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What is a Listed Building Survey?

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

6th Apr 2018 (Last updated on 23rd Sep 2022) 4 minute read

If you’re buying a listed building, you’ll need a Listed Building Survey. Sometimes called a Historic Building Survey, this is a type of structural survey carried out by a chartered surveyor.

Listed Building Surveys are a specialist field, so it’s important to compare surveyors to find a listed building surveyor. They're qualified and experienced to understand these complicated buildings.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is a Listed Building?
  2. Types of Listed Building
  3. Why Do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey?
  4. What Happens During the Survey?
  5. What Does the Report Look Like?
  6. How Much Does a Listed Building Survey Cost?
  7. What Does the Buyer Need to do?
  8. Learn More About Surveying

What is a Listed Building?

A listed building is a building 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

Types of Listed Building

Listed buildings are split into grades to determine how they should be maintained.

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

2. Grade II*
– Buildings with more than 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.

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    Why Do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey?

    Getting a specialist building survey is important as it'll help you understand the condition of the building. 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 - Your surveyor will provide an expert opinion on the listed building 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 will be able to answer any questions you have about the building. 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 specific defects such as brickwork concerns, cracks, timber frame problems and any decay.

    Listed Building Consent - Your surveyor may be able to advise you through the process required when 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.

    What Happens During the Survey?

    During the survey, the surveyor will undertake a study of the elements which make up the building.

    This will include:

    • Looking at the structure
    • Looking at materials it's made of
    • History and its development over time
    • Look at every aspect of the building - roofing to foundations
    • Make comments on any alterations that have been made
    • Any major issues will then highlighted
    • Considerations will be given on how they may be repaired and how much this could cost

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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 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?

    There is little that the buyer will need to do for the survey to be undertaken. You'll need to maintain a good line of communication with the seller and the surveyor.

    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.

    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?

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    Martha Lott

    Written by Martha Lott

    Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

    Mike Ashton

    Reviewed by Mike Ashton

    Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

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