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Tell me about converting a church to a house?!

(16 Posts)
LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 20:49:23

The church in our tiny rural village has come up for sale and we have fallen in love with the idea of buying it and turning it into a house. (the church has a huge family history for me, every generation from my great-great grandparents to me have been christened and married in the church)

Just at the very early stages at the moment but the dream is there. Has anyone done this? Any pearls of wisdom to share?

I would link to the church but i'd be scared someone else would fall in love with it! grin It is beautiful and pretty cheap at £35k (it has a lot of ground). Have spoken to the Church of Scotland about it and have arranged a visit with architect/builder.

lalalonglegs Thu 25-Oct-12 20:54:47

I haven't done this but have seen many - my advice would be to get a very, very good architect as, depending on the building of course, churches often don't convert very well, especially into single dwellings, and remain looking like churches that people are sort of camping in. Be prepared for lots of conservation issues and I wouldn't go in with any ideas of, "This will make a really good bedroom, lets keep some of the pews and we can put the kitchen over there in the vestry." The best conversions I have seen have been very radical and slightly disrespectful grin.

Good luck - I hope you get it.

LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 21:02:03

Thanks grin

Sure I recognise your name from my previous postings on this board (I have name changed). We were desperately trying to sell our house in Glasgow to move back to where I grew up and your advice was great. We eventually sold our house and lo and behold couldn't find anything to buy so have been renting...until now smile

TheMysteryCat Thu 25-Oct-12 21:05:17

Check the RIBA conservation architects register. Where roughly are you? I could take quick peek to recommend in your area. You could get the architect to come have look with you to check initial viability. Good estate agent may also recommend.

LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 21:12:28

Never though about estate agent for recommendations, thanks.

We are about 20 miles west of Edinburgh, although very much 'in the middle of nowhere'. Any recommendations gratefully received. smile

CunningPlan Thu 25-Oct-12 21:13:28

What about planning permission? Have you explored this with the local planning department? They usually pretty approachable if you talk to them and explain what you're trying to do.

LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 21:18:40

Been to council and in principle everything should be fine, no neighbours so no one to complain and the old hall in the village has recently been converted with no planning issues. The church itself isn't listed.

lindaworthing Thu 25-Oct-12 21:26:04

I see this done a lot of property development programmes like Homes Under The Hammer. It often comes out really well but like other have said, it's hard to really change the overall feel of the building away from that of a church.

Planning permission shouldn't be too much of a hindrance as if the church is already being sold, the council would much rather it be quickly redeveloped than fall derelict.

This caught my eye the other day and got my creative juices flowing.

LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 21:31:36

linda That is very very similar to mine internally but isn't nearly as pretty outside - we have lots of stain glass and a bell tower grin

lalalonglegs Thu 25-Oct-12 21:33:42

I've visited three projects (none of them churches) by Richard Murphy Architects which is based in Edinburgh. He is seriously brilliant but is rather a big name now (think Richard Rogers of Scotland) - if your church is interesting enough, one of his minions might be tempted and it would be an incredibly imaginative conversion. I do think you need to be very unsentimental about church conversions and not be too tempted to keep all the ecclesiastical bits and bobs.

(I remember your thread - hope buying this place is less painful than selling your last one.)

Waswondering Thu 25-Oct-12 21:34:16

I have a friend who lives in a converted church and it's lovely.

Might be worth looking on property sites to see what others have done, eg:



LoosingBattle Thu 25-Oct-12 21:51:38

Thanks everyone, lots to think about! not least ringing the church bell when I want the DDs to come in for their dinner

<collapses in a heap of excited hopes and dreams>

tricot39 Thu 25-Oct-12 22:16:02

oooh yes i love richard murphy's work. he comes from the mjp atelier i think so stellar details. skills like that will cost a good 15-20% on a small.project construction cost for full service tho..... but there would be no point going for part service and have someone botch up the design intent on site...

lalalonglegs Fri 26-Oct-12 10:31:14

Oooh, I had a look at those links - I think they are horrible (sorry). The second one especially looks completely suburban. I know I said not to be too clingy about the church's features but you don't want it to look like some 1970s Barratt home either.

So, the danger is ending up with a house that still looks like a church OR buying a church and ending up with a home that does not reference in any way its original purpose... Good luck wink.

MaryBS Fri 26-Oct-12 10:44:04

I love houses that still look like churches and make the best of the features. There was one on one of the property programmes, that still had the pulpit grin

This site might be worth a look

GrendelsMum Fri 26-Oct-12 12:52:54

I think people always struggle with the double height windows - I don't think I've seen a conversion that hasn't. If you put a floor all the way across the building, you end up with windows that are clearly cut in half, are floor level upstairs and too high up downstairs, and the result looks really architecturally unpleasing.

Now this addresses those problems in a really interesting way.

This is also intriguing, although maybe not a family house!

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