Breathing new life into a listed property is a dream shared by many. From preserving the history of the building to enjoying the quirky character that is so ingrained within these buildings, updating the space can be extremely rewarding.
But before you jump in feet first, there are important considerations to keep in mind.
First and foremost, it is essential not to take for granted that you can do whatever you want with a listed property. There is a common misconception that only the exterior of listed properties are protected – however the internal features and structure of these properties will also be listed. This means that you will often need listed planning consent as well as planning permission to make changes to a property.
The golden principle of listed building renovation is: conservation. The listed building status is designed to conserve the history, culture and features of the property meaning that any changes you make must be in keeping with the building. For example, if the property has original floors, you’ll have to keep these. Rather than a blank slate, updating a listed property is about working with what is already there. Owners of listed properties should consider themselves custodians of a piece of heritage.
So, before purchasing a listed property invest your time in determining which aspects are original and which are retro-fitted. This will help you understand the scope of any changes that you might be able to make. As previously mentioned the internal structure of the building might be protected, this means that knocking down walls and reconfiguring the space isn’t always an option.
Working closely with a building design company that has a track record of updating listed properties could prove invaluable. They will help you to piece together the web of which changes are and are not possible, giving you a feel for the potential of the home.
With this in mind, will you be able to achieve the look you love? For example, a pared back and minimalist Scandinavian style interior might not be possible.
Once you decide to move forward, plan for the permission process to potentially be lengthy. Due to the permissions needed, getting the green light to proceed can take time. Working with an experienced building design team can make this smoother as they will know the planning requirements and what is likely to get approval. As specialists in the sector, we have a wealth of experience working with listed properties and know the tweaks and changes that are, and aren’t normally possible.
When planning for a period property renovation I make it clear to my clients that extra budget, and often time, need to be factored into the project. Discovering the unexpected almost goes hand in hand with historic buildings – after all, you cannot know everything about its history and sometimes wear and tear can be discovered.
Add to this that you often cannot use modern techniques for remedial works or installations and you could be looking at a project that requires highly skilled craftspeople to be called in. Windows for example, might need to be made on a bespoke basis, you will not be able to pop a standard sized UPVC double glazed window in a space that previously housed a single glazed wooden sash window. Damp proofing is another great example, in non-listed properties you can use a waterproof render on brickwork to make a building watertight, whereas listed properties often have to use a cavity drain system.
But once completed, period property renovations are often among my favourite projects. Bountiful character, period features and charm can be found in every corner of the finished homes. Due to the challenges of renovating I often find that period properties are among the most well thought out, attention to detail is demanded and shortcuts are a ‘no-no’ which results in truly exceptional finishes.
Monday — Friday – 8am – 5pm
Saturday — Closed
Sunday — Closed
“Building your own home is about desire, fantasy. But it’s achievable anyone can do it.”