Can you renovate a listed property to have all the modcons?

An expert from the Listed Property Owners' Club gives advice.
An expert from the Listed Property Owners' Club gives advice.
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Do I need listed building consent or planning permission? We ask the experts

Q. I live in a category B listed building in Helensburgh and want to bring it up to standard for modern-day living. Before I go ahead and start making changes – some structural, some decorative – I’m aware that works to listed buildings require extra consent. Please can you shed some light on this?

ANSWER: It is a myth that only the front of any building is listed. When a building is added to the statutory list, protection extends to the inside, the outside, to any object or structure fixed to the building and to any structure within the curtilage of the building that was built before 1948. It is worth keeping this in mind before proceeding with any changes or works.

You need to apply for listed building consent from your local authority to demolish, alter or extend any part of your listed building in a way which affects its character. Routine repairs and redecoration that do not affect the character of the listed building do not normally require consent.

If you are planning alterations to a listed property, be realistic as to what will be allowed. For instance, planning permission is unlikely to be granted to add a large modern garage to a small cottage. By working sympathetically with the property, your plans are much more likely to be approved.

Replacing kitchen or bathroom fittings rarely requires listed building consent unless it involves alteration to the building such as an extract duct, a relocated boiler flue or alterations to door openings or historic finishes.

If you are looking to make thermal improvements without the need for listed building consent options include draught-proofing, improving loft insulation and upgrading to a more efficient boiler (so long as it does not involve altering the building). Double-glazing windows and adding insulation to walls and floors can be a little more challenging and will almost certainly require listed building consent.

If in doubt the best advice is always to speak with the local planning authority or contact The Listed Property Owners’ Club who will be pleased to help. The Club provides free professional advice on all aspects of buying, owning and maintaining listed buildings to their members.

If you own or are thinking of buying a listed building, don’t miss The Scottish Listed Property Show, with the biggest collection of listed building suppliers and experts under one roof.

Plus, you can meet face-to-face with experts on planning, legal issues, insurance, damp control, energy efficiency and independent conservation officers for impartial help and advice.

The Scottish Listed Property Show takes place on Saturday 27th October at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Book tickets in advance for a discounted price of £8 when you quote SM1. Visit or call 0131 357 3300.

Do you need help from one of our experts? Email your questions to Advice is given without responsibility.