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Grade I and Grade II Listed Buildings Explained

Martha Lott

Written by

13th Sep 2022 (Last updated on 16th Mar 2023) 6 minute read

If a building has been listed it means it has special architectural or historical interest. It is also considered to be of national importance. The buildings are added to the National Heritage List for England where they are officially deemed as protected. The three categories of significance for listed buildings are Grade I, Grade II, and Grade II*.

In this article, we explain the process of buying and selling listed buildings as well as the responsibilities that come with owning one.

  1. Types of Listed Buildings
  2. How to Find Out if My Building is Listed
  3. What Parts of the Building Does Listing Cover?
  4. Buying a Listed Building
  5. Selling a Listed Building
  6. Listed Building Consent (LBC)
  7. What Types of Work Do You Need Consent For on Grade II Listed Buildings?
  8. What Can You Do to a Listed Building Without Permission?
  9. Grants for Listed Buildings
  10. Learn More About Surveying

Types of Listed Buildings

There are three main types of listed buildings. The period when the building was built as well as its cultural significance will play a part in its listed status. Here are the different types of listed buildings in England:

Grade I Listed Building

Grade I listed buildings are deemed of exceptional interest. This means the site has exceptional national, architectural or historical importance.

There are approximately 400,000 listed buildings in the country. Only 2.5% of these fall into the Grade I category, making it the rarest option.

Examples of current Grade I listed buildings include:

  • Buckingham Palace
  • The Houses of Parliament
  • Tower Bridge

Grade II Listed Building

Grade II listed buildings are of special architectural interest. This means that every effort is made to preserve them. Around 92% of all listed buildings are within this category.

The majority of listed residential homes will fall into this bracket, especially if they’ve been built prior to July 1948. If your home has been listed, you will require special consent from your local council before carrying out repairs.

Grade II* Listed Building

Grade II listed buildings are split into 2 categories: Grade II and Grade II*. Less than 6% of listed buildings are categorised as Grade II*.

These buildings are of high importance and are deemed as having more than special interest.

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How to Find Out if My Building is Listed

To find out if a building is listed, you must search through the National Heritage List for England using a postcode or keyword. This list will highlight if the building is indeed listed and at what grade.

If you’re still unsure, you must contact your local authority or the National Heritage List for England Helpdesk.

It’s possible for anyone to nominate a building to be listed. However, Historic England will also have their own programme of listing priorities too.

Historic England will recommend the building to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). They will then assess the building against the principles of selection and make a final decision.

What Parts of the Building Does Listing Cover?

A listing will cover the whole of the building. This includes the interior and exterior unless specific parts have been intentionally excluded.

It will also cover:

  • Other attached structures and fixtures
  • Later extensions or additions
  • Other buildings on the land that were built before 1948

Every building will be different. If you’re still unsure what’s covered, you should check with your local planning authority.

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Buying a Listed Building

Buying a listed building is a lot of responsibility as it’s like owning a piece of national history. You’ll need to take good care of the property and ensure consent is provided before making any alterations.

If you’re purchasing a listed building, the first thing to know is that you’ll need a surveyor to conduct a Listed Building Survey or Historic Building Survey. This is a specialised type of property survey for buildings of historical or architectural importance. A chartered surveyor will undertake a Level 3 Building Survey. This will highlight any issues or concerns with the property and its structure. They may then suggest you have a Structural Survey to asses further structural issues.

Your conveyancer will also need to conduct essential conveyancing searches. These will highlight any environmental issues that can affect the property and surrounding area. The issues can include subsidence, flooding, and radon gas levels. In the case of listed buildings, your conveyancer may have to carry out extensive searches.

You cannot complete alterations without permission from your local authority. Obtaining consent can be a long process so it’s important to understand the implications.

You will also require specialist insurance as the rebuild cost of a listed building is higher than a traditional home. It will also cost more to maintain and repair as you’ll need to use specific materials and tradespeople.

Selling a Listed Building

The process of selling a listed building is similar to the process of selling a house. However, there are a few extra things to consider such as the additional paperwork you’ll have to complete.

When selling a listed building, you’ll have to give evidence of any alterations made with the proper permissions. This includes changes both you and any previous owners have made. You may also have to provide receipts or insurance documents to prove that the work was carried out by specialised tradespeople. The correct techniques and materials must have also been used.

If you discover any unlicensed work during the sale, you’ll have to apply for ‘retrospective permission’. You may also be expected to pay a fine, even if the alterations were made by a previous owner.

It’s advised you obtain these documents as early as possible as they can greatly increase the length of the selling process if missing. Some mortgage providers will also reject applications if the proper permissions aren’t in place.

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Listed Building Consent (LBC)

When a building is listed there will be additional control over what changes can and can’t be made. The owner must apply for Listed Building Consent (LBC) before carrying out work that could affect the historic interest.

First, check with your local authority Conservation Officer whether consent is indeed required. If it is, apply for Listed Building Consent using the application on your local authority’s website.

The planning authority will then contact you to say if they have refused or granted your application. They will consider the best ways of preserving the building and its features.

What Types of Work Do You Need Consent For on Grade II Listed Buildings?

Even if you’re unaware that the building is listed, it’s still a criminal offence to complete unauthorised work. You could even be fined or sent to prison.

You can complete general repairs and maintenance work, as long as you use the appropriate materials. However, even small details such as original fittings and garden plants can be covered by the listing.

Here is some of the work you may require consent for when altering a listed building:

  • Repair work
  • Internal alterations
  • Renovations and extensions
  • Windows and original features
  • Garden renovations

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What Can You Do to a Listed Building Without Permission?

You can maintain your listed building through traditional methods without requiring consent. This can include replacing appliances, re-painting walls or repairing sash windows. The maintenance work you complete must be done using like-for-like materials.

However, you will need special consent to alter or remove parts of the building and to complete major repair work. You will also need consent should you be planning an extension.

It’s important to note that Grade I listed buildings have more restrictions and will require consent for even the most minor of work.

Grants for Listed Buildings

When buying a listed property, you should research the different grants available to you. They are often used for the repair and maintenance of historic sites, protecting these historic buildings.

Historic England offers grants to:

  • People who own or manage individual historic sites and need to repair them or understand them better
  • Local authorities for sites and buildings in their area
  • Organisations that encourage better understanding, management, and conservation of the historic environment

A grant typically cannot be given if work has already begun on the property before an offer has been made or accepted.

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Learn More About Surveying

This is part of our guide to surveying. Next we explore listed building surveys. To learn more read: What is a Listed Building Survey? Buying a Listed Building

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.

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