Advice on Working with Historic and Listed Buildings

The UK has over half a million listed buildings and a million buildings in conservation areas. The vast majority of these buildings are private homes. When considering renovations, extensions or improvements to your home, it is vitally important to check if your home is listed to ensure you adhere to any building restrictions and to make sure you have the right equipment and professionals available.

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What’s Listed?

The general rule is that all buildings constructed before 1700, most buildings constructed between 1700 and 1840 and some buildings constructed between 1840 and 1914 which have not yet been renovated beyond their original condition are listed.

After 1914, only outstanding buildings will be listed, and for anything under 30 years, listing is very rare. You can search the English Heritage website to check your building, but remember that their information is often incomplete.

When Is Permission Needed?

In layman’s terms, consent is needed when any construction changes are made which will alter the character of the building. This includes anything that reduces its historic interest. This would include removing a wheel from a water mill or enlarging small Tudor windows. Most importantly, these rules apply to the inside of your home as well, even if it is not open to the public.

Choose the Right Architect for the Job

The nature of refurbishing or renovating a listed building is much more complex than any new-build project. Looking for available architects  with the knowledge to do the job can take time. Estimating the cost of listed building work comes from experience. Once work has begun, conflicts can easily arise from budget overruns when the architect hasn’t the right experience to use the RIBA Fee Calculator correctly. It is important to ensure that the renovators linked to the architects also have the right training and access to equipment such as a Dust Monitor from companies such as http://www.mattsmonitors.co.uk/ as older building materials tend to produce large amounts of dust and other airborne particles.

Get Insured

The onus is on the client to insure the building during the renovation process, and premiums can be much higher than expected. Don’t be surprised if the insurance company asks for Joint Names Policies from the client and contractor.

Don’t Be Put Off

Listed or not, homes are designed to be lived in. A listed home is more likely to be well cared for if it is used and appreciated. Everything from a larger kitchen to a basement swimming pool can help ensure the building remains standing for future generations.

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