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Listed Properties

We have all heard of listed properties, but do we know what the term means? If you are looking to purchase a listing building, or one which may be considered for inclusion in this elite 'club' then here is a quick explanation so you have the facts to hand.

'Listing' is essentially the legal protection of important buildings against demolition, alteration or extension. While overall responsibility for listing lies with the Secretary of State, it is the job of the English Heritage to asses and advice on applications. Not only residential properties are listed – pubs, warehouses, factories and theatres can all qualify for preservation. Getting the criteria right is crucial.

The older and rarer a building, the better its chances of being listed. Those constructed before 1700 which have survived in their original condition pretty much have guaranteed inclusion. Anything dating pre-1840 also stands a good chance. From 1840 onwards there are more examples of architecture and so the requirements placed on these are stricter – it will need something additional to its age. Some 'modern' buildings can be listed but those built later than 1945 will need to have something really exceptional about them to quality for inclusion in the listed properties portfolio.

The style and proportions of a building are important factors. Properties built by notable architects get bonus points and those with outstanding examples of building techniques or designs are deemed suitable. If properties have been altered, they must fit the criteria of having added to or preserved the architectural interest rather than having detracted from it. Those buildings which have played host to famous visitors or residents will be viewed as more suitable for listing – especially if these people have played a part in Britain's social, economic, cultural or military history.

> Listed buildings are graded to reflect their relative importance:

> Grade I are those of exceptional interest

> Grade II* are particularly important and of more than special interest

> Grade II are of special interest and warrant preservation. Approximately 92% of listed buildings are included in this category.

If you are considering purchasing a listed property, it is important to make sure that and changes made by the previous owners have been carried out in accordance with the strict regulations governing renovation and maintenance. Listed properties are protected inside and out, and you cannot change the character of the building without permission in the form of a Listed Building consent (LBC). Some of the alterations which require authorisation include:Painting over brickwork and some masonry formsRemoving external surfacesChanging roofing materialsAdding dormer windows or roof lightsErecting aerials or satellite dishesRemoving internal wallsAlterations to fireplaces, staircases and panellingRemember though, that as a new owner, you cannot be held responsible for someone else's shoddy workmanship – or indeed their failure to apply correctly for an LBC. Do take care though to make sure that you are not forced to rectify previous mistakes from your own pocket. Take advice from a solicitor or surveyor with experience in dealing with listed buildings. Check with a reputable insurance broker who deals with listed properties to make sure that you are fully covered for not only the type of building you are purchasing, but also for all the contingencies which may occur. These are easily dealt with by a professional and it is worth investing time in a consultation to make sure you get the peace of mind you require.Then all you have to do is enjoy sharing in the valuable heritage of our country.

Posted on 3rd March, 2010