Architecture
6/Oct/2022
6 minutes

Research For Buying A Listed Building

If you are planning on buying a listed home, it’s important to know exactly what to expect and how the process will pan out. Searching for a new property is an exciting time, particularly, if it’s your first home! However, there are special considerations to keep in mind and specific research you should carry out before choosing a listed property.

In this short guide, we run you through some of the top ways you can prepare for buying a listed house and include some insider tips from our architectural experts.

With the right preparation in place and research to hand, you’ll be in the best position for buying the listed property you’ve had your eyes set on.

Listed building surrounded by a well-tended garden

Understanding A Building’s Listed Status

There are many beautiful historic buildings across the U.K., and owning one is a very realistic dream. When it comes to the process of buying a listed house, it’s largely indifferent to the process of buying a non-listed property.

Property is listed as grade i. grade ii, and grade ii* and where the status is applied, such properties are considered to be of special interest and historically significant. Each grade carries different rules around its protection and what can be done on a renovation level.

However, there are rules in place for those who own listed buildings and it’s important to be aware of them!

Owning a listed building comes with extra responsibilities across England and Wales. And, you won’t have the right to freely renovate or extend your property as you would with a new or more modern home.

Generally speaking, any building constructed before the 18th century is likely to be listed. Therefore before you begin searching for a home to buy it can be handy to do the following bits of research to clarify its status:

  • Check the listed building register to see what listed grade the property carries;
  • Thoroughly read property ads and talk to estate agents where you have queries;
  • If the building isn’t advertised, check the local council’s planning records;
  • Call The Listed Property Owners Club (LPOC) if you’re still unsure.

Considering The Additional Costs of Owning a Listed Property

The older a building is, the more maintenance it’ll require. Unsurprisingly, you could end up finding yourself spending quite a lot just to update the house in general.

Listed buildings are more prone to dampness and other issues that come as a result of the old fabric and construction methods used. This is an important consideration to keep in mind but not one that should sway you away from choosing to buy a listed home.

Instead, we advise budgeting for maintenance and repairs if the building hasn’t been recently updated and repaired by the previous owners. Before choosing a listed property to call home, it can be very helpful to gain insight into any work that has been done to the home to improve its condition.

Here are some of the questions we recommend asking the previous homeowner or estate agent:

  • Has any previous work been carried out on the property before?
  • Was all of the previous work officially consented to?
  • If works have been carried out, what has been done specifically?

These are just some of the basic questions to give you a clearer idea of where you may need to inject funds into repairing or updating the property.

When you discover as much as possible about the historical property and its grounds, you’re in a better position to know how you’ll go about maintaining it.

Whether the property has listed status for its striking architecture or once belonged to an important figure, there’s history worth investigating even for the sake of understanding more about conservation.

Listed building near a bridge

Altering A Listed Building

First of all, let’s start with a common question: Can I make changes to a listed building? We’re happy to say, yes you can.

And, many people who apply for planning permission to alter their listing building do not encounter any issues at all. However, it is highly useful to get an idea of the process for alteration and the steps involved before you commit to buying a listed property.

Listed building consent is granted by your local authority and the planning department, under the supervision of its Conservation Officer.

A Conservation Officer is appointed to review and assess the impact of the proposed changes to listed buildings before approving them. Listed Building Consent approves any alterations to be made to the interior of a listed building.

When you put forward an application for listed building consent which is required for works such as double glazing, there are several things that you will need to provide to the local authorities. This includes:

  • A site plan;
  • A location plan;
  • A design and access statement;
  • A heritage assessment.

There is no fee to submit a Listed Building Consent application form, however, we advise enlisting the help of a professional if you are inexperienced in this area of renovation. It is considered to be a criminal offence that carries serious implications if you go ahead and make alterations to a special architectural property without consent.

Consult With A Building Surveyor & Architectural Designer

If you have been searching for a new home for a while and have stumbled upon the perfect listed property, having a building surveyor’s expertise to hand is highly recommended.

Listed buildings require care and input from a range of professionals, namely those who are specialists in the area of historic buildings.

We strongly advise you have the house surveyed before you begin any sort of work plans. A listed building surveyor will assess whether the property is structurally sound before you can begin any sort of building work or changes. Below are some useful surveys from professionals to be carried out at the beginning of any project on a listed building.

  • Building/Structural Survey
  • Specalist Timber Survey – Damp & Timber Report
  • CCTV Drainage Survey
  • Investigation Works of concealed areas

Architectural Designers also play a very important role in determining what is feasible for extending or renovating a historical building. Our team of experienced listed building architectural designers help clients realise their design visions whilst adhering to rules and regulations surrounding listed homes.

Useful Resources and Links

Below, you’ll find a range of useful, reputable resources and links to aid you in carrying out research for buying a listed property.

Historic England – https://historicengland.org.uk/

The Listed Property Owners Club – https://www.lpoc.co.uk/

IHBC – Institute of Historic Building Conservation – https://ihbc.org.uk/

Save Britains Heritage – https://www.savebritainsheritage.org/

The Georgian Group – https://georgiangroup.org.uk/

The Victorian Society – https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/

Heritage Trust Network – https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/

Twentieth Century Society – https://c20society.org.uk/

Is It Worth Choosing A Listed House?

Whether you should buy a listed property or not will always depend on your circumstances and what you are looking for. Historic buildings carry so much character and can make wonderful homes for all types of people and families alike.

However, as we’ve outlined above there are certain considerations that come with listed buildings and certainly research that needs to be done!

For further information on listed buildings, download our complete guide to listed buildings by signing up here. We would love to discuss your project with you and help you to plan your listed home extension or renovation.

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