Buying a listed building: The do’s and don’ts you need to know

Listed buildings account for approximately 2% of England’s built heritage. When a building is ‘listed’ it is included on the statutory list of “buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The list status is intended to protect buildings from alterations that may negatively impact their character or historical context.

In practical terms for the owner, it means you need listed-building consent in addition to planning consent for any changes. In the majority of cases the classification protects the entire building, along with any structures attached to the building, including outbuildings, garden walls and even garden statues.

This may sound daunting but don’t let it put you off. The uniqueness of a listed building is probably what made you fall in love with it in the first place.

Residential Property Partner, Alison Treble shares her top points to consider before embarking on a listed project.

Identify which grade the property falls into.

A check on the National Heritage List of England website will provide a copy of the entry particular to the property you are buying.

There are three grades:

  • Grade I (2.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of exceptional interest.
  • Grade II* (5.5% of listed buildings) – buildings of particular importance.
  • Grade II (92% of listed buildings) – buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

Do your homework

It is extremely important to check that any alterations have been authorised prior to purchasing a property as the cost of rectifying any non-approved alterations can be expensive.

The most common alterations and therefore areas to look out for are:

  • Double glazing/plastic guttering
  • En-suite bathrooms
  • Changes to layout
  • Removal of fireplaces
  • Opening up of rooms/removal of internal walls

Your solicitor will carry out the appropriate checks for you so choosing a solicitor who specialises in listed buildings is recommended.

If in doubt check

Once you have purchased a listed property remember that it is a criminal offence to make unauthorised changes to a Listed Building. The penalties include unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment.

If you are considering purchasing a listed building and would like some advice please contact Alison Treble on 01225 750 000 or email

Mogers Drewett

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