Building the Dream – A guide to barn renovations and conversions

  • Building Design Expert
  • 4 years ago

Book Review
  • Building the Dream - A guide to barn renovations and conversions


A good robust coffee table publication that falls a little short of a go-to reference on its subject.

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This book is aimed at the niche market of building, refurbishing and maybe even extending Barn Properties. Have you ever looked at the myriad barn restorations up and down the countryside and wondered, even for a moment, what it would be like to own and live in one of these illustrious buildings that have been brought back from the dead? Well as the title suggests this book aims at helping you to build that dream.


From the start there is no doubting the author’s passion for and knowledge of his subject. The quality of the physical book is also apparent in the hard back cover and the thick-thick paper of the pages. The photographs are excellent as too are the historical references that will get anyone up to speed quickly with the different types, styles and uses these buildings were originally designed and constructed for.

The author makes useful if cursory references to the raft of factors that may influence a decision to progress a ‘barn project’: Planning, structure, ecology, services and even asbestos are mentioned, but that particular list is a long one and every project will have its own.

Technically the content tries to cover a lot of bases, which is largely successful, although it would have been useful to see some explanatory notes on the drawings and illustrative photographs. The content jumps around somewhat, with references to ‘Arrow slit’ windows and ‘wet / dry rot’ between services and interior finishes. But save to say that the subject headings are there if you only look.

It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and although there are a good number of high quality photographs, sometimes you feel that you just need that bit of explanation on what exactly you are looking at. This is most evident in the case studies at the end. Which, whilst a useful section to include, the lay person may well be looking for this book to resolve many of the questions hitherto unanswered. In this regard the case studies are very much an opportunity missed.

The quality of the physical book and its style most definitely make this one for the coffee table, rather than a go-to specialist reference publication; but it should provide sufficient thought provocation on the subject it addresses. For anyone setting out down the ‘Barn Conversion’ trail it gives a useful starter for ten, but there will soon come a point when something more in depth will be required to help negotiate those construction project hurdles as they inevitably appear.

Building the Dream – A Guide to Barn Renovations and Conversions