Home Life: A little list and a lot of bother

If your home is a listed building, it will not be your own to do with as you wish, warns

YOU'VE FOUND your dream house - it's beautiful, traditional, packed full of original features and... it's listed. It sounds great doesn't it? "Listed", as though it has won "specially commended" in some competition or other. Which, of course, it has, in a manner of speaking, and there's no doubt that owning a listed building has some cachet. But is the status worth the drawbacks?

According to Peter Ansley, of the Listed Property Owner's Club, many people have no idea that they've purchased a listed building, let alone of the statutory requirements that come with it. "The problem is that listing does not often come out in the search," he says.

The simple rule is that all buildings constructed before 1700 which survive in anything like their original form are listed, as are most built between 1700 and 1840. More recent buildings of special character, particularly the works of notable architects, may also be listed.

There are three grades of listed buildings, classified according to their relative importance. Grade I are buildings of outstanding national importance which should on no account be destroyed, Grade II* are buildings of particular importance and more than special interest, and Grade II are buildings of special interest which warrant every effort being made to preserve them. Grade II accounts for around 91 per cent of all listed buildings.

In Britain there are around 500,000 listed buildings. A house that is listed tends to sell for 5 to 10 per cent more than an equivalent house that's not listed, but if you buy one you won't have absolute control over your property. A listed building must not be demolished, altered or extended in any way affecting its character without first obtaining listed building consent. Failure to do so may result in a fine or imprisonment. If your local authority considers the building is not being maintained in a reasonable condition or has been deliberately neglected it has the power to serve a repairs notice. If these works are not carried out it may seek compulsory purchase.

One of the major advantages of owning a listed building is that you could be eligible for financial help for structural repairs, from English Heritage (Grade I or Grade II* only) and some local authorities and county councils.

Work to listed buildings that requires listed building consent is exempt from VAT. This work includes remodelling, extensions, central heating, fitted kitchens, adding bathrooms and replacing windows. Despite many campaigns, maintenance work is not exempt from VAT. "It's ironic that we should escape paying VAT when we install a modern kitchen, yet will have to pay VAT on work to maintain floor boards and windows in their original state," says Andrew Tinker, who has recently bought a Grade II house in Hertfordshire. "This almost actively encourages you to make changes."

Another area for caution is building insurance. If your timber-framed building is damaged in a fire, the conservation officer may require you to use old timbers taken from the same period. Many insurance companies, however, will provide money only for modern timber. The NFU Mutual is developing a special policy for owners of listed buildings.

"The best advice I can give anyone contemplating taking on a listed building is to make friends with their local council conservation officer. He'll know your building and understand the way it's built, the materials used and where they came from," says Peter Ansley. "If you have plans to change a building it's so much simpler to sit down with a blank piece of paper and an open mind and talk through what you'd like to do on a one- to-one basis. That way you'll know in principle if you have his support and could save yourself a lot of trouble later on."

The Listed Property Owner's Club: 01795 844939; English Heritage: 0171- 973 3000; Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings 0171-377 1644; NFU Mutual 0345 045031.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

    £18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

    £16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen