Listed buildings are given their status to protect them as a property of architectural or historic interest. There are different grades of listing which will affect what you can and can’t do with the property, and the owner has a duty to ensure the building is kept in good repair whilst guaranteeing that any work that’s done is true to the building’s character.  

Buildings are more likely to be listed the older they are with all reasonably-preserved properties from before 1700 and most built before 1840 listed, but they become eligible after just 30 years. It’s unlikely that you’ll buy a listed building without knowing, but you can use the National Heritage website to check.

Before you buy

Be sure to have a full structural survey carried out by a company with specialist knowledge of heritage properties. As the current owner you will become liable for correcting any unauthorised work that’s been carried out on the property previously, and if there are certain renovations you are hoping to make, an expert can advise you on your plans and whether they are likely to be accepted. It can be more difficult to find a mortgage for a listed property, so contact a broker if you’re struggling to find a provider.

Making alterations

If you are looking for a home to “make your mark on”, a listed building is the wrong choice. As the owner you must apply to a conservation officer at your local council before undergoing any work, with any unauthorised alterations counting as a criminal offence. Although it’s not impossible to extend or renovate, there is no guarantee work will be approved, it’s a more complicated process and you will probably need to make a lot of compromises. In addition to applying for planning permission for external extensions and alterations, the listed status will also cover certain internal features.  Find out more about the permissions you will need and how to apply on the Planning Portal website. 

Hidden costs

It can be more expensive to take care of a listed building. You will need to use contractors and tradespeople with specialist skills, using specialist tools and products. You can find specialists in your area using our Find a Builder service. It’s important to arrange cover for an older property to avoid incurring unexpected costs when repairing the property, for example a fire in a modern building incurs around £5000 in damages, but could cause £100,000 damage if you have a thatched roof, so make sure you get all the correct insurances. You can contact FMB Insurance for further information about domestic and commercial insurance which will guarantee peace of mind before, during and after construction.

Although there may be a few more obstacles to jump over, owning and living in a period property can be a rewarding experience and if you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work or make a few compromises, a listed property should not be overlooked. 

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