Thinking of buying a converted Cumbrian barn that is about 200 years old, already converted but in need of improvement.
Just concerned that the barn, as most Cumbrian barns are, is built into a hillside, so the top floor is at ground level at the back, therefore the ground floor has been built into the hill.
There are no obvious signs of damp, but is this likely to be a problem?


  • Mark Brinkley

    You are right to be wary. Any wall that is buried into the ground is liable to ship water. However, you are also right to take note of the condition of the existing house: if damp isn’t present (your nose is a pretty good indicator), then chances are it is not likely to be a major problem. If it’s just one wall buried in a hillside, there are always opportunities to divert running water around the building with drainage, something you can’t do with a fully submerged basement. However note that stone barns weren’t built to be waterproof so modern attempts to make them fully waterproof are unlikely to ever be 100% successful permanently. In other words, this may become an ongoing maintenance issue.

  • AB Architectural Design Ltd

    Hi David,

    The biggest problem as mark says is damp problems. However so long as you allow for some good tanking measures in the conversion you should be okay. For a belt a braces method you could: Externally put a tanking membrane on the outside of the wall which is burried in the ground with a french drain and perforated pipe to take any water away from the building and internally install a membrane such as perma seal which will allow any water that does get through the wall to run down behind the membrane and into a drainage chanel installed internally at the base of the wall and into an external soakaway or mains drain.

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