Listed buildings insurance
Buying a listed building puts you in the privileged position of owning a piece of history. But finding home insurance for a listed building can be challenging. Luckily, we’re here to help.
Frequently asked questions
What is a listed building?
A building is listed when it has special architectural features or is of historic interest and importance. Generally, the older the building, the more likely it is to be listed.
There are two main ways for a building to become listed in England. Firstly, you can nominate a building or monument to Historic England, who is responsible for looking after the country’s historic environment. Secondly, Historic England will designate listed status on buildings based on their own research and priorities. Usually, a building has to be more than 30 years old to be listed.
There are around 500,000 listed buildings in England and there are three categories:
- Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest. It’s a pretty exclusive group, as only 2.5% of listed buildings are classified as Grade I
- Grade II* buildings are of particular interest; 5.8% of all listed buildings are Grade II*
- Grade II are buildings of special interest. The most likely grading for home owners, 92% of all listed buildings are in this class.
What parts of a house are listed?
Exactly what a listing covers will vary according to the property, so you’ll need to check with your local planning authority to find out the specifics. But, in most cases, the entire property is covered by the listing. That means, outbuildings, extensions and, in properties built before 1948, it usually includes the land surrounding it.
What does it mean for me if my house is listed?
A building is listed to protect it from unsupervised change. That means you’ll need listed building consent from your local planning authority to carry out any work to your home. It also means that you’ll need to pay particular attention to the type of materials used in any repair work and source craftsmen skilled in the original methods of building work.
Although all this might sound like an inconvenience, ultimately it’s good to keep a building looking as close as possible to its original state, so that everyone can enjoy its history.
How does listed building consent differ in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?
In Wales, you’ll need consent from the local planning authority who, in turn, apply to the planning division of the Welsh government for consent. In most cases, the application is then referred to Cadw – the Welsh government’s historic environment service. Some local planning authorities in Wales have permission to agree consent for Grade II listed buildings without needing to notify Cadw.
In Scotland, the local authority is the main point of contact for listed building consent. They will consider applications in line with guidance from Historic Environment Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, listed buildings are of special architectural or historic interest. They’re graded from B2, B1 and B+, to A for an outstandingly grand building. Any plans to change your home must be agreed by your local council, who consults the Historic Environment Division in the Department for Communities.
Do I need listed building insurance?
Listed building home insurance is specific to the needs of listed buildings; it’s not as straightforward as normal buildings insurance and you may find that you’re restricted by the amount of policies on offer. There are some specialist listed building insurance providers, but some standard providers will accept listed buildings too or they may have their own listed building insurance. Either way, you’ll probably find that your insurance premiums are higher than if you lived in a non-listed home.
Why is it more difficult to find cheap listed building insurance?
Insurance providers may consider the following factors when insuring a listed building, all of which could increase the cost of your premium.
- The rebuild cost of your home has to take into account that the materials used may be difficult or expensive to source, and you may need a specialist tradesman to do the work. (It may be advisable to get a professional valuation of the rebuild cost.) A higher rebuild cost can result in more expensive premiums.
- Old properties haven’t been built to our modern standards, so they’re more likely to have problems such as subsidence and damp, and often have issues with the roof and drainage. This increased risk to an insurance provider may mean a higher premium for you.
- Many listed buildings have a thatched roof and this too can have implications for your premium. Thatched roofs need replacing every 10-15 years and can be costly to repair if damaged. And you’ll need extra fire precautions, too, particularly if you use the fireplace. You’ll find insurance for non-standard properties, such as those with a thatched roof, is usually more expensive than for a normal property.
What does listed building insurance cover?
Ultimately, that will depend on what your listed property insurance policy covers, but you might want to think about the following:
- Does the policy offer damage cover for the brickwork of the building, including any damage caused by fire, flood or storms?
- Whether the policy covers the cost of specialist materials and labour.
- Does the policy cover the cost of alternative accommodation while your home is uninhabitable, as repairing a listed building can be a lengthy process? If it does, there’s usually a maximum amount you can claim, so make sure you’re happy with any limits imposed.
Remember, an insurance policy is there to protect you against sudden, unforeseen incidents and it won’t cover routine maintenance of a property or anything caused by wear and tear. Maintaining your listed home is vital to minimising problems associated with older properties. Try to ensure your home is secure against damp, that there are no drainage blockages and that you check regularly for broken roof tiles.
How can I get a good deal on listed building insurance?
It might not be straightforward insuring a listed building, but use our comparison service and we’ll help you find listed buildings insurance that offers the right cover for you.