Extending a Listed Home
Extending a listed home is definitely not for the faint-hearted but there are signs of changes in planners' attitudes that make it at least a possibility. There are two major problems, the first cost and the second the co-ordination of all the different bodies involved. These two problems are intertwined, as a lot of the costs come from the fact that you could have many different organisations to consult and gain permission from.
Higher Costs with Listed BuildingsWorking with a listed building means higher costs for a number of reasons. You will almost certainly have to hire architects, preferably those with experience in extending listed buildings. Often repairs to the original structure are required as part of the extension project and you could be required to make them using the same materials and methods used when the property was built. These will be more expensive and slower than modern materials and methods, even if the end result will be more satisfying.
Then there are the extra costs incurred from the construction of the extension itself. Modern planning tactics are to ensure that an extension to a listed building is made of different materials to the original property. This is to make it obvious which parts are new and which are old. This gives more flexibility but a certain level of quality will be required so that the extension complements the listed building. This means higher costs than throwing up a block-and-brick box with a flat roof.
Managing Conflicting DemandsThere will also be more than one authority that have an opinion on your proposed extension. Note that this will differ in the various countries and regions of the UK, depending on whether the home is in some sort of conservation area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a National Park or just listed on its own merits.
We've covered the planning issues for listed buildings in our article "Planning Permission For Extending Listed Buildings", but briefly planners are now prepared to realise that older homes require adaptation for owners who lead modern lives. The trouble is that another body, English Heritage, for example, may not agree with modifications that the planners accept, or vice versa.
Getting Everyone TogetherTrying to co-ordinate these sometimes conflicting demands creates delays and pushes the price up because you are needing to prepare documents and consult with at least two bodies rather than just one. Try as hard as possible to get inspectors, planners, conservation officers and consultants from other bodies to agree to meet you at the property at the same time for discussions.
It is traditionally hard to get them to agree to this. But if you can't you will be stuck in the middle if they give you conflicting instructions as to what you can or can't do to your home. And it will all have to be dealt with at arms length, by telephone, post and email.
Do Your Own ResearchFinally, do as much research as possible into any listed home. One homeowner in Oxfordshire was able to demonstrate to planners that a two-storey building had existed at the back of their home in their garden until being pulled down during the Second World War.
This demonstrated a precedent for the extension they were trying to build and permission was granted. You never know what you might find until you start looking.