When it comes to the ultimate in desirability and curb appeal, the older the property is the more wow factor it holds. Many home owners take pride in owning a bit of history.
Is new better?
Grade I and Grade II listed buildings can’t offer what a new build does; the opportunity to move right in, a builder’s guarantee and all the modern comforts. However, older properties can mean larger room sizes, impressive gardens or convenient loft space just as much as low ceilings and exposed wooden beams.
We’re not just talking about quaint secret gardens or hidden stair cases that will be the envy of all your guests. In fact, some of these secrets can be quite negative. Local authorities can insist on repairs being made and if they receive complaints or feel the property is not being maintained in a suitable manner they will serve a repair notice citing the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. Failure to comply might result in a compulsory purchase order.
One of the biggest fears of buying a listed building is that you might be buying more than you can handle, or afford. The fears of constant renovations and expensive heating bills deter many buyers.
Still, there are ways to offset the expenses. Organisations such as Historic England and most local authorities all offer assistance, guidance and even grants for repairs or any alterations you might need to carry out, so it is always worth researching what is possible before you turn down that dream home. Expensive repairs are a legitimate concern, but you aren’t left to deal with them entirely on your own.
Another common misconception is that owning a listed building means that you cannot make any changes to improve your property. This isn’t necessarily the case. The rules and guidelines as to what you can do varies according to where your home is located. Some extensions and internal modification may not require any permission, while in other areas you might need permission just to alter the gutters. A quick look at the Government’s Planning Portal will tell you if you need planning permission for your listed building and if you decide to go ahead it is advisable to arrange a pre-planning consultation. Depending on the age of your property you can find further help from the Victorian Society or the Georgian Group.
So is it worth it?
If you can afford the time and money a listed or historic building demands, then you will find them quite rewarding. A listed building can be a home unlike any other, which you have lovingly restored to suit your needs. If you can’t afford it (and remember that time can be harder to find than money), you’d best let that listed fixer-upper go.