The building project

The barn in former days

The conversion of Lower Barn into residential accommodation with business use was carefully thought through using green design principles to create an environmentally sustainable building, with reduced levels of energy consumption required both to build and maintain it.

We have tried to maintain the external appearance of a traditional Yorkshire Dales stone barn and have kept the open lofty feel inside, with the central section open from floor to roof and the oak structure open to view.

We have reused existing materials wherever possible and bought local second hand materials when extra were needed.

The roof

Part of the roof had collapsed

Part of the roof had collapsed before we bought the barn and re-roofing it was one of the biggest jobs.  We did hope to retain some of the original oak trusses, but closer inspection revealed that they were beyond repair so new oak trusses were installed.  The original stone roofing slates that were salvaged from the old roof were enough for the main central section of the barn.  We were very lucky to find a supply of very similar stone slates from a barn a couple of miles away that was being re-roofed with blue slate.  These were used to re-roof the small shippon and the side of the dairy that faces the old farmhouse, so the whole of the roof that faces this listed building now has a stone slate roof.

The roofs on the other side, away from the farmhouse, have been re-roofed with second hand Burlington slate.

Re-roofing the south-east elevation of Lower Barn

The roof was completely removed, January 2011

The roof was completely removed, January 2011

Working on the roof March 2011

Working on the roof March 2011

Main barn roof complete

By August 2011, the main barn roof was complete








Re-roofing the north-west elevation


Roof removed from large shippon

The old asbestos roof was removed from the large shippon, July 2011

Burlington slates on the shippon roof

Second hand Burlington slates replaced the asbestos sheets.








The walls and windows

Aluminium clad timber window

The timber windows are clad with aluminium for protection.

Little work has been necessary externally to the walls, other than to re-point them and to form some new window and door openings.  As far as possible, existing openings were used so that the number of new openings was kept to a minimum, but the use of glass in the large cart entrances and on the south-west corner of the building has increased the amount of solar gain.  Some of the internal walls have been left unplastered so they can act as heat stores for the warmth from the sun, releasing it back into the rooms at night.

We decided to use aluminium clad timber windows because of the exposed location of the barn, which is open to the prevailing south-westerly winds coming in from Morecambe Bay.  We can see a rain storm coming from miles away!  The aluminium cladding protects the wooden windows, reducing the amount of repainting that will be necessary in future.  We chose double glazing over triple glazing because research showed that the small increase in efficiency of triple glazing didn’t warrant the extra cost.



We would like to build a sunspace on the south-east corner of the barn, but this has so far been refused planning permission.  This would be a glazed porch with a stone slate roof, designed to make the house more energy efficient by increasing solar gain and giving protection from the weather at the door which we use most. There are many good reasons for building a sunspace here:

  • It would act as a buffer between the inside and outside of the house – in this case preventing warm air being lost from the kitchen when going in and out.
  • Air would be pre-heated in the porch before being drawn into the house.
  • It would have a passive solar heating function – heat from sunlight coming in through the glass would be stored in the existing stone walls, which would act like storage heaters.  The heat would then be slowly transferred into the house through the walls and by natural convection when the door into the kitchen is opened.
  • It would help to protect what would otherwise be an exposed corner of the house from the wind and rain.  Without the porch, these would be external walls.


Kingspan insulation in the walls and roof

Kingspan insulation in the walls and roof

The levels of insulation in the building are far higher than those currently required by BuildingRegulations.  All external walls have 100mm of Kingspan insulation plus a layer of Superquilt foil insulation, the floors have 175mm of Kingspan and the roofs have 175-200mm of Kingspan plus Superquilt foil insulation.  We hope that this will mean that we will only need to use the heating system in the very coldest weather.

We did look at more natural forms of insulation such as sheep’s wool, but it would have needed a far greater depth of insulation to achieve the same levels as those given by the Kingspan and Superquilt foil and we would have lost too much space from the room sizes.  Overall, we considered that the environmental costs of manufacturing products such as Kingspan and Superquilt were outweighed by their heat saving benefits.



underfloor heating pipes

Underfloor heating pipes

Various options were considered for running the underfloor heating system for the barn, which will be needed to supplement the heat from the woodburning stoves in the very coldest weather.

We considered using back boilers on the woodburners combined with solar panels, but discussions with local plumbers showed that this would require a very complicated plumbing system.  We considered a wood pellet boiler, but these are very large and at present the wood pellets are not available to buy locally and we are keen to grow our own supply of wood, which we would not be able to make into pellets ourselves.

We then looked into ground source heat pumps, as we have plenty of space outside for the underground pipe work.  Whilst these are considered to be the most efficient form of heat pump, they are expensive because of ground works needed and would probably produce more heat than we would require with our high levels of insulation.

We finally decided on an air source heat pump from Earth Save Products, after a visit to the

air source heat pump

Air source heat pump

National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.  We felt that this would give us sufficient heat input at a considerably reduced cost.  We also bought a system to heat the hot water, called an Ecocent, which uses a small air source heat pump on top of a water tank and draws in warm air from the building.  It has been set up to draw the warm, moist air out of the bathrooms and use it to heat the water for the next bath or shower.  It will also help to re-circulate the warm air that rises to the apex of the building.

We decided against a full mechanical heat recovery system, because we could not make the building fully airtight as you would be able to with a new build and which is needed for an MHR to work.



We have tried to make full use of existing buildings and structures on the site in a way that retains the rural architectural heritage of the area, whilst providing a viable long term future for the barn.

The finished project

This is a link to an article about us that was featured in the Yorkshire Post magazine in 2013

article in Yorkshire Post