Greg & Georgie’s barn conversation has captivated the world of single-story barn conversions. Greg and Georgie have had their own life challenges throughout the years, but their ambition with their family farm in Sevenoaks shows what overcoming challenges can lead to.
Their story, featured on Grand Designs, has led to many viewers of the show saying how inspirational the couple is for what they’ve been able to overcome.
Greg & Georgie History
Greg and Georgie met each other in 2011 under some of the worst conditions possible. The two were part of a sailing trip that was part of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. The duo attended the event because they were both diagnosed with brain tumors earlier in their lives.
Georgie can barely remember a time in his life when he wasn’t trying to treat cancer.
Fast-forward to 2018, and the couple gets married. When they start searching for a home, they find that the market values are too high. The two can’t afford the asking price for homes as prices begin to swell.
So, the two decided that if there were nothing available on the market, they would have to build something on their own.
Georgie’s grandparents ran a family farm, and the single-story barn on the property was intriguing. If converted properly, the barn could offer a beautiful home for the two who have already been through so much in life.
The idea led to:
- Applying for Grand Designs
- One of the show’s best conversions
The Grand Designs barn conversion in Kent has captivated viewers. However, the episode has also helped do something else that the couple always wanted to do: bring awareness to the Trust where they met.
Bringing the Grand Designs Barn Conversion in Kent to Life
Greg didn’t have much construction experience, but he had the will to make the barn a home. However, there were a few problems in his way:
- He wasn’t a contractor and only took a carpentry course
- The barn’s structure couldn’t be drastically altered
The barn sits in a conservation area, and as a result, the substantial alteration wasn’t allowed. Mike Kaner was called in to draw up plans for the barn and to work within the limitations of the conservation requirements.
The barn was just 35 years old and sat in the backyard of Georgie’s parent’s home.
Challenges Along the Way
The couple started with a budget of £250,000, and nearly a third of the budget went to groundworks. Greg decided to do some of the specialist work himself to try and remain within budget. He didn’t have the experience for the tasks, but he was willing to learn and figure it out.
Challenges along the way that needed to be overcome included:
- The coronavirus pandemic
- Allowing natural light into the space without expansive windows
- No foundation
First, expensive glass couldn’t be added to the space, so Kaner solved the problem in the most ingenious way possible. He decided that a series of roof lights and slit-shaped windows were the perfect way to add natural light to the space and allow the couple to view the stunning countryside.
However, when Greg and Georgie began digging out the concrete floor in the barn, they came across a startling realization: there was no foundation. Instead, the timber frame had four inches of concrete, which is acceptable for a barn, but not a home.
Steel post supports.
The supports allowed for:
- The project to remain within budget
- Support for the main frame while the underpinning took place
Once that hurdle was complete, another tragic event occurred. The company that the two gave £5,000 to for an air-source heat pump and solar panels went into administration. Unfortunately, the couple lost the money and could only afford to put an oil-powered boiler in the home.
On the bright side, everything went into place, and in the future, they can install solar if they have the means.
However, while the solar panels never made it to the roof of the barn, multiple eco-friendly elements still made it into the conversion:
- 7,500 litre rainwater tank
- Triple glazing
- Many materials were salvaged, including the concrete used for the driveway
Even a large oak tree that fell near the barn naturally was then machined for lumbar and supplied much of the wood for the interior of the home.
The open floor plan maximizes the space, while the strategic window placement allows for added natural light without altering the original structure. It’s a picture-perfect completion for two people who want to share as much precious time as possible in the space.
Completion Leads to New Ambitions
The project took its toll on the couple, but now that it’s done, they’ve decided to share their journey with others. First, they set up their own business to share knowledge with other self-builders who don’t know where to begin with their journey.
On top of that, the home is now going to have a portion of it converted into a retreat for people who also are trying to recover from the thing that brought the couple together in the first place: brain tumors.
Grand Designs didn’t know what they were walking into when they returned to the barn to see updates, but they were stunned. In fact, the show states that the barn is picture-perfect and is one of the greatest transformations that they’ve ever seen.
To top it off, the transformation was complete by a couple with very little experience.