AIBU to consider buying this house(29 Posts)
We are considering buying a listed farmhouse, needs renovation/modernisation of house and outbuildings.
We can just about do it financially (buy the house + budget for renovations to the house to make it liveable) - would need to use architect / builders for most of the work (we both work FT/PT, have young children and do not have any building expertise).
I'd like to hear any advice / experiences ... particularly as the house is listed - seems to add a whole new layer of complexity (and expense ..)
Just be prepared for the quotes you get to not actually match the final bill(s). There are loads of things that you might uncover, that were not anticipated when the quote was given. I added an extension to a modern building, and due to the nature of the soil, the footings had to go way deeper than originally quoted for. Cost extra £2k or so. I would imagine a lot could go wrong renovating a listed building.
Listed! < shudders and runs away very fast >
You either have to be completely besotted with it and ready to pour your next ten lives' life savings into it; or, just have deep pockets and long arms, plus a remarkable level of patience
It depends on what type of listing, is it grade 1 or 2 or 1*?
If grade 2 then you can't generally knock down walls or change the layout (although some changes may be possible with listed building consent) You can change decor and bathrooms and so on though. It depends on what you want to do really.
What grade if listing is it? And why is it listed ie: is it the exterior appearance only or are are there interior features highlighted in the listing? (There's a British listed buildings website that has all the listing details on it - the official list is on Historic England's website but I find that less user friendly!)
Listing does add extra layers to the planning permission process and can rule some things out (really depends on the details of the listing). It can also add cost as you will want an architect who has experience in listed building and ditto for contractors as you may have to use historic materials and techniques that not all contractors are familiar with.
Also the listing grades are 1, 2* and 2. Grade 2s are sometimes just listed as part of a group in which case it is exterior work that is the biggest issue and interior work may be OK with permission. Grade 1 is the highest grade - it doesn't rule out all work but it will be a lot more restrictive and place high standards on design and craftsmanship.
Depends on what the listing is. If it's grade 2, then messing around with the interiors is usually fine, but there would need to be listed building consent, which is costly, for any work done to the exterior.
Grade 2* is a different matter. Grade 1 is a bottomless pit.
Get an architect with Grade listing experience. Factor in the cost to this as well and don't skimp. There is usually a list of builders you can use for listed buildings.
Most listed buildings needing refurbishment will uncover something, usually dry rot and or woodworm infestation. Make sure you have a strong and healthy contingency fund.
There will probably be outhouses if it's a farmhouse. Check if they come under the grading as well.
Outhouses will be part of the listing, listing covers the whole property and curtilage.
Do you know anyone else in the area with a listed building? If so, ask them for their opinion on what the local conservation officer is like. I am sorry if I offend any conservation officers reading this but the ones I have come across are either vile, incompetent or total 'computer says no' types. And the worst thing is, they are a law unto themselves - there is no one you can appeal to above them if you need help. If you don't know anyone who can give you a point of view, do you know an architect that you might use? Do they have a good relationship with the conservation officer? Honestly, if I tell you that simply trying to change a rotten window, exactly like-for-like gave me tears of frustration and sleepless nights, it might give you a hint of how bloody awful they can be.
By the way, if you find dry rot in the attic/roof of a listed building, whatever the listing, it will be considered as external works. A change of front door, listed building consent. It's best to have a comprehensive survey with architect on board and then put all the consent in together.
Oh and yes, get friendly with the conservation officer.
teeth gritting is needed
We live in, and are renovating, a 250yr old farmhouse. It's gorgeous. It's also cold, damp and a money pit! The jobs always take twice as long as you expect and twice as much money. There is always another job needs doing, especially with outbuildings and even more so with land. Unless you're pretty well off you'll never have time or money!
Sometimes I fantasise about a new build, but I love our house really.
Ps, forgot to say, our farmhouse isn't listed.
I did a two storey side extension. Everything was supposed to be in the price but builders lie to you and things go wrong! There were no foundations under the section of the house they pulled down. Building inspector wasn't happy with several things and made them go deeper for foundations and didn't like the roof design, all this costs loads more. Cost 10% more then the quote and was a hell of a lot more then I expected to spend. Those shows where they do extensions for £50-100k are complete BS!!! Then there is when you want to put nice bathrooms in etc, you just don't realise how expensive the nice stuff really is!
Painting the end wall same colour as was, etc., required written consent (Grade 2). No changing the windows for double glazed, and no secondary glazing that could possibly be spotted from outside.
You can appeal listed building consent, but it will run into the thousands.
I'd advise staying away from the conservation officer actually, sorry! They are a law unto themselves.
You need to speak to a solicitor and architect first and see what you will actually be allowed to do. Think of things like your heating/windows as well etc.
You can't make a decision until you have all the facts. If you decide to go ahead make sure you get plenty of quotes and then add a good few more thousand pounds to your expected costs. Make sure you prioritise making it liveable if it's in disrepair
In some areas the experienced conservation officers are being made redundant/are leaving in frustration (lack of funding) so decisions are made by planning officers without the same background in historic buildings and conservation. In those areas it can be even more frustrating getting permission and again you potentially end up paying more on an architect who can argue your case well/navigate their demand's.
Always CC the Conservation Officer in any correspondence. Handy tip!
Thank you all so much. You have given me a lot to think about, and I hadn't appreciated the implications of the distinctions between the different listing grades.
Its Grade II* listed.
We intend to ask our builder (has experience with period properties) to come and see it with it before we make any decision. From our initial visit, we'd need to put in new windows, central heating and kitchen and I'm sure there are plenty of other things I haven't noticed.
Thank you all for the advice.
Sometimes the curtilage is listed but not the outbuildings if they are in such a state of disrepair it's not worth refurbishing them. They will need consent to demolish them though.
Best put the whole package together, to save time and money.
Grade 2* usually means the outbuildings as well.
I would add the architect to the survey along with the builder, it's worth the extra money. Your builder should know and have a good relationship with an architect with grade listing experience.
Our very old house is grade 2 listed, to obtain listed building consent is free, we pay for planning permission. You need listed building consent or things like to knocking down any interior wall, we want to knock down one in our bathroom (70's extension), replace a rotten window with an indentical window, we also had to supply details of window catches etc. We cannot paint our front door, it had to be oak (despite the fact that every other door in our village, same age properties is painted) it has to weather naturally ditto our garden shed! You do have to provide elevations, scale drawings including mouldings etc we are lucky DH does this for a living but it would have been expensive to get them done. We were told planning is usually granted providing it's not ridiculous we live in the county with the high proportion of listed buildings anywhere in the U.K. so they're used to lots of applications, Our council is sensible we recently applied to remove our hideous 70's windows and replace with sashes technically they should be stone millions but 1. they're expensive and 2. reduce light considerably the council approved sashes. We have a 900 year old (yes 900 yr old) fireplace that's degrading and smoking badly the council have granted us permission to replace it copying one of the same age.
There is I understand a limit on how much building work you can do "within the curtilage" of a listed building so check this as it may limit any extension work you might like to do. Also be careful here there is an enourmous and expensive industry around applying for listed building consent we were told by one local architect that we even needed to apply for consent to change the hideous lino on our bathroom to stone and that it would be best if for a fee, they applied but the council told me this is rubbish changing interior decor like floors is fine no permission needed, and also that you easily can apply for any permission yourself.
We've never regretted buying our house, good luck.
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