What you need to know before buying a listed property
Listed properties are unique and full of character and period charm. If you want your own piece of English history, then a listed home may be at the top of your wish list. But there are a few things you need to consider before buying.
Categories of listed buildings
When a building is classed as ‘listed’, it means it’s included on the statutory list of “buildings of special architectural or historic interest”. The status is intended to protect buildings from alterations that may negatively impact the character of the building and its historical context.
In England and Wales, there are three categories of listed buildings:
Grade I (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.
There are certain things you need to know when buying a listed property
When you buy a listed property, you’re becoming a custodian of a unique, beautiful building. This comes with responsibilities — it’s up to you to take care of the property during your period of ownership.
Here are a few things you need to be aware of:
Your home will be on a national register of listed properties, searchable on the Historic England website.
You’ll have to get permission from your local authority for any alterations you want to carry out, including extensions, changes to the internal layout or even putting up a satellite dish. This can be bureaucratic and time-consuming!
You’ll need specialist insurance. The rebuild cost of a listed building will be significantly more than a non-listed building, as the local authority will determine how and if it will be rebuilt.
It will cost more to run and repair. You may have to use specific materials or hire tradespeople with special skills to carry out work on your property, and energy efficiency improvements such as double glazing or insulation may not be permitted.
Top tips for buying a listed property
If your are looking to purchase a listed building, follow this checklist to make sure you’re fully informed before buying:
Check out the reasons for listing. The National Heritage List for England will give specific details on why the property is listed.
Use a surveyor who specialises in listed buildings.
Don’t assume you’ll be able to make changes to the property. There may be many things that you can and can’t do to the property, particularly if it’s in need of renovation. It may be worth taking advice from an expert in heritage properties.
Get specialist advice on damp. Most older buildings have a very different construction to modern day buildings.
Check that any previous work has been authorised.
Ultimately, most home owners and conservation officers have one common aim: to preserve the beauty and uniqueness of these very special properties.
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