By appointment to her majesty the queen - manufacturer of steel framed buildings A.C Bacon Engineering Ltd

FAB Awards - Shortlisted Entry 1

CJH Farming - 17th Century Barn Conversion

The original structure was a non-listed 17th Century Essex barn and is now used for office accommodation.

Over the years the building has had many agricultural uses from a grain store, general purpose storage building and Farrowing/weaning shed. The last time it was used for agricultural purposes was 2005 and has subsequently been used for storage of metal formers for the neighbouring window framing business. The remainder of the surrounding buildings in this part of the farm yard had already been converted for industrial/storage/office use which influenced the farmer’s decision on how best to develop this site.

The building was in a very poor state of repair before work commenced. The original thatch roof had been replaced with corrugated tin which was subsequently rusting through. The brickwork foundation was weakening and the structural timber frame was rotting at the lower level. The original weather boarding on the sides of the building had been replaced over the course of time with a block/concrete render between the structural timbers and it was this cladding that was essentially preventing the structure from collapsing.

This was the oldest building on the farm and thus a decision was made to try to save the building rather than demolish it. Whilst doing this, and where possible, the farmer has tried to retain the character of the original structure.

An extensive renovation project was launched. The first phase was the installation of a full supporting scaffold being erected inside the building. Once this was in place, the rotten timbers at the base of the structure were removed along with the lower portion of the timber columns. The existing floor was excavated and levels reduced by over 700mm to provide sufficient height for a ground/first floor operation. Further excavations were also required for a series of goal post frames that would not only support the first floor but also provide support for the top half of the retained timber posts. The posts were then subsequently drilled to coincide with the plates and then pinned. This floor void was also utilised to hide services. Once the first floor structure was in place, the supporting scaffold was removed allowing repairs to the timber roof to be carried out before the installation of the roof cladding and the subsequent installation of the traditional built up side cladding system.

Following the renovation the main building now boasts a ground and first floor with the latter encompassing and accentuating the original trusses and timbers for all to behold. The main roof uses Terracotta pantile effect (KS1000RT) roof sheeting and the elevations of the building are a mixture of brickwork and black stained weather boarding. The addition of timber framed double glazed windows in the South elevation allows natural light to flood into the top floor and stairwell. At the front of the building, the upper portion of the original barn door opening has been maintained and emphasized by a fully double glazed window unit and externally mounted mock barn doors clad in weatherboarding to match. The main low level wing of the development is brick clad with a traditional pantile roof.

The building is set off by a landscaped forecourt and open yard area which can be used by the office staff.

The introduction of a first floor allowed the barn to double the potential income available from the development. The use of the KS1000RT provides the insulation required; the white internal lining panel also reflects the natural light enhancing the appearance of the exposed timber trusses. Opting to use KS1000RT also reduced the dead load on the 17th Century timber trusses. The barn has used modern materials and construction methods to reduce costs and provide best possible return on investment. The ground floor of the barn and the low level wing are heated via oil powered central heating. The first floor of the main barn utilizes the floor void created by the structural steelwork to hide piping for the underfloor heating. This method of heating was used in this area to prevent drying out the exposed timbers.

The visual impact of the main barn hinged on the ability to incorporate the original timber trusses and this was successfully achieved. Where possible, bricks from the original foundation were incorporated into the dwarf wall. The low level wing was roofed using reclaimed pantiles that had been collected from other buildings around the farm. During the project, the labour, for the majority, was sourced locally with A. C. Bacon being the furthest based contractor; keeping the carbon footprint of the development to a minimum. The renovation works have increased the life of a building that was effectively classed as suitable for demolition. The regeneration of this barn has led to surrounding buildings being renovated and modernised. The farm also produces an income from a 190kW photo voltaic panel system.

Chris Philpot, Director of CJH Farming said "A decision to implement the project was undertaken after a great deal of deliberation. The results are beyond my expectations. The building not only looks welcoming and fantastic in its own right, it also enhances the appeal of the surrounding buildings. There is current high demand for office accommodation in this area and this building more than fits the requirements of an office-based business. Older buildings need to be converted for diversification purposes. They should be seen as an asset not a liability. I have worked with A C Bacon for numerous years and have always had a very good service from them. They are an amenable firm, portraying traditional values and an excellent attitude. They excel at specialist projects and I am always confident to employ them knowing that they will make certain the project is completed to a high standard."

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