Buying a listed building can seem overwhelming however if researched correctly, they can certainly be one of the most rewarding properties to own. Buildings are ‘listed’ when a property holds particular historical context and character that is deemed important to preserve and protect from rouge alterations and damage. Such buildings are included on the statutory list of ‘buildings of special architectural or historic interest’, and come under the following three categories in England & Wales;
- Grade I (2.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of exceptional interest.
- Grade II* (5.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of particular importance.
- Grade II (92% of listed buildings) – buildings of special architectural or historic interest.
That’s not to say that a listed building cannot be brought up to date, some of the most spectacular renovations you see are those sympathetically carried out on listing buildings to highlight there fantastic history and original features.
Owning a slice of history certainly does come with responsibility so make sure you do your research. Here is a list of some things to think about if you are considering buying a listed building.
- Renovating & Extensions
Is the property ready to move into? Does the layout suit your needs? Are you planning on making any alterations?
These are all questions to ask yourself as you will have to get permission from the local authority for any alterations you want to carry out such as extensions, reconfiguration of internal layout etc. It is important not to assume you will be able to make the changes you want from the offset, so do consult a heritage expert or the local authority before committing. The local authority’s main concern will be the impact any alterations have on the authenticity of the property so make sure you take this into consideration and plans are sympathetic and in keeping with the history.
It may be a good idea to check out the reasons for listing. The National Heritage List for England will give specific details on why the property is listed which will give an indication of the key attributes or features you’re unlikely to be able to change.
2. Budgeting – Running Costs & Repairs
The Old Vicarage, Tunstall – Grade II Listed, Dating Back to 1680
When planning ahead with finances, take into account that generally, listed buildings can be more expensive to both run and repair. The running aspect is usually down to low Energy Performance Certificate ratings, although you won’t see this as listed buildings do not require an Energy Performance Certificate for this very reason. Original windows may lack double glazing and certain modern insulation may be prohibited as it could all affect the “special architectural or historic merit”. When it comes to repairs, specific materials and techniques may be required which in turn may call for specialised tradesmen to carry out the work.
You will also require specialist insurance. The rebuild cost of a listed building will understandably be significantly more as the local authority will determine how or if it will be rebuilt, so make sure you are prepared with some quotes.
3. Proceeding to Buy
- Find a surveyor who specialises in listed buildings
- Always get a full building survey
- Follow up with specialist advice on any raised issues especially damp
- If any alternations have been previously carried out, ensure to check that the necessary consent was obtained and it was carried out correctly as if it is found not to be later on, you could be held liable for correcting it. If proof cannot be obtained, speak to your solicitor about specialist indemnity insurance.
Matthews Benjamin are proud to be the sole local agent affiliated with Fine & Country and are specialists in dealing with the sale and purchase of unique, quirky and historic premium properties.
For more advise, whether you are thinking of selling or buying, contact your local office today;
Ambleside – 015394 32220
Windermere – 01539 47717
Kendal – 01539 733500
Lancaster – 01524 384960
Garstang – 01995 917895