London has so many beautiful listed buildings, but they require a little more care than a standard property. Many of the older features can succumb to age, and you might find that things need repairing as soon as you move in. To avoid potentially paying thousands out in repairs, get a survey done first to find out the real cost of moving to a listed property in London.
If your house is on the National Heritage List for England, this means that it is of special interest for various architectural or historic reasons. Because of this, the building is protected by law and you will be restricted from extending or renovating without getting special permissions first. An in-depth survey can help you to see exactly what limitations come with the property before you buy.
Listed buildings each have a category of ‘significance’. These consist of Grade I, which is the most important, followed by Grade II* and then Grade II. Most properties on the market will be Grade II as this is the most common type and a huge 92% of all listed buildings actually fall under this category.
London has over 9,000 Grade I Listed buildings, 1,387 Grade II, and many thousands more Grade II Listed Buildings, giving our capital the highest percentage of listed buildings in the country.
But if you’re buying a house in London, whatever grade it is listed as, or even if it’s not listed at all but still of a relatively old or ornate style, there are a few things that your surveyor will need to watch out for…
One of the most common things a survey might highlight is a breach of Listed Building Consent. This is when the previous owner has adjusted the building, inside or out, without getting prior special planning permission, known as ‘Listed Building Consent’.
Unfortunately, when you buy a listed property, you inherit all of the responsibility, including any problems past owners have caused. If a local Conservation Officer comes around and you have an illegal extension or prohibited UPVC double glazed windows, it will be up to you to pay out the thousands of pounds needed to fix the situation.
Some of London’s oldest buildings will be timber framed, but the method of building has seen a comeback in some of the city’s new builds, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with when you buy a property in London.
The timber frames themselves aren’t to blame, but they can become worn, damp or even infested if they aren’t cared for properly. Many people will try to treat timber frames with chemicals or fill seals with cement, both of which can make the problem worse. The best thing to do is get a survey done first to spot the problem, then get an expert in if needed.
As many listed London properties have special features like arches, bay windows and ornate coving, they can be susceptible to structural problems. Clues for this include cracks and even damp if there is moisture leaking in somewhere, but aside from guessing, the only way to know for sure is to get a survey done.
Of course with any building, repair costs depend on the size, age and special features of your listed property, but without a good survey, the initial repair expenses could turn out to be a lot more than you’d first budgeted for.
Whatever kind of house you’re buying in London, it’s important to get a survey done, but with a listed building, there’s even more need to make sure that the property you’re buying is in a good state of repair and isn’t going to cost you thousands extra on top of its asking price.
If you’d like to discuss conveyancing for listed buildings in London, give us a call on 0207 4065880.
Ellie manages the content for the Capital Conveyancing site, finding ways to help Londoners looking for information and guidance around the conveyancing process, and presenting it in a clear way. Ellie loves writing about all things London, as her research leads her to discover new areas and history.