Love of the old and ancient, particularly with regard to buildings, can find you handing over your hard-earned for a historic home. Apart from dealing with what will obviously be ‘stuff’ you must fix there are certain legalities associated with owning a listed building.
What Classifies as a Listed Building?
A listed building is one that is on the National Heritage List for its ‘special architectural or historic interest.’ These include buildings constructed before 1700 and have somehow survived the centuries. Most buildings between 1700 and 1840 also make the list. It gets a bit harder after that but there are some places built after 1945 that may qualify.
What are the Renovation Rules?
As long as you get permission and guidance from the government, you can make certain alterations and even extensions. Historic England offers advice for those considering any work to these buildings.
You will need to seek the advice of the conservation officer from the local council whose job it is to maintain the character of your building. They can advise on materials and techniques you should use to make any changes to the property. All work must be given written consent and it is a criminal offence to make changes without it in writing.
Listed building insurance
You are going to need a specialised insurance company to cover a listed building. Specialists such as Lycetts, will also be able to provide practical advice when it comes to legally protecting the building.
How to care for a listed building
One of the most common problems in old buildings is the damp. So a thorough check of pipes, gutters and even the fall of the land and its height outside the building are worth a check.
Rising damp is a more serious problem ad will need even more expert advice. Buildings made of solid walls and lime mortar aren’t waterproofed like modern buildings. Injecting modern materials such as cement into the walls can actually hinder breathability and cause more damp.
Renovation work to fix decay and damage must conform to the regulations. You don’t HAVE to carry out repairs but be warned that if parts of the building need emergency work, then the local authority can enter the property and do the work themselves then seek to recover the costs if you elect not to do anything!
Listed buildings can be affected by flooding and you can do some preventative maintenance to help avoid damage. If there is any repair work to be done after flooding you’ll need to obtain advice from the planning authority’s conservation officer before repairs begin.
Saving energy in a listed building
You would not expect to find a lot of energy saving installations in an old building. Double glazing is a great way to save energy, but for listed buildings you may not be allowed to install the more modern style as it can severely alter the appearance of the building. The basic maintenance of checking for damp walls and badly fitted windows is a good start. You can add a modern boiler which is far more energy efficient, but you’ll need planning advice for any larger work.