Posts Tagged ‘northern ireland’

What You Need to Know About Converting Your Barn

barn conversions in northern ireland

The Northern Irish countryside is dotted with beautiful buildings from our past no longer used but ripe with opportunity and potential. Each building, be it an old church, schoolhouse or barn, has its own charm and with barn conversions becoming more popular, attainable and manageable the possibilities are there.
If you are considering undertaking a barn conversion in the near future, take time and care to consider all aspects of the project.

Purpose

With that in mind, your first consideration should be the ultimate purpose of the barn conversion. The reuse and alteration of these unique old buildings can take many forms including development for economic, tourism, recreational and residential facilities. There is also scope, in accordance with PPS 21, to repurpose for community facilities but retail plans will almost always be denied.
The perfect project will pair the right property with the right purpose so if you’re converting for a new home, office or tourism business consider all aspects and the variations of each.

Surveys

Modern Barn Conversion Architects
slemish design studio architects surveying one of their barn conversion projects

After deciding on the right property and purpose, a comprehensive survey of the barn is absolutely essential to identify any potential issues before conversion work begins.
Surveys can be carried out by architects like ourselves, structural engineers or building surveyors and will help for planning to conserve the character of the building, highlight any structural issues and provide clear indications concerning project costs.

Services

For all their charm, barn conversions are serious projects, and generally more expensive than typical new builds, and one major reason for this is the likely lack of connection to normal services.
As most barns, in their original state, would have been used for non-residential or agricultural purposes they are unlikely to be connected to electrical and water mains as well as required sewage systems.
It’s essential that you plan and budget to connect the property to the required services as soon as possible.

Design

When it comes to barn conversions the design, layout and feel of the property is the most exciting part of the project. This is where you get to breathe life back into somewhere that’s been left derelict, unused and forgotten about.
However, even though it can be an exciting time, barn conversion design can be difficult and testing and it’s absolutely crucial you work with professionals experienced in this unique style of building. Almost all planning permission will be subject to retaining and maintaining the look, character and feel of the original structure.
This can prove problematic as old barns and unused buildings can come with limited natural light available, necessary but impractical wood or iron beams and limited access to creating new levels/floors.
With all of that in mind you might be rethinking your dream project but don’t be dismayed. With hard work, careful planning and the right guidance the end result can be truly unique, worthwhile and rich in character and integrity.

Modern Barn Conversion Architects

Costings

Finally, and underpinning everything we’ve already discussed, is the cost of your proposed project.
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb when dealing with such wildly unique projects and only after sourcing the right property, getting a proper survey and obtaining the correct planning permission will you begin to understand the costs involved in your barn conversion project. Also, the scale of the work needed and the involved of other parties will also largely depend on your own experience and knowledge.

We hope that this has given you some guidance if or when you consider a barn conversion.
They can be some of the best and most interesting projects to be involved in and luckily, we’re experienced in numerous projects on a variety of sites.

If you have questions on a project you’d like us to come see or need guidance contact us below or via our facebook page & we’ll do what we can to help out on your project.

 

Things to Consider Before Building an Extension

extension & renovation of existing 300yr old house outside crossmaglen, county armagh


With the New Year just around the corner you might be considering building an extension onto your current home.

Extensions can be wonderful additions to houses bringing new light and space, new rooms to explore and helping improve energy efficiency. However, before the excitement starts take a step back and consider the project from start to finish.
In our experience building an extension can be just as challenging as any new build but hopefully we can guide you through some of the finer details.

Why
Before working on any extension project we always ask the party involved why they want to build.
To ensure the best result you need to hone in on exactly why you’re setting out on such a large project. Do you want to increase the value of the property? Or maybe you want to improve energy efficiency or living conditions?
Defining why will always lead to a better end result.

Modern Timber Clad Extension Architects Ballymena

timber clad extension to semi detached house – to act as a as an extension of the house & garden

Goals
This leads us nicely onto deciding on your aesthetic and physical goals for the project.
The most common requests are for the creation of more light and/or space. This could be due to changes in the environment around you (i.e. more buildings) or the growth of your family.
Alternatively, you might be happy with the space on offer but simply require the layout of your house to be reshaped in a way you’re now more comfortable with.
Extensions aren’t usually just about more space, so figure out what your goal is.

Planning Permission
With your goal firmly set planning permission may be required and if this is the case it should be your first practical port of call when beginning to move forward with your new plans.
Here in Northern Ireland eleven local councils and the Department of Infrastructure handle the responsibility of planning equally. More information can be found at planningni.gov.uk but please be aware of the possible scale of fees involved.

Neighbours
No matter how awkward you think a chat with your neighbours could be, it’s almost always a good idea before you begin any form of extension project.
Common neighbour concerns usually revolve around the existence of a shared wall, the potential loss of natural light or the potential to overshadow their property, specifically their garden. We recommend you keep anyone potentially affected up-to-date with the project to avoid any trouble.

Sustainability
Whether it’s your primary reason for the project or not, building an extension is a great opportunity to improve the sustainability and energy performance of your home. Depending on the current performance of your property, this can be improved with the help of experienced builders and architects through the implementation of properly insulated walls, double glazed windows and in some cases solar panels.

Architect Involvement
Not everyone plans to use an architect when undertaking an extension project and in many cases this is perfectly acceptable. However, if you’re inexperienced, don’t have a trusted working relationship with your builder, or require planning permission, we would highly recommend getting in touch with us .  Not only we handle and advise on everything already mentioned, we will also view the project in a holistic manner from start to finish and be able to recommend on both big and small details.

Duration / Time Scale
Finally, extensions are serious projects and this is generally reflected in the duration or time frame involved.
Coming from Northern Ireland, or realistically anywhere in the UK or Ireland, weather should obviously play an important factor in your thinking and ideally you should plan around the seasons. Take advantage of the darker, wetter seasons to design and plan before scheduling building to commence when spring and summer arrive.

 

As with everything we’re more than happy to answer questions, offer advice and steer you in the right direction so don’t be afraid to get in touch even if you’re not sure where to start.

 

living design magazine

Living Design magazine is published to showcase architects design homes in Northern Ireland.
Spring edition 2016 seen Ballymena Architects Slemish Design Studio showcase our Barn Conversion outside Broughshane, Ballymena.

living design magazine

Durkan announces improvements to speed up planning process

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced improvements to speed up the planning process in Northern Ireland

In October last year, the Minister decided not to move the Planning Bill to further consideration stage but emphasised his commitment to driving forward reform to speed up the planning system.

In a keynote speech at the Planning Forum today Mark H Durkan announced:

· Shorter and simplified policy. At present there are twenty separate planning policy publications. This will be reduced to one single Strategic Planning Policy Statement. Consultation on this should issue later this month.

· Intense, pre-application discussions, and widespread involvement of community in discussions, thus ensuring planning decisions can be taken much quicker.

· Promptly refusing planning applications that are substandard. This will unclog much time spent on trying to upgrade substandard applications.

· Action to ensure faster responses from consultees. This includes “Backlog Blitzes” to clear outstanding consultations in NIEA. Also new arrangements for future consultations in NIEA, such as a ‘planning control team’, a single point of contact for consultations and new protocols for processing consultations.

· Much greater access to planning case officers.

Mark H Durkan said: “My aim is to create a planning system that is fast, fair and fit for purpose. A system which is less complex, more effective, more efficient and more customer focused.

“ A system that delivers for business, with timely decisions that bring investment and jobs but not at the expense of our environment, planet or people.

“A system which realises that the environment and the economy should not, and cannot be, at loggerheads. A system that fully recognises that a vibrant, sustainable environment can be a driver of prosperity and job creation”.

“As I listen to councils, businesses, communities, environment groups, one of the issues I hear most is the need for greater certainty. Certainty in terms of the timescales for processing applications to decision, be it a yes or no; certainty of the policy context so stakeholders will know what is likely to be acceptable or unacceptable; certainty that the views of local communities will be sought and considered in a meaningful way and certainty that the planning system that we transfer to councils in 2015 will be fair and fit for purpose. I believe these measures individually and collectively will deliver this certainty for the benefit of all users of the planning system. 

“These measures provide a real opportunity to speed up decision making and enhance community involvement. And it paves the way for the seamless transfer of powers to councils in 2015. My vision is for a better environment and a stronger economy. These actions will help do that. ”

Minister Durkan also encouraged all stakeholders to play their part in delivering the new system. In particular he encouraged applicants to submit good applications informed by pre application discussions and pre application community consultation.

The Minister said: “I encourage applicants and developers to work with planners in ensuring quality, soundly based applications are submitted. In return, they can expect quicker decisions. Better performance based on better, comprehensive and complete applications is the way forward. “

 

Information taken from Planning NI website

Should you require any further information, Please do not hesitate to contact our office

Free Insulation from Power NI

As winter has well and truly set in with us, take a look at what offers & grants may be available to you, a friend or family member.
Funded by the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP) Power NI are offering cavity wall and loft insulation for free, helping you save up to £150 a year off your energy bills.

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/northern-ireland/home–care/improving-your-home/free-insulation-from-power-ni/