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The Pros and Cons of Buying a Listed Building

Listed properties make up some of the country’s oldest buildings, from a range of historical and architectural periods. If a building is listed, it must be protected from inappropriate alterations that may detract from its appearance. Buildings of exceptional interest are listed in the Grade I category, while particularly important buildings are listed as Grade II* and buildings of special interest as Grade II.

It is a good idea to be aware of the many advantages and disadvantages that come with owning a listed building.  They typically have a unique character that makes them very appealing when compared to regular properties. However, a big drawback is that the insurance can be higher, and you are not always able to obtain permission to make alterations.

If you are thinking of buying a listed property, it is advisable to arrange a full building survey which will provide an in-depth report, listing any defects, large or small. Anderson Associates conduct full building surveys in Kent, East London, Essex and Suffolk.

Advantages of Owning a Listed Building

You Have a Home of Real Character – A listed building is unlike any standard two-bedroom semi, or new property on a housing estate. They are often set in beautiful countryside locations, near to historical sites of interest, or located in small villages or towns, for added appeal.

You May be Able to Get a Grant – The good news is that if you do want to make any repairs to your chosen listed building, in certain circumstances the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission or English Heritage may be able to give you some financial help. Grants can occasionally be made towards re-roofing, treating dry rot and other structural repairs.

Their Excellent Build Quality – While most listed buildings are at least 75 years old, some are more recent and may have the benefit or relatively modern construction methods. Listed buildings also often come with a host of original features such as old wooden beams, open fireplaces and thatched roofs.

It Will Hold its Value – If you ever do come to sell it, provided it has been properly and sympathetically maintained, listed buildings usually increase in value because of their age, rarity and architectural merit, making them potentially good long-term investments.

Disadvantages of Owning a Listed Building

You are Responsible for its Upkeep – If the local authority considers that a listed building is not being preserved well, they may serve the owner with a ‘repairs notice’ under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. If the owner does not comply with the repairs specified by the local planning authority within two months, they may make a compulsory purchase order and submit it to the Secretary of State.

The Cost of Repairs – You can spend a lot more time and money maintaining a period property than you would a modern home, as listed buildings often require additional maintenance and repairs.  Even if you are fortunate enough to receive some financial aid, this may be outstripped by the size of the bill. The property may need some specialist expertise especially if it is tired and dated, or the materials needed are not readily available in your area.

Restrictions on the Type of Work You Can Carry Out – If you do want to make repairs or modifications, then you should check on what is and isn’t acceptable. Conservation officers at the local planning authority are likely to want to see the changes that you wish to make and check on the building’s progress. You may need listed building consent or planning permission which you wouldn’t need in a non-listed property.

The Insurance Costs – Insurance for listed properties can be higher than traditional building insurance costs. Mainstream home insurance companies often do not provide cover for listed properties, meaning you are likely to require specialist listed buildings insurance cover. The grade of the listed building will affect how much you pay for insurance, so it is important you know what this is before getting an accurate quote.

What Type of Survey Do I Need?

If you are thinking of buying a listed building, then at Anderson Associates we recommend a full building survey.

This is partly because of the property’s age, and partly because it may have had some renovations and repairs over the years. You will need to be sure what effect these have had on the overall structural integrity of the building and the type of work that will be acceptable in the future. A structural survey may be needed if there are queries over the building’s structure. We can advise you on which type of survey is best for you.

Full Building Surveys from Anderson Associates

At Anderson Associates, our full building surveys, which we offer to customers in, Suffolk, Essex, London and Kent, will be a comprehensive document covering all aspects of the property, including any structural issues. providing a detailed insight into the condition of your chosen listed property.

We work independently, as professional Chartered Building Surveyors committed to representing you, and not the mortgage lender for the listed property.

We can conduct surveys of period houses across Ipswich, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and London. Follow the link for more information on our full building surveys or contact us directly here.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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