Rules about living in a listed property
When you’re on the lookout for your perfect house, sometimes it takes a bit of historic character to really make you fall in love.
Listed buildings are a register of properties which, due to either their architectural or historical importance, are protected - and there are approximately 3,500 of them in Aberdeenshire! Status on this register is classed through grades A-C, with an A listed building signifying a building of exceptional or national significance.
While you’re unlikely to be moving into Dunnottar Castle anytime soon, some listed buildings do occasionally come onto the market giving you the chance to purchase your very own unique piece of history. However, as beautiful or iconic as they may be, living in a listed building comes with all its own rules and regulations – which you need to be aware of before committing to owning one of them!
You can’t change history (without permission)
While upon buying a listed property you will certainly be the proud owner of a piece of history, that doesn’t mean that you can automatically do as you please with it. All changes will require specialist permission, which depending on the grade and historical significance of your property, could take quite some time to process and even then, might not be approved.
Everything from adding an extension, to putting in a satellite dish will require listed building consent to go ahead, however you will find that additions are easier than changing something that already exists. So, if the old-fashioned fireplace is grating on your interior design tastes – then you might be better picking another property as your chances of getting rid of it are probably pretty slim.
A good rule of thumb for picking a listed building is to ensure that you love the property because of its unique characteristics and nuances – rather than despite them!
Carrying out changes without obtaining the appropriate consent is considered a criminal offence, so it is extremely important to ensure that the rules are adhered to meticulously – even before you move in.
If previous owners altered the building without permission it will be you, the current owner, who is liable and you who will be held responsible for putting things back to their original state.
Therefore, before you put in your offer, be sure to have a list of any notable alterations that have been made to the property (including its grounds) and check to make sure that all changes had been authorised.
Certain things may not be allowed
It is not just aesthetic changes that need planning permission, there are certain modern comforts that we all take for granted in this day in age that just won’t translate to a period home.
For example, something as simple as double glazing could be a straight no depending on the property. Gazing out of those romantic sash windows might be a dream come true for some, but doing so while shivering in a woolly jumper at the beginning of September may somewhat ruin the effect.
Before you move in to a property, take into consideration the logistics of living there comfortably - if all your heating is escaping through thin windows, your energy bills might just soar as high as those beautiful corniced ceilings!
If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to live in a building that is of cultural significance, as well as enjoying it yourself, you take a responsibility in preserving it for the years and generations to come.
While you may love every single aspect of your home, the things that make it unique might also make it tricky to maintain upkeep. Run of the mill repairs such as protecting your home against damp will need to be in-keeping with the original structure. The problem with having a special home, is that it often requires specialist repairs.
This could be anything from requiring an expert tradesman to help retain your building’s historical glory to having to use specific materials to match those originally used.
In some cases, you may be able to apply for a grant to help with repair costs if they are crucial to the building preservation and are deemed too costly for the owner to feasibly afford by themselves.
For many listed properties, standard home insurance will not be sufficient and you may have to seek out a more specialist option.
To find the insurance that is right for you, it’s a good idea to opt for a valuation from an accredited surveyor – this way you’re able to get a good idea of some of the issues that you might come across in the future.
As previously mentioned, repairs for listed buildings tend to be more expensive, so it’s important to ensure that your insurance stretches to cover these additional costs. It may even be worthwhile investing in “unlimited” cover, which doesn’t entail a maximum pay out, and is a good precaution against any unexpectedly expensive damage!
It might seem like a lot to take into consideration, but if you’re truly smitten with a property that’s bursting with character and heritage, then it might all be worthwhile for the chance to help form a chapter in its history!