Things to consider when renovating a listed building

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We are uniquely privileged in the United Kingdom to have a host of listed buildings from old mills to country cottages to stately homes; but would you take one on?

At Fibre Architects we are experts in this area of specialist planning and renovation and thought it would be helpful to give you a few hints and tips on what is required.

Ownership of a listed building comes with a great deal of responsibility and a listed property comes with very specific rules and regulations; saying that, there is also great pride and joy in knowing you are maintaining and living in a piece of history with all the quirks and unique features that make your home outstanding and different.

Key things to be aware of:

– Always seek expert advice – most listed buildings are pre-1840 and around 92 percent are Grade II listed and must be preserved as close as possible to their original state following specific rules laid out by your local authority.

– Ask your architect or project manager to ensure that you have permission to convert any commercial buildings to residential use – it is an often-missed permission, particularly if buildings have been stood unused for a length of time.

– Check out Historic England who are the custodians of bricks and mortar and ensure your architect is qualified and has the relevant experience in this kind of project.

– Note that it is a criminal offence to alter a listed building without the correct authorisation – this does not mean you cannot alter it; it just means permission to do so is imperative.

– As a rule, you can use like-for-like materials to maintain your building but be careful to use qualified and sympathetic craftsmen who understand the requirements. For example, sash windows cannot just be replaced with plastic and pipes leading into walls would need permission, but a kitchen tap may be fine without permission.

– Ensure you have relevant and appropriate insurance; a standard modern insurance policy will not cover the cost of replacing a listed building.

– Many people are put off by the term ‘listed’ but in fact it can be a real joy to work on projects like this – they are fulfilling and interesting and help preserve our history for centuries to come.

– Also do not think that replication of the old is always necessary as very modern additions and interventions to Listed Buildings are often encouraged by Local Authority Conservation departments these days as long as there is proper and considered justification.

We have successfully designed and delivered a number of modern interventions and extensions to Listed Buildings over the years, made possible by our supporting Heritage Assessments and Justification Statements that we also prepare in-house.

For technical information and expertise, call us for a free consultation and advice. Fibre Architects would be delighted to help you with your listed building projects.

 

Chartered Architect | Land & Property Adviser | Sustainable Design | Managing Director at FIBRE Architects Ltd

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