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What are the limitations when making changes to a listed property?

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If you live in a listed property or are considering buying one then it’s worth knowing exactly what you can and can’t do when it comes to maintenance, renovations, and extensions that you are considering making to your home. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but you will need to keep certain things in mind and take certain actions before progressing so that you are not committing a criminal offence. We explore those issues in more depth this month to help you be sure that what you are planning is going to be acceptable to your local authority’s conservation officer.

What is a listed building?

Buildings are listed in order to preserve their character. This can apply narrowly or extensively, depending on the property and its features. For example, it can include external and/or internal features, outhouses, gates, etc. There are three categories of listing:

  • Grade I. This is for buildings of outstanding national architectural or historical interest.
  • Grade II*. This covers buildings that have particular significance of greater than just local interest.
  • Grade II. This includes buildings of special historic or architectural interest.

How easy is it to make changes?

The reality is that it is not that easy. When buildings are listed the reasons for listing them will be stated. Making any changes to these listed features can be very difficult, so think carefully before buying a property if you intend to make any changes to its features as it is unlikely that you will be allowed to do so.

Much will depend on the type of listing that the property has – the higher the grade the less likely you can alter things. The rule of thumb is to assume that you cannot do anything – even put up a satellite dish – until you have cleared it with the local council’s conservation officer. They are best placed to advise you on what can and cannot be done and what you need to do in order to secure consent. For example, you will require listed building consent before making any alterations and may need planning permission as well.

In many cases it is easier to build an extension than to make alterations or remove a feature, no matter how small it may seem – such as an internal wall or a fireplace. Extensions are often permitted if they do not alter the original property or detract from its special features in any way.

Windows and doors

It used to be that changes to doors and windows were not permissible, making living in a listed property with single-glazed windows rather cold in the winter. Things have changed as technology and designs have evolved and more often than not, nowadays, there is a solution that will enable you to install double-glazing if you choose to. The same applies to doors; advanced technology allows you to have a security door fitted without compromising on the character of the building and vice versa.

Materials and costs

While changes are now easier and more permissible than ever before, it is also worth bearing in mind that materials will have to be closely matched to existing ones which could increase costs. Finding specialist and experienced companies that will carry out the work for you would be a wise choice and can save you time, hassle and money in the long run.

If you are looking for such a company, look no further than Parsons Joinery. We have the knowledge, experience and skills to undertake work on listed properties. Get in touch with us by phone on 01273 814870 or by email at – we’d be delighted to help!