would become a long hallway with four en suite bedrooms leading off it. As the cattle shed was originally open on one side, it was to be given a new front glazed partition wall, plus the roof would be replaced.
‘Our design concept was to leave the buildings’ original external form and footprint, and to minimise the internal alterations,’ Jo explains. ‘The new layout incorporated a spacious kitchen/diner leading into a large living space at the heart of the main barn.’
Many of the original features such as exposed beams were retained – the beams were cleaned by sandblasting them and stabilised with a supportive ironwork frame. Locally sourced materials such as bricks, handmade clay tiles, limed plaster and hemp and wood-fibre insulation were used throughout the build.
‘The local planning department was given a choice of three handmade roof tiles, and they went for the Shire tile,’ Jo explains. ‘As the house was Grade II-listed, the planning regulations stipulated that the windows had to be heritage glass with black frames. The rounded internal door and window frames needed to be preserved too, which the plasterer did a fantastic job at maintaining.’
All the original concrete floors were dug up, however, so that underfloor heating could be installed and then relaid with contemporary flooring. The house was also clad with insulating material, which was rendered with a lime-based material to keep in the heat.
The couple had also negotiated the purchase of a listed timber barn – a former granary barn and hayloft – opposite the main house, which they planned to convert into a self-contained games area.
‘Rob has always wanted a snooker room,’ says Jo. ‘We knew the timber barn would be perfect for parties too, so David drew up plans to turn it into a snooker/games room and gym with its own bar, plus a shower room and mezzanine bedroom.’
The timber barn conversion was quite a complex project, as Jo explains: ‘We employed a specialist conservation team to oversee the work. It was a very strict process, because each piece of timber had to be labelled, restored and put back in exactly the same spot.
‘The team told us there were Nordic markings on some of the beams, with some at least two hundred years old,’ she adds. Although Jo and Rob had a blank canvas to work with, the thought of choosing all the new fixtures and fittings for the house was exciting yet daunting.
‘We spent every weekend sourcing new things,’ Jo explains. ‘The decision-making seemed endless too. Our builders would ask us to decide on where the plug sockets should go, for example. I would mark them on the walls, then a plasterer or sandblaster would come on site and, without realising, blast them off so I’d be called back to mark their positions again.’
While the couple were choosing their new fixtures and furnishings for the house, they were also considering how they would light the high-vaulted rooms.
‘A friend lent us some lead lamps, so we visited the site on several evenings when the scaffolding was still up and experimented with lighting on the beams and high ceilings,’ says Jo.
They thought the best solution was to commission a bespoke lighting system, which led to their decision to install a bespoke music system too.
David Cox met the strict build deadline and, nine months later, the couple and their two teenage children moved into their new home just before Christmas.
‘We were all on such an adrenaline buzz that week, Rob and I came up most evenings ahead of the move and unpacked all our kitchen equipment,’ Jo recalls.
Despite heavy snow and ice, the snooker table arrived from Wales just in time for the Christmas break.
‘The only downside was that the landscaping work outside hadn’t been done, so every time we left the house we were up to our ankles in mud!’ says Jo. ‘It couldn’t be tackled in winter, so it had to wait until the spring.’
When spring arrived, the couple installed a rainwater harvesting system to help reduce their water bills. A new lawn was laid and a spacious terrace area created for outdoor entertaining.
‘I love gardening, and so does Rob now,’ says Jo. ‘We incorporated a vegetable patch into the garden and built a pizza oven outside for the summer months.’
Now that the build project is complete, the Kedgleys believe they have made their mark on the rundown farm buildings. ‘We have transformed it, thanks to David, but we retained its charm too. It is a fantastic family home,’ smiles Jo.
|Kitchen and utility room||£40,000|
|Bathrooms and cloakroom||£20,000|