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How to Get a Mortgage for a Barn Conversion

A closer look at how to secure a mortgage on a barn conversion

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By Pete Mugleston  | Mortgage Advisor Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 6th September 2019 *

The idea of purchasing a rundown barn and converting it into a ‘forever home’ is something many have dreamed of doing. But, for those who want to turn such ideas into reality, how exactly do you go about raising finance for this type of project?

This article takes an in-depth look at barn conversion mortgages and the process involved with turning a non-standard property into the home of your dreams. 

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If you’d like more information about mortgages for barn conversions, call us on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry and we’ll match you with a mortgage broker who can provide you with free, impartial advice about this type of loan.  

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Barn conversions: What you should take into account before taking out a mortgage

There’s no doubt barn conversions, once the work is completed, can make lovely homes. However, there are a number of important factors that should be taken into account before you go ahead with a conversion, such as: 

  • Planning permission: do you need it and, if so, how do you go about getting it?
  • What surveys would be required for such a project? 
  • Do you have appropriate access and right of way on the property?
  • What if the property is a listed building
  • Will your budget cover the full costs? 
  • Where will you live during the conversion work? 

All of the above are valid concerns that usually crop up when considering a barn conversion, whether using a mortgage to fund the project or not. Let’s look a little closer at each one:  

Can you get a mortgage on a barn without planning permission? 

Due to changes introduced by the UK Government in 2014, in many cases, it’s possible that full planning permission may not be required for a barn conversion. 

Prior to 2014, any barn conversion project required full planning permission from the local authority. However, the rules have since been relaxed following the extension of ‘permitted development rights’ which allow agricultural buildings (such as barns) to be converted into homes without the need to go through this process. 

While planning permission may not be required, you must give ‘prior notification’ to the local authority before any conversion work can commence. It is possible that your proposal could be refused by the council if certain conditions are not met. This would normally need to be verified by the solicitor during the conveyancing stage.

When might planning permission be necessary?

It’s also important to distinguish between what is a conversion and a re-build. If the local authority conclude that your plans effectively amount to a re-build rather than a conversion, then full planning permission will be required. 

There are many different permutations to the rules outlined above, including the possibility that permitted development rights do not apply to your project at all. 

In the first instance it is recommended to consult with an architect who has experience in designing barn conversions. They should have the relevant experience in such matters and will be able to provide appropriate guidance. 

For more advice, get in touch. The experts we work with can provide you with the necessary information to guide you in the right direction. 

What surveys would be required for such a project? 

For barn conversions both a structural and full building survey would be deemed essential, bearing in mind the building’s age and likely condition from the outset. If you’re in any doubt which survey would be most suitable it would be wise to consult with a chartered surveyor before proceeding. 

Agricultural restrictions

Before you settle on purchasing a barn that you intend to convert, it’s important to establish if any of the land that it’s on has any agricultural restrictions. If there are any, this will greatly restrict the number of approachable lenders and having these restrictions removed can be costly and time consuming.

Do you have appropriate access and right of way on the property? 

This is another key area which cannot be overlooked during the planning process. Again, your architect should be able to point this out when reviewing the existing boundary lines of the property. 

Any additional access requirements will need permission from the local authority.

It’ll also be important for the surveyor as well as the solicitor to ensure that all appropriate easements are in place on any surrounding properties.

What if the property is a listed building? 

If the barn property you are looking to buy has been included on a list of protected buildings by the national heritage authority of the country where it resides, special rules will apply regarding the conversion work you can do. 

You will need to lodge a ‘Listed Building Consent’ application with your local authority (usually at the same time as planning permission / prior notification), including detailed drawings outlining what work you intend to carry out. 

The local authority may insist on the use of specific materials and specialist labour in order to maintain the character of the property, which may lead to an increase in costs. 

On a positive note, a converted barn with listed status, once restored, will likely retain a much higher value than one that is not. 

Will your budget cover the full costs? 

It’s not uncommon to find yourself going over your budget for projects such as barn conversions, as any number of unexpected costs can soon begin to accumulate. 

When considering mortgage applications for barn conversions, most lenders will require a detailed budget plan before agreeing any borrowing request. You’ll often hear this referred to by lenders as a “schedule of works”. This includes a reserve within your budget to cater for any unforeseen expenses would help avoid having to re-apply for additional funds in order to complete the work. 

Where will you live during the conversion work? 

Depending on the level of renovation work required, most barn conversion projects will be ongoing for a number of months – even years – before the property is habitable. It’s important to make provision within your budget for alternative accommodation during this period. 

If the above points all seem a little daunting, don’t panic! The advisors we work with regularly deal with many different lending scenarios, including arranging mortgages on barn conversions, therefore, will already have a clear understanding of the areas mentioned here. 

If you get in touch we can arrange for a specialist to contact you and discuss your own personal situation in more detail.   

Can you get a mortgage for a barn conversion?

Yes, it’s certainly possible. There’s no doubt the mortgage requirements for someone looking at converting a barn will differ from those wanting a house they can move straight into and will, therefore, need more careful consideration. 

Most mortgage lenders, usually, will only provide borrowing on a property which is habitable at the time the application is submitted and where the full lending amount can be released upon completion.  

For a barn renovation, a prospective borrower would find it much more beneficial if they could have access to a mortgage facility where the funds could be released in stages rather than all at once to fit with the timescales of their own specific conversion project. Development finance is a good example of this type of finance.

The good news is a self-build mortgage will do exactly that. 

As the name suggests, self-build mortgages are specifically designed for anyone looking to either build or carry out significant renovations on a property, such as barn conversions. 

Unlike traditional mortgages, a self-build mortgage will release the required funds over five key stages of a build or renovation, namely: 

  • Purchase of land / barn
  • Foundations / structural renovation
  • Eaves height completion
  • Implementation of watertight roof
  • Internal fixtures and fitting

The clear benefit of using this type of mortgage to convert a barn is the ability to clearly plan ahead with your conversion budget while knowing when to expect incoming funds to cover the costs.  

How can I get a self-build mortgage for a barn conversion? 

Self-build mortgages are regarded as much more specialised than traditional mortgages and are usually only available from a select number of specialist UK lenders. This is where we can help. 

The advisors we work with have strong relationships with lenders across all sections of the mortgage market and would be able to help you find the best self-build mortgage providers who can offer lending assistance for your barn conversion project. 

If you get in touch we can arrange for a specialist to contact you directly and discuss further. 

What are the alternatives to a barn conversion mortgage? 

Self-build mortgages are definitely a viable option when considering how to finance your barn conversion, however, there are a number of circumstances where they may not be suitable, such as: 

  • If you’re looking to purchase a barn through an auction you will usually need to complete any transaction within 28 days which may not leave enough time to complete your mortgage application
  • You have a clear exit strategy which involves selling the barn conversion upon completion and would prefer a more short-term finance option
  • The level of renovation work required on the barn you are looking to buy may be deemed ‘unmortgageable’
  • You have sufficient capital to purchase the barn but need a short-term loan to complete the renovation work

In all of the above scenarios, a bridging loan could be a healthy alternative to using a mortgage for your barn conversion. 

A bridging loan is a short-term method of finance which can be arranged within a matter of days and is designed to ‘bridge’ the gap between an urgent borrowing need and a main line credit facility (such as a mortgage) becoming available. 

Most bridging loans are usually available for a maximum of 12 months although some lenders will offer terms up to 24 months and a few may stretch to 36 months in exceptional circumstances. 

A clear exit strategy is essential if an application for bridging finance is to be successful. In the case of a barn conversion that exit strategy would either be to sell the property once completed or to refinance the debt onto a more standard mortgage. 

The experts we work with would be able to help you find the best bridging finance providers from across the market. If you make an enquiry we can arrange for someone to get in touch. 

Barn conversion mortgage calculator 

Standard mortgage affordability calculators will only be able to give you the estimated core details of a mortgage (such as deposit, monthly repayments and term), and this type may also not be suitable for barn conversions. 

Lenders offering self-build finance will have their own calculators because, unlike a traditional mortgage, they require a lot more thought and planning. Because each lender’s criteria will be different, it’s best to explore your options. The advisors we work with will also be able to use their whole-of-market to find the best deals and calculate and initial indication for you. 

If you’re interested in taking out a bridging loan for the reasons stated in the above section, you can find bridging calculators online, though lenders’ calculators will be more sophisticated and be able to take many more variables into account. 

Speak to a barn conversion mortgage specialist

As you can see from the information above, barn conversion mortgages are quite a complex area of lending in the UK. Trying to locate the best lender who can cater for such a specialised lending need can prove to be quite arduous. 

This is where we can help. If you’d like to speak with someone who can provide much needed knowledge in this intricate area of lending call us today on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry. 

The advisors we can match you with have a wealth of experience in all areas of mortgage lending and deal with customers in your situation all the time.

Updated: 6th September 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.