An Overview to Property Refurbishment and Barn Conversions

An Overview To Property Refurbishment And Barn Conversions

To take a look at the way in which bridging loans are used to create profit in the field of property development, we spoke with James Stevenson, who has 20 years of experience, about some first-hand experience about what is involved in the conversion process that earns the development company profit.

This is what James had to say. Over the years, we have worked on many refurbishment projects, but one of the most memorable ones we worked on was the classic “barn conversion” in 2005 in Brighton. This was one of the most interesting projects we worked on due to the fact that we literally started with what can be explained as a blank sheet.

When we first got to the site, the wall was weak and could react to gentle pressure. The cement was very old and unstable. Our immediate reaction was to look up (in case the roof fell in), and we prepared ourselves to get out of the way just in case it did. What a job it was! However, it turned out we really enjoyed it in the end (as did the client who funded the whole conversion), for the following reasons:

The conversion process

For argument’s sake, we sorted out the architect’s plans and got all the planning permissions through before we engaged in the transformation of this old backstreet relic into the top-class luxury home we envisioned. After the planning was in place, we presented the appropriate information to the client and got the go-ahead to begin.

It is pertinent to note that the client was funding the whole process, so of course he had to know what the budget was and the time period we were aiming for, as well as the shortfall short fall of the programme time limits. In every scenario, we had a failsafe curtain that involved contingency plans around every corner. Thus, if there was an issue that held up the projected plan, it would be addressed financially.

There is a document, but it can be commonly known as a notary agreement where both parties understand and confirm that these are the parameters of the agreement that they will adhere to, and if such a shortfall occurs, there will be a financial clause that comes into effect.

Steps in the design process

First days on the job and planning are the keys to organising the first steps. When the overall concept is conceived, the building begins. We took the soil floor and laid the concrete screed into position, levelling the base for the build.

Next was screeding the floor, which set the level for the first-floor height. Measuring from the floor, we set the joist hanger positions correctly using “Chemfix bolts into the walls” to secure the first-floor infrastructure into place.

Joist hangers were put into place so that the first floor could be constructed, ready to build from. Then the stairs were put in, and the boarding was installed, forming the upper section of the property.

Once this was laid out, separate compartments were put into place in the bedrooms, bathroom, hallway, and so on. As the lower section of the ceiling was not yet boarded, the electricity and pipe work were installed so all the associated could then be connected up in situ.

Planning is everything on a job like this. Overboarding downstairs was completed together with plastering, ready to decorate later. Next was the installation of the stairway into position so the upper floor boarding could begin.

Know what you want to do

Pipework needed to be laid into place, along with the inflow and outflow of soil pipes needed for the fitting of both kitchens and bathrooms together.

Plans and designs understood that layouts were essential, so all the trades knew exactly what the outcome required was and how to implement the jobs at hand. Managing the trades (for a foreman or site manager) is seriously essential work, as any mistake costs money. If things are managed correctly in the first place, then the rest should fall into place on time and, above all, on budget.

Forward planning

Once you have a grasp on the requirements, materials are ordered as required in the correct order. There is little point in bringing in the trades or professions when they do not have the base materials to work with, and again, planning is the key to all of this. Everything must be pre-organised and ready on site to get on with the job, ready to start the process from the start. Time is money, and planning is the key to everything.

The upper floor layout was positioned with bedrooms, toilets, bathrooms, etc. all put into place and fitted as per the specifications detailed on the plans. The client was overseeing all the steps involved, so if there were any issues, they were picked up ASAP and dealt with accordingly.

Funding and confidence

All the funds were in place, ready to go ahead, so now it is of the essence to keep to the schedule. A bridging loan had been raised to complete work, so we were on track for completion within the two-month period set to complete the entire project.

As Nick Marr Property Development Expert points out, “With any barn conversion or conservatory design, it is important to get everything right from the start, so the job runs smoothly and will be completed in the specified time frame, first time, which obviously eliminates costly mistakes and delays overall.”


The above is a brief outline of the steps involved and the mental set of actions needed to get a very basic grip on such a project from the outset.

We hope this write-up was of help to you in the learning or other processes. Property development is a thorough and exacting process. You need to know what you are trying to do and how you set about doing it, from the smallest consideration to the end result. If you have put into play financial backing, then it is vital that you finish the project on time; otherwise, you risk the penalty clause agreed to when taking out the loan.