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Grade II listed house - anyone got one? Is it a pain?

(28 Posts)
Mumsnut Sun 22-Feb-09 16:48:09

We are tempted by a Grade II listed cottage, but worried that it will be a money pit and (although the interior is pretty much as we want it,no walls to move or anything) that there would be a lot of regulations about decoration, etc, or types of bathroom fitting.

Anyone have any experience?

poopscoop Sun 22-Feb-09 16:52:44

we have had 2 and loved both of them. as far as i am aware the interior bathrooms should be fine to fit/decorate without planning. It is much more of the outside, i,e you couldnt change the weatherboard for plastic version (not that anyone would!) but the appearance must be in keeping with what it should be for that age. We have painted the front doors bright colours without a problem.

Is it in a good state of repair and i would certainly go for a full structural survey which the mortgage company would probably insist upon.

nickschick Sun 22-Feb-09 16:55:17

I thin grade 2 when we lived in ours was more exterior and you would never get planning permission to extend etc etc - builders see grade 2 as a nuisance bcos there are strictish guidelines as to what they are allowed to do- the biggest pain for us was the windows you werent allowed to alter or adapt them.

lalalonglegs Sun 22-Feb-09 16:55:27

We had a Grade II* house and that was fine - they can't really dictate fittings and decoration (unless you want to paint over something such as medieval wall paintings which constitute the listing or some such). It becomes difficult if you want to extend or do things that in other homes you would take for granted - putting in double-glazing, new front door, a satellite dish or something. They will be much more interested, I suspect, in the exterior of the house so make sure that is exactly as you want it. Moving or removing walls internally will need permission - you have to apply for all material changes via the local authority but if you talk to the owners, they should be able to give better idea what might be problematic. We got consent for some small changes without any difficulty, it was just bureaucratic and time-consuming.

ABetaDad Sun 22-Feb-09 16:58:42


I lived in one as a child and am looking at buying one now.

In a word, they are a money pit. You cannot just replace windows and gutters and doors with stuff from B&Q - it has to be done as the original.

You cannot change anything that is in the listing.

They are complete pain the neck and I find people that own them and are trying to sell always under repair them and leave a load of stuff that needs doing but refuse to be realsitic about their selling price. The massively under estimate the cost of repairs that you will need to do.

In three words - 'be very realistic'.

Especially about the cost of any repairs that need doing and also make sure the previous owners have not breached the listing rules by making changes that you will be forced to restore.

That said - they can be a joy to live in. We lived in 500 year old house that had a monk as a ghost.

Mumsnut Sun 22-Feb-09 18:22:23

Thanks everyone. I reckon I could cope with ongoing repairs and maintenance, but as Betadad says, the backlog of work at point of sale might be quite an eye-opener. Will cogitate.

Quite fancy a monk as a ghost, though.

mazzystartled Sun 22-Feb-09 18:31:02

we live in a grade 2 listed house in a conservation area
i don't think they are any more a money pit than any old house really. unless you were going to upvc the life out of it and stick up a satellite dish.
if you wanted to convert the loft or put in rooflights that might be a problem, and i would like to get solar panels but we wouldn't be allowed. but the light and proportion of the rooms really make up for it.
i think if you love the house it's a compromise worth making.

BoffinMum Sun 22-Feb-09 19:17:38

I lived in a Grade 1 listed house for some years. I don't actually think it was a complete money pit considering the size. As far as fixtures and fittings are concerned, for Grade 2, you can more or less put in what you like internally, as long as you don't mess about with the fabric as detailed on the listing, eg cornices, historic features, etc.

It is possible to get permission to extend and I have even done this successfully with a Grade 1 property, but be prepared for it to take longer and to go to appeal, and also to be more expensive because it will probably need to involve a specialist architect who is used to winning these appeal processes.

In terms of the exterior you will need to run absolutely everything past the local planning officer. By the way, you save the VAT on repairs - did you know that?

petalpower Sun 22-Feb-09 21:14:09

We lived in a Grade 2* listed property until last year. The previous owners had maintained it well and we didn't have any nasty shocks with big repair bills although we lived there for 10 years. However, we did have planning permission to build a garage and alter the garden and parking areas. This was a bit of a pain as the planning and conservation departments from the council were both involved and were fairly inflexible about the type of bricks we could use to build a new wall and even stiplulated which brickworks we had to get them from!! Having said all this we are looking for another house at the moment and wouldn't be put off by the Grade 2 or 2* listing status.

Mumsnut Mon 23-Feb-09 13:26:52

Thanks all. Am really tempted to take this seriously.

MadameCastafiore Mon 23-Feb-09 13:28:49

We love ours - although it does swallow up cash and builders do tend to steer clear!

BoffinMum Mon 23-Feb-09 13:57:50

There are also bonuses - for example sound insulation in this type of property can be good, because they used to put sawdust between the floors.

hanifla Wed 25-Mar-09 23:46:18

Does anybody know the cost for ahhhh! I need to move boiler and move bathroom plumbing to smaller room to make huge bathroom into double bedroom and move bathroom to smaller room. It is a victorian house with sash windows and I also have been told it needs a damp course and electric fuse box replacing and the gas meter needs grounding? Any idea on price, and work involved I live in York. Really appreciate somebody getting back to me who has done similar thing. There are already rods in the bay window? Oh dear...

seratonin Wed 03-Nov-10 16:09:31

Planning and conservation are unlikely to let you have solar panels, but you can put in new bathrooms, kitchens (provided you're not rerouting services in a way which would affect the historic fabric), you can decorate how you like inside (breathable materials best),and paint outside render/windows a different colour(for dramatically different colour there, best to get permission, in case neighbours 'rat' on you). You can install magnetic secondary glazing(a boon!), and as much roof insulation as you like. Remember you can also cover old features up if it doesn't damage the old ones(but not rip old ones out). You don't need any permission for works that are 'like for like repair and maintenance'. When dealing with conservation officers take a sedative and allow plenty of time. You'll be living in a piece of England's history - a very special feeling.

Mumsnut Thu 04-Nov-10 13:22:21

(OP wanders back ...) Well, we found that the vendors had done extension work without permission, and were sitting on notices requiring them to undo their alterations!

Needless to say, we put an offer in on a house round the corner instead - not listed but very aged.

HelloMummy2 Mon 21-Jan-13 21:44:20

Hello. Found this thread as contemplating purchasing a Grade 2 house.... Are we mad with two small children? Could it be a freezing cold money pit? Or do the pros far outweigh the cons. At least we're going to view it in the freezing snow so can see just how cold inside it really is! Any further advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.

GrendelsMum Mon 21-Jan-13 22:07:33

A friend gave me some very useful advice when we moved into our Grade II house. He said, "it's great if it's your hobby and your holiday - it's a nightmare otherwise."

It will be more expensive and troublesome than an equivalent modern or Victorian house, because you will have to use authentic and appropriate materials done by skilled craftspeople who are in short supply and who need to be booked well in advance. There's not really any way round that.

That means that some of the time and money you'd have spent on your hobbies and holidays has to be spent on your house instead.

It may well also be colder - e.g. presumably doesn't have double glazing, may or may not have much insultation, etc. On the other hand, thatch seems to be tremendously warm.

Our standard advice is also that you should never buy a listed house without being happy with it as it is in terms of layout, appearance etc, because you really can't rely on getting listed building consent to make changes (you don't need LBC for a new kitchen or bathroom to be fitted, but you can't knock a wall down etc).

On some days, the pros outweigh the cons. On other days, the cons outweigh the pros. I suspect it's down to the amount of money and time you have to spend on it.

Merrylegs Mon 21-Jan-13 22:24:45

My grade 2 listed building has double glazing and central heating. Am not sure why you think it would be freezing?

HelloMummy2 Mon 21-Jan-13 22:44:36

Thanks for your speedy replies.
GrendelsMum, thanks for all your advice. Much appreciated!
Merrylegs, good to hear you have double glazing. Was under the impression one couldn't add things like that.
Am very tempted by the possible move.

stealthsquiggle Mon 21-Jan-13 22:53:10

Both we and a neighbour have been refused permission to put in double glazing as it would "alter the reflective properties of the windows when viewed from a distance" never mind that these are 1980's windows and you can't see the bloody windows from a distance for trees/hills

House is warm once it heats up, though, and lovely and cool in summer - 3ft thick stone walls will do that grin

stealthsquiggle Mon 21-Jan-13 22:56:32

Hanifla - assuming there are floor plans on record somewhere, you would definitely need listed building consent to move a bathroom from one room to another. Like for like replacement of bathroom fittings and the like would be ok, though.

GrendelsMum Tue 22-Jan-13 12:56:47

HelloMummy - you would need to apply for LBC to put in double glazing which may or may not be allowed. Generally I'd work on the assumption that it won't be allowed, but this may change in the future.

Our house is variable in temperature - we've got a big central room with huge windows on all sides which is pretty cold tbh, whereas smaller rooms with only one window are much warmer. It is still very expensive to heat, though, despite insulation and the rest of it.

tricot39 Tue 22-Jan-13 19:58:53

Read this here

If you are still keen go for it!

HelloMummy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 01:34:09

Thanks so much, really appreciate you all taking the time to post. Lots to consider!

frostyfingers Thu 24-Jan-13 13:31:15

The best thing to do with any listed property is contact your local council's building officer - they will have someone who deals with listed buildings.

We looked at a very old and tatty listed house last year and discovered that what in the photo looked like a nice stone fireplace (massive), was in fact grey painted concrete. The original staircase had been removed and the house had been fitted with secondary glazing and the original windows had all fallen into complete disrepair. The house had been in the same family for several generations and various members had fiddled about with it on the quiet. We contacted the conservation officer with a general (didn't mention the house) enquiry who said that it was entirely possible that we would be responsible for putting it right! We ran - that really would have been a money pit It has just sold after 18 months on the market, I hope that whoever bought it has lots of money.....

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