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Help! grade 2*listed flat

(12 Posts)
apismalifica Sun 11-Nov-12 09:57:13

About to move into our new flat that has had double glazed panels put into sash frames. You have to look very hard to see what has been done and you can't tell from the road. It's listed and no consent was sought (several years ago by a builder, not the person we are buying from). Understand there are issues with building regs and also planning consent. Anyone know what the council will do in this sort of situation? I want to make sure it's all legal for the day we need to sell, but first off the windows need renovating as it's too drafty to live in right now, don't want to spend cash on this and then get told it's wrong later. Told planners can take weeks and we can't wait that long as we would freeze to death! Anyone had any experience with the planners etc?

Secondsop Sun 11-Nov-12 11:04:26

Depends on the council. Didnt your solicitor advise on this when you bought the flat? You should have been advised to get the seller to sort out the double glazing issue before you bought. The risk is that unauthorised listed building work has no lapse period so the council can pursue the current owner (you) many years later for things that the previous owners have done, and require you to make good the work (ie change it so that it's to their satisfaction). The worst case for you is that the council could require you to take out the builder's double glazing and deny you consent to do anything apart from repair the windows. Listed building consent can be granted retrospectively though so It's worth trying to build up a good relationship with the council's conservation officer to see what your chances are of getting retrospective listed building consent for the work that you want to do soon. i must say that if it were me, if that conversation with the council didnt end up with me getting some kind of confident reassurance from them, given that the council could potentially ask you to undo and then redo any new work until it's to their satisfaction I personally would do it properly and take a few weeks of cold (perhaps stick up some thick temporary curtains for nighttime) or live somewhere else while the work gets approved, and get consent before starting the work.

I have a grade 2 listed flat that we rent it out and I've not tried to double glaze it because I know my council is extremely unlikely to approve it.

apismalifica Sun 11-Nov-12 13:03:44

Thanks, yes that is good advice, really appreciate you taking time to reply. Its taking so long to negotiate that I don't want to risk the chain by taking yet more time, and the seller has hardly ever been to the flat and lives the other side of the world. It's not been easy getting to this stage and it was only by accident we discovered the potential issues with the windows.

Thinking I'll ask for a price reduction to cover the immediate renovations and see if he agrees. Then if the council says we have to change things later, we won't have had to pay out twice. I am most worried the council would give us a short deadline to do the work, it's not just the cost of it, as we have a disabled child and we can't cope with too much cold or disruption over the winter. If it was just me I could cope with cold as I grew up in an old house with just a couple of open fires (not nice but its what thermals and electric blankets are for).

We could do work in the summer - do you know if planners are amenable to this sort of negotiation? Was thinking I'd apply soon after the sale as then we have control over what is done to a greater extent than an absent owner who has only rented it out in the past and just wants it of his hands. They say it will take 2 months minimum to hear back from the council with a decision and won't wait that long.

Solicitor has suggested the seller takes out insurance against future costs but I can't see this working if we renovate immediately. It's interesting that you have a similar issue with the double glazing, it's what alerted me to the possibility that there might be an issue in the first place as the new windows have been put into the old frames and are an almost exact match for the old ones - BUT not quite.

We will have to do it as we will also want to see it one day. Sorry to much info. don't mean to be a bore.

Thanks for ideas and any advice always welcome.

Secondsop Sun 11-Nov-12 13:20:29

I'm sure the council would be reasonable about timings especially given your circumstances. Im sure theyre quite used to people simply never telling them about unauthorised work so hopefully they'll be constructive with anyone wanting things to be done properly. Best advice I can give is ring up the conservation officer and initiate a conversation with them, and then keep that relationship going, and you'll likely find it all a lot easier when you get going (this was told to me by a friend who is a conservation officer, when I bought my flat). Also, you may find the council is fine with your plans; some take a hard line of no double glazing, some allow secondary glazing but not double glazing, and some do understand that from a heritage perspective they have an interest (the same as you) as keeping these buildings lived-in.

If the council is a difficult one, the consent may take months so i can see why you want to find a way of getting your purchase through. Re the insurance, it may still be helpful - I think it's meant to cover the chances of any costs you incur through the council taking enforcement action about what the seller has done, and it would be part of the sale agreement that the insurance has to be in place before completion, so i don't think it matters that you're wanting to do the work immediately because the insurance would be in place. (But check with your solicitor - I am a lawyer but not a property lawyer!).

Only4theOlympics Sun 11-Nov-12 13:26:01

If you are going to do further renovations without consent it is a criminal offence. Do not to ANYTHING to the structure of a listed building without consent!

Secondsop Sun 11-Nov-12 13:28:00

Oh a couple of further points -

- If it is grade 2* (as opposed to grade 2) then you may find the council is stricter.

- English Heritage do grants for maintenance of listed buildings so although I would expect them to be quite difficult to get for a private dwelling it's worth a look.

GrendelsMum Sun 11-Nov-12 17:24:54

I can't work out from your post what you actually want to do and why.

If you clarify exactly what you want to do, we can try to offer further advice.

If you need listed building consent for new works, then yes, it will often take a few weeks to get permission (though in case of emergency, they can be remarkably quick in my experience). At the least, you will have to write a letter setting out exactly what you plan to do.

Do you want to put in new double glazing?

I would imagine that the planners will suggest that you put in secondary glazing in front of your existing sash windows, where they are the originals, and that you replace the 'wrong' sash windows with correct ones, and put secondary glazing in front of those.

Here's some info on secondary glazing:
http://www.secondaryglazing.org.uk/

ImperialStateKnickers Sun 11-Nov-12 17:29:57

I tried to get an EH grant last year, and got nowhere. The lady I spoke to was sympathetic, but explained that they only had £50,000 left for the entire region, and unless I was Grade One and in imminent danger of structural failure, I wasn't going to get anything. Some new tiles on a Grade Two roof wasn't going to count. She also said the budget was looking just as bad for next year.

Sausagedog27 Sun 11-Nov-12 20:05:47

What are you wanting to do op?

I echo grendelsmum with regard to secondary glazing option- this is what you could be required to do.

You can put in for permission now- you don't have to own the flat yet.When you get permission there is usually a 3yr time limit on the work so you could do the work over the summer. With enforcement issues you will need to agree a timeframe and stick to it, but it's normally seen that 6months is reasonable.

I hate to say but with listed buildings nothing is quick. As a grade II* building more importance is placed on the building, and any application English heritage will get involved in as well.

You also mention renovations- do you have other plans? You need to befriend your conservation officer and tell them everything you want to do (even down to stuff you might not think is important to mention) and take it from there.

MoreBeta Sun 11-Nov-12 20:11:37

Get this squared with the council before you buy. Grade II* is very tricky. The whole thing sounds like a can of worms. If the builder did make changes to the structure and not just the windows that were unauthorised you could end up with a huge bill.

charleybarley Sun 11-Nov-12 22:10:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

apismalifica Mon 12-Nov-12 08:26:55

This is soooo complicated. Thank you all for the time you have taken to reply, I really appreciate it wine.

I'll have a chat with my solicitor and see if she has got anywhere with insurance. At the end of the day I don't want to change anything, just repair what's there so there isn't a raging gale blowing through the place and the windows dont fall down on people - several of the cords are broken and they slide down at both top and bottom. I do take the point that it could be tricky in future though and if the insurance is possible then I will accept the risk and also keep money aside to cover it just in case. After househunting for almost a year and getting dumped by the previous sellers (they waited until after we did surveys etc and at the last minute decided to demand another £25K, and took it off the market when we said no!) we just want to move it all on now.

I did ring the planners but at that point did not have the address etched on my brain and got it muddled up with others in the area I'd looked at. They did sound quite laid back about it and there are a lot of similar flats in the terrace that have been renovated at some point, it was more like 'are the windows plastic double glazing?' and they sounded quite positive. We did see another flat in the terrace where the beautiful tall sashes at the back had been replaced with much smaller plastic ones with hinges!

Assuming it goes through, as soon as we are settled I will make anappointment with the planners etc. and try and get them on side.

Thank you all again! Apis

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