Breathing new life into a historic building requires a good bit of care and skill – and a fair share of patience. While renovations and updates can increase the value of old properties, they can be costly and require quite a bit of paperwork. It is possible to modernise grade-listed buildings – as long as you jump through the right hoops.
Here's everything you need to know before rolling up your sleeves and getting down to business.
Ask before you buy
Your local council will have a Conservation Officer who deals with the area's listed buildings. Give them a ring first and tell them which property you're planning to buy and what changes you're thinking of making. They'll be able to tell you whether or not it's likely that you'll get permission and might be able to offer advice on what you can do instead.
Double check which features are listed
Before you go ripping off rotten cornicing and removing dowdy old fireplaces, make sure they aren't part of your home's listed status. It's wise to have a chat with your Conservation Officer about it first.
Ask for consent
Long before you start making renovations, you'll need to ask permission. Your local authority should have a form you can download and fill in. This might sound like a formality, but unauthorised works are a criminal offence – and not having your paperwork in place could make selling more difficult. If you get caught, you might be asked to return the property to its previous state. If you've destroyed original features in the process, this is likely to be very costly.
Be prepared to spend on parts and labour
As you need to keep grade-listed homes in close-to-original condition, you'll probably be required to use like-for-like materials during renovation – for example, using local thatch for a cottage roof. For buildings in a city, you may need to commission wood-framed sash windows instead of replacing them with PVC. As you can imagine, this can be pricey.
Join the club
Chatting to other people who've 'been there, done that' will help you get to grips with what's involved. A membership to the Listed Property Owners' Club (LPOC) could be a worthy expense, as it gives you access to tips and advice from people in the same boat as you.