Luisa & Chris Glinn’s – Cornwall barn conversion

Luisa and her husband Chris wanted to settle into a home of their own, close to family in Cornwall.

They needed a house with enough space for their two children and dogs, and to accommodate the equipment for Chris’ equestrian business. But with house prices in the area out of their reach, the only option for the couple was to convert a derelict barn on a plot of land next to Luisa’s parents’ home which they owned.

The couple had saved up for a deposit to begin works on the barn, but they needed finance to complete the conversion. Finding a mortgage lender for a non-traditional build proved difficult and it took some months before they approached Ecology, whose environmental ethos appealed to them, following a recommendation on social media. Luisa found from the very first phone call that the whole process was very straightforward, and the Society always understood their project.

Throughout the conversion works, the family has been able to live with Luisa’s parents, enabling them to save on extra accommodation costs and continue the project in their spare time whilst living onsite.

They set up an Instagram page to share details of their progress and this enabled them to link up with other self-builders who supported with them tips throughout the works.

The couple wanted to future-proof their home by investing wisely in the fabric of the barn, in turn ensuring its longevity and sustainability. For instance, they chose to clad the external walls with Siberian larch, which requires less maintenance over time than many other solutions. The natural material also fits with the barn’s surroundings, which was a priority for the couple.

As energy prices have risen, they wanted to ensure the home was affordable to run. They opted for rock wall insulation and well-insulated windows to reduce heat loss and maintain a pleasant indoor temperature with a lower energy input year-round. An air source heat pump provides renewable energy for heating and cooling and feeds into the newly installed underfloor heating system.

Luisa and Glinn also wanted to generate electricity onsite and opted for a solar panel system and 9KW battery array. The pitched roof enables light to hit the panels all day, so that not only can they supply their own electricity but also put a sizeable amount back into the grid.

As a piece of advice, Luisa encourages those thinking of undergoing a conversion to focus on good quality building materials, and to engage with people who are knowledgeable on planning permission for conversions (like Part Q). She also advises the following:

‘Don’t give up on what you want to achieve! Go for something unique, and don’t be afraid to change the norm!’

With works almost complete, the couple will soon be able to move into their own home and enjoy the peace and quiet that the surrounding countryside and nearby stream offer, whilst still being close enough to all local amenities and family support.

For more information about Ecology’s conversion mortgages, click here.

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