How to maintain your listed house
Have you recently moved into a listed property, or are you just wondering what it takes to maintain your graded home? We’ve revealed all there is to know about listed houses, including what they actually are, how to check if your home is listed, and unmissable maintenance advice.
What is a listed building?
Listed buildings, and by extension listed houses, are structures deemed to be of ‘special architectural or historic interest, considered to be of national importance’, and can include bridges, memorials, and properties.
As a minimum requirement, a building must be at least 30 years old to be listed as historically significant (unless it is especially formidable and under threat). All structures built before 1700, that have maintained their original architecture, are also listed as standard. Generally, in addition to its historic importance, a building might be listed based on its traditional design and high social relevance.
Is my house listed?
There are around 450,000 listed buildings in the UK, including roughly 400,000 in England alone, with well-known examples including York Minster, London’s Tower Bridge, and even Liverpool and the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road zebra crossing. However, not all listed buildings are of such grandeur, and listed houses can be lived in by unassuming members of the public.
Across the UK, listed buildings are graded, with England and Wales following a 1, 2*, 2 system, Scotland following an A, B, C system, and Northern Ireland listing relevant buildings as A, B+, B1, and B2. If you’re beginning to wonder, ‘is my house listed?’, you can discover your home’s heritage with ease, by simply visiting your respective region’s heritage website.
With the vast majority of listed buildings found across England and Wales, we’ve outlined how each listing is categorised:
What does Grade 1 listed mean?
Grade 1 listed houses are buildings of exceptional interest, and the highest-ranking heritage sites. They’re recognised as being culturally important, influential, and eminent, and there are almost 10,000 Grade 1 listed buildings across England and Wales.
What does Grade 2 listed mean?
Perhaps confusingly, there are two levels to Grade 2 listed houses. However, both are protected by law. Grade 2* listed properties and structures are those that are of particular importance, whereas Grade 2 listed houses are of marginally less importance, but still of special interest.
Grade 2 listed buildings make up the largest portion of sites, with over 370,000 across England and Wales, while there are around 24,000 Grade 2* sites.
Looking after listed houses
Because listed houses can be private property, there’s no explicit ruling that obligates an owner to keep their property in a good state. However, if your listed property is in a state of disrepair, the local authority will inform you of any required maintenance. At this point, it’s up to you whether you undertake the outlined work yourself or allow the authorities to take their own action.
Importantly, however, listed houses are subject to greater planning permission than regular properties; you must obtain listed building consent from your local planning authority to alter the property, and there’s no option to demolish a listed building unless as a last resort.
Finding listed building home insurance
Listed houses are part of an important group of historically significant buildings and structures, and so require specific cover beyond typical home insurance. As with all forms of cover, there are various levels of listed building home insurance to choose from. When choosing the appropriate policy for your home, consider whether:
- You’re covered for damage to brickwork, caused by fire or inclement weather.
- The costs of specialist repair materials are included in your plan.
- Your listed building home insurance plan offers the option of alternative accommodation in the instance of your property becoming unliveable.
It’s difficult to estimate the cost of insurance for listed houses because each property can vary in age and the materials used, so make sure to compare quotes from numerous providers. As a rule of thumb, though, the older a house, the more expensive the listed building home insurance will be.
Listed building maintenance checklist
While you’re not obliged to maintain a listed building, it’s likely in your interest to look after the structural integrity and appearance of your home. This is because a well looked after listed property usually comes with a very healthy price tag, which can make selling your home quickly a little easier. We’ve outlined our three top tips for maintaining your listed house:
- Develop a maintenance plan
Because listed houses are typically older structures, they might need attending to a little more frequently than a new build. With this in mind, it’s important to keep track of all maintenance work you undertake. This will also prove useful if the local authority ask you to evidence crucial work you’ve taken out.
- Improve efficiency
As they’re old buildings, listed houses often come with energy efficiency concerns, such as poor heat retention. Unfortunately, because you’re handling a listed house, to insulate external walls, you’re likely to require consent from the local authority. This also applies to features that will alter the appearance, even slightly.
However, there are other ways you can improve inefficiency, and decrease household bills. For instance, you can implement draught-proof windows and doors, improve the existing roof insulation, or upgrade your boiler and heating system.
- Protect yourself against damp
Protecting against damp isn’t unique to listed houses, but it’s a pivotal issue you should keep on top of. Aim to damp-proof your listed building by regularly airing out your property, even if only for an hour a day, checking drains and pipes are running smoothly, and ensuring external seals are secure.
If you live in a listed property, it’s important that you understand what it takes to look after the structure and external appearance, to maintain its aesthetic and historic significance. For even more advice around maintaining your home, explore the latest from us.