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Listed Building Surveys - Complete Guide

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

6th Apr 2018 (Last updated on 6th Feb 2024) 6 minute read

If you’re buying a listed building, you must arrange for a Listed Building Survey. Also called a Historic Building Survey or Period Property Survey, it is a type of structural survey.

Listed Building Surveys are a specialist field, so it’s important to use a listed building surveyor. They will have the qualifications and experience to understand these protected historic homes.

Below we look at everything you need to know about hiring a listed building surveyor. This includes the cost, what the survey includes and how it can benefit you.

  1. What is a Listed Building Survey?
  2. What is Included in a Listed Building Survey?
  3. What is a Listed Building?
  4. Types of Listed Building
  5. Why Do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey?
  6. What Does the Report Look Like?
  7. How Much Does a Listed Building Survey Cost?
  8. What Does the Buyer Need to Do?
  9. Finding a Surveyor
  10. Learn More About Surveying

What is a Listed Building Survey?

A listed building survey is a detailed visual inspection of a historic and protected home. Surveys can be undertaken on all manner of homes. In the case of a Listed Building Survey, this is undertaken by a specialist who understands historic and period homes.

Your surveyor will review the interior, exterior and grounds of the property. This can provide you with invaluable information and help you decide whether to continue with the purchase.

This survey can also prepare you for maintaining the property if you buy the home. For example, how to repair and manage common issues like damp and timber decay problems.

What is Included in a Listed Building Survey?

Your surveyor will essentially undertake a RICS Home Survey Level 3 (formerly called a Building Survey). However, with their specialist knowledge, they will be able to give you a much better idea of the issues that occur with older buildings. They will have a survey checklist of areas to review, in addition to anything specific you have requested.

The survey report will include:

  • The materials and methods used in the construction of the building
  • The age and historical significance of the property
  • Any damage or defects to the property
  • Required maintenance and repairs
  • Whether there have been any previous alterations
  • If there was Listed Building Consent for any alterations
  • Advice on the process of applying for Listed Building Consent
  • Recorded levels of damp, using a damp meter

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What is a Listed Building?

A listed building is a heritage property that holds great historical or architectural importance. A building is listed for many reasons:

  • Properties built before 1700 that are in reasonable condition are listed.
  • Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 that are in good condition are listed.
  • Some new buildings may also be listed if they're considered of significant importance. These are usually at least 30 years of age.
  • Examples of notable architecture are also listed, for example, Brutalist or Arts and Crafts.

Buildings may also be protected if they are within a Conservation Area.

Types of Listed Building

Listed buildings are split into grades to determine how they should be maintained. According to Historic England, these are graded as:

1. Grade I – The building or site is of exceptional national, architectural or historical importance.

2. Grade II*
– Buildings with more than a special interest. Less than 6% of listed buildings are categorised as Grade II*.

3. Grade II
– Buildings of special interest. Around 92% of all listed buildings are within this category.

To learn more, read our guide on grade I and grade II listed buildings.

Why Do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey?

Getting a specialist building survey is important as it will help you understand the condition of the property. It’ll also allow you to make plans for any repairs or maintenance that will need to be undertaken.

The historic building survey will help you learn the requirements expected of you when becoming the legal owner of a listed property. The main benefits include:

Expert Opinion

A listed building surveyor will provide an expert opinion on the property you're buying. They'll have in-depth knowledge and experience on these historic buildings. You can also learn whether it's a worthy investment.

Specialist Knowledge

A specialist surveyor, such as a historic building surveyor, will be able to answer any questions you have. They may investigate whether there have been any previous unauthorised alterations. If permission has not been granted for alterations, they may be able to provide you with evidence. This could help you to negotiate the case and potentially avoid any penalty or fine.

Receive Advice

Your building surveyor will also be able to offer advice on future changes to the property. This will include whether they are likely to be accepted as well as how you should go about getting the necessary permissions.

Repair Work

An outline of any repair work and costs can also be included in the report. This will cover many of the building elements such as the windows, walls and roof. It also looks into defects such as brickwork concerns, cracks, timber frame problems, and decay.

Listed Building Consent

Your surveyor may be able to advise you through the process of applying for Listed Building Consent. This will include the preparation and development of a Heritage Statement to go with your application. This will normally be a separate service from the initial survey.

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What Does the Report Look Like?

The report will be similar to the Level 3 Building Survey and will include the traffic light system. This system works by categorising issues found during the survey by their level of severity, either green, amber or red.

In the report, you’ll see a run-down of all the areas of the building that have been inspected. Your surveyor will comment on the condition of these elements. They'll also give advice on any issues and how you may go about remedying them.

The report may give an idea of costs for some of the repairs. Many costs will be difficult to assess or may need further investigation. The report will tell you if you should have any further investigations done.

How Much Does a Listed Building Survey Cost?

A Listed Building Survey will cost £800 for a property valued at the average UK price. This is the cost of a Building Survey but expect to pay more as this requires further specialist attention.

Costs will vary and depend on the value, size, location, age, condition and complexity of the building in question.

To learn more, read house survey costs.

What Does the Buyer Need to Do?

Prior to the survey, you should talk to the seller to ensure all the necessary areas are clear and easy to reach. It’s also important for everyone to organise a time for the survey that's convenient for the owner.

When you’re viewing the property, note down anything you spot that’s of particular concern. You can then communicate this to the surveyor. They can pay particular attention to these areas and give a more detailed report on the key issues.

There is little that the buyer will need to do for the survey once it has been arranged. Throughout the process you should maintain a communication with the seller and the surveyor.

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Finding a Surveyor

Compare My Move's surveying comparison form connects customers with up to 6 surveyors. You can compare quotes and save up to 70% on your surveying costs.

All surveyors on our network have passed our verification process. This includes having the correct regulation in place. Those offering Home Surveys and Valuation Reports must be registered with RICS. Firms specialising in Party Wall and Snagging Surveys can be regulated by either the RPSA or RICS.

Need a Removal Company?

Our integrated surveying and removal comparison form connects customers with surveyors and removal companies in a few extra steps. You can compare quotes from up to 6 surveyors and up to 6 removal companies and save up to 70% on your total costs.

Learn More About Surveying

This has been part of our guide to surveying. In our next article, we look at the role of a surveyor. To learn more read What Does a Surveyor Do and Look For?

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is the director of Cambridge Building Surveyors.

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