Buying A Listed Building
“With great buildings comes great responsibility”. OK, so that isn’t quite what Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said in the movie but he wasn’t far wrong. Buying a listed building can bring a lot of joy but it is not a purchase to be taken lightly. Listed properties are marked for their architectural and historical significance, so as the owner you are responsible for its upkeep.
Beware of previous alterations to listed buildings
Many believe that listing only applies to the façade or external features of a property. That’s not true; listing can in fact apply to both internal and external features, courtyards and garden walls, outbuildings, and even fittings inside the property.
Knowing this, it’s important to remember that a listing is not some sort of time capsule put in place to prevent homeowners from making changes to their property. It’s there to conserve the original character of the building. It’s for this reason that a Conservation Officer from your local authority will need to consent to any changes that you would like to make to your house. Similarly to Planning Permission, Listed Building Consent can stipulate the materials and techniques that must be used when altering your property.
It’s essential to know that when you purchase a listed building you also take on responsibility for any alternations carried out by the previous owner. So if they did not seek permission, you could be liable and forced to reverse their work. So make sure that there is a record of Listed Building Consent for any renovations that have been carried out before you purchase the property.
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Solicitors and surveyors
As previously mentioned, you need to take care to investigate the possibility of liabilities caused by the previous owner. A solicitor with experience in listed buildings can help you. If you already have plans to alter the listed property, pending a successful sale, then you can discuss them with your solicitor and even the local council’s Conservation Officer beforehand.
Estimating the rebuild cost of any property is a stumbling block for many homeowners, let alone knowing the rebuild cost of a 300 year old building! But this is essential for getting insurance later down the line, so you should use a conservation surveyor who will take into account costs like repairs with traditional techniques when giving a figure.
Mortgages and listed building insurance
Other factors to take consider before going ahead with your purchase are sourcing a mortgage and appropriate insurance. Mortgage lenders and insurers may insist on certain conditions before working with you, such as damp-proofing or investigating the property’s history for subsidence. Listed buildings will often require like-for-like repair and maintenance works, which can become very costly when you need to hire a specialist builder. In most cases, you will need to source listed building home insurance from a specialist provider.