Tuesday, February 25

Grant Crossley reveals his cardinal rules for purchasing an older property

- October 10, 2017

Don’t get too carried away with the thought of purchasing a listed building. Pause a moment, and think: “am I aware of my obligations”?
Listed buildings are laden with restrictions. They are not like your typical run-of-the-mill home. Follow my simple, but fundamental rules, to protect you from any shortcomings and prevent you from despising the property you once admired.

Accept the building’s character
Adapt to the building, rather than change it to suit your personal needs. If you’re not prepared to accept its architectural merit or become sympathetic with its historic features, then a period property shouldn’t be an option.

Establish the building’s listed status
Listed buildings are determined by their age, architectural merit, rarity and construction type. Sometimes they are linked to an historic event or a famous person. A chartered surveyor will be able to confirm whether the building in question holds listed status, classified under three grades, Grade I, II* and II; dependent upon its architectural interest.

Hire a chartered surveyor with experience of older buildings

Have a full building survey undertaken
Hire a chartered surveyor with experience of older buildings to inspect the property and prepare a full Building Survey. The report should comment upon the buildings condition and draw attention to any apparent defects prior to purchase.

Call in the professionals
Again, hire a chartered surveyor or an architect to assist in the preparation of architectural drawings and to make the necessary local authority applications. There is plenty of red tape surrounding listed buildings, particularly if you are intending to alter, extend or demolish – which would affect a listed building’s character in any way. Beware, it is an offence to proceed without consent, and the penalty could lead to imprisonment or an unlimited fine!

Avoid conjectural restoration
Respect the property’s character, traditional construction techniques and building materials. Avoid guesswork and attempting to imitate its original features. Steer clear of conjectural restoration; any new building work should fit well, but look and feel modern. Provide some TLC. Buildings, like us, grow old with age; therefore be prepared to offer some tender-loving-care and carry out frequent cyclical maintenance.
Finally, don’t get too carried away with the excitement of purchasing a listed building, remember to look before you leap!

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