Buying a listed building-A challenge or a charm?

Owning a listed building has many pros and cons and according to and there are several aspects to consider before purchase.

England and Wales boast half a million listed buildings, each with its own story to tell.

What is Listed status England and Wales?

All buildings constructed before 1700 are listed, as are a significant amount of those built between 1700 and 1840. You can find out if a property is listed by searching for it on the National Heritage List for England.

Some modern buildings are listed too if they are considered of special importance, for example the Shadwell Basin development, Tower Hamlets, London, (above) is Grade II listed.

Listings help prevent any inappropriate renovations or alterations that could detract from a property’s historical interest.


Grade I: This means the property is of ‘exceptional interest’. Only around 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade 1 listed.

Grade II*: This means the property is important and considered of more than special interest. Around 5.5% of listed buildings fall into this category.

Grade II: This means the building is of special interest. The vast majority of listed buildings, around 92%, fall into this category.

Homes with a heritage are usually aesthetically pleasing, positioned in prime locations as they were built a long time before any modern development. Listed homes also tend to be full of rustic charm or bursting with period features, but there are issues to consider such as more expensive insurance and renovation costs.


  • Knowing that you live in, and own, a historical building is a great feeling – you’re one of the privileged few who gets to enjoy being a part of history.
  • A listed building typically appreciates in value more than other properties – it’s almost unknown for a listed property to depreciate unless it’s been seriously damaged.
  • You may be able to get a grant for repair/upkeep of your listed building.


  • Listed buildings are expensive to insure. Many new owners don’t realise this but they are liable for any previous unauthorised building or restoration work. As rebuild costs are higher for listed properties, the average insurance quote is also fairly high.
  • You may or may not be able to make alterations or renovations to the property. You must first obtain approval of Historic England or your local conservation officer. Should your local authority consider that you’re not properly preserving the building, they are within the law to take actions against you for non compliance.
  • Essential repairs or renovations that have been approved must be undertaken using the same construction methods and materials that were used when the building was originally built. This can be more expensive than traditional methods.

The pleasure that comes from owning a listed building can be tempered by the responsibility to keep it in good repair and maintain its character. Regardless of this responsibility, many people each year, decide that this is a small price to pay for the joy it provides, not just to them, but to future generations. Renovating a listed home can also be incredibly rewarding and will help preserve an intriguing and unique piece of British history.