10 Jan 07: Thinking about renovating a listed building?
The first thing to note is that a Listing is not a preservation order, preventing change, it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. We have a lot of experience with listed building and have worked with the Local Planning officers to provide successful alterations and extension that are sympathetic to the existing building, this does not necessarily mean that the works have to be of a traditional form, more often than not we have found that a contemporary approach to a design (for an extension for example) is considered a better approach than trying to create “faux” traditional design.
The general principles are that all buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are likely to be listed, as are most buildings built between 1700 and 1850. Particularly careful selection is required for buildings from the period after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are not normally considered to be of special architectural or historic interest because they have yet to stand the test of time. Your first port of call is to find out what the grade listing the building is and the detail of the buildings listing, this can be found on the Historic England web site under the National Heritage List for England. There are three type of grades as follows:
- Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I
- Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
- Grade II buildings are of special interest; 91.7% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.
Other details provided by Historic England may include, Heritage Category, date first listed, address and details of the listing. Along side this we typically carry out research about the history and context of a building, old maps are often helpful, local history reference books and even local historical societies have provided useful information.
This research provides a starting point for the preparation of a” Heritage statement” which is an assessment of the significance of heritage assets and/or their settings affected by the proposed renovation, and of the impacts of that development upon them. It may include an assessment of the construction determining what is original and what are later additions. A typical example of this is when forming opening in a partition or wall, an assessment of the existing fabric may determine if there is an oak frame possibly signifying parts of the older structure or perhaps modern blockwork where a partition has been formed more recently? Are the ceiling linings traditional lath and plaster or modern Gypsum plasterboard?
From here we work with the client to provide solutions to enable a brief to be achieve sympathetically to the existing building and create something that also enhances the building and helps to provide a home that adapts to the modern lifestyle.
We love working with listed buildings, it often feels like a puzzle having to unravel the different layers of time, please do not hesitate to contact us to talk about a possible project or advice, see our contact page here.