Looking to renovate a listed building?

If you’re in the process of deciding whether to renovate a listed building or buy one to restore it to its full glory, there’s a lot to consider. There is typically a range of restrictions on what can and can’t be done. You’ll almost certainly need professional advice. Here’s a list of common issues that you might want to consider before renovating a listed property.

If a property you own is listed, you already have a duty of care.

If a property is listed, it means it has some architectural or historic interest. Systems differ across the UK. In England and Wales you’ll need to deal with English Heritage, while in Scotland, it’s the Scottish Executive scheme, Historic Scotland. Irrespective of the type of listing, the owners have a duty of care to keep the property in good condition and to maintain its character.

Making significant changes to the character of the building is unlikely to be legally feasible – and you could find yourself being told by your friendly Conservation Officer to undo your work at your own cost.

The’ listing’ usually extends to the whole plot, not just the main building or parts of the main building itself.

People often assume that Listed Building status might only apply to part of a plot. In fact, all Listing Grades almost without exception will cover the whole plot upon which the building is situated. That means that you will have to be careful of any changes or alterations that you make to the gardens and any outbuildings.

Any work will need to be approved by local planning and a Conservation Officer

When it comes to Listed Building renovation, don’t assume that updates or extensions will be authorised. Similarly, it’s prudent to be wary of relying on third party advice from contractors or architects. If you’re taking professional advice, ensure your advisors have protections in place that mean you don’t end up liable for the costs of any bad advice.

You’ll need to submit your plans and wait to be granted Listed Building Consent (LBC). It could be that this is required for something as straightforward as redecorating.

Artisan craft techniques don’t come cheap!

If your listed building has any unique features, it’s likely that the conservation officer will want to see the authentic techniques and materials being used. Even using the ‘wrong’ thatch material from across the county border might not be OK and could prove costly if it has to be re-thatched at your expense.

Check for unauthorised work carried out by previous owners.

Before you make the purchase, make sure that all work in the past had the right planning permission. The liability for work already completed will reside with the current owners, not the previous ones, even if it was them that actually did the work. There’s no time limit on the enforcement of such repairs.

Make sure you have the correct insurances in place.

The worse case scenario might be that, having completed work, the Conservation Officer inspects and isn’t happy. They have the power to instruct you to reinstate with similar materials to match the rest of the building.

Ellis David Insurance has years of experience helping our clients get the right insurance in place. As with the rest of your project, it pays to get the right advice.

Why not get in touch or visit our non-standard property insurance page.