There are over half a million listed buildings in England and Wales alone. These beautiful, historic chocolate box homes are full of character, each with their own story to tell. However, although the idea of owning a grade listed home may be incredibly appealing, living in such an old house can pose a few problems if you aren’t properly prepared. Howkins and Harrison are on hand to impart some advice to those who dream to own a listed house, and to discuss the concerns of those who have not done so before.
Although this may seem obvious, it’s often something potential buyers forget to check. In England and Wales, there are three levels of listing: Grade I, Grade II and Grade II*. A Grade I listed building will have more restrictions than a Grade II listed property. To find out if a building is listed, check the local council’s planning page or call The Listed Property Owners Club (LPOC). As an agent, if you’re looking to purchase a house through us, we will of course, communicate to you whether the property is listed and at what level.
In order to carry out building work on a listed property, you’ll need to apply for consent from the local authority, even if you wish to install something as commonplace as satellite television capabilities. It’s often easier to make additions to a listed house than to demolish or remove aspects of the existing building. It’s also important to keep in mind that permission to remove or change a part of the house that’s mentioned in the official listing document will not be granted. To avoid issues in the future, buy a listed property with features that you can embrace, and not ones you’ll want to change.
Older, more traditional buildings will require more maintenance than a modern house, so it’s important that you budget for this. When it comes to listed buildings, it’s imperative that they’re kept dry to prevent excessive moisture, which can cause even more problems.
It’s recommended that you regularly check the gutters, roof covers, drains and downpipes. If you’re wanting to make repairs, try and keep the historic fabric intact as much as you can and only repair to the required extent. It’s important to note that off-the-shelf windows and doors may not be accepted by the local planning authority, and any alterations are likely to require ‘like-for-like’ replacements.
In addition, specific materials may be needed to carry out repairs in order to retain the history of the house. However, the majority of specialist materials may be more costly than those more widely used, and may end up requiring the input of specialist tradesmen.
It’s advised that you check what work has been previously carried out on the property. This will highlight where work has been done that wasn’t approved by the Local Authority. If work hasn’t been consented to, you may be inheriting some old building issues. If you buy a listed house that doesn’t correspond with the exact plans on the consent, as the new owner, you’ll be liable to correct any problems. In which case, it’s important to have adequate specialist insurance which could prove to be invaluable if a situation such as this arises.
Ensure you have the building surveyed by someone who is a specialist in the area of listed or historic buildings before you buy the property. It would also be worth having the house surveyed before you start any renovations, this will ensure the house is structurally sound enough to withstand extra building work. The surveyor may also be able to offer advice on how to go about making the changes you require. Howkins & Harrison have teams of planner and chartered Surveyors within our offices who will be able to assist with all graded property requirements.
Here at Howkins & Harrison, we’re dedicated to finding a home which is perfect for you. Whether you’re looking for a small, cosy abode for one or a light, spacious dwelling for your whole family, we’re always here to offer you a helping hand. Our friendly and experienced team of experts are committed to assisting house buyers and sellers, as well as those looking to rent their next home. To make enquiries, ask for some advice or simply require more information about the services we offer, get in touch with us today – we’re always happy to help.