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Buying a listed building FAQs

While some property buyers appreciate the hassle-free process of purchasing a new build property, for many others the historic charm and character of an older property is something they just can’t pass up. It’s all about personal choice of course but if you are interested in purchasing an old, historic property then you should be aware of the restrictions on listed buildings.

What is listed status?
Listed status is when a building is marked as having special architectural or historic interest that is considered to be of ‘national importance’. Properties are divided into three categories – Grade I listed, Grade II* listed and Grade II listed (the most common classification).

What does listed status affect?
Listed status prevents alterations to both the exterior and interior of a property. This is to prevent the property from being changed in a way that means it loses its special historic significance.  In order to make changes to a property you must first seek permission from a conservation officer at your local authority. If you decide to go ahead and make changes to a property without seeking permission then you are breaking the law and could be told to pay a fine or asked to reverse the changes you have made. It is important to note that even if unauthorised changes were made by the previous owners you could still be asked to pay for reversing them. So it is important that you do your research on the property and be cautious of any alterations that may have been made without seeking the correct permission beforehand.   

Do I need to seek permission for small changes or just big ones?
While you might think that the changes you make are only minor, lots of small changes can gradually make a big a difference to a property. So, even removing doors, replacing windows with double glazing and making alterations to staircases require consultation with the conservation officer.

How do I find out if a property is listed?
A full list of properties that are classified as ‘listed’ buildings can be viewed on the Historic England website. This will highlight on a map properties in your postcode area which are listed. However, for full details you should speak to your local planning authority. They should be able to provide you with some more in depth information, including why the property is listed.

Is it worth the effort?
While it might seem like a lot of hassle to seek out the correct permission for making changes to a property you should try not to be too disheartened. Listed status does not automatically mean that you can’t make changes to a property, just rather that the changes need to be well thought out and in keeping with the original nature of the property.

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