All you need to know about owning a listed property

If you are an owner of a listed property or are thinking of buying one, you might have a number of questions but are unsure who to ask or where to turn for advice. For over 20 years The Listed Property Owners’ Club (LPOC) team has been advising listed home owners and potential buyers. LPOC brings together expert knowledge and experience with all aspects of buying, conserving, renovating and insuring a listed home. Here, the club’s experts answer some of the most frequently asked questions from their members.

WHAT IS A CONSERVATION OFFICER AND ARE THEY IMPORTANT? 

Conservation Officers are generally employees of the local council and their role is to ensure the character of the building remains intact. They will be one of your most important points of contact as the officer will grant – or deny – listed building consent. They may even dictate the materials and techniques that you should use to make these changes.

WHAT IS LISTED BUILDING CONSENT? 

If you want to alter or extend a listed building in a way that affects its character or appearance as a building of special architectural or historic interest, or even demolish it, you must first apply for listed building consent from your local planning authority. Contrary to popular belief, listing protects the complete building both inside and out (not just the front) and may also include garden walls, courtyards and even statuary within the garden. Some buildings are also “curtilage listed” meaning that if your property is situated within the curtilage of, or attached to a listed building, it may also be listed. Make sure you know what is protected under the listing within your home and any grounds.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UNAUTHORISED WORK? 

If a previous owner made alterations to the building without listed building consent, the local planning authority may require you to reverse those alterations at your own cost. It doesn’t matter who carried out the work, or how long ago, it will become the new owner’s responsibility. It is important to make sure you are adequately insured and that suitable searches are carried out in order to make sure that all alterations have the correct consent.

WHAT IF I WANT TO EXTEND OR ALTER MY LISTED BUILDING? 

If you are planning to extend or alter a listed building it is vital that you involve your Conservation Officer at the earliest stage possible. If you are planning alterations to a listed property, be realistic as to what will be allowed. For instance, listed building consent is unlikely to be granted to add a large modern garage to a small cottage. By working sympathetically with the property, your plans are much more likely to be approved.

IS DOUBLE GLAZING ACCEPTABLE IN A LISTED PROPERTY? 

It is unusual to be able to introduce double glazing into the narrow glazing bars of period windows and for this reason double glazing is difficult. However, there would be no restriction on using secondary glazing and this is the method normally recommended. The use of very slim double-glazing units set within the original glazing bars may be acceptable although some Conservation Officers reject them due to the unsightly reflection. Listed building consent will be required if, for example, the windows are to be replaced with a new style of window or you wish to repaint existing windows a different colour to the existing.

HOW DOES MY INSURANCE DIFFER FROM A NON-LISTED PROPERTY? 

The insurance of a listed building is very different to a modern building. Should disaster strike, the cost of repairing using traditional methods and materials will be greater than a “normal” house and your conservation officer will seek to ensure you reinstate “like for like”.

DO I NEED TO USE SPECIALIST SUPPLIERS AND TRADITIONAL METHODS? 

As old buildings, listed properties often don’t respond well to the application of modern materials. For instance, many cases of damp are actually the result of the introduction of modern, non-breathable materials such as cement or paint which prevent the escape of moisture. In most cases, owners can get the best results for their property by using original traditional methods.

NEED HELP AND SUPPORT FROM THE LISTED PROPERTY OWNERS’ CLUB? 

Join today and reap the benefits of LPOC membership right away. The Listed Property Owners’ Club is Britain’s only advice service dedicated to helping members get the most from their homes by providing detailed advice, information and support for just about every conceivable issue associated with ownership. Members benefit from a dedicated telephone helpline where you can speak to a team of experts on conservation, VAT, law, insurance and listed building matters. For more information about joining or to get a copy of ‘A Guide to Owning a Listed Property’ contact The Listed Property Owners’ Club on 01795 844939, visit www.lpoc.co.uk or email info@lpoc.co.uk.