Buying A Listed Building

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Purchasing a listed building is something that many homeowners across the UK dream of doing,

In this blog post, we will be looking at what a listed building is, the restrictions they bring, and what you will need to know before purchasing one.

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What is a listed building?

A listed building is a building that is placed on the national register of buildings because it is of ‘historic interest or special architectural interest’. A building is awarded listed status as a way of protecting them and keeping them in good condition so that future generations to come may enjoy them. As a rule of thumb, any building kept in its original condition built before 1700 will be classed as a listed building.

The same goes for any property built between 1840-1914 if they are deemed to be of historic importance. There are a broad range of circumstances that fit under this term, such as if the property was built by a famous architect, or if the property displays a certain style or technological skill of the time.

Protected by the law, you will need listed building consent on top of planning consent for changes, regardless of whether they are exterior or interior changes. Should you decide to ignore the law and make the changes regardless, you will have committed a criminal offense. Whilst this should not put you off from buying a listed property, it is worth bearing in mind beforehand.

What are the different types of listed buildings?

Across England and Wales, there are three categories that listed buildings can be split into three categories. These are:

  • Grade 1 (2.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of exceptional interest
  • Grade ii* (5.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of particular importance
  • Grade ii (92% of listed buildings) – buildings of special architectural or historic interest

According to data from Historic England there were 377,587 listed buildings in England as of 2016. Out of this number, over 90% of them are grade ii listed. 5.5% are grade ii and 2.5% are grade i listed. If the property you are considering buying is grade 1 listed, then there will be considerably more restrictions than a grade ii or grade ii listed building.

Building restrictions that come with listed properties

When a building is classed as listed, it protects not just the exterior of the building, but also the interior, unless it has been explicitly excluded in the list description for that property. Although not common, protection can extend to the land and external structures around the building. If you are considering purchasing a listed building, it is wise to check with your local planning authority as each listed building is different to the next.

If any features are mentioned in the building’s official listing documents, then they cannot be changed. Before you commit to buying any property, you should carefully read the description so that you are fully aware of what you will and will not be able to change once you have bought it.

Do I need to get consent for alternations to a listed building?

Whilst listing buildings are certainly protected, you will still be able to perform repairs and improvements where needed. If you have purchased a listed house and you wish to alter or expand it in any way, you will first need to gain consent from your local conservation officer. If you looking to make an alteration to a listed property but do not yet own it, you should speak to the local conservation officer to see if this is possible before you become legally bound to the house.

Your local conservation officer will be able to shed some light on the process of applying for listed building consent. If you are serious about getting your plans getting approved, you will need as much help as you can get from your conservation officer on the pre-application work.

Will I need listed building consent for repairs?

If you need repairs done on your listed property, then there is a good chance that you may need listed building consent. It can be a difficult area to navigate as if it is a ‘like for like’ repair, it technically does not need consent, but what exactly constitutes a like for-like repair varies from conservation officer to conservation officer.

Replacing roof tiles should not be too much of an issue, but if you wanted to replace a window with an identical window then you would need to get listed building consent. As it is a criminal offence to alter a listed building without permission, it is a good idea to talk to your local conservation officer before making any changes.

Does owning a listed building cost more to maintain?

When a standard house needs repairing you will be able to use tradesmen from the yellow pages to fix the issue. However, when you own a listed house, you will need specialist tradesmen to make the fixes, as they will have to use the correct equipment and specialist materials. If the previous owners of your home properly maintained it, it should not cost too much to maintain.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your roof, guttering, and pipes as water and damp can cause major problems for listed buildings later down the line. It is also a good idea to keep chimneys well swept and your boiler serviced to help save money later down the lane. If your listed property needs urgent help, there are grants available from Historic England to help.

Can you purchase a property without listed building consent?

Be wary when it comes to buying a listed property that any works or repairs have been done with listed building consent. Should you purchase a home that has had work done without consent, you may find yourself liable as the new owner. This means that if you have bought a Georgian property with a greenhouse where the stables once sat, you will have to pay to have it removed as it was built without consent.

Should the property you have bought have had work done without the proper consent you may also struggle to take a mortgage out on it as a result. Lenders will be looking for listed buildings’ consent during the mortgage application process. You’ll need to take note that listed building consent is not the same as planning permission. If you have work done without planning permission this may not always be a problem but work without listed buildings’ consent will always be a criminal offense.

Will I need specialist home insurance when I purchase a listed property?

It is not essential to have specialist buildings insurance when living in a listed property, however, it is certainly a good idea. In the tragic circumstances that your property was to burn down, then this would not be an issue between yourself and your insurance company, but also your local conservation officer as well as English heritage if you are the owner of listed buildings of grade ii* or grade i. The concern of the English Heritage and your local conservation officer will be getting the building back to its original state, regardless of the cost to you.

This is why it is a good idea to have specific insurance in place that will protect you and your home in the event of damage and won’t leave you out pf pocket should the worst happen.

Will I need a survey when buying a listed house?

Much like buying a non-listed building, it is important that you have a full buildings survey performed. As you a purchasing an older building, it is important that you are aware of anything that could potentially cause you problems further down the line. When getting a full buildings survey, you should look to find a surveyor who specialises in historic properties in order to ensure you are getting the most accurate results.

Tips for buying a listed house

If you decide that buying a listed home is for you, then here are some of our top tips to aid you through the process:

  • Before you start your house buying journey, it is a good idea to check exactly why the property is listed. This information will be easily available with the National Heritage List for England. By checking ahead about what features you will not be able to change, you will be able to make an informed decision on whether the property is for you or not.
  • Be careful not to blindly assume that you will be able to make changes to a listed building. You should talk to a heritage expert before purchasing in order to understand exactly how much permission you will need and for what. This is a good idea for any listed home, but especially those in need of repair.
  • When it comes to finding a surveyor, you should aim to use one who has either had extensive experience with listed properties or who specialises in them as they will be able to give you the clearest picture of what to expect when it comes to owning a listed home.
  • You will need to make sure that any work or renovations that have taken place on the property have been properly authorised. If any unauthorised work has taken place, then it will fall on your shoulders to correct it. Remember, if in doubt check with your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor.

Should I buy a listed building?

Whether or not you should buy a listed property is down to personal choice. Whilst listed buildings make gorgeous homes and are more likely to retain their value, it is important to be aware of the hoops that you will have to jump through whilst you own one.

It is not a decision to be taken lightly, so be sure to do your research thoroughly before you commit to purchasing one.

This covers everything you need to know about buying a listed building. If you have any further questions, queries, or insight into the matter, feel free to get in touch!

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photo of Alexandra Ventress

Alexandra is a junior content producer who enjoys writing articles and finding out more about the property market. Read more about Alexandra here.

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About Alexandra Ventress 91 Articles
Alexandra is a junior content producer who enjoys writing articles and finding out more about the property market. Read more about Alexandra here.

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