Read our blog post for our advice on what tyou need to know when buying a listed building.
Our guide to buying a listed building
If you are thinking of buying a listed building there are some important questions to ask before proceeding.
What is a listed building?
In simple terms “listing” means that the building is on a national register as a property of architectural or historic importance or interest. This means that its style and substance give it exceptional character. It also means the owner has a duty to keep it in good repair and to maintain the buildings character.
What is listed?
Contrary to popular belief, listing means that all of the building, both inside and out, plus the area around the building is protected and this applies to all grades including Grade II.
Will I be able to alter or extend the building?
Don’t buy if this is a prime consideration. You may well be able to alter some of the buildings layout, update a kitchen or bathroom or even add an extension, but don’t assume so. The local council employs a “Conservation Officer” who will grant (or withhold) permission to make changes. This officer will become a very important person in the new owners life.
Before I buy what must I look out for?
Unauthorised work by the previous owners can be a problem. If you purchase the property you must ensure that all work undertaken by the previous owners had permission. The current owner, not the person that carried out the work is liable to correct any alterations or additions that do not meet with the conservation officer’s conditions and standards. As the new owner you will inherit these problems. And there is no time limit on the enforcement of such repairs.
What grants are available for Listed Buildings?
Sadly grants are few and far between but what is available comes from your conservation officer. The government provides financial help for owners via VAT relief on certain types of work and under certain conditions.
The Sunday Times recently noted, "Owners of Listed Buildings miss £250m of tax savings’. It can be a nightmare to negotiate your way through the law on VAT relief. The Listed Property Owners Club can help you make sense of the issues:www.lpoc.co.uk/
Do I need a special survey?
We would strongly recommend that you use a surveyor that has experience of and is familiar with period properties.
It is important to understand that period houses were constructed using a “lime mortar”, not cement and what, to the inexperienced, appears as damp, is in fact, the natural manner in which a period house breathes. The installation of an injected damp proof course is often unnecessary and impractical.
Do I need special insurance cover?
Apart from the issue of unauthorised work, insuring a listed building needs careful consideration. Should disaster strike, the conservation officer will insist you reinstate with similar materials to match the rest of the house and a standard policy may not cover the full cost.
For further information please contact:
The Listed Property Owners Club
Lower Dane, Hartlip, Kent ME9 7TE
Tel: 01795 844939 E-mail:[email protected]