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Old building conversions

Old buildings conversions can be difficult and time-consuming projects, however, with an eye for details and skilled craftsmanship, old, even derelict buildings can be transformed into beautiful and uniques structures.

Why convert an old building?

Working on an existing building, as opposed to building from scratch, comes with its own set of challenges, regardless of age.

However, renovating and updating old buildings also has a unique set of benefits too. A key benefit is that older buildings are often in prime locations where planning permission may not necessarily be granted in the present day.

Equally, an existing, particularly older, property is more likely to include an area of land. Barns and windmills, for example, will often be sold with an area of grass or field. In busy city centre properties, an older building is far more likely to come with a small piece of land, perhaps a garden or drive.

Piece of history

Another reason to convert older buildings is to preserve a piece of history. It is common for old buildings to have been left unattended and fall into disrepair.

By repairing what can be repaired, and replacing what cannot, it is possible to hold on to something that may have historical or sentimental significance. By renovating old buildings rather than simply repairing them, we can ensure that they continue to serve a purpose and remain valuable to the community.

An excellent example of this is the King Edward VII Memorial Hall, donated to the town of Newmarket in 1911 and redesigned and refurbished by KJ Architects in 2011. An extension was added onto the exterior and inside the hall saw demolition work and the fitting of an entirely new and updated stage, flooring and lighting.

By updating the interior and building an extension, the old hall has been given a new lease of life and can continue to be enjoyed by the general public. Not only does this preserve the structure of the building by ensuring it stays well maintained, but it preserves a century-old relationship between this unique piece of architecture and the town and community of Newmarket.

Barn Conversions

Old barn conversions are a popular project in the UK. Properties are often situated in the countryside and sold with a fair amount of land as well, space that can be rented out, sold, built on or simply turned into a spacious garden.

The location and property size are major selling points, as is the fact that older barns generally have a beautifully traditional exterior and a roomy interior, perfect for combining a rustic aesthetic with the comforts of modern living. Take a look at some stunning barn conversions recently on the market.


A major downside to old building conversions is that many are listed. This means that there are restrictions about what tools and materials can be used in the process which sets limitations to the building work.

Check out Natasha Brinsmead’s article on buying a listed building for more information about working with listed properties.


When buying or renovating any property it is best to have a complete survey carried out by a trained professional. This is to ensure that the building is in a fair state and fit to have work carried out.

With older buildings, there are likely to be more complicating factors or damage as the property will have faced a greater number of challenges in its lifetime.

Common faults in older properties include damp, poor energy efficiency and damage to the roof and walls. Knowing a property’s faults ahead of time is crucial to make an informed decision about buying and can be used to negotiate a better deal if you decide to go ahead.

Any work involving older properties can be difficult to navigate, from listings and building restrictions to unexpected hiccups along the way. In any case, it is best to seek advice from experienced professionals before diving in.

If you’re looking to convert an older property, or simply to renovate and update one, get in touch with us here at KJ Architects for valuable insights and practical advice.



    Studio 2 4 The Highlands Exning Newmarket Suffolk CB8 7NT
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    96 Kensington High Street London W8 4SG
    Studio 2 4 The Highlands Exning Newmarket Suffolk CB8 7NT
    T: 01638 662393
    Old building conversions