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What can you do to a grade II listed house?

(25 Posts)
NicolaMarlowsMerlin Sat 12-Mar-16 15:11:11

We are moving across the country and so trying to fit in house viewings with selling where we are etc. The area we are moving to has a fair number of grade II listed houses which we haven't dealt with before. Many are not great for the way we live - internal rooms are a bit on the small side, kitchens in particular as we really like to cook and entertain. I think you can't do anything to the exterior but what is the story with interior walls?

Any help much appreciated

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 12-Mar-16 15:22:29

It entirely depends on the property, the local authority and what sort of work you want to do.

I'd contact your local authority planning department and ask to speak to the conservation officer.

Speaking as someone who own a grade II listed property with a difficult local authority I probably wouldn't buy another.

wonkylegs Sat 12-Mar-16 15:29:56

As Moving says it depends on the listing for that particular property. Some are a nightmare, some are fine. When you find a property you like, look at the details of the listing (most are available online now) and have a chat with the conservation officer.

NicolaMarlowsMerlin Sat 12-Mar-16 15:35:25

Ok Thanks. We are looking in west bucks/Berkshire and south Oxfordshire so I guess three diff planning authorities.

We had to deal with planning for our current house but diff part of the country and not listed, so a diff story.

NicolaMarlowsMerlin Sat 12-Mar-16 15:39:15

Ok knowledgeable people, here is an example listing text

House. C18 with C20 alterations. Brick grey headers and red
stretchers, Flemish bond to north; grey headers with red dressings
to south; tiled roofs; Long plan running north to south, main
block to north with flanking crosswings, lower block to south.
2 storeys; half hips to cross gables, central hipped dormer to
east of main block, chimney at junction of south cross gable and
central roof, and chimney and central ridge chimney to south block,
string course at first floor. East Elevation:- to left:-lower block
three 3-light casements with cambered heads, central door; to right:-
all windows glazing bar sashes with rubbed brick flat arches to
openings, 2 windows to each crosswing, 3 windows to centre, central
6 panel door in doorcase of which has architrave, frieze and

Listing NGR: SU5470879253

Does that mean all the elements that are mentioned are listed? Seems to be just the outside and poss the chimney positions.

But I guess I should just call and speak to planning officers!

SohowdoIdothis Sat 12-Mar-16 15:42:09

If you do move into this house try to think of yourself as a custodian of something rather special, only a tiny amount of building are listed about 4%, we need to look after them.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 12-Mar-16 15:47:46

The text won't help. It has more to do with the attitude of your local conservation officer, what they feel is valuable about the building and what they think is the best way to secure its future. There are listed buildings that have had permission for all kinds of things including removal of internal walls. BUT you must never buy a listed building thinking 'I will change this and this' because you might not get permission. And even if the conservation person informally says they wouldn't mind, they could be replaced before you get round to applying and the new person might not be happy.

OliviaBenson Sat 12-Mar-16 15:54:05

Legally all of a house is listed- not just what is mentioned in the listing description.

Knocking walls down requires listed building consent. Replacement of an 80s bathroom, wouldn't usually.

Windows you won't be able to double glaze.

Repairs have to be done in traditional materials- lime plaster etc. You'll need a bigger budget as work is more specialist.

There is a listed building property owners club which will have more advice. Best thing to think about is can you live with it how it is? Cosmetic changes are usually fine, more fundamental changes not so much.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 12-Mar-16 15:57:07

If you found one where the front part was old and the back kitchen bit had been messed around with there would be a fair chance you might be allowed to alter the already-altered bit to make it what you want. But you couldn't interfere with even the recent bits without listed building consent as it would affect the historical character of the building - they would want you to do it in a specific way with particular styles and materials. They're not trying to preserve everything in amber and they do appreciate that for buildings to continue being used they need to respond to our modern way of life, but their main priority is still preservation.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 12-Mar-16 16:00:48

You can have secondary glazing though, with consent. They're quite keen on it ime if you are prepared to fork out for the really posh stuff...

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 12-Mar-16 16:01:26

As you have probably guessed you need to be really up for it!

NewLife4Me Sat 12-Mar-16 16:01:50

We are only conservation area, so not listed.
However, as you were asking about chimneys thought I'd share our experience.
Our area officer is good, but within 2 weeks of our chimney half falling down, he was there.
We had had it levelled off and repointed to make safe, but it wasn't high enough.
He wanted us to build it back up to original level.
We didn't do it and hoped he'd forget.
He never came back and we still have a short stack.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 12-Mar-16 16:35:11

There's a lovely Grade 2 listed house just up the road from us. It's been empty about fifteen years. The previous owner asked for permission to extend the tiny kitchen to something resembling what used to be an extra wing that burnt down years ago. The council said no. It had a Victorian shed built up against the wall and they said it was part of the history of the house. (Never mind that the shed has an asbestos roof from a more recent alteration.) So they sold it on. The next owner also asked for permission to extend the kitchen, as it isn't suitable for a modern family. Again they said no. So it was sold on again. The latest owner apparently has asked for permission not only to extend it but to join it up with the barn behind it and double the size of the house. I would imagine that when the planning department have stopped laughing they will turn that one down as well and the house will continue to sit empty until it collapses. How this is in the best interests of the building mystifies me. Buildings like this are listed to protect them, and whilst I realise that this also means from unsuitable development, that beautiful house is crying out for a lovely big farmhouse-type kitchen that will make it suitable for modern living. As it stands, nobody wants it. And so it remains empty.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 12-Mar-16 18:58:05

That's a great shame.
My house is a listed Georgian town house and the previous owner was allowed to build a lovely kitchen and laundry extension which meant losing a jumble of Victorian and later add-ons. I think their view would have been that there was no other likely use of the house which would have ensured its preservation which wouldn't involve even more changes. They were allowed to do a bit of reconfiguration of the bedrooms too and various other things to make it meet care home standards especially fire regs back in the 1980s, but as standards have become more stringent it stopped being a viable use for a listed building.

Wauden Sat 12-Mar-16 19:27:39

Lots of useful information on Historic England's website.
A listed building is listed to the inside as well as the outside. The list description can be found on a site I think called British Listed Buildings on line (or similar name) - but this is not meant to be the complete description. What matters also is what makes the building special might include its history. Basically, double-glazing is out but secondary glazing might be ok. The plan form and size of rooms is important. Use lime mortar, not cement. Plastic windows and doors not ok. There is more scope for modern elements.
Doing work without listed building consent which causes it harm is actually against the law so you want to be careful and there is no time restriction on the law closing in. Talk to the conservation officer in planning.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 12-Mar-16 20:58:09

That's really interesting TheCountessofFitzdotterel. I guess our local council must just be a bit overzealous but that's a good point about what's most likely to continue its preservation. Sitting cold and empty year after year certainly won't do it any good.

It used to belong to friends of my dh's family and he knows it well. It's such a shame to see it all shut up year after year. I wish we could afford it but we don't have a spare couple of million just now. wink

playitagainsally Sat 12-Mar-16 21:08:30

We live in GradeII C17 house & have fully extended and modernised it. We've also put in double glazing that Heritage suggested.
It's all doable provided the planners are onside. We got them out for advice before we even bought the place.
Be aware that everything a) takes time & b) costs a lot more.
The end result is worth it although we are now stoney broke

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Sat 12-Mar-16 21:37:28

We live in a Grade 2 listed house and were allowed to do quite a lot to it, including extending the kitchen, putting in central heating. It took quite awhile to get plans approved (the first ones were rejected) but the planning officer was very good at suggesting building work which would be acceptable. They were very fussy about the windows though. We weren't allowed double or secondary glazing of any kind, even though there was already secondary glazing in some of the windows. It had been put in by the previous owners before it was listed.

You can make changes but have to get the planners on board and work with them to come up with a mutual plan. You need to find a trusted builder who respects and is used to working on period properties. Once you have found one hang on to them!

ABetaDad1 Sat 12-Mar-16 21:47:44

I live in a Grade II Listed Georgian house. I just ripped out and replaced the dining room floor. The previous owners had replaced some of it with modern planks. I got reclaimed ones cut from pines beams from mills in Manchester. I replaced the modern round nails with square headed brad nails. The nails cost me £100. The floor £600. I cut everything by hand. I recycled the remaining Georgian planks to replace the damage the previous owners did to the floor in neighbouring room.

Looking at the state of my house when I bought it, you can generally get away with a lot of horrendous damage inside of a Grade II house but your conservation officer may be very 'difficult' indeed about the outside. In general people do things inside without telling anyone. The outside you cannot touch at all without very strict conditions being imposed.

Still doesn't stop people breaking the rules and putting plastic guttering where it should be cast iron. hmm

I have renovated my house with all the right materials and very carefully. Most people just bodge things in the cheapest way possible. Be wary. Grade II listed properties cost a lot to maintain if you do it properly.

ABetaDad1 Sat 12-Mar-16 21:54:37

Most building contractors haven't got a clue how to deal with a listed building in my experience. I have learned a lot and have had to tell contractors how to deal with many aspects of the house - they just don't know.

They will just cut through floors, replace lime plaster with brown plaster, use modern nails, Portland cement and every modern building material they ca play teir hands on at the builders merchant.

playitagainsally Sat 12-Mar-16 21:58:10

TBF ABeta it depends where you live. We live in an area with lots of very old stone houses and there are plenty of experienced builders who often know the Heritage people and what they want.

Don't be put off a period property op, just know what you're letting yourself in for.

anotherguiltymum Sat 12-Mar-16 22:01:34

We live in a 2* house and I would move to another with no fear at all.

The things that are protected are the things that made us love the house, staircase, doors, fireplaces etc. We have been able to install bathrooms, new kitchens, convert cellars but we've always had to maintain original features.

We found being open and asking the planners for advice as been the best way of getting our own way grin

NicolaMarlowsMerlin Sat 12-Mar-16 23:59:53

Just as I thought, a wealth of knowledge and experience! Thank you. Sounds like I should speak to the local planning officer (s) to get a sense of what they feel strongly about.

It is the kitchen for us which is always the sticking point, seen 3 grade II listed houses with poky kitchens so far, it just won't work for how we live. But would love to find a compromise as the proportions, the location and the look of the houses are all lovely.

RCAartist Sat 05-Aug-17 07:54:23

Regarding reference to the Listed Property Owners Club: From my own experience I know they are really supportive. I own a fabulous Victorian family townhouse in Silloth, Cumbria, a former hotel in a beautiful coastal location. The house is huge, with modern developments completed by the previous owner under Listed Building Consents. I am retired now and need to downsize. I asked the Listed Property Owners Club if they could help find a new owner and they offered to put it on their website in the Properties For Sale section -
You can see lots of great properties there. Don't be put off by concerns about what you think the local authority might say you can or cannot do. Read the listing information carefully. If a property has already been developed with Listed Building Consent - and if you like it - then you can be confident about taking a look at it. Of course you still need to make your own checks but at least you can discuss them with the Listed Property Owners Club, who are very knowledgeable. Good Luck

Heartfulloftea Sat 05-Aug-17 08:12:42

We bought a grade 2 listed house relatively recently and have had permission to remove interior walls, add an extension and change the staircase amongst other things. Planning took a year but we hired a local firm of architects who specialised in listed buildings in the area and who knew the planners and what would be accepted. It was totally worth it as we got our plans approved first time. I can't recommend this route highly enough so it might be worth getting a similar architect to look at the house before you buy it as they should be able to give you a steer as to what is acceptable to the particular authority

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