We are considering purchasing a derelict mill with the aim of converting it into a family home. The building looks sound, but as complete novices we are trying to work out the estimated costs of conversion. How do we start? An architect suggested working on a cost per square metre of £1800. This sounds an awful lot. Should we engage a surveyor before we put in an offer, or would you start with getting an architect on site? All advice greatly appreciated.

  • Lindsey Davis

    Hi Joanne,

    This piece should be a good place to start.


    You should also look through our completed projects as we have featured a number of mills.

    It is very hard to estimate costs for a conversion as it will really depend on the extent of the work and this will vary from project to project.
    For example this property (http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/completedprojects/a-georgian-mill-transformed-00) cost around £650/sqm. But this one, (http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/completedprojects/restoring-a-derelict-mill-0) was £1296/sqm.

    We would advise getting in a surveyor to make sure it is a viable investment.

    I hope this gives you a good place to start.


  • Joanne Baker

    Thanks Lindsey. What type of surveyor would you recommend?

  • Lindsey Davis

    You will need a full building survey for this. Here is a piece with advice on surveys:


    Ring a few surveyors and try and find someone with tried and trusted experience of mill or industrial conversions.

    Good luck,

  • Rachel Haynes

    Hi Joanne,

    Wow – sounds like a great project! Costs per square meter can be very difficult to estimate on a conversion such as this, as Lindsey said – getting a full building survey to understand the condition of the existing building will be vital. Then it will depend on how much work needs to be done to the existing building and the finish that you want to achieve.

    If you are looking to put together an idea of costs for the whole project, also consider if there are any restrictions on developing the mill – for example does the building have all the services connected already, is it listed or are there any planning restrictions on the building that may require more than the standard approvals and applications. And also think about any fees for consultants that you may need along the way – architects 🙂 , engineers, surveyors, quantity surveyors, builders, etc…

    An architect can certainly help with the design and conversion of the existing mill into a home. Along with the information on the Homebuilding website, the RIBA has a good brochure on working with an architect – http://www.architecture.com/Files/RIBAProfessionalServices/ClientServices/2010/Workingwithanarchitectforyourhome.pdf .
    Or you can search the Architects Registration Board website for architects local to your area. http://www.arb.org.uk/.
    As with the building surveyor – look for architects with experience in working with and converting existing buildings, and speak to a few to find one that you feel understands your brief and budget and are comfortable working with.

    Hope this helps & best of luck with it.

  • Lu Jeffery

    Hi Joanne,

    28 years ago we converted a four storey tape Mill in Derbyshire called Providence Mill to live in and work in.
    It is now For Sale, but you are very welcome to come and see what we’ve done to it. Do contact us if you would like to arrange a visit on 07976 814417. I don’t know where you live but maybe it would be interesting. If it’s too far at least I could send you some photos.

    Whatever, we wish you the very best of luck with your project. We have been very happy here and it’s been a great home and workplace.

    Lu and Ralph Selby

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