Preparing a Graded Home for Sale

15th May 2017

Did you know that Brighton and Hove is home to over 3,360 listed buildings, 476 of which are grade I & II*?

From Sussex Square in East Brighton to Brunswick Square in Hove, the city is filled with historical, characterful buildings, many boasting the proud Georgian facades for which our seaside city is so renowned.

Of course, these buildings are highly desirable, as the owner will form a link in the rich history of a building which is seen as adding culture and interest to the surrounding area. When it comes to renovating or preparing a building for sale, however, the listed status can cause difficulties.

Our guide to renovating listed properties for sale takes the legalities, technicalities and aesthetics of alterations into account, ensuring that your home wows potential buyers while maintaining its historical interest.

Types of listing

Listings are registered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, based on the advice of Historic England.

These range from Grade I, for buildings of exceptional historic or architectural interest, Grade II*, for buildings of particularly importance to the area, to Grade II, for buildings of special interest.

All possible effort must be made to maintain these buildings’ historical character, inside and out.

In addition to these listings, any property purchased in a Conservation Area has specific restrictions regarding altering the ‘principal elevation’ or most visible aspect of a building. This includes replacing window frames and front doors, as well as any planned extensions or alterations to the building’s exterior.

Gaining permissions

As a listed status protects buildings from damage and alterations that could detract from their character, ownership comes with a responsibility to maintain as original a condition as possible.

This means abiding by very specific rules when it comes to carrying out repairs or redecorations, and applying for permission from your local Conservation Officer before proceeding with any work involving alteration, extension or demolition, inside or out.

Failing to obtain consent for alteration of a listed building is a criminal offence, so before you start any major work on your period property, be sure to check the registry of listed buildings in Brighton and Hove to see whether your property is listed.

Once your application has been approved, it should remain valid for a period of three years. If the agreed work has not started within that time period, a new application will need to be made.

Like-for-like repairs

In cases where like-for-like materials can be sourced for general maintenance, alterations can usually be carried out without consent. This is good news for anyone looking to prepare a listed home for sale, as it gives a chance to freshen up the property without affecting its period charm.

However, significant care must be taken to match materials and complete alterations in a way that doesn’t damage any further parts of the property. In this case, it’s probably best to consult with a specialist, who can quickly source the right materials for you and carry out the work in an expert and period-friendly fashion.

Updating modern aspects

As far as interior decor goes, any modern alterations that have already been made can be adjusted without further permission. This means that you’re free to transform rooms with a fresh coat of paint - as long as the work doesn’t involve stripping back layers of historic paint or wallpaper.

Likewise, most listed properties have since been updated to contain recent kitchen and bathroom fittings. The guidelines surrounding these are less stringent - changing kitchen cabinets and appliances or bathroom white goods is possible without consent, although any work that requires new pipework needs to be run by the Conservation Office.

This is more good news for those refurbishing to sell, as updating kitchen and bathroom fittings is one of the most effective way to give a home a fresh, clean and luxurious feel.

Be careful, however, not to create too much disparity between a modern kitchen or bathroom and the rest of a period home. There are plenty of modern fittings available with a little antique flair, which will complement the general feel of your home and keep potential buyers charmed throughout.

Heritage Funding

Far from stopping you from preparing your home for a quick sale, a listed status simply requires some creative thinking. After all, English Heritage state that with the proper permissions, “Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within Government planning guidance.”

Not only are English Heritage happy to encourage alterations to your listed property - in some cases, they’re even willing to fund them. It is possible to apply for grants for any necessary repairs and alterations from English Heritage, your local authority or the Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission.

These grants are most commonly offered offered to Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings, ensuring that the owners can afford the most accurate materials and craftsmanship.

Know your building

Understanding your home is key to commencing historically and aesthetically appropriate work. Make sure that you know what makes your home significant, as well as any details about how and when the building was constructed.

This will help you to envision changes that will sustain and enhance the property in the long run, rather than quick aesthetic fixes. Potential buyers of a listed home will also be pleased to know that any alterations you’ve made have been made with a long-term future in mind.

It may be beneficial to source a floorplan of the property’s original layout. Many alterations could have been made to the property over time, before rigorous standards were put in place. Changes to these existing alterations may be looked on more kindly by the Conservation Office, as it provides a chance for you to return the property to a more historically significant state.

Don’t forget the details

If you can’t get permission for significant alterations, or can’t afford to invest in historical materials and methods, don’t worry. There are still plenty of small yet highly effective ways to give a centuries-old building new life.

Keep an eye out for minor aesthetic defects such as peeling paint on window frames, sticking doors and windows, crumbling grout between tiles, or squeaky floorboards. Paying attention to these little details will ensure that your period home maintains its historical feel without seeming old and unkempt.

Decluttering is perhaps the simplest way to improve a property in the eyes of a viewer - let the statement features of your period home speak for themselves by removing excess furniture and decor that could draw the eye away.

Brighten up an old-fashioned room with coloured textiles. Bold cushions, curtains and tablecloths are a cost-effective way of showing viewers that a period home can still reflect a modern personality.

You can also increase the natural light in a room by removing net curtains, ensuring that window panes are streak free, and hanging mirrors to bounce sunlight around the room.

Consult with an expert

With over eight years experience in Brighton and Hove, we’ve helped homeowners to buy and sell properties from across the ages. As your trusted partner, our estate agents will be able to advise on ways to improve and present your home for sale.

Contact us today for more information about selling your listed building, and get excited about sharing a piece of Brighton and Hove’s history with potential buyers.


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