Carrying out regular inspections and minor repairs as and when an issue is discovered can save you a world of hassle and expense later on. This goes for all properties but is even more important when you own a listed building. All buildings deteriorate over time, and yours might well be over 200 years old by now, so there’s no time like the present.
Listed buildings at risk
One of the most common issues to affect listed properties is damp. To keep the building dry you need to check your roof, gutters, downpipes, drains and window seals. Poor ventilation in an older building can cause wood to rot and bricks to crumble away over time. Issues like this can lead to structural defects in the future.
The powers that be, namely bodies like Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland, recommend creating a logbook where you can record maintenance checks and repair works carried out. This could be particularly useful if you decide to sell the property, as you have a responsibility to seek Listed Building Consent before making large alterations to the building, and these could also be recorded. To be clear, you do not need permission for regular maintenance tasks, only when drastic repair, adaptation or restoration is involved.
Living in a listed building
Whether you are planning to carry out maintenance checks regularly or only occasionally there are several key criteria to take into account.
- Detect weak spots and areas where problems are likely to occur. Can you access the roof?
- Consider the impact of the area surrounding the building. Are nearby trees likely to cause subsidence? Are you at risk of flooding?
- Weatherproofing needs to be a top priority. Have you noticed damp patches?
- Schedule regular services for gas and electric appliances. Have you made sure there is flame retardant on the thatch roof?
When in doubt you should bite the bullet and invest in a professional survey. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) can provide guidance on maintaining listed buildings. For very old or very tricky properties you could use an architect accredited in building conservation to carry out a top-to-toe building survey.
For more help when maintaining your home, try this checklist from Historic England.