Buying a listed building – What are the key issues to be aware of?

Buying a listed building

Buying a listed building, whether residential or commercial, need not be complicated or stressful endeavour.

Although it is important to be aware of some ground rules before going ahead with a purchase.

It is important to keep in mind that listing aims to protect the character of a property for successive generations – and local planning authorities will not turn a blind eye if you carry out changes without permission.

A common misconception is that only part or sections of a building can be listed. A straightforward rule of thumb is that the listing applies to the whole of a property, including attached structures such as barns or outhouses.

In some cases, separate elements of a property, such as garden walls, are ‘curtilage listed’. This means they aren’t part of the building but are considered to be intrinsic to the listed asset.

What work can and can’t you do to a listed building

The law says that every listed building needs a formal ‘record of interventions’ from the date it becomes listed. Repair and maintenance is not affected by the listing regulations, provided any replacements are like-for-like.

For example, replacing a rotten window frame with a new timber frame of the same specification is within the rules. Replacing timber with UPVc is not and would very probably incur enforcement action.

The rules apply equally to internal alterations. So, if you knock down a wall to make the living room larger, or to add an en suite bathroom, you will likely receive an enforcement order to reinstate the building – unless, of course, you have planning consent.

The importance of a property’s planning history

A professional survey should include an accurate evaluation of the building’s condition, along with a comparison with the building’s planning history. This can be located via your local council’s planning portal.

Listed building ownership only becomes a problem when people carry out alterations without consent. For this reason, you need to be sure you are comfortable with a property that comes with well-regulated restrictions on how you can change it.

More information on listed building status and gaining a listed building consent to carry our works is available in our previous blog on extending a listed building.

For more information on buying a listed building or making alterations to a listed building, get in touch with our expert team.

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