Would a self build or barn conversion be cheaper for first time buyers?

23 September 2013

I have read a few posts regarding mortgages for self builds but have a few questions around barn conversions.

Here’s a little bit of a background: We’re first time buyers with joint income of around £55K with around £15K deposit. Potentially we have access to free barns and land.

I’d like to find out a little more information on mortgages around barn conversions or self builds. Would a self build be cheaper?

Would be great to read someone’s experience/thoughts. Would it be at all feasible or should we join the norm and get a ‘first time buyer’ mortgage for a house/flat?


It’s difficult to give you hard and fast rules here. I would expect most ‘straightforward’ self build projects to come in cheaper than barn conversions (especially those involving major works).

That’s simply because a self build tends to be comparatively straightforward. The major ‘risks’ on this kind of project are in terms of getting out of the ground (discovering poor site conditions could increase your foundation costs, for example) and delays on site (eg deliveries not turning up on time, weather delays, etc).

With a barn conversion, meanwhile, you may be looking at stripping back and restoring/repairing a lot of the original structural fabric (which can cost more than building an entirely new structure due to the level of skill required in preserving original features), possibly underpinning foundations, etc. So even if you think you can initially budget lower for a barn conversion, there may well be unforeseen structural issues that mean your budget needs to include a bigger ‘contingency’ for potential problems.

The dark horse here is that it looks like you can get hold of the farm buildings for conversion for free – which could save you in excess of £100,000 just in terms of purchasing a plot for your project!

3 October 2013
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