Many Victorian houses are listed which prevents homeowners from carrying out alteration works without pre-approved consent. Whilst this has the advantage of protecting history, it can severely limit the changes homeowners are able to make.
There are certain changes homeowners can make without consent. It’s important to understand the listing process to avoid getting caught out and potentially facing a criminal conviction.
Within this guide, we explain the listing process and the implications it will have on you as a homeowner.
Many Victorian houses are listed which prevents owners from demolishing or altering the house without special permission. Listing properties helps preserve history and architecture from being ruined, but it does have implications for homeowners. Carrying out construction work without pre-approved consent is a criminal act.
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What Does It Mean if a House Is Listed?
A listed house is one that’s on a statutory list. Being listed means you can’t demolish or alter the house without special permission. In many areas, alterations require planning permission from the local authority.
When we build houses, we usually make them to last. Still, it may not be up to us. Sometimes, an event can lead to the destruction of specific properties. This isn’t a major deal when talking about one or two houses.
However, if there was a natural disaster that took out many houses, it could be a huge problem. That’s because the local government must now decide which houses get repaired.
To make their decisions easier, historical societies came up with the idea of listing. They broke down houses into groups based on their size and overall value. Then, if anything happens to a neighborhood, they know how to prioritize renovations.
Why Are Victorian Houses Listed?
Victorian houses were constructed during the nineteenth century. This was a period of enormous, rapid population growth. So, the people needed to build many new homes to accommodate the change.
When they started building Victorian houses, they were expensive to construct. So, these houses were for the elite, and they were often made close to historical landmarks.
In fact, one more reason these houses are listed is because of the close proximity to historical landmarks. Historical societies started recording them to protect these landmarks.
A lot of hard work went into the foundations of those houses. That means that most Victorian houses could last a lot longer than any other house built at the same time.
This is also why many Victorian houses are still standing to this day. To ensure that we preserve history, many people started listing their Victorian homes. It’s a way to ensure that a significant piece of history lives on.
Another reason people list Victorian houses may be how they look. Victorian homes are a lot more than a relic from the past. They’re also some of the most intricately designed houses.
Are All Old Houses Listed?
The older the building is, the more likely it is that someone listed the house. Still, age isn’t the only factor. Most listed homes are from the nineteenth century. However, many of them weren’t listed because of their age.
We list some homes because of their connection to a significant period in history. This could mean that an influential person from history lived in that home for a while. Or, it could mean that the Victorian house was a gathering place for an important organization.
Another major factor is the rarity of the Victorian house. Not all Victorian homes were made equal. Some had many unique architectural structures, and how rare those structures were had a considerable impact. Since we can’t list all Victorian houses, we give ones with rare design elements priority.
What Makes a House Listed?
We only consider a house listed after it’s registered with the local historical society. For a Victorian house to qualify for listing, it needs to meet specific criteria:
- Be an interesting work by a significant architect
- Important work done by a local architect of merit
- Part of an architecturally sensitive streetscape
- Part of a larger group of buildings built with the same design and purpose
- The house must be complete
- Created with a pioneering form of construction
- A rare survivor of a specific type of house
- Have definite architectural quality
- An expression of technical or social innovation of a particular period
The house doesn’t need to meet all these criteria to qualify. Usually, it’ll need to complete two or three of the requirements before it’s listed.
This means it’s nearly impossible for you to list an ordinary Victorian house. It needs to be old and have some historical significance, except for homes built for a major company and have national value.
Is a Listed Victorian House More Expensive?
Generally, listed houses are more expensive than normal ones, but that’s not always the case.
When buying a house, you’ll find out that Victorian homes are more expensive than many other house types. On average, a Victorian house can be between 10% to 15% more costly than another house in the same area.
A listed Victorian house can be more expensive than a non-listed house. It’ll all depend on the intended use of the building. Most of the time, the initial cost of a listed Victorian home can be close to the price of a non-listed house.
The main price difference comes in when you start renovations. It can cost significantly more to make minor adjustments to a listed house. Things like mending the roof and replanting the garden can cost more than twice as much in a listed house.
In addition, you have to apply for permits when renovating a listed house. This process can be both tedious and expensive.
What Are the Restrictions of a Listed House?
To renovate a listed Victorian house, you need a building consent application. This application is a way of asking a historical society for permission to change the house in some way.
Carrying out any type of construction without building consent is a criminal offense. This could lead to a considerable fine and sometimes even community service.
Historical societies restrict many aspects of listed home maintenance. The only way to maintain a listed house is with a building consent. Some of the restrictions on a listed house can include:
- Building repairs
- Internal alterations
- Exposing timber and brickwork
- Demolishing and rebuilding feature
- Removing fireplaces and paneling
- Changing the windows
- Building extensions
These are just some of the restrictions. They’ll differ from one historical society to the next. Still, it can be a hassle to deal with, even in a lenient community.
It’s a good idea to contact local historical societies when deciding on alterations. The paperwork can take time, and they can deny building consent requests altogether.
What Can You Do to a Listed House Without Consent?
While major construction requires a building consent, not all tasks need it. You can make alterations to a listed house without involving a historical society. Some of these alterations include:
- Adding a carport
- Building an awning
- Constructing a single-story detached building
- Adding a single-story pole shed/hay barn
- Alterations to the veranda and porch
- Installing a permanent outdoor fireplace or oven
- Small pipe restoration
- Short span bridges
- Mounting solar panels
- Building flexible water storage bladders
The main goal is not to change the integrity of the listed Victorian house. So, an alteration that doesn’t affect the overall architecture should be fine. Still, before you take on any of these tasks, you might want to ask a chartered professional engineer.
What Are the Benefits of Being Listed?
We’ve discussed how much of a pain maintaining a listed Victorian house can be. Still, there are many benefits to living in a listed house. Some of these benefits include:
- You own a piece of living history
- Most listed houses are in spectacular areas
- Maintained list properties increase in value constantly
- A sturdy house that can weather the elements
- Unique infrastructure
In addition to all these amazing benefits, some listed houses can qualify for grants. If your Victorian house matches a few criteria, you can apply for a financial grant. The sum will differ based on the size of the property and its age.
Most of the time, the grant will be to help maintain the property. This is because you need special equipment and materials to restore a listed house. So, local historical societies can give out grants to help keep listed houses in tip-top shape.
Is It More Expensive to Insure a Listed House?
When you’re applying for any kind of insurance, an agency will tailor the policy to your specific needs. This is no different from a listed Victorian house.
When an insurance agency sets a policy, they usually inspect the property first. They look for any pre-existing problems with the house. It can be an issue with the foundation, structure, or even plumbing.
Depending on the initial state of your listed house, your policy will be a little different. If there’s damage and the house needs a lot of renovation, you might find the policy quite expensive. Other cases may have more affordable insurance.
So, before you head over to the insurance agency, it may be a good idea to call in a contractor first. It may take more time and money, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Victorian houses come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on where and when a house was built, it can be on the list. So, are all Victorian houses listed? To answer that question, you need to consider age and rarity.
Make sure to check with your local historical society to see if your Victorian house is on the list.