Sweeney Architects

Get a grant to repair your outbuildings

Paul Mooney: pmooney@farmersjournal.ie

Applications are now being accepted to the REPS 4 traditional farm buildings grant scheme 2013, ahead of the closing date of Friday 26 October.

The scheme offers a grant of up to 75% of the cost of repairing old farm buildings up to a ceiling of 20,000 Euros. Applications are available from the Heritage Council, Áras na hOidreachta, Church Lane, Kilkenny and online at www.heritagecouncil.ie. Applications will be jointly assessed by the Department of Agriculture and the Heritage Council.

A typical eligible shed is one which was constructed before 1960 for agricultural use and built using traditional methods and materials. The building must have been built and kept for farming use.

Unused buildings are eligible. The buildings must be able to be seen from a public place and be on the farm yard.

“The aim of this grant scheme is not to modernise old buildings but to repair them and maintain their characteristics,” says architect Nick Sweeney of Sweeney Architects in Longford.

“The Heritage Council have outlined that the building should be made weather tight. The conservation has to be carried out in traditional building techniques and materials, taking care of the potential historical and cultural value the building might possess.”

The building must be in fair, reparable condition and containing surviving materials for the grant to be approved. If approved, each farmer can take an active role in the restoration of the building on his or her land.”

Picture One- this old two storey stone granary is on the farm of Anne Heslin at Keeldra, Co Leitrim. Anne sought architectural advice from Nick Sweeney of Sweeney Architects. A grant application was successful and the restoration work was carried out this year by local builder Joe McManus.

“When we pulled off the ivy we saw that the stones were shaped to a high degree,” Nick Sweeney said.

“It was a well coursed building. We emphasised this on the grant application.”

Picture Two-Restoration of the old farm building finished earlier this year, grant aided under the 2012 scheme.

The shed was first cleared out. The intermediatory floor was then repaired using new larch floor joists constructed like the originals. The wall stonework was repointed with an original lime and mortar mix. Some of the existing roof trusses were saved. New ones were made to the same peg joint specification. Again, some of the existing corrugated sheeting was good enough to use. Sheeting of similar gauge and profile was found to complete the roof. Anne Heslin found the whole process very rewarding. “I had an old building that was an eyesore on the farm; we now have an attractive feature which we use for storage.”

Benefits-There are benefits for the farmer in restoring an old farm building, said Richard McLoughlin, conservation architect with Lotts architects. The firm has been involved in several projects on farms in the Leinster area.

“A restored building won’t meet the needs of modern farming but it will often provide a practical store,” he said. “You never have enough storage on a farm and it’s better in use than deteriorating. It will also enhance the appearance of the farmyard and farm house and the farmer’s enjoyment of his work. This is all in addition to the heritage and cultural benefits.”

“We can advise on what needs to be done and on making the application. Typically, it’s based around repointing and repairing the roof. You want to preserve the character so you do as much as required but no more than necessary. Often it’s less than the farmer might expect."