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Renovating a listed building can often be seen as a complex task as it requires a lot of thought and planning, as listed buildings have legal property protection. The results of working on such buildings can be incredible, but skill and care are required.

In this article, we discuss some top tips for renovating a listed building, from planning to the renovation.

Things to Know from the Start

It is vital to note that renovations can be costly and take a lot of planning and preparation before the work can start.

When a building is listed, the whole structure is protected, from the exterior to the interior features. This means that any change will require listed building consent and planning permission.

Think About House Insurance

It isn’t uncommon for standard insurance companies to not provide the full cost for helping to maintain or repair a listed building. Therefore, ensure that your house insurance specialises in listed buildings. The company will advise that similar materials are to be used and will cover the full cost.

In addition, when buying a listed building, you are responsible for any alterations made by previous owners, so look for insurance which covers pre-existing works too.

Talk to the Conservation Officer

It is not always easy to establish which parts of the listed building are part of the status. Therefore, the easiest way to understand the building is to speak with your Conservation Officer.

They’ll be able to provide advice on the work most appropriate for the building and which consent would need to be obtained for the plans. To find out the Conservation Officer for your area, your local councils’ website should provide clarity.

Thatched roof cottage listed building

Employ the Right People

Renovating or adapting a listed building requires specialist skills. It is essential to appoint a Surveyor, Engineer or Architect who understands the requirements, and has knowledge of local building techniques of the past.

When Do you Need Consent?

If the renovation is for maintenance and you’re using the same materials and building techniques, like-for-like, then it’s likely you won’t need to obtain consent depending on the scale of maintenance. However, anything else which could affect the character and heritage will.

From removing layers of paint to adapting panelling and building gates to removing trees, all of these things will require consent.

Obtain Consent

If you plan to extend, alter or demolish part of your listed building, then you’ll need to obtain Listed Building Consent. Alongside building consent, it’s likely you’ll also need to apply for planning permission. Both of these can be obtained from the local council.

If the listed building is located within a conservation area, this adds an extra element. If you’re planning to adapt the outside of a listed building within a conservation area, you’ll need approval granted from the council and Heritage England, to ensure the streetscape isn’t affected.

Carrying out unauthorised work is a criminal offence, so it is essential to follow the correct procedures. For advice about listed building consent and obtaining it, read our blog here.

Planning permission documents

Use the Right Materials

Buildings assembled before the First World War were built in a different way than modern buildings. Often referred to as ‘breathable construction’ the materials used ensured that moisture could move freely. After the war, materials used for buildings changed, such as moving from solid masonry walls to concrete and cavity walls.

It is essential to ensure the right materials are used when renovating a listed building to help balance the moisture. By using the wrong materials, it could affect the movement of moisture and can lead to problems like mould and damp.

Renovating a listed building can be a long and daunting process; however, you are helping to protect and prolong the life of a property and its heritage for the future. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we’ve worked with many property owners to achieve building consent, including this Cob Barn in Devon.

For further information about listed buildings, read our FAQ series, part 1 and part 2.

For further information about what we do, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re chartered surveyors in Cornwall; however, we provide our services across the South-West.