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Buying a listed building: What you need to know

Purchasing a listed building can be an exciting prospect for homebuyers; these properties often come with a wealth of historical and architectural significance, making them unique and charming places to live.  

However, owning a listed building also entails various legal responsibilities that every prospective buyer should be aware of.  

What is a listed building? 

A listed building is one that has been designated as being of special architectural or historic interest. 

Listed buildings are classified into three grades: 

  • Grade I: Buildings of exceptional interest. 
  • Grade II*: (Grade two star) Buildings of national importance and more than special interest. 
  • Grade II: Buildings of national importance and special interest. 

Legal restrictions 

Ownership of a listed building comes with certain legal restrictions aimed at preserving the property’s architectural and historical characteristics.  

Here are some key points: 

  • Alterations and repairs: Any alterations or repairs to the building often require ‘Listed Building Consent’ from the Local Planning Authority (LPA). Failing to obtain this consent can result in severe fines and even up to two years imprisonment. 
  • Maintenance obligations: Owners are legally obliged to keep the building in good repair. Neglect can result in enforcement action by local authorities. 
  • Interior changes: Unlike regular properties, the interior features of a listed building are also often protected. Even seemingly minor changes like replacing windows or doors usually need prior approval. 

The buying process: Legal checks 

Due diligence 

It’s crucial to perform thorough due diligence before purchasing a listed property. This involves checking the ‘list description’ and the property’s planning history to understand what you are legally bound to preserve. 


Standard building surveys are generally not sufficient for listed buildings. It’s advisable to hire a surveyor experienced with listed properties to identify potential issues that may require costly repairs. 

Legal advice 

Consult a solicitor who specialises in listed properties. They can help you understand the legal implications, review contracts, and guide you through obtaining any necessary consent. 

Financial considerations 

You should be aware that insurance premiums for listed buildings are typically higher due to the specialised materials and skills required for repairs. 

It may be helpful to know that there are also various grants and loans available to help you maintain listed buildings. However, these often come with strings attached, like opening your home to the public a certain number of days per year. 

If you would like advice about purchasing a listed building, please get in touch with our expert team today. 

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