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Buying a listed building? Make sure you read this first

In the UK there are more than 350,000 listed buildings. Those who own one will know that living in a listed building isn’t always straightforward.

Its listed status can affect how the property is used as well as how you can alter, extend, modernise or refurbish it.

Because of the limitations that are imposed on listed buildings, we have put together some key points to remember if you’re looking to purchase one.

Below are some of most frequently asked questions pertaining to listed buildings.

How do I know if I’m interested in a listed building?

In layman’s terms, a listed property is a property on a national register. It is a property of that is both architecturally important and is of significant historical importance and interest.

Usually, this means that a property is a particular age or has a specific set of features that are deemed to be of value and must be retained. Listed buildings can range from castles to post boxes, there is no limit to their size or function.

Purchasing a listed building can be tricky

When you’re thinking of purchasing a listed building it’s important to do your research beforehand.

In most cases, any work you wish to carry out on the property will have to be consented to by the local authority and if your application is accepted they will issue you with listed building planning permission.

This doesn’t however, mean that you can make any alterations you’d like to the building. Often the listed building planning permission will include conditions that you must abide by when carrying out any alterations to the building.

When purchasing a listed property that has already had changes made to it, you should check that these changes fall within the planning permission that was granted at the time they were made. Failing to ensure that all permissions are in place at the time of construction could result in your local authority taking action against you as the new owner of the property for actions that were carried out by previous tenants, with any reparations and legal costs being met by you.

In order to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, our conveyancing team will make enquiries to all the relevant authorities to ensure that planning requirements have been met and advise you on the next steps to take if they haven’t been met.

To avoid any nasty surprises further down the line, you should also make sure that you have the house surveyed by a qualified professional who has experience of dealing with listed buildings. Having a survey carried out will highlight any defects within the property, this is particularly important given that listed buildings are traditionally older.

Will every part of the building be listed?

If a building is listed properly the whole of the property will be affected. The area around the building can also be subject to listing including trees and gardens. Some aspects of the house may be deemed more important than others, but all will be affected in some way.

Am I free to make any modern changes I want to the building?

If you are looking for a modern home that requires you to make significant alterations to the property then a listed building may not be the right option for you.

Changing the appearance and layout of a listed property to suit your family and lifestyle can often be a cumbersome and expensive process, with legal pitfalls and paperwork to be completed before any work can begin.

Before you begin making any changes to the listed building, make sure you consult a planning officer. They will inform you of what work can be carried out on the property and when you will need planning permission.

What do I need to protect my investment in a listed building?

Any property that you own should have adequate insurance, whether it is listed or not. However, it is worth remembering that you may need to take out specialist insurance on a listed building as a precaution.

Should a listed building be damaged, whether by wear and tear, adverse weather or by another individual, a conservation officer can insist that you restore the building to its former state, with the total cost for the repairs falling to you.


By granting a listed status to some of the country’s historic buildings, the authorities ensure that they can be enjoyed by generations to come. However, the buying process and maintenance can be difficult and time-consuming.

If you are considering purchasing a listed building and would like advice, our conveyancing team can help.

To speak to a member of our specialist team, call us for free today on 03300 580 118.