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Expensive Listed Building Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Are you the owner of a listed house? If so you are its temporary custodian with responsibility to look after the building for future generations. With that responsibility comes the risk of making expensive mistakes. The worst mistakes can even lead to a criminal conviction. Here are a few common mistakes and assumptions and how to avoid them.

1. All alterations both inside and outside will need listed building consent. Believing the myth that only the outsides of grade 2 listed buildings are protected can lead to trouble.

2. Like for like repairs can be carried out without listed building consent, but it is often a grey area as to what constitutes a repair and advice should be sought first. For example, removing damaged plaster and replastering with modern plaster might seem to be a repair but using the wrong material could lead to enforcement action to remove and replace with the correct lime plaster.

3. Outbuildings and structures within the garden of a listed building are usually considered as curtilage listed and consent will be required to demolish or replace them. Permission is also required to erect any new outbuildings of any size, as listed buildings do not have such permitted development rights. Seeking expert advice before work starts can avoid having to re-erect a demolished building in its original form at great expense.

4. Unauthorised work to a listed building is a criminal offence, which does not become lawful with the passage of time. While you may feel you can get away with it, a lack of formal approval almost always comes to light when selling – a time when you can least afford the time and stress of trying to put things right. We have helped many clients who are under threat of prosecution, but it is far less costly and stressful to seek expert advice before undertaking any work.

Historic England acknowledge that the best way to encourage historic buildings to be looked after is to allow them to be extended and adapted to suit modern needs. At Nye Saunders we have a wealth of experience of extending and looking after listed buildings of all kinds and have built up good working relationships with Local Authority Conservation Officers allowing us to navigate the often complex listed building approval process with ease. Find useful information for your listed building project on our resources tab.

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