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Things to consider when renovating a listed building

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More and more people dream of buying and renovating a listed property in London and the home counties, and the surge in house design programmes on television is an indication as to how many of us are enamoured of the prospect of finding a dream house that oozes character and history! Of course, acquiring such a property is more than possible but it’s advisable to be aware of the scale and detail of the operation and the need to get comprehensive consent and specialist architectural advice to ensure you don’t encounter any pitfalls.

herefore, if you have your eye on a potential property, or you are keen to find one that you can adapt and renovate, here are four crucial factors that need to be carefully considered and assessed before you start:

1. Understanding consent

Many of us realize that some kind of council permissions will be required to renovate a listed building, but not everyone knows that there may be two kinds that you need to apply for. If you only plan to undertake works to the interior of the property you will need to apply for listed building consent which means an application to the council.

However, if you are carrying out external work to the building you also need to apply for planning permission. Other factors to contend with include the protected status of any other buildings or trees in the exterior setting of your property which could also be deemed as having protection in some cases – for instance trees could have preservation orders assigned to them. Therefore, make sure you get all the detail you can from your local council and read through this. Ask questions about any of the details, if necessary, so that you fully understand the status of the property, grounds and surroundings.

2. Materials removal and restoration

Every aspect of a listed property or stately home generally needs more time and consideration than modern properties, and materials used in the building may include lime mortars and plasters which take a longer period of time to build and will need specialist attention. In addition, as well as more modern materials such as cement which may have been applied at a later date and may need removing, it is also necessary to check for harmful materials and ensure these are removed. For instance, asbestos removal often has to be undertaken in listed buildings and needs to be carried out by building experts to enable the correct levels of safety precautions and methods to be deployed. As asbestos has been mined commercially since the middle of the 19th century this is a key hazard that will need to be checked out by those who are experts in the architecture and construction of heritage buildings.

3. Time factor

Time equates to money so don’t underestimate the time it will take to get planning consents and also the amount of time needed to have the building work completed. Both internal and external renovation of historical properties takes considerably more time than a modern build. It is also worth consulting with a specialist architect to ensure the work is carried out sympathetically and in line with construction procedures for listed buildings as well as council regulations – this could save you money and problems further down the line. Techniques used in restoring old houses tends to cost more partly due to the specific types of materials needed as well as the traditional skills employed by building experts who have specialist knowledge. Therefore, look into exactly what is needed and factor in enough time and money to cover the work required taking into account timescales for consent procedures from the council.

4. Costing it up

To get an initial general idea of the costs it is useful to know that building costs are in the region of £1,200 – £1,500 for each square metre. Knowing this, you can then calculate an extra 30% to 50% on top of this to get a clearer estimate of the potential budget for a listed property. Of course, when you have made your initial calculations it is important to do the research and get more detailed quotes and an understanding of the costs from respective specialists who you will employ to renovate the character property or stately home.

There is no reason why a listed property cannot be restored to a stunning version of its former self with the right planning and preparation. By commissioning a team with the correct skills and expertise, many buildings today can be renovated to an exceptionally high standard.




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