When it comes to listed buildings, many questions can arise that owners and potential buyers are unsure of. This is where the knowledge and understanding of an expert can be invaluable.

In part one of our two-part series, we aim to answer some of the FAQ’s we regularly hear, so that you will have to wonder no longer…

Grade I, Grade II* & Grade II; What is the Difference?

  • Grade I buildings are considered to offer historical interest or boast outstanding architectural significance, while also being of national importance. Only a small number of buildings will ever merit falling into this category.
  • Grade II* is bestowed upon buildings that provide some particular distinction, outstanding interior for example.
  • Grade II listed buildings are of particular significance, with the majority of listed buildings falling into this category.

Who Makes the Decision on the Buildings that Become Listed?

This responsibility is for the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport who compiles a statutory inventory of the buildings that hold historic or special architectural interest, which is founded on advice given by the English Heritage.

Can I Find a Catalogue of Listed Buildings?

You can usually look up details of listed buildings on local council’s Listed Building web page. Interactive maps are typically available for you to use and locate a building you’re looking to find out about. Councils make every attempt to ensure that the information remains up to date.

Can Anyone Apply to Have a Building Listed?

In short, yes. If you wish to input an application, it should be sent to English Heritage through the website. The staff there will then assess the application and give expert advice to the Secretary of State in terms of which buildings fit the criteria for listing. For more information visit the English Heritage website.

What is a List Description?

This is merely the address of the historic building in question. It’s the legal aspect of the document. Chiefly, the description is there as a way to aid in identifying the building; this was very important during the early stages of listing, largely because many postal addresses were quite vague.

List descriptions have become more detailed in recent years, and now provide readers with a clearer picture of the building’s appearance, history and significance. Furthermore, most recent listings will include a brief statement summarising (in architectural shorthand) why the building is of particular historical interest.

Are Entire Buildings Included in the Listing?

Once again, yes; the entire building is listed. This incorporates the inside, along with the layout, the outside and any structure or object attached to the building, although the reason for the listed status may be due to a particular feature within the building, and not the building as a whole.

As far as the area of land around a listed building is concerned, the boundaries – known as the ‘curtilage’ – and any building/structure pre-dating 1st July 1948 situated within this area is also regarded to be listed. This applies to the gates, railings, boundary walls and in some cases, garden features.

Is Anything Else Covered in the Listing Description?

A listed building’s “objects and structures” that are physically fixed to the building, e.g. panelling or exterior clocks are covered off in the listing description. In some cases, paintings and sculptures can feature too; if they were fixed there as part of the design. It’s worth noting that the listing description isn’t a conclusive list of significant features. This listing is purely provided to help with understanding.

Do Grade II Listed Buildings Only Protect the Exterior?

In fact, this is a common myth that is actually false. No such thing as a partially listed building exists, meaning that the whole structure is covered by its listing. To clarify, that’s means inside and out, right from the top of the chimney, to the floor of the basement.

What is Listed Building Consent?

Listed Building Consent is required prior to any work being conducted to a listed building that would affect any existing special characters and/or appearance in any shape or form. It’s worth remembering that it is actually a criminal offence to carry out such works without consent!

Can I Make Modifications to a Listed Building?

Making alterations to a listed building is by no means a task that anyone can attempt; it requires specialists who are professionals at what they do. Any fees incurred by opting to bring in a surveyor or architect could well prevent any unnecessary work be carried out. You will find that almost all listed buildings are valuable property; therefore, ill-thought-out modifications will likely lessen its value.

If you are looking for the help and services of structural engineers in Liskeard, we can help you! Martin Perry Associates offer services spanning all of Devon and Cornwall, with a wealth of experience in dealing with historic and listed buildings, so why not get in touch today and see how we can help?

Image: Mike Kirby under Creative Commons.