Glulam Barn Conversion – Higher Sherwell Farm



Embarking on a new project can be daunting, especially if it is the first time you’re taking on any building work bigger than a patio in the back garden!

Recently we spent some time on Higher Sherwell Farm helping Issy and Murray Bryars with their barn conversion.

We took the opportunity to ask Issy a few questions about the project:

  1. What is the project?

We’re in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, Devon, and wanted to convert a barn on our farm into a holiday let.

  1. What prompted you to start the project?

We bought the house in August 2017 with the long-term plan of converting the barn to a holiday let to provide some income and share this amazing little valley in the middle of Dartmoor. With us spending a fair bit of time at home in the last year or so it seemed a good time to get started.

  1. Did you already know what material you were going to use? And if not why did you choose Glulam? 

It was always our plan to make the barn conversion as environmentally friendly as possible. Originally our architects had suggested steel structures, but when we looked into it further we felt that as it is an old barn it didn’t lend itself to steel.

Comparing steel beams with glulam it quickly became apparent to us that with the carbon footprint, comparative weight to strength ratio and obvious aesthetic advantages glulam was our preferred material – it won hands down.

  1. How did you come across Buckland Timber?

We started searching for glulam suppliers and with Buckland Timber being based in Devon, they were an obvious choice. We did contact several suppliers – we called thee companies and Buckland were fabulous, we immediately felt that they were not treating it as just another enquiry, but invested in it as a project – from structural engineering design to installation.

We liked that on their website we could see each of the members of the team and a bit about them too – it made everything feel more personal.

  1. What was the reason you chose Buckland Timber?

From the first call, Buckland Timber was approachable and responsive to our needs, our barn is an unusual shape, with gable ends at different heights and walls that run out, which we thought would make it a bit complicated, but Buckland Timber gave us the confidence to feel we could achieve our goal of a sympathetic, gold-standard solution.

Flynn visited the site early on to advise our builder on the structural requirements in rebuilding the walls and gable ends. Then Keith visited to make final adjustments and again just before delivery to ensure everything would go smoothly on the day. We could not have been in better hands.

  1. Which bit did you find most surprising/challenging about the project?

We live in a very rural area with narrow lanes and bridges meaning access to the barn was challenging. Buckland brought in Southwest Crane Hire to help and everything was thought through for us.

Delivery and offloading of the beams was exciting, the crane operator Sam was amazing working with the installation team John and Nick to place the 12-metre ridge beam and rafters. They all took it in their stride but it was a major milestone for the build and us.

  1. What was the most helpful or valuable thing about working with us?

The personal involvement, knowing that Keith knew the project and would be there to ensure the best results for the project.

Buckland managed everything from initial drawings and structural calculation to the installation, we felt we were in safe hands which meant we didn’t worry about it half as much!

  1. What was the best bit about the finished result?

We’re trying to make the holiday let as eco-friendly as possible, adding solar panels, water filtration, an underflooring system called Jupiter, upcycling furniture etc. so we’re really pleased with the glulam frame.

We should have the roof on in the next few weeks, and windows from Stellar will go in, but we’re not due to be completely finished until Christmas so it may be a while before I can honestly answer this!

  1. Would you recommend us to others and why?

Wholeheartedly! Buckland Timber were superb.

  1. If you were giving one piece of advice to someone else about to start a similar project, what would it be?

Do your homework, explore all the options but make sure you work with people who understand you goal and can add value – you can’t be an expert in all areas but you can ensure you work with people who are.

If you have a project that you would like to talk to us about please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Trucks picking up and cutting local timber

Isabel Bryars and Nutmeg the pony