Having a listed building can be a status symbol but they can also provide a whole host of problems. You can't make alterations without first having them approved and maintaining such a property can be a lot more costly, as often only specialist tradespeople can carry out the work. However, all is not lost, because selling and adjusting your property might be a lot easier than you think.
What is a listed property?
There are three grades of listed properties, Grade I listing is only given to exceptionally important properties, so only 2.5 per cent of all listed buildings are Grade I. Grade II* buildings are not as important as Grade I buildings, but they are definitely of special interest. Only 5.5 per cent of listed buildings belong to this category. It is most likely that your residential building is a Grade II listed property, as they make up 92 per cent of all listed buildings. Essentially, the higher the grade, the harder it's going to be to get any extensions, adjustments or demolitions approved.
All buildings built before 1700 are listed properties, unless they bear little or no resemblance to their original builds. Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are also quite likely to be listed, but it is very rare than anything after 1945 is listed, unless it has some special significance.
The point of listing a building is just to recognise its history and architecture. After all, if there were no listed buildings, then some parts of history could be lost. It is important, however, to remember that a listing is just a recognition - nothing more. It is not there to prevent you from changing the building, extending it or even demolishing it. If you do wish to change it in some way though, you will need to ask for planning permission.
What do you need consent for?
If you wish to extend, demolish or change a particular part of the building, you will need planning consent. Failing to do so is against the law and could result in having to pay a huge fine. Moreover, you may also be forced to change the property back to its original condition, which could cost thousands of pounds.
Before you plan to do anything, you should check the listing of your property, as it might specify that particular things cannot be changed - such as the front entrance. Even seemingly minor things can be a big no-no, for example fitting double glazing or changing the roof tiles. If you have an old building but do not know if it is listed or not, you can contact your local authority to ask. Alternatively you can search the National Heritage List for England. Remember that even land attached to your property could be affected, so always check beforehand.
What may surprise you is that it's very likely that any changes you wish to make will be approved by the local authorities, as Heritage England says that up to 90 per cent of listed building consent applications are approved. However it also notes that some things never even make it to the request stage, as installations such as double glazing are sometimes denied immediately.
If you want to change the use of a building, for example turning a home into a shop or vice versa, you will also need consent for that too.
Will it affect the sale of my home?
If you've had a look in any estate agent's windows recently you may have noticed advertised properties with a Grade II or Grade II* in their description. Generally, having a graded home is seen as a good thing, because it gives the owner something to be proud of. In addition, they know they're getting a piece of history and have the pleasure of owning a unique home. Be aware though that some buyers might be put off by listed buildings, as they may be concerned about any restrictions the property may have.
Another thing to consider is that any work done in the past by you will be inherited by the new owner of the house. So if you've changed anything without planning consent, the new owners could end up paying for it, which is something else that might put off buyers.
If you have a beautiful home that's been well maintained and looked after, you're sure to find a buyer quite easily. They may have concerns and reservations but a good estate agent will be able to inform them that owning a listed property isn't as daunting as it seems. Remember that a listing doesn't mean you cannot change the property. If anything listings are just a way to identify buildings of great significance or ones that are just very old. Of course depending on where you live or the individual property, any extensions or adjustments you do might have to be in a particular style but it is possible to make the changes you want.