Poultry buildings: New build or refurb?

Sometimes it’s best to refurbish an existing building rather than build from scratch. So how do you know what’s the best option?

Coverhill has been refurbishing its poultry sheds for many years across its own estate. Latterly it has been offering the service to other customers. There a few key points when considering refurbishment, says director Sam Drummond.

First and foremost is the concrete slab still in good condition?

Are the eaves high enough to accommodate modern machinery?

Is the structure still sound and straight?

“The concrete slab is the most important thing,” says Drummond. “If this is good, it’s worth investing in the sheds. Skeletons of sheds can be straightened out and eaves can be lifted.”

There are varying levels of refurbishment, from a strip down to the timbers and rebuild, to a light refurbishment of side walls. The concrete blocks used for dwarf walls tend to be knocked out and new ones are cast in situ; this allows a solid building block for the shed.

Costs vary on the condition of the existing building but can vary from £4-to £10 per sq ft, says Drummond. “This would give the farm another 20 + years of life and make it relatively maintenance free. With new build costs increasing it can be an attractive route and there are also big benefits in tax because refurbishment counts as repairs and are therefore tax deductible. In addition, there is tax relief on asbestos-removal.

New fans and inlets, along with increased insulation spec, helps reduce energy costs and drive performance.

With Red Tractor insisting on windows in all poultry buildings by October 2020, Drummond says it is a good time to consider it side wall refurbs as many older sheds are lined with cement board containing asbestos.

Q&A with Sam Drummond

1)       How much of your business is refurbs compared to new builds?

90% of our business is refurbishment

2)       What are the main reasons customers come to you for refurbs?

Because we are chicken farmers ourselves, we can offer insights in how to do it best from a farmer’s point of view. We also specialise in this work, and can react quickly, with our 22-strong workforce.

3)       How much interest are you getting as a result of the Red Tractor windows requirement? Have you done many of these projects?

We have had a lot of interest in this we have fitted out 100+ sheds to date with windows and have plenty to do over the next few months.

4)       What timescale does it take to rebuild an existing poultry house?

It really depends on the make-up of the building and the condition, the trick is to catch it before it’s a big job. Typically, a 40,000 bird broiler shed can be done in three to five weeks.

5)       What are the biggest challenges you face when doing a refurb?

The biggest challenge is not knowing what’s behind the cement board and cladding, and until you have stripped it back to the carcase you really don’t know what you’re are dealing with to see if it is rotten. Also straightening the sheds out to make them nice and level before cladding can be a challenge.



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