Previously, we looked at what you need to think about when converting a barn, including the cost of a barn conversion.

At the time we warned you that, inevitably, converting a barn to a home costs more than you think. But there are a few things you can do to try and save money on a barn conversion. Here are our top tips!

1)    Don’t rush into it

Find a barn that you like, and then do your research before you buy. Is there already planning permission? Buying one without planning permission in place could save money, but the risks could be high. There are no guarantees that you will get planning permission and, if you’re refused, it could be a very costly mistake before you get anywhere!

Get the barn inspected by a professional before you buy to check that it’s structurally sound. If it’s not, you might end up spending a lot more than anticipated on complete re-roofing.

2)    Plan, plan and plan some more!

Once you’ve secured your barn, don’t do anything until you’ve carefully planned every stage of the build. This stage can help head off potential costly mistakes and help you make the most efficient use of contractors and materials. Having contractors standing around but unable to begin work because materials haven’t been delivered yet is like pouring money down the drain.

3)    Do some of the work yourself

Taking on some of the work yourself can be a big cost-saver. However, I should caveat this by saying that’s only the case if you know what you’re doing. Otherwise your mistakes and the extra time work may take could cost you more than you’re saving. Even if you’re not able to build, taking care of clearing debris and simple demolition work yourself could save some money.

4)    Manage the project yourself

As with point three, you should only take this on if you’re confident that you have the skills and the time to do it. Don’t underestimate how much work this is – it’s a major project. You ideally need to be on site every day to keep things running smoothly.

If you’re not able to manage the project yourself, you can still save some money by not having a separate project manager. Instead, make sure that your builder has the experience and skills to manage all aspects of the project on your behalf.

5)    Select your architect and builder carefully

Choose experts who’ve worked on similar project before. They’ll know the pitfalls to watch out for and will also be able to offer advice on materials you could use to keep costs down whilst maintaining the integrity of the building. You’ll also want to make sure your builder is VAT registered – they will be able to invoice their work at a reduced VAT rate of 5%.

6)    Source materials yourself and shop around

 If you’re in control of buying materials, have can make sure you’re getting the very best rates. Reuse materials from the original barn wherever possible. You could also use salvaged materials to keep costs down. There are also lots of alternatives to solid stone, for example, that can save you thousands on a build (if planning permission will allow). However, it’s important not to scrimp on quality – this could cost you more in the long run.

7)    Claim your VAT refund

Make sure you keep all your receipts for materials you’ve bought – you may well be able to claim VAT back on these materials once you’ve finished your build. That can add up over the course of a barn conversion project.

8)    Think about the long term

Whilst there are ways to save money on the build, don’t compromise your long term home by scrimping at the building stage. It might pay instead to think about things like making the barn as energy efficient as possible so you save money on bills over time. ‘A’ rated windows, for example, and ground or air-source heating can make their money back in a few short years.