November 04, 2022

We started our planning application for New Barns Farm in December 2020. After 8 long months it came through and we could finally begin the real work of transforming this site. To give you an idea of the scale of this project, here is a bit of a list:

  • Construct a wetland based sewage treatment system 
  • Repair and re-roof two of the large existing barns
  • Plant 3000+ trees 
  • Insulate and transform a static caravan into an insulated haven (still a static, but wow)
  • Develop and install a renewable energy system to make us about 91% self-sufficient
  • And finally, construct a double height, 370m2 workshop with a laminated timber frame, insulated with straw bales, plastered with lime and integrating a rainwater harvesting system. 
  • Still left to complete is a house for us to live in, but hey, we can wait!

The workshop has definitely been our Grand Design. Despite being a standard rectangle, clad in the black weather boarding that planning demanded and blending in with all our other barns, it is anything but average. To reduce energy demand it is heavily insulated in the floor, the roof and the very thick straw bale walls. It only requires a small heat-pump for warmth and hot water and even in these short days it's 28 solar panels and bank of batteries mean that we have yet to tap into the grid. We installed a used, ex-display kitchen. Water comes from a 20,000L tank that collects all of the rainwater for reuse. Water flows into our wetland. We have 

Here are a few images to take you through from start to finish! We have just started to move in!


DeconstructionWe started by clearing the site - dog kennels, a pigsty, stables, the back of an old truck. Planning permission was granted based on the local council's joy that these dilapidated structures were removed.

Digging the foundation

The first 'gulp'... the building next to our sunken workshop had no foundations. So it had to be underpinned; there goes the contingency! The white base is due to the chalk, donated by our neighbour / builder, we used it to level the giant base.

Underpinning complete and the giant footings for our glulam frame dug out.

Foundation going in.

These are our blockwork boots, the short wall that our straw bales will sit on, which is essential to keeping them high and dry.

 Our little lane was too small for the frame to be delivered to the yard, so the team brought it up through the farm, piece by piece.

The first piece of the frame being craned into place.

Later that same day!

Just one month later - a compete frame, with most of a roof and insulation going in. Elvis and the team work on the plans for the internal layout.

The breathable membrane and cladding rocketing up.

 Straw bales arriving from the Isle of Sheppey

Patrick liming and laying the first straw bale.


Building up our insulation... and using bales to make a workbench.

Bale insulation complete!

The first coat of lime plaster going on... we finished with 3 coats, each taking at least a week to dry enough for the following coat to be applied. The building will continue to dry out over the next several months. 

Solar system going in!

Rainwater harvesting tank ready to be buried... 20,000L of resilience.

The front doors went in just after Elvis installed this canopy from corrugated steel we have salvaged from across the farm.

George and Carlos finishing the ceiling.

Elvis sealing the floor, ghostbusters style.

The night before the big move!

Moving in - Alex was the first to find a place to perch.

 The packing table all ready to go with Dani and Jack in the foreground, setting up the first set of second hand racking.

Our first guests, Dr. Sass Brown brought 33 students working on their Masters in Fashion and Business from Kingston University. Monty was the star of the show of course!


We are having an open day on December 10th, 2022, from 12:00-16:00. If you would like to see us all moved in, just drop me an email:

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