Building Restoration: Do’s and Don’t’s

If you are the owner of a building and you are looking to undertake some restoration projects concerning your building it is important that you have a full understanding of your rights and responsibilities. It is always wise to speak to both your local authority’s planning department as well as an architect with experience of restoration projects before committing. Knowing your planning rights and the planning permissions you require from the outset could save you time, money, and a lot of hassle further down the line. If you are undertaking building restoration, know your dos and don’ts.

First, if you have recently purchased a building, or you have owned a building for a while, you should be aware of its status. Some buildings are classified as ‘Listed’ – this means they are placed on a national register of buildings and structures that have architectural or historical importance. There are around 500,000 listed buildings in England and Wales, with three sub classifications within this:

Grade I Listed Buildings – Making up 2% of all listed buildings alteration and restoration work is extremely difficult to undertake, with consultation required with Historic England.

Grade II* Listed Buildings – Making up 4% of all listed buildings a local authority must be included in the planning application process, with Historic England sometimes included depending on the case.

Grade II Listed Buildings – The rest of listed buildings fall into this classification and as long as a conservation officer from the local authority is included throughout the planning application process you can make alterations. Any changes must not have an impact on the integrity of the structure.

Always ensure that you have talked with both an experienced architect with a history of working on heritage properties, as well as your local authority (and Historic England if necessary). Understand your insurance policies and whether it is suitable for Listed Buildings, as you will be expected to use similar materials to the rest of the house if restoration is required.

As you’ll most probably have to work closely with your local authority and the planning department it makes sense to become as close as you can with the local conservation officer. That way you can find out about other similar properties in your area and any problems that may have been encountered previously. Having as much expertise and assistance on your side is preferable to going it alone when it comes to building restoration projects, especially if you are working on a listed building.

Restoration of a listed building can come with many pitfalls and potential problems, so an initial understanding of what you are dealing with is vital before any work commences. Having an architectural firm on your side that has experience in working with heritage buildings and restoration projects of listed buildings is a benefit. With this type of expertise and guidance by your side you can ensure that every single task and piece of work completed on the project is done so without compromising the integrity of the structure, the historical importance of the building, or the quality of the finished job.

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