So. You’ve just bought a listed building. It’s beautiful. It’s charming. It’s full of character. It’s falling down a bit, sure, but it’s nothing a bit of gaffa tape won’t fix. Right?
Listed buildings (also known as historic buildings, or Grade I or Grade II buildings) have a charm unlike any other kind of home. Stories feel so present in listed buildings. However, renovating a historic house involves many specialised skills and materials, which may be pricey. So with a few pointers from us, you’ll be able to design the home of your dreams without going broke!
Listing is a method of identifying and marking out buildings of exceptional significance. It’s a way of safeguarding and conserving the building’s unique historical and architectural significance for future generations.
The older a structure is, the more likely it is to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Buildings constructed before 1700 and in good condition, as well as the majority of those constructed between 1700 and 1840, will almost certainly be included. This category includes Georgian and Regency-style period homes. A building must be at least 30 years old to be considered for listing.
Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II are the three levels of listing. Grade I buildings, such as Buckingham Palace and the Natural History Museum, are of outstanding interest. Grade II* refers to buildings that are very significant. The London department stores Harrods and Peter Jones are both Grade II* listed. Buildings of great interest are designated as Grade II, and every effort should be taken to preserve them. Residential home are usually Grade II. You can find our list of Grade I buildings in Cornwall here.
It costs approximately £1100- £1600 per square metre to renovate a listed building.
This is a good starting point when you’re thinking about how much of the listed building you wish to renovate. Perhaps there are some rooms that need more attention than others, or there are priorities like the roof, insulation, plumbing or electrics, and these will need to be addressed first. We suggest doing a thorough walk-through in your home, and decide what you would like to tackle first. Which rooms do you spend most time in? Think about your lifestyle, and what you want from your home. Then, using the approximation we have provided, you can give your project a rough approximation. When it comes to getting specific quotes from construction companies, you can use this to compare the estimates. However, it’s important to note that because of the materials and professional labour involved- as well costs related to designing, calculating planning permission and insurance- a listed building renovation could cost anywhere from 30% to 50% more than this approximation.
There are a number of steps that must be followed if you want to extend or renovate your listed property. You’ll need to apply for listed building consent in addition to your ordinary planning permission. This is true for both internal and external labour, all of which could cause your project to be delayed by a few weeks. It is worthwhile to consult an experienced constructionist to assist you with your designs. Yes, you will pay for their skills, but it is this expertise that may save you money in the long run. A late start will quickly deplete your funds. Hysmark is experienced in applying for planning permission and listed building consents. We can advise you on how to make this process cost-effective and quick. (We can even do the whole thing for you!)
Ensure as well that your builders have PLI (public liability insurance) and are insured for many years for the work that they carry out.
Work on a listed building typically takes longer than work on a non-listed property. This is due to the construction materials used. A modern property may have plasterboard walls, which are a cost-effective and rapid solution, whereas a listed property’s walls are likely to have lime, which takes longer to build and requires specialised artisans. You can see examples of our lime render work in this recent Hysmark project near Bodmin.
When building garden walls or interior features, your local authority may require you to use traditional methods and materials. We know which suppliers can give you period-appropriate building materials. Make sure you use the correct materials in your renovation, or you could get fined. (Or hire experienced listed-building constructionists who use period-appropriate materials.)
Grants Available For Listed Building Renovations
It is in the government’s best interest that they preserve the buildings that are significant to British and Cornish history. There are funds available to assist with part of the work involved in upgrading a listed home. It’s also worth doing some digging to see if there are any local trusts or charities interested in preserving an area’s character or specific types of buildings. Visit Historic England to see a list of grant sources in your region.
To learn more about our specialised skills and what we can do for your listed building renovation, please click here. We also have more maintenance and care tips for your listed building in our previous articles.