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A Guide to Buying a Listed Building

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
7th September 2018 (Last updated on Tuesday 16th April 2019)

If you’re planning on buying a Listed Building there are a few factors you’ll need to consider.

The fact that your property is listed means it has special historical or architectural features of local or even national importance. Conservation is a major consideration, so you can expect to jump through a few hoops when it comes to any alteration or repair work.

For many, the attraction of owning a unique property steeped in history outweighs the extra building restrictions. From Listed Building Consent to what to look for in a listed property survey, Compare My Move explore all you need to know about buying a listed home.

This article will cover the following points

What is a Listed Building? Listed Buildings in Scotland Is Your Building Listed? What is Listed Building Consent? Why You Should Buy a Listed Building Common Issues with Listed Buildings The Importance of a Listed Building Survey

What is a Listed Building?

A listed property is a building, object or structure that is considered to be of national importance in terms of architectural and or historic interest. They are included on a special register, known as the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

If a property is listed, this includes the interior, exterior, and the area around the building. Properties are given listed status to protect them from damage or renovation that could affect their structure of historical significance.

In England and Wales, properties are divided into categories to determine the impact or importance of a building as well as its structure and design.

Grade I: A building of exceptional historical and/or architectural significance. This grade only applies to 2.5% of listings, most of which are not homes.

Grade II*: These are particularly important buildings of more than special interest with historical and/or architectural significance. These make up approximately 5.5% of listed buildings.

Grade II: These are buildings of special interest and make up the vast majority of listings.

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport is compiles the List of Buildings of Special Architecture or Historic Interest, and anyone can apply to have their building listed.

Listed Buildings in Scotland

As a devolved matter, Listed Buildings in Scotland are managed by Historic Environment Scotland. However, listed building legislation follows a similar path to the rest of Britain, with clear categories to classify the varying degrees of listed buildings.

The categories mirror the grades found in Wales and England.

Category A: International or national historic or architectural importance, usually prime examples of a certain style or period.

Category B: Of regional historic or architectural importance, these might be slightly altered buildings representing a certain period or style.

Category C: Local historic or architectural importance, though so called ‘lesser examples’ of a certain period, style or design.

Much like the rest of Britain, you’ll need to have Listed Building Consent from your local authority in Scotland to change or alter the property.

Is Your Building Listed?

If you aren’t sure if your new home is considered a listed building, contact your local authority planning department, county council offices, go to your local reference library to find out, or use the Listed Building Title Search.

If you live in Wales, you can contact Cadw or your local authority to enquire about a list of listed buildings in the area. In England you can consult the online National Heritage List for England, which includes most Listed buildings in England. Likewise, in Scotland you can find an online national database of Listed Buildings through Historic Scotland.

In general, all buildings built before 1700 are listed, along with most of those built between 1700 and 1840. Plus, significant modern examples of architectural design may also be listed. To be eligible for listing, a building has to be over 30 years old.

What is Listed Building Consent?

Listed Building Consent is obtained from your Local Authority Planning Department and is needed if you plan to alter your listed property in any way that could impact its structure and appearance. It is a criminal offence to carry out alteration work on a listed building without consent, with a maximum penalty of imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

If you’re buying a listed home, keep in mind you’ll need approval for any and all remedial or structural work that may change the material or look of the building. This includes anything affixed to the building such as solar panels, and the replacement of windows, doors or the roof. Consent is needed to ensure the special qualities of the building are protected, so keep in mind repairs will need to be like-for-like with materials and colour.

Why You Should Buy a Listed Building

Buying a listed property can be a fantastic investment that gets you your dream home. There are a range of benefits for buying a Listed Building:

  • You’re buying a piece of history, and your home will be of historical and possibly national significance.
  • Listed buildings are often unique because of the unchanged structure and architecture
  • Listed buildings retain their value more than regular properties do.
  • VAT on repairs that require building consent can be ‘zero-rated’ and grants can be made towards reroofing, dealing with dry rot, and structural repairs. However, VAT still applies to everyday repairs, and grants cannot be made for work already started or completed.

Common Issues with Listed Buildings

There are several conditions involved with owning a listed property that could prove to be too much responsibility:

  • You can’t make any changes to the property without permission from your local planning authority
  • Any request for making changes can be denied- you don’t have the final say in how to change your home.
  • If a local authority considers that your listed building is not being properly preserved, they can give the owner a ‘repairs notice’ under Section 115 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971
  • Although various schemes exist to help the owner with repairs, there is a possibility that the repairs won’t apply to those schemes suited for a grant.
  • Repairs on listed buildings are often more expensive than on standard buildings due to the need for specialist tradesmen to complete the repair to a certain standard.
  • The cost of rebuilding the property will generally be more than the resale value, so make sure your home insurance covers the cost of rebuilding!

Remember, you can arrange for a specialist Listed House Property Survey to highlight any particular issues your Listed House may face in a comprehensive report.

Plus, take a look at our downloadable House Viewing Checklist for tips on what to look for when viewing the Listed Home.

The Importance of a Listed Building Survey

If you're buying a Listed Building, getting a professional RICS property survey is vital. You should seek the specialist Listed Building Survey offered by a range of chartered surveyors. It's the same in-depth survey you can expect from a full structural survey, but will be designed specifically the address the unique issues or defects in your listed home.

A listed Building Survey will identify any hidden defects, grade the condition of all areas of the property, and provide expert advice on the continued maintenance or repair of the building. As listed buildings require such specialist repair and maintenance work, a Listed Building Survey will provide a full rundown of any issues you may encounter in the future with your dream home.

You can read more with our guide to the Listed Building Survey. When you're ready, you can use Compare My Move to get connected with up to 5 RICS accredited property surveyors, to save you time and money on your Listed Building Survey. Just fill in a quick and easy form and get connected to RICS surveyors to discuss your unique property survey requirements.