Reclaiming and restoring old agricultural or industrial buildings can reduce the need for new materials, and provide sustainable places to live. Rescuing old buildings that are no longer utilised for their original purpose can sometimes be a green option. I would certainly suggest that it is a great option to look into – though it is not for everyone.
When we moved onto our current property, we knew that we wanted to convert the old stone steading building at right angles to the existing house to become a forever home for myself and my husband. We were excited about taking on this project, though we always knew, doing most of the work ourselves on evenings and weekends, it would be a long time before we finished.
I have to confess, however, to a certain naiveté. I don’t think either of us quite imagined how much work was really involved nor how long it would take. It certainly is true that restoration can sometimes be more work, not less, than building from scratch.
We certainly did not anticipate having to add quite so much insulation to meet planning requirements, nor did we expect some of the other hoops we would have to jump through regarding escape windows etc…
We did not imagine that we would have to dig down several feet in one part of the building to add land drains and a finish the ground floor while still having the head height required. A big part of the work we’ve done won’t actually be visible when we are finished.
I definitely would not say that it is always easy. But it has been a hugely rewarding project so far and I am sure will be even more rewarding once we are finished. We’re almost finished the clay plaster in the two bedrooms, bathroom and landing upstairs and before too long, will be reaching the exciting stage of things and adding more of the finishing touches that will define the appearance of the space.
I would not wish to warn anyone off taking on such a project – but one thing is important to remember – renovating an old building, of any kind, you should expect the unexpected, and anticipate that things will always take longer than you think.