Why barn conversions offer real rural potential, with stunning views as standard
Centuries ago, it was perfectly normal to live in the same building as your animals. In fact, traditional Dales longhouses were built for exactly that purpose, with the family at one end and the livestock at the other.
As farmers began to specialise and make a little more money, they began evicting the beasts and building them separate accommodation.
But then, sometime in the late 20th century, someone started to covet the cows’ quarters, kicked out the cattle, and moved in. It was the first of what was to become a tsunami of barn conversions which is yet to abate.
The wave really peaked in the 1990s – and carried on peaking for about 20 years – when property-hunters, often town- or city-dwellers, recognised the beauty and potential of old farm buildings, bought them, did them up and effected a lifestyle change that many are still enjoying a quarter of a century later.
There can be drawbacks, though. Many barn conversions are not connected to all the utilities, and so rely on septic tanks for sewage treatment and oil deliveries for heating. Broadband access has been a problem too, although that has improved vastly in most areas in recent years.
The advantages, though, are considerable. Barns are often sturdily built, full of character, have unbroken floorplans – giving the developer a blank slate to work with – and are often located in rural places where planning permission for brand-new houses might be tricky. Needless to say, the views tend to be gorgeous.
If you’re looking for a new start in the country and fancy living where the cows used to, one of the following three properties, which are all currently for sale in our area, might be your dream home.
The Old Byre in the hamlet of Heyshaw is a detached house with stunning views across Nidderdale towards Dacre. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, hall, lounge, family living kitchen and utility room, with underfloor heating throughout the ground floor. Outside, there are cottage-style gardens, a single garage and ample parking.
A very different style of building can be found in the Vale of York, where gritstone is replaced by brick and slate by pantiles. The Barn, in the gated development of Gowlands Farm in Green Hammerton, halfway between Harrogate and York, is a good example.
It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms – one with a vaulted ceiling and A-frame beams – hall, dining kitchen and drying room, and an open-plan entertaining area with sitting room and dining area. A garden room is currently used as a gym. Outside, there’s a garden to the rear, and a communal courtyard to the front, with an open barn with off-street parking for one car and two further parking bays.
Finally, Manor Farm Barns, on the edge of the village of Rainton, has been converted into three new homes, all heated by air-source heat-pumps. Buyers can expect to move in by February 2022. Plot three will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, sitting room, living/dining kitchen and utility room. Outside, there’s a single garage with extra parking space, and gardens to the front and side.