How much does it cost to renovate a listed building?

Renovating a listed property requires specific skills and materials which can be costly – here are some ways you can try to keep those costs down...

When you buy a listed property, it’s not because it makes financial sense. Usually it’s because you’ve fallen in love with the house, its character, its charm, its history. True, it may not be the perfect family home… just yet, but nothing that a little renovation job won’t fix. Well, be prepared! They say love is blind, but with a few guidelines under your belt, you’ll be able to create the home of your dreams without breaking the bank!

As a general rule of thumb, building costs are quoted at £1200-£1500 per metre square. However, with a listed building, you could be looking at anything from 30%-50% higher than this due to the materials and skilled labour involved and also the level of detail needed to draw up plans and calculations. Basically, the more people involved in the build, the higher the costs…

Time is money

If you are considering extending or renovating your listed property, there are a number of procedures that must be followed. As well as applying for your usual planning consent, you will need to obtain listed building consent as well. This is true for any internal work as well as external work, all of which could delay your project by several weeks. To help you with your plans, it is worth consulting an experienced architect – yes, you will pay for the expertise but it is this expertise that may save you money in the long run. A delayed start will soon eat into your finances.

It’s a material world

Renovation or repair work on a listed building tends to take longer than on a non-listed property. This is because of the building materials used. A modern property may have walls made of plasterboard which is a cheap and quick solution, whereas a listed property is likely to be lime, which can be longer to construct and will need specialist tradesmen.

Your local authority may insist that you use traditional methods and materials when constructing garden walls or interior features, so rather than arranging a quick delivery from your local DIY store, you will need to source and import stone from your local quarry, a much more costly and timely affair.

Paying for skills

Using traditional materials means finding someone with the skillset to work with them. If your house walls are traditional lath and plaster, or wattle and daub, you’ll want to use the right materials to keep the walls ‘breathable’, and hire the services of a specialist. To replaster an entire room with lime plaster will take at least a month, with three or four visits from the plasterer within that time. This will of course be more expensive than shipping in a team of local plasterers who can do the job in half the time.

Ways to cut costs

There are a few ways you could start to shave money off your listed property renovation project.

1. Learn on the job: For a start, you could learn some of the traditional skills yourself. There are courses on offer that teach traditional skills such as lime plastering and thatching – why pay someone else what you could do yourself? Visit to find details of courses near you.

2. Go salvage hunting: Paying for traditional materials eat up a large chunk of the funds so hunt around for reclaimed items. Look out for reclaimed stone from a local property that’s undergoing a renovation, ask local builders if they have anything leftover from past builds and visit reclamation yards to pick up reclaimed floorboards, radiators and fireplaces.

3. Research grants: When it comes to renovating a listed property, there may be grants available to help out with some of the work. The administrative body for listed buildings may help, and so may the local authority. It’s also worth doing a bit of ferreting to try and find other, more obscure sources, such as local trusts or charities interested in preserving the character of an area, or buildings of a specific type. A trip to the library in the area should yield a directory of grant sources that can be searched or visit

4. Make sure you’re covered: As a typical listed building renovation is likely to take months, if not years, it is worth being covered for any eventuality. Make sure your builder has public liability insurance (all of our work comes with a ten-year insurance backed guarantee as standard) so that if anything happens during the build, you will be covered. We also work to fixed JCT contracts which means both parties know details of costs and timeframes involved. Contact us now for a free initial quote!

Peter Little
Property Conservation Company Ltd