There is a natural allure to owning a piece of history and, no doubt, this is one of the biggest reasons for investing in a listed building.
With the register of listed buildings having hundreds of thousands of entries ranging from national monuments to unique examples of relatively recent architectural movements, it is possible to buy a listed building without necessarily initially seeking to.
Whether it is to move in or to engage in heritage building restoration, there are a lot of benefits to preserving and restoring older buildings and a lot of scope to use them in creative and interesting ways that still respect their character, but there are risks involved in such an undertaking.
The combination of a legal requirement to preserve the historic character of the building and often working with older buildings means that restoring a listed building needs a bit more preparation and expense compared to a standard renovation.
Here are some of the most common pitfalls.
Rushing Into Restorations
Only fools rush into anything important, and in the case of restoring listed buildings, there are a lot of steps to take before you do any work to a property.
You will need to speak to the Conservation office for your local area, local planning officials, and professionals with experience working with listed buildings.
You may also need to look at your current paperwork and ensure it suitably covers you in case you have to deal with an emergency that requires more expensive materials not covered by a traditional plan.
Also, before you even buy the property, make sure you have a paper trail of any previous works and ensure they have listed building consent, as you will be held liable otherwise.
Use Modern Repair Methods For Older Structures
A lot of older buildings will use traditional and natural materials such as lime mortar and local stone using techniques that date back to the era of construction. You cannot take shortcuts with this if you want the listed building to endure and you want to avoid large fines.
Using traditional cement, in particular, can cause damage that can be prohibitively expensive to
repair if not outright impossible.
Assuming The Garden Is Fair Game
In many cases, a listed property has multiple entries on Historic England’s register, taking into account the building itself and other related protected elements such as walls, structures and trees.
Make sure you have a clear idea of what you can and cannot do before you start modifying
anything that needs to be preserved, and restoring it can get very expensive if something goes wrong.
Alter Or Remove Original Features Without Consultation
There are so many reasons why a listed building is on the register, and the most important part of its registration is to preserve its historic character.
Unless you have confirmation, ideally in writing, that you are free to make the adjustments you want, do not change any original features. This includes doors, fireplaces, stonework or even windows.