historic, period and listed buildings­

There are many historic town and country houses, some grand and some small cottages.  Although few medieval 'peasant' cottages of wattle and daub have survived there are many beautiful oak framed, brick and stone houses which have retained their quality and style over hundreds of years.

The development of different methods of construction together with the changing styles and fashions in buildings combine to enable us to date many historic houses.  Victorian extensions added to Georgian buildings or replacement facades in the 'new' style over much older buildings may, initially, hide the original age and style from view.  However, an understanding of the changing methods of construction often reveals the true age and the history of a building through a number of refurbishments and alterations, sometimes over hundreds of years.

In order to advise on historic and period buildings it is necessary for a surveyor to have long experience coupled with sympathy for and understanding of older buildings.  The surveyor needs to like and appreciate English vernacular architecture.

The Periods and Styles of English houses

Dates of period architecture relate to the reigns of Monarchs although there are no exact dates when one style changed to another.

Tudor 1485-1560   
Henry VII 1485-1509
Henry VIII 1509-1547
Edward VI 1547-1553
Mary 1553-1558
Elizabethan 1560-1603
Elizabeth I 1558-1603
Jacobean or Early Stuart 1603-1649
James I 1603-1625
Charles I 1625-1649
Cromwellian 1649-1660
Carolean or Late Stuart 1660-1689
Charles II 1660-1685
James II 1685-1689
William & Mary 1689-1702
William III
and Mary
Queen Anne 1702-1714
Anne 1702-1714
Georgian 1714-1800
George I 1714-1727
George II 1727-1760
George III 1760-1820
Regency & Early Victorian 1800-1837
(George III 1811-1820)
George IV 1820-1830
William IV 1830-1837
Victorian 1837-1901
Victoria 1837-1901
Edwardian 1901-1910
Edward VII 1901-1910
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Why buy an older building?

Old buildings are often costly to heat and maintain, requiring continued expenditure over many years.  They do not comply with modern regulations.  They often have rooms which are too big or too small for modern living.  Nevertheless, there is a high demand for such buildings as many people wish to own and occupy a house with history, character and 'uniqueness' which is impossible to reproduce.

However, the use of 'rose-coloured spectacles' is not recommended.  Whilst we would not counsel against a romantic view of older style living this should be tempered by a well planned, practical, approach to the inevitable cost and disruption of maintenance and repair.

Many period buildings are listed as being of 'special architectural or historic interest'.  This brings regulation and the need for 'Listed Building Consent' for alteration and repair works.  This may increase costs and restrict an owner’s plans for a building.  More often, the requirement to conserve a listed building coincides with the owner’s wishes.  The high value of historic buildings is conserved by conserving the historic character and style.

Why is a building listed?

Listing of buildings of special architectural and historic interest began on 1st January 1950.  The purpose was to protect the many buildings which comprise the country’s architectural heritage from demolition and destructive alteration.  Opinions change over time.  In the 1950’s Georgian architecture was thought to be unworthy of conservation but is now highly valued.

How are buildings selected for listing?

Buildings are judged on age, rarity, architectural merit and type of construction.  Sometimes buildings linked to a famous person or historic event are listed.

Buildings retaining their original construction and built before 1700 are listed as are most which were built before 1840.  More modern buildings are judged on the remaining criteria.

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The grades of listing

Grade I
Grade II*
Grade II
Buildings of exceptional interest.
Buildings that are particularly important and of more than special interest.
Buildings of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

More than 500,000 buildings in England are listed. More than 90% are Grade II listings.

Where may listing documents be seen?

Listings in a local area are available from the local authority planning office.

The National list is kept by English Heritage, The National Monuments Record, Kemble Drive, Swindon SN2 2GZ.

Building preservation notices

Individual buildings which are potential candidates for listing may be threatened by demolition or alteration.  The district/borough council or the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission may issue a building preservation notice.  This protects the building, as if it were listed, for six months. This allows time for the building to be assessed to ascertain whether a listing is appropriate.

Spot” listing

This is an emergency procedure used by the Department of National Heritage.  Members of the public may bring threatened buildings to the attention of the Department for assessment and listing.

Removal of listing

A property owner may request that the Secretary of State de-lists a building, submitting evidence that it does not possess the special architectural or historic interest which was the basis of the listing

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Listed building consent

When a building is listed a person wishing to demolish, alter or extend in a way which would affect its character must obtain listed building consent from the local planning authority or the Secretary of State.

It is an offence to proceed without consent and the penalty may be an unlimited fine, up to 12 months imprisonment or both.

Planning Permission

Planning approval from the local authority is necessary in addition to listed building consent for any alteration or change of use controlled by the Planning Acts.


Refusal of listed building consent may be appealed to the Secretary of State.

Recording of buildings prior to demolition

If consent is given to demolish the whole or part of a listed building this should not be carried out until the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments has been allowed to make a record of it.


The local authority may serve a “Repairs Notice” specifying works necessary to properly preserve a listed building.  If the notice is not complied with within two months the authority may make a compulsory purchase order.

Where an owner deliberately neglects a building in order to redevelop the authority may compulsorily purchase at a price that excludes the development value.

If a building is unoccupied the authority may serve a notice on the owner of its intention to carry out urgent repairs and recover the costs of those repairs from the owner.

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Grants and Loans

Grants and loans are available for repairs to buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest but not for normal maintenance.  Owners have to show that they would not be able to complete the works without financial assistance.

Town Schemes

Some historic towns have a Town Scheme where grants and loans are available for repair.

Conservation Areas

Local authorities designate 'Areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance'.

Demolition of a building in such an area requires Conservation Area Consent.

James Flynn Surveyors?

We are an independent firm of surveyors and have been advising clients on all aspects of property value and condition since 1980 from our offices in London, Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent.  We mainly cover the London and South East region but travel further afield when this is requested.

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To contact us please select from the appropriate area link below:

London  | Surrey | Sussex | Hampshire | Kent



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