Any homeowner (or potential home buyer) may have come across the English Heritage listed building’s register. Listed buildings are those which are deemed of significant historical or architectural value to the country and are therefore supposed to be preserved. In order to manage the preservation of these properties, English Heritage was established.

What is English Heritage?

English Heritage is a charity that was set up in order to conserve some of the most important historical sites and artefacts in Britain. Their collection spans across some 6 millennia and they facilitate the care of these objects and buildings to preserve them for future generations to enjoy.

Collection of listed structures

The English Heritage Association have established a collection of some 400 historical buildings, monuments, and sites. This collection includes everything from old Roman Forts right up to cemeteries and even Abbey Road Studios! The English Heritage Association provides a great way for families to learn about history on an interactive level. They provide ample ways to make history fun.

Management of listed buildings

Among their many responsibilities, the English Heritage Association also manages the list of registered buildings. These listed buildings are of either historical or architectural importance to the nation and are therefore to be preserved. Since the English Heritage Association manages all other historical buildings in the country, it only makes sense that they should, therefore, care for listed buildings, too.

You can learn more about English Heritage by visiting their page here.

What is a listed building?

Listed buildings are also known as listed structures. These are sites throughout England and Wales that the UK government has determined to be of national importance. There are three grades of listed structure according to English Heritage. In this section, we discuss the grades of listed buildings.

You might also want to check out: Heritage properties: Everything you need to know about listed structures

Grade I and II*

The first is Grade I. This is reserved for places of exceptional importance to the nation, either historically or architecturally. The second is Grade II* and reserved for sites of significant interest deemed to be slightly less important.

Grade II

Grade II is the last and most common of all the listed building grades assigned by English Heritage. It is by far the most common and listed structures as these are buildings most frequently found on the market. There are more than 500,000 listed buildings according to Historic England. This means that there is a chance that you will live in a listed structure at some point in your lifetime – provided you are British, of course.

How does English Heritage choose a listed building?

There are several ways in which English Heritage decides which buildings make the list and which do not. Anyone can seek to list a property, whether it be a passer-by or a homeowner, but the property will not make the list unless it meets with English Heritage’s strategic programme for nominations. Once a listed building has been reviewed, English Heritage makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). If approved, the building will then be added to the list.

You can find out whether or not you live in a listed structure by following this link.

What if I do live in a listed building?

If you check with English Heritage using the link above and find that you do live in a Grade II listed building, then there are certain things that you need to know about. Special laws apply to the alteration, demolition, or renovation of any Grade II listed property.

Planning permissions

A property gets listed to try to preserve the features that make it architecturally or historically special. If you want to remove or alter any of these features, then you must first seek permission to do so. This permission can be found via your local council or by following this link and reading about it on the planning portal website.

You will be able to make changes to your listed structure. If you complete the required paperwork and gain listed building consent approval all should be well, and you can go ahead as planned. More often than not, local conservation officers will try to find a way around making changes to any features of the building which are considered to be special. This includes both the interior and exterior of the property. Some listed buildings which include gardens or outbuildings are also covered by their listed status.

Speciality insurance

If you do live in a listed building, then you should probably consider taking out speciality insurance. Mainstream lenders provide listed building insurance as a special cover which will ensure the value of your home just like normal insurance. The difference is that the listed building insurance covers you for any repairs that need to be made using materials or methods that were used at the time your house was built. These can be exceedingly expensive and require specialist firms.

You have a legal responsibility to make sure that any changes or repairs are carried out up to the standard specified when you gain consent. If you make changes without consent you may be prosecuted. This can earn you a £20,000 fine or time in prison. As a homeowner, you’re also responsible for any changes that have been made to the property before you lived in it. This means if the former owner made a terrible job of the repairs then you would be expected by law to fix this.

Should I buy a listed building?

If you consider buying a listed building, then try not to be put off by the extra insurance costs or the rules on repair and consent. Listed structures include any building that was built before 1700 and there is absolutely no denying that they carry their unique charm. We do suggest that you carefully consider the financial implications and make sure that you can afford the extra costs associated with owning a listed building before you commit to purchase.

A listed building is also a selling point for any house. It adds character, brings its own set of responsibilities, and forges connections between new homeowners and English Heritage. If you need further information on any of the terms discussed in this blog post then please see the Listed Property Homeowner’s Club website.

This article was written on behalf of Boulton & Boyce by Pieter Boyce. Pieter has an intense passion for English Architectural history and has been specialising in the conservation of original wooden windows and doors for decades. His exceptional knowledge of timber windows and doors, both listed or non-listed, is attributed to his hands-on approach to learning all aspects of the complete restoration of original features as well as having personally surveyed thousands of items throughout his long tenure as a head surveyor for one of the largest window and door restoration companies in the UK. He now runs a boutique wooden window and door consultancy and fervently champions the retention of original windows and doors. To learn more of Pieter’s services, visit his website at

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