words Alexa Wang
Whether you’ve inherited a listed property, already own one, or you’re looking to purchase one to renovate that’s stood empty for an extended period of time, knowing what to do with an uninhabited building can be challenging. You need to consider many aspects, from repairs and fire risks to environmental surveys and protecting wildlife while keeping in line with the restrictions surrounding your property, which will depend on its grading.
You will also need to consider whether you will maintain the property and leave it empty or restore it and find a use for it. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about maintaining your uninhabited listed properties, as well as tips on what you can do with building if you’re looking to restore it.
Tackling Urgent Repairs
The first thing you should do is look into how to tackle any urgent repairs the property needs, but in order to do this, you will need to understand what grade the building is listed as and what restrictions are in place to protect the structures historical value.
Listed buildings come in three grades; Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II. However, most listed buildings in the UK are Grade II, as many of the older structures that would fall into Grade I or Grade II* have been lost to time and war. If you’re ever unsure of what grade your property is, you can find out on the National Heritage List for England, also known as NHLE.
Once you know what grading your listed building is, you will need to contact your local planning authority in order to apply for a listed building consent. A listed building consent is required for any work you plan on doing, whether it’s to restore features to their former glory or repair sections that are at risk of collapse. When you have the listed building consent, you will be able to begin the repair work that’s needed before planning your next move.
Reducing The Risk Of Fire
Many older buildings are at risk of fire, often due to being left empty for long periods of time, but they can also accumulate piles of rubbish that is typically leftover from previous owners or contractors who have worked on the building before. This rubbish can consist of various materials that could increase the risk of fire within your property, which is why it’s vital that you do a safety walkthrough with a professional. During this walkthrough, you will be notified of what areas are at risk, as well as which rooms need to be cleared of debris. Afterwards, you should be given a list of what you can do to reduce the fire risk in your property, which will help to keep your investment safe.
Controlling Wildlife And Vegetation
Mice, rats, voles, and other wildlife, may have moved into your property or could be attracted if you let the outside reach a state of disrepair with overgrown vegetation. In order to avoid unwanted guests moving into your home, you should set up a schedule that tends to the land and provides plenty of room for wildlife outside. Additionally, you should also repair any cracks, crevices, or holes in the exterior walls that small creatures could use to enter the building.
Considering The Environment And Bat Surveys
When doing work on your listed building, you will need to consider the environment and perform all the necessary surveys, such as bat surveys, to ensure that you are in line with the legal restrictions surrounding endangered or protected animal and plant species.
In old, uninhabited buildings, especially those situated in the countryside, that have fallen into a state of disrepair, you will often find that bats have moved in when you come to do renovations. In some cases, the bats cannot be relocated, and you will have to settle on keeping the building maintained. In order to understand where you stand in regards to bats in or surrounding your property and any work you have planned; you will need to enlist the help of specialists like Arbtech. When you want to know more about bats and what you are required to do if you find them on your property or in your buildings, check out the expert advice from these professional bat surveyors. They can help you find out what’s going on, and set you in the right direction. This will help you to control the wildlife and protect the environment.
Protecting The Features
Many listed buildings have features that you will need to protect to remain in line with the grading requirements. These features can range from fireplaces to doors and tiles to staircases internally, whereas externally, they could be anything from ironwork to stonework and windows to chimney stacks. When protecting or repairing the features, you’ll most likely need to hire a contractor who specialises in the building processes that were originally used, but if you’re unsure of which contractors you’ll need, Historic England has some great advice to get you started. It’s all about being able to protect your building.
Maintaining And Repairing The Structure
As well as protecting the features of your property, you’ll need to schedule regular maintenance in order to keep the building clean and in good condition. During these checks, areas of the building may show signs of deterioration that will need repairs, and in these cases, you should arrange a professional to come down and provide a quote before you contact the local planning authority for a listed building consent.
Finding A Use For The Property
Once you have your building back to its former glory, you may wish to find a use for the property. In many cases, if you have been able to restore the property fully, you may be able to sell it on or rent it out as a home. However, in some cases, only certain areas of the building will be usable. In the event that you are unable to use specific areas of the building, you could open the property up for people to take tours as a window into the past.