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Converting your farm outbuildings into popular holiday lets – five top tips

Barns, stables and outbuildings offer shelter and storage but can often lie virtually empty or derelict on farms.

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Converting your farm outbuildings into popular holiday lets – five top tips

By relocating hay bales and machinery, you could turn your outbuildings into a profitable holiday let.


Without having to purchase a new property, you could earn a sizeable pot of extra cash to help towards any longer terms savings plan.


Here are some things to consider if you’re keen to capitalise on your farm’s potential:


1. Calculating costs is crucial


Barns and outbuildings are popular choices for holidaymakers searching for a rural escape. It’s a great opportunity to generate more revenue from your farm, owners can expect to earn up to £40,000 a year.


However, make sure you think about costs beforehand. Be aware of any unexpected expenses before you start work on the project to make sure they’re manageable.


The condition of the building is especially important, as structural expenses can add up if you’re unaware of any problems before renovating.

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Begin with the roof, see what the condition is like – sometimes it’s best to call in a structural expert as problems can be hiding below the surface. Woodworm, cracks in the walls and rotting beams are all common issues to look out for.


Once you have a better idea of the quality of the frame of the building this should help you determine initial costs. If you do undertake repair work, check the life-span as sometimes paying the bigger cost upfront to solve the problem for longer can be a better investment.


Keep track of how much any repairs will cost you, and budget for total renovation spend. Do some research into initial decorating costs as well. Our research shows visitors prefer certain features such as wood burning stoves and dishwashers.


So, think about the necessities and likely expenses for the interior of the property as well. Your letting agent can give you advice about which features and facilities customers are most likely to want. Try to stick to your budget as closely as possible when converting the inside of your holiday let too.


2. Pause plans to get permission


Even though the building is on your property you’ll need to get planning permission before you can start work, or have paying guests to stay. If you’re a tenant farmer, make sure to check with your landlord before proceeding as well.


Look up the planning section on your local council’s website – it’ll have guides on what type of planning permission you’ll need and advice on how to complete your application.

Factor in the time needed to get your plans signed-off into your budget, so you can stay on track with timings and costs.


Summer is the most popular times for guests, however visitors book ahead in January and February, so if possible try to have your holiday let open for bookings at the start of the year.


Do not start work before you have been granted planning permission as doing so can delay the overall project and increase costs.


3. Dust off period features


Designing the interior of your property can be the most enjoyable part of renovations. Celebrate the character of your farm property and if carrying out extensive renovation, think twice before getting rid of old features.


Even simple steps like leaving beams in a converted barn exposed can make your home appeal more to potential visitors. Using locally-sourced building materials can also be a great way to retain character, and cut transport costs.


Make the most of your property’s natural structure. Vaulted ceilings can make a room seem larger and retaining a barn’s open plan layout can provide a perfect kitchen, living room and dining area for large group of visitors.

Work with what the building already has, and not only will this make it more appealing but also could help keep costs down.


A simple touch can be to research and showcase the history of your barn or outbuilding by digging up some historic building plans or photographs from your local building office or relatives.


Hanging these on the walls for visitors to look at will give them a sense of the building’s history.


If your property has a particularly interesting or unusual history, think about referencing it when you come to advertising your holiday let online to help it stand out from the crowd.


4. Give your guests a glimpse of farm life


Guests are keen to stay at cottages that offer something different to where they live normally, so use that to your advantage.


Outside space is an extremely valuable asset and one option is to add an enclosed garden, to provide a safe place for children and guest’s pets.


In fact, our holidaymakers say a key reason for choosing a property is if it’s dog-friendly. Make the most of any local land where pets can wander, and pointing out the best dog-walking routes to guests will always be popular.



5. From farmer to holiday let owner


Managing your farm while hosting guests should be simple, even during busy harvesting or lambing seasons. One trick is to outsource day-to-day management, to save you time.


Many of the owners we work with outsource cleaning and hand-overs to local companies. Agencies likes Sykes Cottages can also manage advertising your property and the entire bookings process.


If you have spare buildings on your farm, consider if it might be worth giving holiday letting a go to supplement your income –turning your land into someone else’s rural retreat!


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