Thompson Smith and Puxon Residential Property solicitor, Laura Finnigan, discusses purchasing a residential Listed Building and things to look out for in the process.

There are over 375,000 listed buildings of architectural and historic interest in England and over 90% of these are categorised as Grade II Listed Buildings. In the South East of England alone, there are over 75,000 Grade II Listed Buildings and these are described as buildings “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them”. Indeed, Thompson Smith and Puxon’s Colchester office, (pictured) has Grade II Listed status.

When purchasing a Listed Building it is important to have a sufficient survey carried out as these buildings are usually of a certain age and, possibly due to the stricter Listed Building rules and regulations, may have required restoration or repairs over the years. From the date of Listing, every building must have a clearly defined record of interventions. Any repair work carried out must be like-for-like and your survey will provide details on this, on structural condition, and on any other issues that may need to be looked into further.

If you are buying a Listed Building and considering carrying out improvements to the property it is important to note that additional consents will be required from the local authority before works can be carried out to the property.  You will need Listed Building Consent for most internal works to the building as well as for any external alterations or extensions even if they would not normally require planning permission. Listed Building Consent will also be required if a listed building is to be wholly or partly demolished.  As part of the procedure for obtaining Listed Buildings Consent it may also be necessary to obtain the approval of English Heritage to any proposal.

Carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence. Liability for the offence does not transfer to a subsequent owner (if you were to purchase a listed building on which unauthorised works had been carried out without consent the offence does not transfer to you). That said, if unauthorised works are carried out to a listed building, the planning authority has the power to take enforcement action and insist that the property is reinstated to its original form.

Insurance is also an important consideration during the process of purchasing a Listed Building. Mainstream insurance providers may not cover your listed home and you may need to visit a specialist home insurance provider. Adequate listed property insurance will need to be in place to cover any repairs requiring traditional materials or craftsmanship which are, as you might expect, usually more expensive than with a modern on listed house.

The English Heritage website provides lots of detailed information on listed buildings and for general advice in relation to any residential property matters, please contact Laura Finnigan at Thompson Smith and Puxon on 01206 217 020 or by email at