(Pre-purchase) Historic Building Surveys
Listed building surveys are carried out by a qualified surveyor and consists of two parts. A physical inspection of the property and a detailed report. This type of survey is suitable for traditionally constructed historic buildings and provides the greatest level of detail.
Surveying listed, historic and traditionally constructed buildings requires experience, academic training and considerable mental agility to make sense of what can often turn out to be an amalgamation of different building phases.
“Choosing the right level of listed building surveyor is important, choosing the right survey is essential. At Nicholson Price Associates we will deliver the right type of survey for your building. Our professional surveyors are here to help you all the way!”
We are mindful that every building is unique and that it is likely to have been subject to later alterations using materials and techniques that can sometimes have unintended consequences.
We take great care to identify and record historically or architecturally significant fabric and explain the cause and implication of any defects that may be present.
Nearly all pre-purchase building surveys will be non-destructive. Our training and experience allows us to provide a balanced realistic assessment of the risks posed by the potential presence of latent defects, and advise whether further destructive surveying may be appropriate.
“We understand that different building phases can have very specific age related defects, and that what may be considered a defect in one building, may be a normal characteristic in another”.
“Our listed building surveys are usually undertaken by two people, this allows us to gather more site information and provide you with a more accurate and detailed report”.
When carrying out listed building surveys on historical buildings we look carefully for signs of unauthorised or badly executed repairs and alterations and alert you to the legal and practical consequences. Importantly, a survey also includes a desktop planning audit. This involves researching the historic environment records and Planning Authority records to see whether any applications for planning permission or listed building consent have been submitted. Armed with this information we have a good idea of what the building should look like when we arrive for the inspection.
It is important to keep in mind that there may be a requirement to remove or make good any alterations that have not received listed building consent or have not been executed in accordance with the approved specifications or conditions. If alterations were made after the building was listed, regardless of who made the alterations, you as the incoming owner become fully liable.
Your legal representative, usually a conveyancer, will issue a TA6 form to the vendor. This includes questions regarding any alterations or repairs that have been carried out. Unfortunately this cannot guarantee that the property is free from illegal alterations. Commissioning a listed building survey from a qualified surveyor such as Nicholson Price Associates ensures that the possible presence of unauthorised alterations has been thoroughly investigated.
Our listed building surveyor’s reports are bespoke, clear, concise, and provide well informed and pragmatic options for dealing with any defects. Our conclusions and recommendations are based on sensitive and intelligent surveying. We understand the expected performance standards for the type and age of the building being inspected. In most cases we avoid deferring to others on important issues, and ensure that our clients receive the most comprehensive report possible.
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Your Questions Answered
If you are thinking of buying a listed building then you need to ensure that you choose a surveyor who has the necessary knowledge. Most importantly, they require the experience to provide you with a realistic assessment of the condition of the property. Few building surveyors have the training to offer a proper assessment and give detailed advice. Choosing the wrong surveyor could result in an unnecessarily adverse report or worse still, a report that doesn’t accurately reflect the condition of the historic building or provide the level of information you require.
“Choosing the right level of survey is important, finding the right surveyor is essential. At Nicholson Price Associates we deliver the right type of survey for your property. Our professional team is here to help you every step of the way!”
What are Listed Building Surveys?
Listed Building Surveys are bespoke and vary according to the type and age of the building. This type of inspection is based on a RICS Level 3 survey, sometimes referred to as a Structural Survey. The report is supplemented with additional legal, historical, and technical information relevant to the property. This addresses specific concerns or proposals you may have. Great care is taken to identify and record historical or architecturally significant fabric. This helps explain the cause and implications of any defects that may be present.
Do I Need a Listed Building Survey?
Every old building is unique, and the type of defect is often age, material or location specific. Some defects may be visible, while others may be hidden, with only subtle clues as to the type and extent of the problem. A full survey may carry a cost, but it provides you with all the information required to make an informed decision about the purchase and management of a property.
The Biggest Concerns When Commissioning a Listed Building Survey
- Structural problems
- Timber decay
- Problems requiring immediate or substantial financial investment.
We can provide you with a comprehensive report to assess all the matters listed. A non-destructive pre-purchase survey and without the need for additional surveys. There are certain elements that we are unable to report on in detail. These include
- Electrical and mechanical installations
- Underground drainage
- Buildings services.
Every Building Is Unique
The property may have been subject to later alterations using materials and building techniques that may have caused unforeseen problems. Just as important as the bricks and mortar is the need to identify any possible breaches of development control.
When carrying out listed building surveys we look carefully for signs of unauthorised or badly executed repairs and alterations. This is to alert you to the legal and practical consequences. The survey includes a desktop planning audit. This involves examining historic environment records and Planning Authority registers to see whether any planning applications or listed building consents have been submitted. This gives us a good idea of what the building should look like when we arrive for the inspection.
A vendor questionnaire is used to gather as much documentary information about the property as possible. Asking the vendor direct questions yields facts that would otherwise not become available.
Alterations to Listed Buildings
Consider that alterations to listed buildings which have not received ‘listed building consent’ are liable to be removed or made good. This includes work which has not been executed in accordance with the approved specifications or planning conditions. If they were made after the building was listed (regardless of who made the alterations), the incoming owner becomes liable. In our experience, the number of buildings harbouring unauthorised alterations is close to 90%
What’s In a Listed Building Survey?
It consists of:
- A physical inspection
- A detailed report
The typical listed building survey contains details and recommendations on:
- Floor plans and photos
- Chimney Stacks
- Roof coverings and underlays
- Roof structures and loft space
- External walls
- Gutter, downpipes, soil and vent pipes
- Facias soffits, windows & doors
- External decoration
- Ceilings, walls, partitions and finishes
- Chimney breasts, flues and fireplaces
- Internal joinery & timber defects
- Internal decoration
- Thermal efficiency
- Outbuildings, parking & garages
- External areas
- Electricity & gas supply
- Plumbing & heating
Information on the property market and regulations.
You can learn a lot from the history of your home. Our reports are well-illustrated, clear, concise providing well informed options for dealing with any defects. Our conclusions and recommendations are based on sensitive and intelligent surveying. These convey a clear understanding of the expected performance standards for the type and age of the building being inspected. We ensure that our clients receive the most comprehensive report possible. Our clients are always surprised at the level of detail and clarity of our building surveys. We feel strongly that conveying the right amount of information in an informative and accessible way is crucial to their understanding.
Do a Listed Building Survey Include Advice on Development and Management of the Property?
Some clients ask whether alterations are technically feasible and whether they would be approved by the local Planning Authority. We always ask our clients for a list of proposals which we then investigate during the inspection. We then provide an analysis within the Listed Building Report. Many clients go on to employ us to help them with planning and design matters. We also discuss options for repairs and offer advice on how and where to source materials and find other specialists.
One aspect of owning an historic building that is often overlooked is the cost and availability of buildings insurance. Rebuild valuations are generally higher than the open market value. In some cases, the cost of rebuilding may be many times market value. This may result in much higher premiums than expected. Buildings of Non-standard construction may also attract higher premiums. In fact some insurers may refuse to insure the building at all.
Can A Listed Building Survey be Undertaken For Any Type of building?
We believe strongly in saying no if we feel we do not have the experience or skills to competently complete a piece of work. Our experience with listed and historic buildings is broad, and we are familiar with most of the local vernacular styles. However, we do not survey the following constructions:
- Earthen wall buildings.
We don’t have the experience with these materials, and you should be careful sourcing a surveyor who claims to.
Do You Undertake Surveys of all Grades of Listed Building?
We survey Grade II or Grade II* Listed building mostly as these are the two most common. We have inspected nationally important Grade 1 buildings including Beaumaris Castle and other nationally important buildings. The distinction between the various grades is usually linked to historic significance rather than the building fabric. The physical inspection protocols used across the grades is similar.
Why Are Buildings Listed?
- Building age
- Historical association with important events concerning people or places.
- Illustrate advances in technology or constructional techniques
- Their contribution to a group setting. A typical example would be a property located in one of the model villages
Do Listed Building Surveys Provide General Advice and Information?
One thing that all these buildings have in common is the legal protection afforded to them. This ensures that developments are tightly controlled, not only at local level but also at national level if the building is particularly important.
Many people avoid listed buildings simply because they think that ownership is too restrictive. While there are limitations as to what can be altered, sensitive well-designed alterations are often possible. The legal protection given them is far reaching. This may be in contradiction to what you may have been told by the estate agent or the current owners. It may also differ from the contents of the statutory list description.
Protection applies to the interior as well as the exterior. It also applies to all structures and buildings within the curtilage of the listed building.
We always go above and beyond. Our Surveys are undertaken by a qualified listed building surveyor, providing information that you will not find in a typical report. We are always happy to provide additional advice after the report has been issued.
Further Reading including more information at the Listed Building Owners Club: https://www.lpoc.co.uk/
Why Choose Nicolson Price Associates?
Surveying listed buildings requires experience and academic training. Some buildings have long and ambiguous architectural developments spanning several centuries. Establishing what is a normal characteristic and what is a serious defect is one of the key skills of listed building surveyors. When to intervene, monitor or simply do nothing and explain the reasons are important requirements.
We have worked exclusively with Listed and Historic Buildings for almost twenty years. We have high level academic training which has allowed us to develop a strong reputation as one of the leading historic building practices in Northern England and Wales.
We are a family business with a low-cost business model providing high quality competitively priced listed building surveys.
See Meet the Team for Consultant Profiles.
“Our building surveys are usually undertaken by two people. This allows us to gather more site information and provide you with a more accurate and detailed report”.