How are listed buildings graded?
There are three grades of listed building in England and Wales:
- Grade I – Buildings of exceptional interest such as very fine country houses, important or old churches.
- Grade II* – Particularly important buildings of more than special interest such as most country houses, important churches or very old secular buildings.
- Grade II – These are buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them. 96% of listed buildings are Grade II.
There are three grades of listed building in Northern Ireland:
- Grade A – Buildings of greatest importance to Northern Ireland including both outstanding architectural set-pieces and the least altered examples of each representative style, period and type.
- Grade B+ – Buildings which might have merited grade A status but for detracting features such as an incomplete design, lower quality additions or alterations.
- Grade B – Buildings of local importance and good examples of a particular period or style. A degree of alteration or imperfection of design may be acceptable.
There are three grades of listed building in Scotland:
- Grade A – Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type.
- Grade B – Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered.
- Grade C - Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B.
Can additional buildings be listed?
Yes, sometimes the special character of a building has been overlooked and it is not included on the list. If this is the case anyone can request that a building be considered for listing.
How do I find out if a building is listed?
When is listed building consent needed?
You will need to apply for Listed Building Consent prior to any of the following works being undertaken:
- Alterations, both internally and externally, which affect the character of a listed building.
- Partial demolitions.
To summarise, all works other than minor ‘like for like’ repairs would require Listed Building Consent.
In all cases you should seek advice from the Planning Services Section.
Can listed buildings be extended or altered?
Yes, inclusion on the Statutory List does not necessarily prevent alteration or extension, although Listed Building Consent will also be required, in addition to normal planning permission.
It is generally possible to find satisfactory ways to make additions or alterations, with specialist and/or professional advice and guidance. This work requires great skill and care in order to conserve the historic features, character and setting of the building. If you wish to carry out such works you are strongly recommended to contact one of the regional professional bodies to find a consultant specialising in historic building work.
What are the penalties for work carried out without consent on a listed building?
If you carry out unauthorised work or do not follow the details of approved plans, you will be in contravention of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This may result in enforcement proceedings. You will be required to make good any damage or to reinstate any works which are not approved at your own expense. You may also be liable to prosecution as carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence.
Reinstatement is expensive and inconvenient. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of the Planning Services section before carrying out any works to the building. When a property is sold, a solicitors’ search will highlight all Listed Building Applications made. Failure to follow correct procedures can delay or jeopardise the sale of the property.
How often is an owner required to undertake maintenance of a listed building?
Owners of listed buildings are responsible for keeping their buildings in good repair. Owners are encouraged to regularly maintain their buildings as, in the long term, it should be the most cost-effective solution.
Maintenance and repairs do not require consent if they are carried out on a straightforward replacement or repair basis. Repairs should be carried out using materials and techniques which conserve the historic fabric. For example, damaged timber frame members should be repaired where possible, by piecing in, bracing or strapping rather than wholesale replacement of members. Timber frames should never be cleaned by a mechanical method, e.g. sand blasting.
If an owner fails to keep a building in a reasonable state of repair the Council may, as a last resort, serve a Repairs Notice specifying the work to be carried out. This will ensure the proper preservation of the building.
If repair works are not carried out the Council also has powers to carry out repairs and charge the costs to the owners. In extreme cases the Council may purchase the building, with minimal compensation, and carry out the necessary work.
Many problems with buildings relate to lack of maintenance. Keeping your building in good repair will involve small amounts of expenditure over time rather than large expenditure when things go wrong.
Can I be forced to repair my listed building even if I can't afford it?
Yes, but only if the building is decaying very badly. Local authorities have two main powers to halt the deterioration of a listed building the serving of an urgent works notice or a repairs notice.
Are any grants available towards the cost of repair?
Some Grade I or Grade II listed buildings may be eligible for grant aid.
My house is in a conservation area. What does that mean?
Conservation areas are designed to give some protection to local areas of interest, and usually contain some listed and some unlisted buildings. They are designated by local authorities. Substantial demolition within a conservation area requires consent. In addition, certain "permitted development rights" that apply to domestic buildings are reduced in conservation areas, so planning permission is needed for changes such as the installation of dormer windows on the front of a roof. You will also need permission to lop or fell trees. New development in conservation areas is also more strictly controlled than normal.
Why can’t I just get standard home insurance for my listed building?
Listed homes are usually categorised because they are of special importance to the UK. If they are architecturally of special interest or are nationally important then you cannot live in the property as you would in a normal home. Your insurance must protect the building and maintain its original features. It is for this reason that it can be difficult to find the correct level of insurance.
How do I find out when my property was built?
When you purchased the property a homebuyer’s survey is likely to have included the date of construction.
Alternatively, your local authority may have a record of when planning permission was granted to build the property. Your neighbours may also have an idea of when the property was built.
Note: A rough estimate of the property construction date is enough for the purposes of getting your home insurance quote.
If you have a heritage property, here are some steps to take:
- Search for your property for free in the 1862 Act register on Land Registry’s digital archives (at https://www.gov.uk/1862-act-register).
- Look at the architectural style and features of the house, particularly the roof and windows.
- Check your county record offices, local parish records or ask to view local archives at your library.
- Look for old copies of Ordnance Survey maps for your area (local library).
- Google for a local historian or a historical society and contact them to see if they can help you.
- Look at census data between 1841 and 1911 to find the first year that the address was mentioned.
How do I find the rebuild cost of my listed building home or my period property?
If your home is a Listed Building or it was built before 1720, you will need to consult a Chartered surveyor or a specialist property valuer to provide you with an accurate rebuild cost.
Do you pay more for grade 2 listed house insurance?
The cost of a listed building home insurance policy varies depending on the size, age, location and building materials used in your property. The cost also varies depending on how much cover you take out, whether you opt to pay a little more to reduce your excess and whether you opt for any of the additional cover options such as extended accidental damage, home emergency cover or legal expenses cover.
When insuring a listed building home, bear in mind that any repairs required to be made to the building (as a result of a valid insurance claim) will need to be completed by experienced tradesmen who are familiar with the traditional materials and traditional building methods used originally to build your historical home. This means that repairs can be more expensive than a standard modern home.
The agent asked the right questions, researched issues when he was not sure, was polite friendly and efficient. I needed insurance to cover a listed home which is empty prior to sale. Cheap but very clear what is and what isn't covered. Made sure I understood. Have recommended! Trustpilot, 27 March 2017
As we live in a 300-year old, Grade II listed home, we have little option in regard to specialist insurers, so were referred to HomeProtect. One may think that this may make the company complacent, but it most certainly does not. This is the only home insurer I would recommend, and we have used a number over the last 40 years of house ownership. Trustpilot, 8 March 2017
I had forgotten to renew until after the last day of my last policy. Customer service was excellent when I rang on a Saturday morning. All sorted in 20 minutes. Trustpilot, 2 July 2017