20 July 2023

Things you didn't know about living in a listed property

By Andy Duarte Insurance Advisor
Listed property insurance

From historic buildings full of character to grand-period homes, living in a listed property can be a dream for many people. But before you make an offer on that charming Georgian townhouse or an idyllic thatched cottage, consider some essential things.

Listed property insurance

What are listed properties?

Listed properties are buildings of particular architectural or historical interest; as such, they’re  required by law to be maintained and preserved for future generations.

While this means you’ll be living in a piece of history, it also means that there are certain restrictions on what you can and can’t do to the property.

Living in a listed building requires patience, research, and strict regulations, from alterations and repairs to decorating and garden maintenance.

When living in a listed property, understanding the history behind these unique and historic buildings can provide insight into their importance and significance.

Listed properties are buildings identified for their historical or architectural value. They’re  protected by law to prevent any changes damaging their unique character – there are over 500,000 listed properties in the United Kingdom, ranging from large estates to small cottages.

Why do you need to preserve historic buildings?

Preserving historic buildings began in the 19th century when people became increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining facilities representing the country’s heritage.

However, it wasn’t until 1947 that the first legal measures were taken to protect buildings of particular architectural or historic interest.

In the UK, listed properties are divided into three categories to reflect their historical or architectural significance.

Grade I buildings are considered to be of exceptional interest, Grade II* buildings are significant, and Grade III buildings are of particular interest.

There are a number of reasons why a building may be listed. A critical architect may have designed it, be a rare example of a certain style, or have historical associations with a significant event or person.

For example, the Tower of London is a Grade I listed building due to its historical and cultural significance.

As well as being protected by law from any changes that could harm their character, owning a listed property comes with specific responsibilities, including seeking permission for any alterations or additions to the building.

This can sometimes be lengthy and costly, but it’s  necessary to ensure that these important properties remain intact for future generations.

Understanding the history of listed properties provides insight into their significance and importance within the UK’s cultural heritage.

Whether you’re  a homeowner, prospective buyer, or simply an admirer of historic architecture, knowing about the history and significance of these special buildings can add a fascinating depth of understanding to their beauty and charm.

Living in a listed property can be an incredible experience, offering unique features and a sense of history that you simply can’t find in newer homes. Here are some benefits of living in a listed property:

Character and charm

Listed properties often have a wealth of architectural and historic features that cannot be replicated in a modern home.

Original fireplaces, decorative cornices, intricate mouldings, and unusual floor plans can make a living in a listed property feel like you’re stepping back in time.

Even if you’re not a history buff, there’s just something magical about living in a home with this kind of character and charm.

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Built to last

One thing you can be sure of when living in a listed property is that it’s built to last. These homes have stood the test of time and have often been crafted using only the finest materials available at construction time.

Although maintenance can be more challenging due to preserving the original features and structure of the property, well-maintained listed property can last for many generations.

Prestigious location

Listed properties often occupy prestigious locations, such as in the heart of historic towns or within stunning natural landscapes.

This can mean being a part of a thriving community with plenty of local amenities, shops, and restaurants just a short walk away.

These locations can also be more peaceful and secluded than you might expect, offering a sense of tranquillity and escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Investment value

Listed properties can often make significant investments due to their scarcity value.

With less than one per cent of homes in England listed, owning one can position you as part of an elite and exclusive group of homeowners.

Properties like this can attract significant interest, leading to excellent capital growth over time.

Sense of history

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of living in a listed property is the sense of history that comes with it.

Uncovering the story of your property, and the people who have lived there before you, can be a fascinating experience.

From discovering hidden architectural features to uncovering hidden artefacts in the garden, there’s always something to learn about the history of your home.

A listed property  offers a sense of character, history, charm, and prestige that can’t be replicated in a modern home.

Although maintenance and upkeep may be more challenging, there are few things more rewarding than living in a property with such a unique and fascinating story to tell.

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What are the restrictions on listed properties?

Living in a listed property can be a dream for many homebuyers. These historic homes are full of character and charm but also have certain restrictions.

If you’re considering purchasing a listed property or already own one, it’s essential to be aware of the limitations that come with it.

Alterations and renovations

Listed properties are protected by law, meaning you can’t do anything to the property. Significant alterations and renovations are often allowed with consent from your local conservation officer.

This may include changing the layout of your home, adding extensions, or even repainting the exterior. You must seek approval from your local council whenever you want to change your listed property.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important to homeowners, but upgrading your listed property to be more energy efficient can be challenging.

Windows, for example, may need to be of a particular style and material to maintain the historical integrity of the building.

Insulation can also be tricky to install, as it may require the removal of historic features.

Maintenance and repairs

Maintaining a listed property  is often more challenging than maintaining a traditional home.

Finding contractors experienced with historic properties can be a struggle, and the cost of maintenance and repairs can be higher due to the materials and methods needed to maintain the charm and character of the building.


Listed properties often require specialised insurance policies, which may be more expensive than regular home insurance.

It’s essential to ensure your property is appropriately insured to protect against unexpected damage or loss.

Living in a listed property may require more effort and special attention than modern properties.

However, by understanding the restrictions of owning a listed property, it’s your decision whether this type of home is right for you.

Maintenance and upkeep of listed properties

Owning a listed property is not only an outstanding achievement, but it also comes with various responsibilities.

You must take special care of the property to maintain its heritage value and comply with legal obligations.

Here are some essential things to remember for the maintenance and upkeep of your listed property.

Understand the type of property you own

Not all listed properties are the same, and will require  differing levels and types of maintenance.

So, it’s essential to understand the type of listed property you own and the specific guidelines the Heritage and Planning authorities set for its maintenance.

For example, a Grade I-listed building requires strict attention to retain its historic fabric, while a Grade II-listed property provides more freedom to carry out minor modifications.

Hire a professional architect

Hiring an experienced architect who understands the intricacies of listed property maintenance is crucial.

The architect will guide you through obtaining the necessary permissions and consents for any work you undertake.

They  also help you choose the best materials and techniques for your listed property.

A professional architect ensures that the work doesn’t compromise the property’s structural integrity and complies with the heritage and planning guidelines.

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Regular maintenance and inspection

Regular maintenance and inspection are crucial for the upkeep of your listed property. It’s essential to carry out routine checks to identify any signs of wear and tear or structural damage that need immediate attention.

With proper maintenance, you  prevent the need for costly repairs in the future. So, ensure you have a detailed maintenance plan and follow it regularly.

Use appropriate materials and techniques

When repairing or restoring a listed property, using suitable materials and techniques is crucial for maintaining its heritage value.

Incorporating materials that align with the property’s original construction materials is essential.

Similarly, you need to use appropriate techniques for repairing and restoring to ensure that the work is in line with the conservation guidelines.

Why do maintenance and upkeep?

Maintaining a listed property requires patience, dedication, and a keen eye for detail. By following the above tips, you’ll  ensure that your listed property is well maintained and its heritage value is preserved for many years.

How do you modernise a listed property?

If you’re living in a listed property, you may feel limited in terms of what you can and cannot do to modernise your home.

However, there are many ways to update your listed property while maintaining its unique historical charm. Here are a few tips to help you modernise your listed property:

  1. Be mindful of the building’s historical significance: Before making any changes, it’s essential to understand the history and importance of your listed property.
Listed property insurance

Research the architecture and period in which the building was constructed: This will give you a deeper understanding of the property and help you make informed decisions about modernisation plans.

  1. Work with a qualified architect or builder: Working with experienced professionals in historic buildings is essential when updating your listed property. They can advise you on updating your property while maintaining its historical integrity.
  2. Keep original features wherever possible: Listed properties often have unique historical features such as fireplaces, cornicing, or mouldings that add character and value to the building.

These features make your listed property unique, so it’s essential to try and keep them intact wherever possible. Make sure you speak with your architect or builder about ways to restore and preserve these features as part of your modernisation plans.

  1. Choose appropriate materials: If you need to replace any building parts, such as windows or roofing, use appropriate materials for a listed property.

Specialist suppliers can provide authentic replacement materials that maintain the authenticity of the building. It’s also important to check with your local authority to ensure that your choice of materials is permitted for use on a listed building.

Following these tips, you can modernise your listed property while preserving its unique history and character.

Always check with your local authority before changing your listed property and work with experienced tradespeople.

At Abode we’re  well versed in all things related to listed property insurance. For free advice or a quote, please contact our experienced team on 01622 476 433. Alternatively, you can submit an enquiry here.