Listed Buildings: Here’s what you need to know

If your home is a listed building.

If you’re someone who’s drawn to interesting or unusual architecture, you might find yourself thinking of buying a listed building. The idea of listing is to preserve them for future generations, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the position of owning one, there are a few extra considerations to bear in mind on top of the usual concerns of home ownership.

What does it mean when a building is listed?

Buildings are ‘listed’ when they’re particularly interesting or historically important, with three different tiers depending on the significance of the building to the country. Grade I and Grade II* buildings are exceptional and constitute a small percentage of listed buildings, so it’s most likely that you’re thinking of buying a Grade II listed property: one that’s simply considered of “special interest”, such as a historic Cotswolds worker’s cottage considered to be a good example of its type.

The good news is that if your home is listed, you should be able to find out about its history by searching the Historic England database.

Making changes

Because listing is all about preserving historically significant structures for the nation, there are restrictions on what you can do if you’re thinking about modifying your listed building in any way – either inside or outside. The planning process is more complex, as you’ll need Listed Building Consent on top of the regular planning permission if you’re hoping to add an extension, for example, and you’ll likely need it for things like replacing windows.

You may well need Listed Building Consent if you want to change aspects of the interior, too. While soft furnishings such as sofas and curtains can be changed without permission, you may find that you need to gain consent to take out fitted cupboards, strip back wallpaper or replace or remove features such as original fireplaces. Should you gain consent to change a listed building, you can expect to have to use materials and methods that are in keeping with the original construction.

If in doubt, talk to your local authority before undertaking any DIY projects; your home is an important historic asset, and as its owner you’re its custodian. It is a criminal offence to make changes to a listed property. If you’re planning to do work on your property, in some cases you can obtain a ‘Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Works’ to provide proof that Listed Building Consent isn’t needed.

Living in a listed building

Old buildings are prone to issues such as damp, as well as simply suffering the effects of their age. This handy checklist from Historic England outlines the maintenance checks you can do to keep your listed property in good condition and prevent minor problems becoming major ones.

It’s also important to make sure you have the right insurance policy in place to cover any special considerations of your listed building. Call our home insurance team on 01993 894 700 and we’ll help you find the right cover.

You can read lots more advice on owning a listed building in this guide from Historic England.