If you have been looking to buy your own house and are interested in buying a listed building of any grade, then you should be aware that there are certain regulations you must adhere to. If you already live in a Grade II listed building, then don’t go anywhere… those same rules still apply to you!
The good news is that Grade II listed buildings are the most common type of listed property. They make up the majority of all listed properties on the physical list kept by Historic England. If your house is on that list, then you are already living in a listed building! All buildings erected before the year 1700 are considered listed. You can check if your house is on the list by following this link.
What to do if you live in a Grade II listed building
If your house is a listed building, what does that mean for you? Primarily, you may have to pay slightly higher insurance premiums for a listed building. Insurance companies may stand to lose a lot more money if things should go wrong. If your house is a listed building, then that means it is of national importance and is protected under the UK law.
Listed buildings have different grades. These grades are ranked as Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II. The first grade of these properties consists of listed buildings which are particularly relevant and are of significant national importance. Grade II* listed buildings are particularly important buildings, though not quite so exceptional as Grade I. Finally, Grade II buildings are of special interest to our culture or history.
Listed property distribution
Grade II properties make up around 91.7% of all listed buildings and if your home has been added to the list then it is very likely that it will also fall into this category. Of the remaining listed buildings in England and Wales, only 2.5% are listed in the first grade. The remaining 5.8% are listed in Grade II*. Every listed building of any grade covers properties that are either of historical or architectural importance to the nation.
As such, when you move into one of these properties, the commitment towards preserving as much of the original building as possible falls on your shoulders. If any repair work needs to be done or any damage is caused, you will be the one liable to pay for it and ensure that the building will be repaired to the same degree as the original structure.
What If I Want to Alter My Grade II Listed Home?
Licensed status does not mean that you can’t make any changes to your property. It simply means that most changes need to be approved by your local council. They will check to ensure that they retain as much of the original building as possible, particularly, any relevant features that make it historically or architecturally important. Any listed building is seen as a sort of National Treasure, to be preserved in the best possible way. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes to your home but it does mean that any changes must go through the listed building consent process.
Listed building consent process
This process covers legislation put in place to preserve sites of historic and architectural importance within England and Wales. Whenever you want to renovate, demolish, or otherwise alter the interior or exterior of a listed building, you must seek listed building consent. This consent is likely to be approved as long as you do not make too many changes to the features in the building that are considered to be special or important. It also makes sure that any significant items or features removed from the building are preserved.
Responsibility as an owner
If you happen to live in a Grade II listed building (or if you consider buying one) you need to be aware of Listed Building Consent laws. If you make changes to your property without completing the required paperwork, you may be liable for criminal prosecution. Similarly, if you just moved into a listed property and find that repairs have been made poorly, then you also take on the responsibility of correcting these mistakes.
How Much of My Grade II Building Is Listed?
Listed structures depend on your individual property. Whether or not your whole Grade II listed building is in the physical list is something you should be able to check online. Typically, Grade II listed buildings are separated into the exterior and the interior of the property. In this way, the gardens and any outbuildings will be preserved separately to the actual features of the house.
Do I Need Listed Building Insurance?
To allow for the separation between the interior and the exterior of any listed building, insurance companies now offer both split and separate policies. If you have a split policy for listed building insurance that means it covers both the interior and the exterior grounds. However, you can also purchase single insurance for either the interior or the exterior of your property. It may be cheaper to do this. For more details on insurance for listed buildings, check out our article that covers insurance more extensively.
You might also want to check out: Listed building insurance – Do I need to get one?
Although insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense for you, consider listed buildings insurance to be a safeguard against any future damage. Old buildings are prone to problems such as damped structures, and when they do need to be repaired the consent process specifies that it must be done by using materials that are as close to the original as possible. This means the running costs of repair can get seriously high.
What Changes Can I Make to My Grade II Listed Building?
It does tend to chop and change between what is permissible and what is not. In older times, city councils were more likely to make a clear distinction between old and new on any upgraded or modernized listed building. Nowadays, the preservation of original features has become popular. You can still make changes as long as they are small ones. Wallpapering is probably just fine; tearing wood panelling off the walls is more likely to be an issue.
To be one hundred per cent certain that you can make the changes you need, visit the planning portal website and seek consent beforehand. Your local conservation officer may be able to advise you on how you can best make the changes that you want while avoiding the consent process altogether.
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 www.boultonboyce.co.uk.