There’s a certain charm and character associated with old properties. That’s why owning and living in one could actually give you that feeling that you are somehow a part of history. However, there are also different challenges that may come with this privilege. These are often experienced by people who own Grade 2 listed buildings.
But what is a Grade 2 listed building and how is it different from other listed buildings?
Listed buildings are structures that hold historical, national, and architectural interest. These could be residential and commercial properties, monuments, bridges, gardens, and parks. Buildings are listed to legally protect them from being inappropriately modified, extended, or demolished so that their special interest can be preserved.
Depending on the significance of the building, it could be categorised into Grade 1, Grade 2*, and Grade 2. Grade 1 buildings account for only 2.5% of all listed buildings, while 5.8% are under Grade 2*. These two categories are reserved for buildings of exceptional or particularly important interest.
The majority of listed buildings fall under the Grade 2 category with an overwhelming 92% of the total. These listed buildings are considered structures of special interest that warrant preservation. If you are a homeowner owning a listed building, this is the most likely grade of listing for your property.
While your property needs to be protected, that does not mean that you cannot make any changes or modifications. However, it is important that in doing so, you keep in mind these Grade 2 listed building do’s and don'ts.
Knowing what you can and what you can’t do to a Grade 2 listed building is very important because it will save you a lot of time and money. Many listed building owners make the mistake of ignoring rules and regulations, only to find themselves in hot water later on.
The reality is, every property is different so what you can’t do to a Grade 2 listed building would need to be evaluated on a case to case basis. Depending on the age, rarity, aesthetic merits, and historical interest of your property, there will be different factors that will be assessed by the government body. What may be applicable to one Grade 2 listed building is not necessarily applicable to another one, no matter how similar the two properties are.
However, there are certain guidelines that you could keep in mind in order to help you determine how to deal with your planned changes or modifications. Here are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to a Grade 2 listed building.
If you are considering the purchase of a property, it is best to do your homework and learn more about it. Make sure that the building you are buying is really listed as Grade 2. It will also be useful to find out the history of the property, its previous owners, and any specific conditions associated with the property.
If you already own the property, the same research process will also help you in your renovation plans.
Before you purchase a listed building or start a renovation project, you must always have the full picture. Have someone conduct a listed building survey on the property by procuring heritage building services. This will avoid any surprises in terms of the true condition of the building and will give you an accurate estimate on how much time, money, and other resources you would actually need to get it to what you envision it to be. A listed building survey is not like any other survey, as you would need a specialist surveyor to carry it out.
Before you make any further renovation plans, you have to make certain that any previous modifications done by the previous owners had the required consent and paperwork. You wouldn’t want to be given that added burden especially if it was not you who made the changes.
Making certain modifications to a listed building without proper consent is a criminal offense. This means that before any work can commence, you should have the necessary approvals already.
Some works of simple repair and maintenance may not require consent but you should always check with your local authority or a Historic Buildings professional if you are unsure.
In any case it is recommended that you involve specialists who are experienced in dealing with historic and listed building projects early in your design process. They will be able to advise you on what is likely to be acceptable and what is not. This will save you a lot of time because you won’t need to go back and forth with your local council and interpret the rules yourself.
As already mentioned earlier, starting any work without the approvals finalised is a big no-no. If work is not authorised, you may be required to stop work, remove any work done, seek retrospective consent, or even conduct expensive remedial works.
While it is true that there are changes that may not require consent such as emergency repairs, repainting, and repair to windows, doors and roofing, this may not be applicable to all buildings. Just because you know another Grade 2 listed building owner who had conducted repairs that didn’t require consent, doesn’t mean that rule is applicable to your building as well.
This is because these seemingly minor, cosmetic changes are approved depending on the specific property. Therefore you will absolutely save more time and money by consulting with a specialist, rather than taking a risk.
A common misconception with Grade 2 listed buildings is that only the outside is protected. This is not the case and internal alterations may also require listed building consent.
With listed buildings, you cannot suddenly change material or paint colour at the last minute. You would need to have consent for these things. While it may seem like a hassle, appointing an experienced team will make this process much easier.
A restoration project, especially on a Grade 2 listed building, can be costly. This is why some property owners cut corners by hiring the cheapest construction or design team. However, if the company you’ve hired for your project don’t have adequate experience in conservation, restoration, and development of historic buildings, that decision may actually cost you more money in the long run.
An inexperienced team will not be able to effectively maximise the potential of the property and give you the best value. An amateurish mistake can potentially cost you thousands of pounds.
Instead, appoint professionals with the knowledge and expertise to advise you on all matters relating to your property. Not only will this be the best for the project, it will also give you the peace of mind throughout the process.
Grade 2 listed buildings are a significant part of the country’s culture and heritage. If you find one that you feel is going to be your lifelong home, don’t be scared to make that buying decision. As long as you surround yourself with a reliable team of experts, you’ll be able to enjoy living in one without any added stress.