Professional property finder Jonathan Hopper explores what to consider when buying an old or historic property

High ceilings, low ceilings, cornicing, beams, small doorways, thatched roofs, sash windows, cast iron fireplaces, the list of features that may be found in period properties goes on and on.

With so many of Britain’s beautiful places to live having streets lined with characterful historic buildings, the reality for many home buyers is they will likely consider making a period property their home.

Various means exist to protect period properties and the characterful older areas of cities, towns and villages. This does not mean changes cannot be made, but consent must first be granted.

Listed property or within a conservation area?

English properties of architectural and historic interest may be added to the National Heritage List for England and are referred to as ‘listed’. There are three listing grades, with Grade II being the lowest and accounting for just over 90 per cent of all listed properties.

Many towns and villages have areas that are particularly attractive and characterful, and are protected from unauthorised changes by the creation of conservation areas to preserve the overall feel of the place and appearance of the houses, trees, and street furniture. In 2011, legislation gave communities without conservation areas the power to create neighbourhood plans to influence local planning policies and recommend the protection of local buildings, open spaces, and views.

When buying a listed property or a house in a conservation area it is essential to receive expert legal advice. Changes already made to the property without the necessary consents constitute a criminal offence, and criminal liability will almost certainly transfer to the new owner. These issues, once discovered, can be resolved, but getting the right advice is crucial.

Period properties generally need more maintenance and any permissions granted usually specify that the same materials and methods are used for repairs as when the house was built. These may be costly, and need specialist contractors, so it is prudent to research the cost and regularity of maintenance needed before committing to the purchase.

An absolute necessity

Garrington strongly recommends all clients, regardless of the age of property, instruct an independent surveyor to complete a full building survey as soon as possible after agreeing terms to avoid paying further conveyancing costs should something undesirable be discovered.

Despite period properties requiring more maintenance and greater consideration, their unique nature and charm means they rarely come to market and are very sought after.

As a local expert, a professional property finder will conduct thorough due diligence on properties seriously considered by their clients and provide them with valuable insight.

For professional guidance and assistance in sourcing and purchasing a period property, contact Garrington to arrange a no-obligation discussion.