9 December 2022

What is a listed building?

By Rachel Carter Account Handler

Have you heard the term, thought about buying or maybe even own a listed building but aren’t exactly sure what it means? Keep reading for an overview of what a listed building is and the responsibilities that come with owning one.

What is a listed building?

In the United Kingdom, a listed building is a structure that is of historical significance, due to the method of construction, style of building, or historical impact on the area. The listing of a building celebrates its special architectural and historic interest, and also limits the alterations that can be done without permission, so that it can be protected for future generations.

Buildings, monuments and structures of all types can be listed.

Historic England is responsible for designating buildings for listing in England and have an online list of all listed buildings, providing property details, advice, photographs and maps.

What are the main types of listed building?

All buildings built pre-1700 that remain in anything like their original condition are listed, along with most buildings built between 1700 and 1840. Some buildings of certain character and quality built between 1840 and 1914 are also listed.

Listed buildings are split into categories depending on their importance or historic interest. There are three types of listed buildings in England and Wales:

Buckingham Palace – A Grade 1 listed building

  • Grade 1 listed buildings – “buildings of exceptional interest”. Buckingham Palace and the Lloyd’s of London building are Grade 1 listed buildings.
  • Grade II* listed buildings – “particularly important buildings of more than special interest”. Battersea Power Station is an example of a Grade II* listed building.
  • Grade II listed buildings – “buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them”. Most residential listed buildings are Grade II.

Battersea Power station – A Grade II* listed building

There are also three categories of listed buildings in Scotland, which are known as:

  • Grade A – “buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic or fine little altered examples of some particular period, style or building type”.
  • Grade B – “buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered”.
  • Grade C – “buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style or building type, as originally constructed or altered; and simple, traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B or are part of a planned group such as an estate or an industrial complex”.

Only 2.1% of all listed buildings are Grade 1 or Grade A which is the highest significance grade, with 91.7% being Grade II or Grade C.

Lloyds of London – a Grade 1 listed building

How does a listed property affect me as an owner?

Being a listed property owner is vastly different to owning a standard property. You cannot demolish, extend or alter a listed building in any way that might affect its character without first obtaining permission from the local authority. Listed properties are to be enjoyed and used like any other building, but they come with responsibilities, rules and regulations.

In other words, a property being listed does not prevent change in its entirety; it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make changes to the building which might affect its national importance.

It is important to research what restrictions are in place on your property, as unauthorised alterations are a criminal offence and can come with heavy penalties, such as a large fine or even imprisonment. If you are thinking of doing some renovations to your property, get in touch with the local planning authority and they will put you in contact with your local conservation officer who can offer advice, guidance and issue consent.

Do you need special insurance for a listed property?

In the same way that owning a listed building is vastly different to owning a standard property, insuring one is very different too.

The consent required to make any alterations to a listed building is an important factor if the building were to be destroyed or damaged. Rebuilding or repairing a listed building is much more significant and time consuming than that of a standard property, so if you are leaving this in the hands of an insurance company, you want to know that they fully understand the importance and steps that need to be taken.

The number of insurance companies that can accommodate listed buildings is certainly growing, but this doesn’t mean they all provide the right level of cover. Not only is specialist insurance tailored to make sure you are protected no matter what the cost is, it also enables you to speak to a knowledgeable handler who can make sure all your needs are covered and all the facts are disclosed.

For example, imagine you discover a leak in your house and need to pull up floorboards and cut open walls in order to trace the leak. In a standard property, reinstating the walls and flooring may not come at too high of a cost whereas for a listed building, it will require special repair processes and original materials to put things back as they were. A standard household policy wouldn’t accommodate the potentially higher costs. So, although it might be covered, there is a risk you could be left short.

In short, specialist insurance is the same as standard home insurance but with additional cover to take into account things that could happen to an old home. The older the property, the more likely it is to need specialist repairs that not all standard policies would cover.

This is why insurance for historic buildings can comes at a higher price, because you are getting a higher level of protection.

Abode Insurance are experts in helping you find the right specialist insurance for your listed property with a level of cover that meets your needs. Get in touch today!