All You Need To Know About Listed Buildings

Posted on: 31 July 2017

Although Hawkins Sales & Lettings rarely see Listed properties throughout Nuneaton, Coventry & Bedworth, we thought providing a small insight (thanks to and the help of our to the background of them may just be useful!

So here it goes -

What does ‘listed’ mean?

A building is given a Listed status because of its special historic or architectural interest. To check if your house (or house of interest) is listed – check out this website

What does this mean?

This means that one has considerably less freedom to do what one wishes with a property that would be the case if it were not Listed, a factor that surely warrants consideration before committing to a deal. Unfortunately, you can’t suddenly decide to build a conservatory to the back of your property!

Which buildings get listed?

Anything built in those olden’ days (before 1700) that is more or less in its original condition. Also, properties built between 1700 and 1840, along with later structures (1840-1914) that either demonstrate technological advances or were designed by famous architects.

Post-1945 buildings are also now being added to the list, though only those of spectacular importance!

Does the building have to be a house?

Certainly not! It can be a barn, a bridge, a gravestone or even a telephone box!

What’s the difference between a Grade I listed and a Grade II listed house?

Throughout England & Wales, a Grade I building is the most protected structure. Grade I is considered to have ‘outstanding or national architectural or historical interest’. Very few buildings (only 2% of all listed structures) come into this category. Grade II status (4% of all listed buildings) indicates a structure of more than just local interest and denotes the place is of ‘special architectural or historic interest’. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar grades of listing.

Can you alter a listed building?

Unfortunately not, not without getting a Listed Building Consent from your local conservation officer, who is usually employed from your local council. Even if you’re just buying a listed building from someone else, you have to make sure the previous owners didn’t carry out any unauthorised work. If they did, it’s the new buyer’s job (that means you!) to put it right.

Listed Building Consent can be needed for many sorts of work which might usually be thought of as standard home improvements or DIY. For example, putting in double glazing, sub-dividing a large room, replacing wonky floorboards, rendering a rear wall, adding an en-suite bathroom, replacing a window or installing a lift… There is also a fine line between ‘like for like’ repairs which do not need Listed Building Consent and those that will. If it looks like Listed Building Consent may be needed, it’s not a good idea to charge ahead regardless. It is a criminal offence, punishable for up to two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine, to carry out works without the requisite consent.

Does anyone else get a say?

Yes! Your local authority has to notify English Heritage of all planning applications for Grade I or Grade II starred properties.  Sometimes even Grade II homes are also referred!

Do listed homes need regular maintenance?

Absolutely!! Your ‘to-do’ list should read as follows: check the roof, make sure gutters and drainpipes are clear, repaint external woodwork, replace putty around windows, carefully detach all creepers, clean chimneys twice a year (yes we said it – twice a year!!), re-point brick and stonework, service all heating and electrical equipment, clean and repair plasters, renders, stone and brickwork. Always employ an expert to ensure any work is carried out properly and to the required standard.

What about insurance?

*DING DING DING* Vital question alert!!

As the house must be repaired using traditional methods and materials, the policy will be more expensive than for a modern house- booo! The sum insured should cover the cost of re-installing the entire house.

Common myths!

Don’t be caught out by common myths:

  1. Only external works require Consent – Wrong! Many internal works need Consent!
  2. If it’s just Grade II, it’s only the front elevation that’s Listed – Wrong again! The whole building, including any structure attached to it, has Listed status.
  3. I’ve looked at the Listing Description, there’s no mention of the [e.g. fireplace], so can I get rid of it? Wrong! The listing Description has no formal status, do NOT rely on it!
  4. The works were done more than 10 years ago, the Council Planners can’t do anything now – Wrong! There is no immunity period with Listed Building Enforcement Notices can be served many years later, and on current owners who had no involvement when the works were carried out.
  5.  I don’t own it, I’m just the [e.g. agent/architect/surveyor], so I couldn’t be prosecuted – Wrong! The offence is committed by the person who carried out the works (possibly a builder) and by anyone who caused them to be carried out (someone instructing a builder).


No question that a listed building potentially presents more problems than a new home. But owners of listed properties say it’s the same as owning a vintage car - it may need more servicing but every time you look at it, you feel a little surge of pride and pleasure!



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