The term 'listed' pops up regularly in relation to buying property, but what does it mean for the people living in them?
Living in a city like Bristol, the chances are that the property you buy will be listed. A basic breakdown of this means that if a structure is listed then it is of significant architectural interest or significant historical interest, or sometimes a combination of the two.
There are three grades; Grade-I are structures of exceptional interest, Grade-II* are important buildings of more than special interest and Grade-II are buildings of special interest that warrant effort to preserve them. But what does this mean for buyers?
If your building is listed, it isn’t just the exterior that is protected. It also means the interior is protected, and as an owner, it is up to you to ensure its upkeep and to preserve original features. As well as this, owners are unable to make any unauthorised alterations, such as adding an extra floor to the house or tampering with the foundations.
If you want to make changes to your listed building, then it is a fairly lengthy process.
You must obtain Listed Building Consent from your local conservation officer, who can usually be found at the local council. In the process of buying a listed building from someone else, you must check to see if the previous owners didn’t carry out any unauthorised works, and bad news if they did, it’s up to you to set it right.
However, there are some ways you can make changes. Once you’ve received approval from the conservation officer, you are welcome to go ahead with your alterations. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that if wanting to make any changes, they will have to match the original. So you couldn’t go changing the materials you’d like to use, unless they are already part of the house. When having conversations with your conservation officer, try to work with them as an ally, and remember that they ultimately have the power to say yes or no.
All in all, owning a listed property can come with its problems, not to mention the expected maintenance upkeep, but is a rewarding experience. And, done in the right way, you’ll be the envy of all of your friends.
For more advice on specialist companies that exclusively supply products and services for listed buildings, visit www.lpoc.co.uk.