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An Overview to Property Refurbishment and Barn Conversions

barn conversions and refurbishment with a bridging loan

To take a look at 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 experience about some firsthand 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 readied 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 of 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 at, as well as holding a short fall of the program 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 statutable agreement where both parties understand and confirm these are the parameters of the agreement 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 key 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 ready.
(Source: wikihow.com/Screed-a-Floor)

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

Planning is everything on a job like this. Over boarding downstairs was then completed together with the plastering finish 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 laying into place together with the in and outflow of soil pipes needed for the fitting of both kitchens and bathrooms together.

Plans and designs understood layouts were essential so all of the trades knew exactly what the outcome required was and so 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 the planning is the key to all of the build.

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

Funding and confidence

All of the funds were in place ready to go ahead so now time is of the essence as to keep to the schedule. A bridging loan had been raised to complete the works 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 mind set of actions needed to get a very basic grip of 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 you finish the completion of the project on time otherwise you risk the penalty clause agreed to, when taking out the loan.

If any lessons are learned from this then the action of writing this article was beneficial to the reader. Thanks for reading guys!


The advice and processing on all financial products introduced via this website will be handled by UK Property Finance Ltd, which is authorised by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) no 667602. The FCA do not regulate all mortgages such as Buy to Let and Commercial. Think carefully before securing debts against your home. Your property could be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

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