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Dos and Donts of Grade II Listed Buildings

February 6, 2022

When restoring, updating, or otherwise renovating a Grade II listed building, there are strict Do’s and Don’ts or rules and limitations on how the process must be handled. These  protectionary laws can make it challenging, so it’s important to know what is expected of you in the process.

Doing your homework will ensure that you don’t face large fines or roadblocks that will force you to redo weeks of work. Before you start doing anything, make sure that you learn about the Grade II rules. Start your research today with our complete list of do’s and don’ts of Grade II listed buildings.

What Are Grade II Listed Buildings?

Buildings are listed whenever they represent or show special architectural and historical interest on a national level. Due to these interests, the buildings are protected by additional laws within the planning system.

There are many different types of listed houses. From terraces houses to stately homes, there is a large variety of what shows up as listed.

Grade II listed buildings are considered to be those that are of special interest. Most listed homes fall into this category, as Grade II* and Grade I listed buildings are considered to be more particularly important than those in Grade II.

Still, houses that are part of the Grade II listed programme must be renovated and kept according to certain laws. These laws ensure that the listed houses will not be destroyed or damaged in ahistorical ways.

Related: Is Your Property Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Or Another Era

Do’s of Grade II Listed Buildings

Do: Investigate VAT rules

When making improvements that will affect the energy performance of a listed building, you are only responsible for 5% VAT. This discount must be taken before you pay off any energy bills, so you need to look this up in advance. Otherwise, you might miss out on the discount entirely.

Previously, listed buildings enjoyed zero-rating VAT on approved listed building alterations. However, in 2012, this tax break was abolished, meaning that generally, most work on listed properties is subject to VAT at 20% - the same as non listed dwellings. Despite this, there still is a measure of VAT relief which can be applied in certain circumstances.

The Listed Property Owners Club give the following useful examples of when you can utilise the tax break:

  • Converting a non-residential property into a residential dwelling. This includes converting an office into a house, a chapel or pub into a home etc.
  • If the property has been vacant/empty for 2 years prior to work.
  • A ‘changed number’ conversion. This is where the number of residential units within the building changes, whether it increases or decreases. E.g turning a house into flats.
  • Mobility aids for the over 60s. This applies to instalments such as grab rails, ramps, stair lifts, bath lifts and walk-in baths or showers with seats.
  • 0% VAT applies to certain types of work for the disabled.
  • Energy saving improvements. As we mentioned above, energy-efficient improvements are only subject to 5% VAT – but only on a supply and fit basis. Improvements that qualify for the 5% VAT include: installing draught-stripping windows; loft or wall insulation; solar/wind power installations. However the Listed Property Owner’s Club team comments, “If the insulation is part of a bigger job, the VAT rate applicable to that job will override the 5% rate. For instance, a roof replacement would be liable to VAT at 20% in full, even if it was insulated at the same time.”

Related: The Green Homes Grant

Do: Get the proper home insurance

Due to the protected nature of listed buildings, not all insurance companies will have the complete protections necessary for covering your home. Make sure that you use a specialist company or that your current plan covers the home. This is important because any damages that happen to the property will be repaired in particular ways that match the rest of the building. Unfortunately, these types of repairs can be costly, and normal insurance policies may not cover them.

Do: Ask for proof of listed building consent

If you are considering purchasing a listed home, ask to see the property’s consent paperwork, including any work previously done on the property. As you will become responsible for all necessary changes as soon as you buy the property, you want to be sure things were handled properly before you buy.

Do: Keep things on file

As you make plans for renovations, obtain permissions, and otherwise gather information about the property, be sure to keep all of this paperwork. Keep it organized and on file for as long as you own the property; the new owner will want copies.

Do: Contact the local conservation officer and other experts

Building a relationship with your local Conservation officer is a great idea. Not only are they going to be familiar with your property, but they will also be able to help you with any problems that you encounter. As they are familiar with listed properties and the problems often seen in them, they’ll be able to give you great guidance.

Engaging with other professionals that work with listed buildings is also a great idea. They’ll be able to share what they think about any changes to your property and help you get in touch with the right team to make it happen.

Do: Get Listed Building Consent (LBC) when needed

To make changes to covered aspects of your listed building, you will need to apply for and receive Listed Building Consent. This must be done before you begin any work. If you do not get LBC before doing work, you can be fined, imprisoned, and forced to undo the work.

Do: Find the right contractors

The best contractors to hire when you own listed buildings are those experienced in conservation. Those that have previously worked on heritage buildings will be more prepared to deal with the specific rules and regulations likely to guide your home renovation.

Do: Consult Historic England’s guide for listed owners

There is a lot of information that might be relevant to your listed home. Thankfully, Historic England has created a complete publication for the owners of listed homes so that you can learn more about listed buildings and what that means for you. This guide even includes tips and suggestions on the best ways to approach certain issues that you may find with your home. If you have any questions about listed buildings, this guide is a great place to begin.

Don'ts of Grade II Listed Buildings

Don’t: Carelessly renovate the garden

Though many people assume that the garden is up for any type of changes that you want to make, many listed buildings include elements of the garden as well. For example, you might not be able to remove a certain tree or take down a gate.

Before you make any garden renovations, check the listing to find out exactly what aspects of your property are included with its listing.

Don’t: Repair old with new

Mixing some modern repair methods, such as cement on lime mortared walls, can permanently damage the structure. Using such repair methods with traditional construction is a complete no-no with listed buildings.

When you need to make repairs to traditional construction, be sure to work with your contractor and Conservation officer to choose the right repair method.

Don’t: Rush

Before diving into renovation projects, take some time to get to know the property. Make sure that you understand what types of changes you want to have approved. It can even be helpful to visit other renovated listed buildings to see what is and what is not feasible.

Taking time throughout the entire process of planning your changes, selecting contracts, and then seeing the work done will lead to a better outcome.

Don’t: Remove original features

Original architectural features cannot be removed from Grade 2 listed buildings; doing so could be a huge violation of its listing status. Such items include fireplaces, windows, doors, and stonework.

Don’t: Assume it’s not your problem

If you inherit or purchase a listed home, the current state of the home is your responsibility to handle even if a different owner did the work. If changes need to be made, you are liable for those changes. This is why it is important to ask for documentation when purchasing a listed home.

Don’t: Skip getting permission

Whether you want to make a big or small change to your listed building, you should never skip obtaining Listed Building Consent. Seeking consent first is the only way to be sure that you won’t be faced with a criminal offence for changing something that you didn’t realise was protected.

By getting permission for everything, you can protect yourself and avoid dangerous liabilities.

Keep your Grade Listed building glowing

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into ensuring that your Grade II listed building is properly maintained. These buildings are important to the historical memory of England, so they must be kept in such a way that their legacy continues. If you have any questions, or are thinking of buying a listed property, get in touch with our experts on 020 7099 4000.!!

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