Eden News

Renovating a Listed Building

Any renovation process is a challenging but rewarding feat. From the financial bonus it can produce to the proud moment you step back to see a once tired and outdated period property with a newly found lease of life which still boasts beautiful original features such as beams, fireplaces, sash windows, panelling and brickwork, it’s easy to see why property renovation is addictive.

Most properties—residential or otherwise—usually require renovation work because they have been left unmaintained for quite a number of years. As such, most buildings that qualify for such projects are old—and some are really, really old.

Due to this, many who take on the challenge of renovating a listed building aren’t just faced with the general hard work of a lengthy property facelift, they also have rules relating to specific listing regulations outlined by their local authority/council, local conservation officer and planners, which they must legally adhere to.

Knowing what you can and can’t do when you’re carrying out a listed building refurbishment is half the battle for many new and eager renovators, and getting to grips with it all is something which takes seasoned property developers years to master. It’s important that the rules regarding listed buildings are adhered to and proper planning permission is applied for, as altering a listed property without proper consent is a criminal offence.

But in this blog post, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. As professionals in the construction industry, Eden London has years of experience working on protected buildings with special requirements. Read on for everything you should know before renovating a listed building.

What is a listed building?

As with most things, the older a style building is, the less of them there are left. Whether they’ve been demolished to make way for more modern alternatives or fallen down over time, there’s now only a small percentage of buildings in the UK that pre-date the 1700’s which have—mostly—remained true to their original form.

As such, these buildings are usually protected by something called a ‘listing’. A listing, according to Historic England, is something that “marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system, so that it can be protected for future generations”.

What this means for any listed building is that, before making any changes or alterations to it, the owner must apply for listed building consent. While it’s not practical—or wise—for these relics to be frozen in time, as changes to buildings can increase their safety, appeal and longevity, a listing ensures that any work—such as a renovation—is carried out in keeping with the existing style.

Types of listing

If you’re a lover of old buildings and have just purchased a wobbly-walled cottage with the plan to strip it out and return it to its former glory, don’t worry if it’s listed. A listing can sound like a negative thing, but it’s in place to preserve architectural history for as long as possible.

The listing given to a building depends on its considered importance.

Grade I: These are buildings which are deemed to be of exceptional interest. It’s estimated that no more than 2.5% hold this listing. 

Grade II: Buildings which are considered to be of more than special interest, but not as important as those listed as Grade I are awarded Grade II. Around 5.8% of all listed buildings are Grade II listed.

Grade III: Grade II buildings are of special interest, however not to the same level as Grade I & 2 listing. 91.7% of all listed buildings in the UK are in this class and this is the most likely grade of listing for a homeowner.

How to know if a building is listed

If your property predates 1850, the chances are you own a listed home. But if your renovation project is even 100 years old, there’s a chance it could still be a listed building. In fact, any building more than 30 years old could be listed, so it’s important to check before submitting any plans or carrying out any work.

The best—and most reliable—way to determine if your building is listed is to search the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE). This site provides the only official, up to date register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England, including listed buildings, but also details scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and even battlefields!

If your building doesn’t appear on this list, you’re free to draw up your plans and get started with your renovation (subject to council approval). If, however, your building is confirmed to be listed, you need to think more carefully about your renovation plans.

Listing restrictions

What you can and can’t do to a listed building can be a bit of a minefield. But a listing’s specific criteria is something you must adhere to. 

Not only does sympathetic renovation ensure you maintain the original style of the building, not doing so is an offence that can result in court action and legal penalties.

Finding the right people for the job

Due to what’s at stake, renovating a listed building is rarely suitable for a first-timer project or DIY attempt. They required skilled craftsmen and clued-up listed building contractors and professionals.

If you’re planning on renovating a listed building, you need a team of knowledgeable experts on hand who have the skills and experience to bring your listed property back to life in line with regulations.

With years of experience carrying out work on protected buildings behind them, Eden London has the expertise needed to perform renovation activities on buildings of a listed status

Consistently delivering high-standard work on time and on budget, Eden London is a reliable, friendly team who can help make your dreams of renovating a listed building a reality. 

To find out more about us and how we can help with your listed building renovation, get in touch with us today.