Barn Conversion Mortgages

Find out everything you need to know about buying and converting a barn, the types of finance available, and how to secure the loan you need.

Firstly, are you looking for a mortgage on a barn conversion?

Home Property Types Barn Conversion Mortgages
Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Jon Nixon

Reviewer: Jon Nixon

Director of Distribution

Updated: March 18, 2024

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continuously monitor changes in the financial space and work closely with qualified mortgage advisors for factual verification.

March 18, 2024

Barn conversions can provide some of the most unusual, stunning and spacious homes available, but financing this type of project can be much more difficult than buying a traditional residential home.

In this guide, we’ll explore the important considerations of buying and converting a barn, the types of finance available, and how to secure the loan you need.

Is it possible to get a mortgage for a barn conversion?

It’s absolutely possible, however, there is much more involved than when you purchase a standard residential property. Of course, the type of mortgage you’ll need and considerations required will depend on whether you’re buying an already converted barn, or you’re planning to convert one yourself.

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What type of mortgage is needed?

If you’re planning to convert a barn or buy one that’s been converted, there are a few options available to you in terms of financing:

Self-build mortgages

The obvious choice in most cases will be a self-build mortgage, as they’re designed for this purpose. If you’re planning to implement modern energy efficient and eco-friendly design aspects and processes during the build, you may even qualify for an eco self-build mortgage, which offers additional benefits such as preferential rates, cash back, or sometimes a higher level of borrowing.

Funds are released in stages with this type of mortgage, which allows you to keep a tight budget and save money on interest, as you only acquire interest on the money that’s been released, rather than the full loan amount.

Bridging loans

Another option is to use a bridging loan for the conversion and then refinance onto a standard mortgage when the project is complete. This may be a useful option if you plan to buy the barn at auction, as it can be arranged far more quickly than a mortgage.

It’s important to note that a bridging loan is short-term finance, usually taken over a maximum of 2 years, so can be a bit more restrictive if delays occur during the build. It’s possible to take the finance in stages, similarly to a self-build mortgage, however, the interest rates tend to be higher.

Standard mortgages

If you’re buying an already converted barn, or perhaps a partially converted barn that’s habitable, it may be possible to purchase it with a standard mortgage, however, you would need to consider how to fund any further renovations needed.

As barn conversions are typically classed as non-standard construction properties, it’s likely that the majority of high street lenders would shy away from this type of residential purchase, however, there are plenty of specialist lenders who will consider them.

Buy to let

Some specialist lenders may be able to provide a self-build buy to let mortgage for a barn conversion, but this is a very niche area of lending. Using a bridging loan to secure and convert the property and then refinancing onto a buy to let mortgage with a specialist lender may be a more workable solution. Either way, you will most certainly need to use a broker with expertise in this area in order to secure the finance you need.

How to get a barn conversion mortgage

Converting a barn into your dream home can be incredibly fulfilling, however, the process is not typically straightforward and sourcing the right finance can be difficult.

The good news is, following these 3 simple steps will make the whole process simpler and help you to achieve your goals:

1. Speak to a broker that specialises in barn conversion finance

With a home buying/building niche as specialist as this, you’ll need advice right from the outset. A broker with specialist knowledge in this field can do much more than simply find you the right finance for the project, they will know what type of considerations need to be made at every stage of the process. They will be able to recommend suitable conveyancers, surveyors, and even help with the presentation of your plan of works to the lender.

Consulting with one of the expert brokers that we work with can save you a multitude of costly and potentially devastating oversights or mistakes. Get in touch today to be paired with the right broker for your needs.

2. Research and planning

Once you’ve taken the relevant advice, ensure you’ve considered all planning requirements and other forms of consent that may be necessary, as well as other pertinent points, such as onward saleability in various areas of the country, and what type of financing will be most suited to your needs. Your broker will have discussed these options with you at stage 1.

3. Recruiting the right team

Unless you’re experienced in any of the following areas of barn conversion, it’s essential to ensure that you hire an architect, solicitor and construction company with strong expertise in this field. Aside from knowing what to look out for and providing the best finish, using experienced professionals and tradespeople will bode well with most lenders and can contribute to getting approval for a self-build mortgage or alternate development finance.

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Lender availability and rates

There are very few high street lenders that will accept a self-build mortgage application for a barn conversion, so you’re likely to need to go through a specialist lender. Often you won’t be able to access this type of lender without an intermediary, so using a broker with knowledge in this area is essential.

Self-build mortgages typically have higher interest rates than traditional mortgages, and even if you’re buying a completed barn conversion, it will be classed as non-standard construction, which also attracts higher rates of interest, due to the increased risk in lending on an unusual property.

Eligibility criteria

The criteria you’ll need to meet will vary from lender to lender, and depending on the type of finance you need, but the personal criteria is consistent with other mortgage types, such as affordability and creditworthiness.

When you’re planning to build or buy a barn conversion, however, there are far stricter criteria to meet in terms of the property itself, and you’re likely to need a larger deposit.

Deposit requirement

For a self-build mortgage you’re likely to need a deposit of around 25%, although some lenders may accept less. It’s sometimes possible to secure bridging finance without the need for a deposit, depending on other assets that you may have available for security, and the strength of your exit strategy.

Barn type and requirements

Whilst there are a fair number of self-build mortgages available, those lenders offering them for barn conversions are far fewer.

Even the more specialist lenders that are happy to consider barn conversion often have additional criteria, for example:

  • Some lenders won’t accept semi-detached or terraced barn conversions
  • Some lenders don’t allow for certain modern barn construction types
  • Most lenders will require a barn conversion warranty to be in place when the project is complete

How much can you borrow?

Again, this depends on what your objectives are, as well as what you can afford to borrow. If you decide that a self-build is the right path for you, then you’ll have to meet typical mortgage affordability criteria and will likely be able to borrow between 4 and 5 times your income, depending on your level of income and profession.

This affordability calculator will give you an insight into the amount you may be able to borrow based on your own household income:

Mortgage Affordability Calculator

Use this calculator to determine how much you could potentially borrow for a mortgage, based on the typical salary multiples used by most UK lenders.

Input full salaries for all applicants
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Your Results:

You could borrow up to 

Most lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 4.5 times your household income, the standard calculation used by the majority of mortgage providers. To borrow more than this, you will need to use a mortgage broker to access specialist lenders.

Some lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 5 times your household income, a salary multiple you might struggle to qualify for without the help of a broker. This income multiple is not widely available to customers who are applying directly with a lender.

A minority of lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 6 times your household income, a salary multiple you will struggle to get without a broker. Six-times salary mortgages are usually only available under very specific circumstances.

Get Started with an expert broker to find out exactly how much you could borrow.

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Buying a barn conversion – what does the process involve?

Creating a barn conversion from scratch requires substantial research and you’ll need to consider the following factors before you even start to think about finding the right lender:

Planning permission

You won’t necessarily need full planning permission to convert a barn into a dwelling, as legislation passed in 2014 sought to simplify this process with the addition of ‘permitted development rights’, however, you’ll need to provide ‘prior notification’ to the local authority concerned before the project begins, and there is a possibility that they could reject your proposal.

You may still need planning permission if:

  • The plans are extensive enough to be considered a rebuild rather than a conversion
  • The barn is listed

Hiring an architect with experience in designing barn conversions on hand will equip you with the relevant guidance on such matters, as well as increasing lender confidence when it comes to financing the project.

Other forms of consent

Barns tend to be older buildings, on agricultural land and often lack direct vehicle access.

When looking to purchase this type of building for conversion, it’s crucial to consider the following alongside planning permission and prior notification requirements:

  • Listed Status – If the barn is a listed building, as well as planning permission, you’ll need to apply for ‘listed building consent’ through the relevant local authority. There will likely be restrictions on the materials you can use in the conversion, and a requirement to retain certain original characteristics of the property within the design.
  • Agricultural restrictions – It’s very important to ensure that no agricultural restrictions exist on barns and their surrounding plot of land. Whilst it may be possible to have such restrictions removed, it can be a very complex and lengthy process with no guarantee that you’ll get the desired outcome. This can also add substantial costs to the project.
  • Deed restrictions – Finding a barn with existing planning permission can save a lot of time and hassle, but it’s important to check for any deed restrictions attached to it. This could include restrictions on extending the property, not being able to build on certain plots, not being able to keep livestock, or even on parking utility vehicles, such as boats or caravans.
    Breaching a restrictive covenant is fairly easy to do without the correct information about the property, and can be costly and time-consuming to correct. A worst-case scenario could even involve demolishing the conversion entirely.
  • Access and right of way – This should also be considered during this phase of planning, as you’ll need to seek permission for any additional access needs from the local authority.

Resalability

Most people take on this type of project to create their forever home, but keep in mind that plans and life can change. If you’re ever in a position where you need to sell a barn conversion, the location and build specification will play a big role in doing so.

Some areas of the country have far more demand for this type of property than others, and high-spec properties with modern technology and a quality finish will retain far better resale value. Always do your research!

Surveys

Ensure you set aside funds for a full building survey, as this level of report would be essential whether you’re building or buying a pre-built barn conversion.

Budgeting

Throughout this type of endeavour it’s fairly common to encounter unexpected issues and additional expenses. Having a clearly defined financial plan with a contingency fund included will put your mind at rest, and convince lenders that you’ve given due consideration to potential pitfalls.

Speak to a broker experienced in barn conversion mortgages

If you’ve set your heart on a barn conversion, don’t be put off by the complexity of the process and sourcing the right finance for your needs. Our free broker matching service will connect you with a broker that has the precise experience necessary to help you fulfil your plans successfully and with minimal stress.

The brokers we work with specialise in self-build mortgages and in securing finance for barn conversions specifically, and will ensure you get the loan you need, at the most competitive rates available. Simply reach out to our team on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry and we’ll match you with the most relevant expert immediately.

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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