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What is a Listed Building Survey?

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
6th April 2018 (Last updated on Monday 19th November 2018)

In this guide, Compare My Move explore the Listed Building Survey, a specialist property survey for properties of historical or architectural importance. 

Many people love the idea of making a building that is steeped in history into their home. For this reason, there is a huge market for older buildings, some of which are of such historical or architectural importance that they listed and therefore maintain a level of protection.

A building may be listed for a number of reasons. Historic England highlight that any building built before 1700 that has been kept in a reasonable condition will be listed, as are most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 that are in a similar good condition. However, some new buildings may also be listed due to significance importance of some sort, although these are usually at least 30 years of age.

Listed buildings are sectioned into grades which determine exactly how they should be treated and maintained. Grade I are the most protected, followed by Grade II*. However, the majority of buildings (91.7%) are listed as Grade II.

When purchasing a house of this sort, a special type of survey is likely to be required, below we give some details of this specialist survey, what it entails, who needs to do it and how much you might expect to pay for it.  

This article will cover the following points

Why is a Listed Building Survey Different? Why do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey? What Happens During the Survey? What Does the Report Look Like What Does the Buyer Need to do? How Much Does a Listed Building Survey Cost? Save on Your Listed Building Survey

Why is a Listed Building Survey Different?

Working with a surveyor who specialises and understands historic and listed buildings will let you understand the individual nuances of dealing with these types of buildings. By having a chartered surveyor that is accredited by RICS and understands the legislation that surrounds these buildings, you give yourself peace of mind that everything has been considered before your purchase goes through. One way to do this is to ensure that the surveyor is a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).

Fundamentally, your surveyor will be undertaking a Full Structural Survey, which is going to be similar in many ways to the type that they would undertake on any property. However, with their specialist knowledge they will be able to give you a much better idea of issues that occur with very old properties and most importantly make recommendations based on the grade of the listed building and the requirements associated with owning one. 

Why do I Need a Specialist Listed Building Survey?

Getting a specialist building survey for listed properties is very important for a number of reasons. In large part it will help you understand the condition of the building and make plans for any repairs or maintenance that will need to be undertaken. More notably the specialist survey will help you align with the requirements expected of you when becoming the legal owner of a listed property.

A specialist surveyor will be able to answer any questions you have specifically focused on the building and the situation it is in. They will also importantly investigate whether there have been any previous alterations and whether these alterations have had Listed Building Consent. In the case the permission has not been approved, they should also be able to provide you with evidence in order for you to negotiate the case and potentially avoid any penalty or fine.

In tandem to these recommendations, the surveyor will also be able to give you advice on the best approach to take on the feasibility of any future changes to the property you may be considering. This will include whether they are likely to be accepted as well as how you should go about getting permission if they believe they will be accepted.

An outline of any care and repair options required for any work that needs to be undertaken as well of costs for these can also be included in the report. This will cover all elements including the windows, walls and roofs. As well as looking into specific defects including roofing, issues, damp, brickwork concerns, general cracks, timber frame problems and any decay apparent throughout the house. 

Finally, as a specialist in listed buildings the surveyor should be able to advise and guide you through the process and steps required when applying for Listed Building Consent. This will include the preparation and development of a Heritage Statement to accompany your application.

What Happens During the Survey?

During the survey, the Chartered surveyor will visit the property and undertake a study of all the elements which make it up. This will include looking at the structure, the material it is made up of, its history and development over time.

As this is a comprehensive survey, the surveyor will need to look at every aspect of building from the roofing down to any information they can find or access on the foundations. Any major issues with these will be highlighted and considerations will be given on how they may be repaired and how much this may cost.

They will also make comment on any alterations that have been made to the property by previous owners. It is important to understand this as when you purchase a property you assume full responsibility for its well-being. If any alterations have been made without permission you may receive a fine or be ordered to remedy it.

What Does the Report Look Like

The report is likely to be sent as an email, although in some cases it may be received as a letter through the post. In the report you will see a run-down of all the areas of the building that have been inspected by the surveyor. Next to these, the surveyor will have made comment on the condition of these elements as well as giving advice on any issues that are apparent, how you may go about remedying those issues and how much it may cost to put these fixes in place.

The report will also likely take a similar structure to a full structural survey or Homebuyers survey. This means that the report is likely to adopt the traffic light system. This system works by categorising issues found during the survey by their level of severity. To give an indicator of how this works:

Green refers to ‘Condition Rating 1’ and indicates that the area referenced needs no repairs and has no area of concern, these should continue to be maintained in a similar way to previously.

Amber refers to ‘Condition Rating 2’ and highlights areas with defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered as urgent or serious. These areas are unlikely to impact the overall value of the property but are likely to need some maintenance or repair in time.

Red refers to ‘Condition Rating 3’ and highlights defects that are in need of urgent or series repair, need to be replaced or investigated urgently. Practically these areas are those that should be seriously considered as part of the overall purchase. They may be areas that make the purchase void, or they may be areas that warrant re-negotiation based on potential costs to fix these issues.

What Does the Buyer Need to do?

In terms of physical actions there is little that the buyer will need to do for the survey to be undertaken. However, you will need to maintain a good line of communication between yourself, the seller and the surveyor. This is in order to understand exactly what the surveyor will need to access during the survey and ensuring that all these areas are easy to get to. It is also important to organise between the two a good time for the survey to be undertaken that will not be inconvenient to the current owner.

When you are viewing the property and spot anything of particular concern you will want to ensure that you communicate these areas to the surveyor. This will mean that they can pay particular attention to these areas and give a more detailed report to either put your mind at rest or report any key issues.

How Much Does a Listed Building Survey Cost?

A Listed Building Survey will cost between £750 to £1,000 plus VAT on average for a typical three-bedroom listed building.The cost of these types of surveys depend widely on many aspects including the size, location and complexity of the building in question.

Save on Your Listed Building Survey

We hope this guide has explained all you need to know about your Listed Building Survey, and that you're now fully informed on the process and costs involved. When you're ready, remember to use Compare My Move to compare and save on your survey costs. Fill in a quick and easy form and we'll connect you with up to 4 RICS accredited surveyors, so you can save time and money when it matters most.