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Buying a Listed Building

If you’re in the process of searching for your next property and have a penchant for character and charm, you may find that listed buildings are coming high up your wish list. For many people the thought of owning a listed building fills them with dread, but don’t let this status put you off.

Buying a listed property can be a great investment and of course as it will be a building of historical and possible national significance being a part of its history can be rather exciting and intriguing.


But before you sign on the dotted line there are a few things you should consider so you can fully understand the implications of a listed building status. You can also find out more by visiting the Historic England website:

Listed Building Categories

If the property you are interested in buying has ‘listed’ status it means that the building is included on the statutory list of ‘buildings of special architectural or historic interest’. The building will have been placed on this list to protect it from any alterations which could negatively impact its character or historical context.

In England and Wales there are three categories of listed buildings:

  • Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* – buildings of particular importance
  • Grade II – buildings of special architectural or historic interest

Implications of owning a listed building

If the property is listed there will be extra control over any changes that you would like to make to the building, inside, outside and possible in the surrounding area. If you wish to make changes you will need to apply for listing building consent for most types of building work. Before buying the property you can check with your local planning authority as to what parts of the property are covered by the status as some areas may be excluded. It is a criminal offence to carry out any work on a listed building without consent. Many repairs will need to be carried out in a way that ensures the special qualities of the building are protected. There are companies who can help with making bespoke materials for listed buildings such as water management solutions like guttering and drainpipes. Consent may only be approved once the right kind of materials and colour matches have been agreed for whatever building work you intend to carry out.


Before you buy make sure you have a full structural survey completed on the property as this will provide important information on the building’s materials, its condition and also will flag any issues you need to be aware of. You can contact RICS ( who will be able to put you in touch with a surveyor or architect who are familiar with listed buildings.

Why you should go for it

Although there are extra hoops that you will have to jump through to own your dream home, the rewards can far outweigh the negatives. You will be the next custodian of a special unique home that no-one else has. You are literally buying a piece of history which in itself is very exciting.

And remember that VAT on repairs that require building consent can be zero-rated and you can also apply for grants for roof repairs, structural repairs and dry rot issues.

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