Renovating a Listed Building – What to Consider
If you live in a listed building, or are considering purchasing one, it’s important to know what the limitations are when it comes to renovations. Whether you want to replace a window, open up your living space or build an annexe, it’s vital that you are aware of the rules surrounding conservation area buildings.
The good news is that there are clear rules and procedures in place with experts available to advise you on what you can and can’t do to your property.
Extending your building
If you wish to extend your listed building, you will need to obtain Listed Building Consent. You will also need to apply for Householder Planning Consent as there are no Permitted Development rights. For example, loft conversions are not possible with box dormers and an extension must enhance the existing building and not detract from the historical elements of the house.
Usually an extension can be possible if it is small and at the back of the property and materials and windows will need to match the existing house.
If any trees are affected, they could be subject to Tree Preservation Orders and if the tress are not subject to this, you are required to give the local authority a Notification of Proposed Works to Trees in Conservation Areas.
A modern extension is possible, but there will be strict caveats. For example, the design will need to be an improvement on something that ties in with the property. Talk to a Conservation Officer for advice to work out which style is likely to be acceptable.
Original windows are usually single glazed with a distorted look so you will need to assess whether you can achieve a like for like replacement whereby the colour, material and profiles should be identical to the original windows.
Sometimes, window frames are too chunky and can be refused by conservation officers. There are ways you can mimic the original appearance but with modern alternatives.
Heritage Officers often appreciate that the existing fabric of the building is no longer fit for purpose and can approve an upgraded window if the aesthetics are on a like-for-like basis.
Roofs and guttering
If the roof is composed of a natural slate and the guttering is cast steel you will need to use the exact product which can incur high costs not only in the material but also the installation.
No materials should be made to the exterior of a listed building to alter its existing appearance and chimneys will need to be untouched as they form part of the streetscape and are integral to the building’s structure. Consult a structural engineer if you would like to carry out any works on a chimney.
It is unlikely that older listed buildings have a cavity to allow insulation to be placed into the walls and external insulation is difficult as it can change the building’s appearance. Dry-lining the walls internally is the most likely way of doing this, however you would need to remove skirting boards, architraves and cornicing to be removed. Another option is loft insulation and draught proofing, which does not impact the building’s appearance.
If you need to insulate a wood floor, you will need to number and set aside the original floorboards and install the installation without any damage and putting the boards back in the same place. There may be condensation issues and thermal balance issues to consider.