Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

The outer limits – what to do with an outbuilding to increase your property’s value?

27/06/22The outer limits – what to do with an outbuilding to increase your property’s value?

Rural development is something that in the last few years has become a much more viable option for homeowners, landlords and estate owners. The government’s rural policy has become more lenient with what is now permitted, in terms of building developments adjacent or as part of villages and market towns. Neighbourhood Plans have allowed the extension of boundaries of villages and many homeowners have been able to develop their homes, with extensions and other additions, much more freely than was previously allowed.

Rooms for improvement

If you have land and external outbuildings, they also offer a great deal of potential, when it comes to development and extension. Outbuildings, particularly in rural areas, are often the most neglected aspect of a property. They are a project waiting to happen that often never reaches fruition. But in the right hands, with visionary ideas, they are also an aspect of the property that can considerably enhance the estate.

If they are period outbuildings, built in materials such as sandstone or brick, then it’s usually a good idea to retain the external walls, even if you extensively remodel the interior. Outbuildings, even functional buildings like barns and stable blocks, can be very architecturally interesting. Original features can be very unusual and are often worth retaining into the overall design. Large double spaces for barn doors can be great when repurposed as windows, and stable blocks lend themselves to mews developments too.

Changes for the better

Another popular conversion opportunity for outbuildings is into your very own office space. There are many rural businesses based on small country business parks, but the opportunity to have your own office at home is one you could explore. With the popularity of working from home still on the rise, the chance to have your own office environment separate from the house – but still on your premises – can be a great convenience.      

Outbuildings can also be converted into living accommodation, either for guests or what used to be called a ‘granny flat’, for relatives to be able to live on site. There may even be the opportunity to connect the properties together with a corridor, or passage between the two. If the outbuilding is large enough to be a dwelling in its own right, the renovated building, with the right planning permission, could become a revenue stream for the owner. This could be done via a long-term rental property, or even as holiday accommodation. If the building is more utilitarian, it could be used as rented space for a storage facility – for smaller items such as motor bikes or boats, for example. When it comes to increasing the value of your property as a whole, any renovation and restoration of an old outbuilding, is likely to enhance your property’s value.  

What’s permitted?

Regarding planning permission, outbuildings are often defined as ‘permitted development’, dependent on certain factors. These include that no outbuilding is on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the existing property, and it will not infringe on neighbours’ privacy, with verandas, balconies or raised platforms – any platform must not exceed 0.3m in height. Outbuildings and garages must only be single storey, with maximum eaves height of 2.5m and maximum overall height of 4m with a dual pitched roof, or 3m for any other roof. There is also a ruling that no more than half the area of land around the original house would be covered by additions or other buildings.

If you are not sure if your planned building falls into the category of ‘outbuildings’, or if you are unsure if planning permission is required, you should contact your local planning authority. For advice on what the possible options for developing outbuildings are, then don’t hesitate to contact one of our chartered surveyors, for expert advice. We have years of experience in such matters and can provide clients with ideas and guidance.

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