Friday, 09 October 2015
Listed Buildings Insurance – Why Obtaining It Can Be Problematic
If you are looking to purchase a listed building or you own a listed building, there are many factors to consider regarding your listed building insurance.
Potential problems with your listed building
Listed buildings are important parts of the UK's cultural heritage. Found everywhere, from out-of-the-way rural hamlets to smack-bang in the middle of meandering metropolitan city-centres, our listed buildings are jealously guarded and highly prized pieces of history. If you are the proprietor of a listed building, you will know how important it is to look after your property properly and you know how imperative it is to secure it with adequate home insurance.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) estimates that there are approximately 370,000 properties in the UK that currently hold listed status, with more than 90% of these being Grade II. Grade II buildings are those considered to be of "special interest", where their preservation is justified, and every effort should be made to keep them as they are. Grade II* buildings are those of "particular" importance, where interest exceeds the special categorisation of normal Grade II buildings. Grade I buildings have the highest priority, with "exceptional interest" status. All buildings predating the 1700s are listed, assuming they have survived in any semblance of their original condition, as are most that date from between then and the 1840s.
Applications to grant newer buildings listed status must be made through English Heritage, and those built after 1945 have to be "exceptionally important" to make the cut (buildings usually have to be 30 years old before they are eligible for consideration). Listing is not the same as a preservation order, and does not prevent change automatically. It is merely a grading stage which identifies a property as having a particular level of architectural or historical special interest. Becoming listed brings a building into the planning system, where listed building consent must be applied for before any changes can be made that might affect its special interest status.
Local planning authorities
If a listed building's owner wishes to perform work on the exterior or interior of their property, they must first seek approval from local planning authorities. Listed buildings can still be altered, extended or modified within government planning guidelines, and can even be demolished in some circumstances. Listed building consent is used by local authorities to weigh historical significance against factors like function, condition and viability. As you might expect, it can be difficult for owners of a Grade I listed property (which make up only 2.5% of all listed buildings) to obtain permissions to proceed with work, but permissions for Grade II are generally more readily available. Grade II listed status is most likely to be attached to a residential property and is subsequently more likely to affect homeowners. In some cases, the Department for Communities and Local Government may be responsible for managing alterations to your listed building.
Materials in high demand
One of the main difficulties owners of listed buildings might face is the availability of the necessary materials or skills required to renovate or refurbish the property without damaging its listed status. Resources may have become much scarcer since the original time of construction, just as the numbers of skilled craftsmen might have diminished, the cost of procuring which will likely increase dramatically as a result. It is difficult enough for ordinary homeowners to begin estimating rebuilding costs for their insurers, but for the owner of a listed building it could seem near impossible. It is advisable to seek professional advice from a registered chartered surveyor if you are concerned about estimating the rebuild cost of your listed building.
Insurance for listed buildings can sometimes be difficult to obtain. This is because many insurance providers are reluctant to cover the properties, owing to the element of risk caused by the property's age and unknowable rebuild costs. With HomeProtect, you can obtain a competitive online quote for your Grade II listed building (or for your Grade B listed building in Scotland and Northern Ireland).