The Federation of Master Builders

Living in Harmony

"The building looks like it has always been here"

Zoe and Stuart Webber were complete novices to any kind of renovation project so they were understandably wary about turning the outbuilding next to their barn into a liveable space.

"We were very sensitive to the fact that putting a modern extension on the side of the old barn could look ridiculous," says Zoe. "I wanted it to look and feel like an old farm building, as if it had always been here."

The Webbers began looking for their first home together in 2011 and were delighted when they found this 150-year-old barn.

"We love the location," says Zoe. "We're tucked away down a lane with just two other neighbours and back onto the Leeds-Liverpool canal."

The barn had been converted some 15 years or so before, but there was a ramshackle workshop just steps away to the side of the property, crying out for some attention. As the barn is in a Conservation Area, Zoe and Stuart sought advice from planning consultant, Michael Cunningham, about what they were allowed to do. He told them they might get planning to join the buildings as long as they didn't obstruct the view. "The glazed link changed the whole scope of what we could do because it meant the building could become part of our home," says Zoe.

The Webbers decided to use the new space for a bigger kitchen-diner. The planners approved the project at the end of 2013 with conditions they use reclaimed stone, brick and roof tiles and have timber window frames - decisions the couple were more than happy to comply with. The Webbers wanted to use a builder who would work with reclaimed materials but being new to the area, they didn't know anyone. A friend suggested they use the FMB's website.

"I wanted it to look and feel like an old farm building"

"Martin Silcock from Tricklebank got in touch and he was really interested in our project from the start," says Zoe. "We discovered the firm had lots of experience with period properties so we knew they would be sympathetic."

The project got going in the first week of January 2014. Everything was going according to plan until the team hit the water table in one corner of the foundations, which kept filling up the hole. After discussions with the building inspector, Martin found a solution.

"We introduced steel reinforcing and a mass fill 1.5m deep to the problem area," he explains.

Another challenge was linking the services because the Webbers had wood and tiled floors they didn't want to disturb. Martin's team found an answer here too.

"The plumbers removed one tile in the bathroom and went up through the living room ceiling instead," Zoe explains.

All-in-all, Zoe and Stuart have been bowled over by Tricklebank's attention to detail, such as help to source reclaimed lights, paint colours and at one point encouraging them to put oak purlins into the vaulted ceiling alongside the truss.

"Martin was spot on, the result is amazing, the building looks like it has always been here," says Zoe. "The change to our home has been dramatic, the whole flow is quite different and the new kitchen-dining-living space is fantastic!"


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