Listed properties are unique and full of character and period charm and your chance to have your very own piece of English history. but there are a few things to consider before buying…
What is a Listed Building?
‘Listing’ refers to a building which is included on the statutory list of ‘buildings of special architectural or historic interest.’ It recognises that a building is special in a national context and brings with it controls over alteration, extension and demolition.
Listed buildings are protected by law, which requires that homeowners will need listed-building consent in addition to planning consent for any changes – inside or out. The idea is to preserve important buildings from alterations that aren’t in-keeping or that may cause damage.
If you fail to get listed building consent before you start building work it is a criminal, rather than a civil, offence.
Listing normally protects the entire building, both inside and out, and any structures which are either attached to the building (including modern extensions) or fall within its curtilage. It sometimes includes garden walls, outbuildings and even statuary within the garden. Any features that are specifically mentioned in the official listing documents cannot be changed.
You can search Historic England’s site to see if a property is listed and if so, full details including the date first listed, the grade of the listing, a map reference and a brief description of the property.
A few things you need to be aware of.
Listed building consent
If you want to alter or extend a listed building or alter its character or appearance in any way you need to seek consent from your local conservation officer. If you are considering buying a home that is listed with a view to making alterations, you should speak to the local conservation officer before you progress to committing yourself to buy.
Is listed building consent required for repairs?
Quite possibly. This can be a grey area and depends on the nature and extent of the repair and how it impacts the property and listing.
Buying a house without listed building consent
When buying a listed building, if there are works that have been done without consent, be aware that as the new owner you may be liable to put them right (although not necessarily liable for the criminal offence/sanctions).
Putting a property back to its original Listed state can be costly and you may also struggle to get a mortgage on a listed property that has had work done without consent.
Unlike planning permission (liability for work done without planning permission may lapse after time) work without listed building consent is illegal no matter how long ago it was done.
It may be possible to arrange an Indemnity Insurance Policy, offering cover at the time of purchasing the property.
We will obtain and provide a full Listing from Historic England. Our searches will reveal all planning and listed building applications both approved and denied. The purchaser must scrutinise the plans to satisfy themselves, remember your conveyancer never visits the property. If there are any works that have not been approved you will need to reconcile this to confirm to us whether there are any works that have not been approved.
A standard home insurance policy might not be adequate for a Listed building, not least because the cost of rebuilding a listed building is likely to be higher than for a standard property
You should get advice from a specialist insurance broker or let your insurer know if your property is listed, as this may require specialist insurance.
What’s the difference between Grade I listed and Grade II listed buildings?
Of the c380,000 listed buildings in England, the majority are Grade II which are deemed of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them. Around 20,000 are Grade II*, which is for buildings with more than a local interest, with less than 10,000 being Grade I, which are of exceptional interest nationally and historically (think Bamburgh Castle or even Buckingham Palace).
Home buyers should be aware that a Grade-I listed property will have more restrictions than a Grade-II listed property.