Cou­ple show the stress-free way to bring a barn back from ruin

A derelict barn is now a state-of-the-art home thanks to a self-build dream team. Sharon Dale re­ports on an in­no­va­tive con­ver­sion project.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

SELF-BUILDERS with­out a horror story are un­usual, as such projects at­tract dis­as­ter and some­times even fi­nan­cial ruin and divorce.

But Sue and John Ed­munds are a rare breed whose barn con­ver­sion went with­out a hitch thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of luck, good plan­ning and choos­ing the right builder.

“We had fan­tas­tic builders who guided us through ev­ery stage and came up with in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and ideas,” says John.

It was Mal­colm Samp­son, for­mer rugby league player turned builder, and his son Lee, who broke the news that the barn was un­sta­ble and would have to be taken down and re­built stone by stone on more solid foun­da­tions.

The prop­erty in Crig­gle­stone, near Wake­field, was in a poor state and had been for years be­fore the cou­ple de­cided to tackle it to­gether.

It came with the 400-year old farm­house that Sue bought in 1992. “I didn’t have the time or money to ren­o­vate the farm­house prop­erly when I was on my own, but when I met John we de­cided to do it to­gether,” she says.

The cou­ple tack­led the farm­house be­fore turn­ing their at­ten­tion to the derelict build­ing next door.

“It was strange be­cause by co­in­ci­dence I had asked the farmer years ago if he wanted to sell the barn sep­a­rately and he wouldn’t .

“I al­ways tell Sue that I didn’t marry her for her barn.” says John.

Get­ting plan­ning per­mis­sion was a strug­gle thanks to ac­cess and strict rules on keep­ing orig­i­nal open­ings, but they man­aged and even got per­mis­sion to in­clude three ex­tra win­dows thanks to the help of their ar­chi­tect, AL Turner from Le­visham.

The work, which started in Fe­bru­ary 2003 and was com­pleted in De­cem­ber 2004, be­gan with tak­ing the build­ing apart stone by stone.

John and Sue project man­aged the con­ver­sion and tal­ented DIY-er John helped out labour­ing and fit­ting.

“That was some­thing I re­ally en­joyed. It re­minded me of my Army days be­ing part of a group all work­ing to­wards the same goal and I loved the ca­ma­raderie,” he says.

Any spare time was spent sourc­ing ev­ery­thing from Pilk­ing­ton K glass win­dows to un­der­floor heat­ing topped with kiln-dried oak floor­ing that would not crack. Their “bi­ble”, Home­build­ing and Ren­o­vat­ing mag­a­zine was a great help, but John says: “It’s in­cred­i­ble how much time sourc­ing ev­ery­thing takes.

“We went all over York­shire and to Manch­ester and, of course, we looked on the in­ter­net, which was be­fore we got broad­band. We’d sit there for 35 min­utes wait­ing for a pic­ture of a door han­dle to down­load.”

That’s not a prob­lem now as the prop­erty is hi-tech with hard wiring for com­put­ers, an au­dio vis­ual sys­tem and Bose sur­round sound.

Out with the old was their motto. They wanted a com­plete change from the more tra­di­tional decor in the farm­house, so ev­ery room in the barn is min­i­mal and mod­ern.

John and I agreed on vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing. I couldn’t be­lieve how sim­i­lar our tastes were.

The lay­out pro­vides a din­ing hall, sit­ting room, kitchen, util­ity room, study and cloak­room on the ground floor.

On the first floor there are four bed­rooms and three bath­rooms.

Out­side there is a garage and gar­den. “It is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what we had at the farm­house and it’s also very warm. We put more in­su­la­tion in the floors, walls and loft than we needed to and most of the time we walk round in shorts and T-shirts,” says John.

The kitchen is a Le­icht from John Lon­g­ley in Barns­ley and cost £16,000.

The steel, glass and oak stair­case was a tri­umph thanks to lo­cal com­pany Premier En­gi­neer­ing, who copied a zig zag de­sign the Ed­munds’ had seen in a mag­a­zine for just £10,500.

Most of the fur­ni­ture is high end with just one or two cost­cut­ters in­clud­ing Stan­ley slid­ing doors from Home­base that John made into a wardrobe and an of­fice cup­board that came from Ikea.The fi­nal job was cre­at­ing a gar­den, which John did him­self, but as it blos­soms he and Sue are pre­par­ing to move and look for an­other self-build project.

The cou­ple have doc­u­mented the build on a Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion, which they plan to give to the barn’s new owner. It’s a dig­i­tal doc­u­men­ta­tion fea­tur­ing be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter footage but there are no Grand De­signs-style dra­mas. “It was a good build with no great prob­lems and John and I agreed on vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing. In fact, I couldn’t be­lieve how sim­i­lar our tastes were.

“The only thing I ques­tioned was how much we were spend­ing on John’s gadgets. I couldn’t be­lieve how much he spent on a TV bracket,” says Sue.

“They say it takes a year to build some­thing and year to re­pair your re­la­tion­ship, but that wasn’t the case for us at all.

“We have very happy mem­o­ries of it all.”

Park Barn is for sale for £459,950 with Dacre, Son and Hart­ley, tel: 01924 387001, www.dacres.co.uk

HI-TECH LOOK: Sue and John have gone for a mod­ern, min­i­mal­ist look in the con­verted barn to con­trast their farm­house.

SIM­I­LAR TASTES: Sourc­ing all the ma­te­ri­als was the main chal­lenge for the cou­ple.

UN­SAFE: The barn in its derelict state.

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