Category: Listed Insurance Guides

A selection of guides for Listed Buildings

Insurance for Commercial Listed Buildings

Insurance for Commercial listed buildings
Insurance for Commercial Listed Buildings

Insurance for Commercial Listed Buildings from Highhouse

We have a number of facilities that will enable us to quote for listed buildings that are used for commercial (business) purposes. When you first contact our office we will undertake an initial assessment of your details to ascertain on what basis your property should be insured. In many cases, particularly where the building is designed and used as a private dwelling as well as a business, we may be able to issue a standard home owner policy. For example if you live in say the upper portion of the property but use the basement as a studio or consulting rooms, we can often insure you on a domestic policy with the cover suitably endorsed to note the business use. You will of course be responsible for arranging suitable business insurance including liability.

In all other circumstances, we will need to insure your listed building on either a commercial property owner’s basis (in instances where you are the landlord and you rent the property to tenants) or on a business combined basis if you also want to say cover your stock and liabilities.

A listed building is one that is of special interest and the listed status protects it from certain alterations which helps to preserve the building in it’s original state. Owners of listed buildings who are intending to use the property for commercial purposes will discover that there will be restrictions on the usage of the property as well as on any alterations to make it suitable for commercial use.

When obtaining an insurance quotation the Insurance Company will need to know the full details of the listing and also the materials employed in the construction of the building. At Highhouse Insurance we can quote for all grades of listed building.

Insurance companies are very cautious when quoting on a commercial listed building as they are aware that in the event of a claim, costs can be very high. This is because the length of time for any repairs to be completed is usually much longer than with standard construction commercial premises due to the fact that the correct permission must be obtained and consultants often need to be brought in to supervise work and ensure it is of the correct standard. Delays can arise when building materials are sought, for example, a specific type of stone. As it is usually necessary for professionals with listed building experience to carry out the repairs, the cost of the work will reflect their expertise. This increased cost of repair is shown in the higher insurance premiums on listed building insurance. When quoting the Insurance company will also require full details of either your trade or the trade of the tenant and will need to know about any materials stored in the property.

Private residential listed buildings can sometimes be converted into commercial businesses if they have obtained the necessary planning approval. Planning approval is, however, very restrictive and it may be impossible to for example remove existing windows and replace them with a glass frontage. Likewise, it may not be possible to add a nameplate to the outside of the building or to alter the inside in a way to make it more visitors friendly. Insurers will need to be told exactly how the commercial listed building operates and if there are any split usages within the building.

Although insurance premiums are higher in commercial listed buildings, it is not normally that difficult to obtain a quotation and subject to full information we will be pleased to assist you with either a quote for just your building or to include your business risks as well.

Subject to full underwriting details, we can normally supply standard insurance perils that would be suitable to secure a mortgage on a property and to satisfy a lenders conditions. Examples of listed commercial building we insure include; public houses, tea rooms, bed and breakfasts, hotels and guesthouses. We also have a number of customers who run business from their home and we are happy to quote on these as well.

We also have facilities to quote for religious buildings such as chapels, churches and mosques including grade 1 listed buildings used as places of worship.

We have many years’ experience in placing insurance on these special building and we welcome your enquiry

Listed Building Consent

Listed building planning and maintenance requirements
Planning and Maintenance for Listed Buildings

At Highhouse Insurance we deal with and specialise in covering all types of Listed Building Insurance including Listed Tenement Blocks in Scotland. Our insurance covers a wide range of perils suitable to obtain a mortgage and unlike some insurers; we are also able to cover buildings of non-standard construction.

We have a good understanding of the problems faced by the Listed Building owner and are always willing to speak to owners or persons that are contemplating buying this special type of property. This article looks at the effects of listing a building as well as planning and maintenance.

The effects of Listing a Building

Owning a listed building comes with many responsibilities and owners can find themselves as unpaid guardians of our nation’s heritage. Certainly buying a listed building is not something you would undertake likely particularly if you have designs on making changes either internally or to the fabric of the structure.

As soon as you take on ownership of a listed property you realise that things may not be as straight forward as owning a non-listed property, particularly if you want to make alterations or upgrades to the property.

Whatever grade of listing a building has, any demolition or alteration, both within the building and externally, will need consent if it is to affect the architectural or historic character of the property. The definition of what exactly is meant by the term ‘building’ is not always clear cut. A building does not always stop existing because it has been taken down and an order to reconstruct it may be issued.

The list of structures that have been called buildings includes telephone boxes, drinking troughs and sculptures. The situation is further complicated by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 which enables the development of adjoining sites affecting the setting of a listed building to be looked at as part of the Act.

In the definition of a listed building the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 includes any structure or object within the curtilage of the building even if it is not fixed to the building as long as it was there pre 1st July 1948. The Act refers to the preservation of any feature of the building consisting of a man- made object or a structure fixed to the building. The term ‘fixed’ is understood to mean physically attached to and it, therefore, includes fireplaces, shutters and balconies for example. The legal guidelines are not completely clear and state for example that statues that are a part of the architectural concept are fixtures although statues placed there to be seen in their own right are not. The same reasoning may be applied to tapestries and chandeliers.

The position regarding the painting of listed buildings is inconsistent. Consideration is given as to whether painting affects the character of the building. Painting a surface that was previously unpainted would need consent but repainting using identical colour paint would not. However, if there is any change at all in the texture of the paint consent will be required. Due to uncertainties such as these, some areas have sought to introduce some controls of their own, the City of York for example introduced a by law to control the painting of buildings within the city walls and the importance of the colour of a façade is not only limited to paint colour but also to any changes in the colour of the glass in the windows.

The penalties for unauthorised work on a listed building upon summary conviction are a fine of up to £20,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding three months. On indictment imprisonment may be up to twelve months and the fine is unlimited. The fine is required to reflect the financial gain arising from the offence. As well as a fine and/or imprisonment there will also be an order to reinstate the works, the cost of which may exceed the fine. Failure to take action to rectify a breach may be penalised on a daily basis.

Listing usually involves an increase in the annual maintenance cost and, consequently, a high service charge to occupiers of dwellings within listed buildings. Insurance costs are likely to be higher reflecting the increased cost of reinstatement, and there may also be additional security requirements if the building contains valuable fixtures and fittings. Administration costs increase with possible disaster plans to minimise loss in the event of fire or explosion and there will be increased costs associated with obtaining consent with the local authority. The work is likely to be more expensive because one-off items need to be made to match the existing ones. The time it takes to get the necessary approval can mean that the work is delayed and the use of the property may be affected in the meantime.

Although the listing of a building may have some burdens there are also some advantages with regard to approved alterations. These may have some tax relief and your accountant or local authority should be able to assist you with an enquiry.

Listed building consent

In Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 it is stated that nobody may “execute or cause to be executed any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, unless the works are authorised.” Consequently, Listed Building Consent (LBC) is needed when alterations and repairs to listed buildings are to be made. Planning permission will also be necessary for any extension and for some external alterations. Approval under Building Regulations is usually required too, for both internal and external works. Listed building consent may also be needed for any work on buildings or structures within the grounds of a listed building.

It is essential to carry out routine maintenance of a listed building in order to avoid major works or repairs. Wherever possible like should be replaced by like as traditional materials give listed buildings their unique character. Existing materials on the building should be repaired rather than being replaced, and where work is unavoidable it should avoid damaging old work. Features that are missing should only be replaced when there is evidence that they were there originally.

Listed building consent is required for any demolition, extension, alteration or stone clearing which affects the character of the listed building in any way at all. This may mean that often very minor works, such as door replacement, will need consent. If there is any doubt as to whether consent is required then the Conservation Planner at the Local Authority should be consulted. Examples of works which will need LBC are conservatories, porches, extensions, demolition work, repairs made in materials differing from the original materials, the sandblasting of both internal and external stonework, the removal or alteration of internal doors or panels or fireplaces, exposing timbers that were previously hidden, painting brickwork, installation of satellite dishes, the fitting of new boilers or ovens that need a flue, replacing windows and making internal partitions where none existed previously. This is not a complete list and the Local Authority Conservation Officer should always be asked if LBC is a necessity before work is carried out.

Anyone who carries out work to a listed building without getting the required permission first where the character of the building is affected will, if convicted, be guilty of a criminal offence and this can result in a large fine or in imprisonment. Enforcement action may be taken to restore the building to its original state. There is no time restriction under which these proceedings may be taken. Often the failure to get consent is discovered upon the sale of a listed building. Before buying a listed building it is, therefore, important to check with a solicitor that all works that have been carried out have had the necessary consent, as, if you purchase a listed building with any unauthorised works you then become liable for them. To obtain your quotation for insurance for a listed building including homes with thatched roofs, call Highhouse insurance today.

On occasion it may be necessary to undertake emergency works on a listed building. In such cases the work should only be done if afterwards you are able to prove the following:

  1. That the emergency works were needed with urgency due to health, safety or the preservation of the building in question.
  2. That it was impossible in any way to provide temporary support whilst Listed building consent was sought.
  3. That the works carried out were the least that could be done as a matter of emergency.
  4. That notice in writing which explains in detail exactly how and why the works were done is given to the Local authority as soon as reasonably possible.

The owners and occupants of listed buildings are responsible for maintaining them in a good state of repair. Any listed buildings that have been allowed to fall into disrepair may be added to the Buildings At Risk Register and this will mean that the state of the building will be closely monitored and, if it does not improve, the Local Authority can ask that an Enforcement Notice be served for all the repairs to be carried out.

Before buying a listed building it is essential to comprehend that permission for any alterations may not be granted. However, it is also worth knowing that any new works to listed buildings that have received consent may be eligible for zero rated VAT, meaning that the VAT can be reclaimed. Work done to maintain or repair the listed building are not eligible to be zero rated.

At Highhouse Insurance, we have excellent relationships with our underwriters and a real understanding of this building type, which enables us to offer excellent premiums for both Buildings & Contents for Listed Buildings.

Non Standard Construction Types and Materials

A tudor house built in non standard contruction
Non Standard Construction

What does non standard construction mean?

When Insurers refer to standard construction in respect of home buildings, they usually mean property that is built of brick, stone or concrete and roofed with slate, tiles, metal or concrete. Generally speaking to answer the question of what does non standard construction mean?, from an insurance perspective, any building that does not meet the criteria above is deemed to be of non-standard construction and insurers will either; decline cover, want a premium load or impose special terms.

It’s vital that this question is answered correctly on a proposal form as failure to do so could reduce or invalidate a claim. With the vast majority of buildings, it’s fairly straight forward to ascertain how a property is constructed, however when dealing with older style properties such as listed buildings, the task becomes harder and often a professional survey report is required  which should  list the construction materials that have been employed.

Another feature of listed property, especially ones that have stood for a number of centuries, is that over time they become modified. Prior to statutory controls being introduced to protect listed property, it is not unusual to find a home where the original portion is built of entirely different materials from later additions.
One of the most common forms of non-standard construction type is the property that has a flat roof.   In many cases however, if the percentage of flat roof is low, the risk is still considered to be standard and normal terms will be offered. The vast majority of flat roofs are constructed of felt on timber. Felt is layered bitumen impregnated material and is often confused with asphalt. Felt comes is rolls and is laid on a roof a strip at a time, whereas asphalt is poured on a prepared surface and then typically covered with gravel before it cools.

Non standard construction types and materials

You may see any of the following materials used in homes constructed in the United Kingdom especially older style properties

  1. Wattle & Daub– This is a form of wall construction consisting of interwoven twigs plastered with a mixture of clay, lime, water, and sometimes dung and chopped straw.  This is a fairly common material used in old listed buildings and builders were known to mix in any material that was “local” to the construction site.
  2. Lath & Plaster- This is also much used in Listed Buildings and consists of thin narrow strips of wood nailed to rafters, joists, or studding as groundwork for slates, tiles, or plaster.
  3. Rendering– Not usually considered being non- standard on its own as it is a coat of plaster or cement applied to a masonry surface. However, the material below the rendering should always be checked.
  4. Stucco- A durable finish for exterior walls, usually composed of cement, sand, and lime, and applied while wet. Or in can also be a  plaster or cement finish for interior walls
  5. Asbestos- A heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, used in fire-resistant and insulating materials. Uncommon nowadays because of the health risks associated with the product.
  6. Strammit- A brand make of paneling that has been in use for over 50 years, Strammit panels have a high strength to weight ratio and provide good thermal and acoustic insulation and outstanding resistance to fire.
  7. Weather Board– Weatherboarding is the cladding or ‘siding’ of a house consisting of long thin timber boards that overlap one another, either vertically or horizontally on the outside of the wall. They are usually of rectangular section with parallel sides.
  8. Mundic Block– Houses built containing Mundic block are often difficult to mortgage, even if only a portion of the property contains Mundic. Usually mine or mineral waste contained in concrete is used which can cause it to decay as it can easily absorb water.
  9. Cob- Cob is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth and is often seeing in older style properties such as Thatched Buildings
  10. Pan-Tile- A roofing tile with an S-shaped profile, laid so that the down curve of one tile overlaps the up curve of the next one. Not considered to be non-standard but very popular for covering listed buildings.
  11. Lime Plaster– Lime plaster is type of plaster composed of hydrated lime, sand and water.
  12. Plasterboard- A rigid board made of layers of fibreboard or paper bonded to a gypsum plaster core

 

We hope you have found this article useful and if you have a property that has any of the above material used in its construction, then Highhouse Insurance will endeavour to provide you with a buildings insurance quotation. We have facilities to quote for buildings of all ages and descriptions and welcome your enquiry.

Highhouse specialise in non standard construction insurance. Our flexible policies are underwritten using only the highest rated insurers and unlike many other listed building and thatch insurance policies we cover a wide range of different listed building categories in the UK including Grade 1, Grade 2* and Grade 2 as well as Grade A, Grade B and Grade C in Scotland. If you require listed building insurance today or at some point in the future then call us direct on 01243 606552 or fill in our quick property quote form.

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What is a Listed building?

What is a listed building and why specialist insurance
What is a listed building?

Listed Buildings and the Law

Listed Buildings form an important part of our nation’s heritage. You don’t necessarily need to be interested in architecture to realise that these buildings provide us with a window to another time and are well worth studying and preserving for future generations to enjoy.

In order to preserve and protect our national heritage the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) maintains a register of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historic Interest. Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a statutory duty to keep this list which identifies buildings of special interest and also gives Local Authorities powers to protect them alongside making their owners responsible for their maintenance. Owners may face prosecution for failure to maintain a listed building or if they carry out unauthorised alterations.
Surveys took place nationwide by professionals in order to compile this list. Where some buildings were omitted, they may be added on at a later date by either ‘spot’ listing or by a Building Preservation Notice, which causes the building to be listed for a period of six months. During that time the DCMS must consider whether it is to become a permanent listing.

To date there are over 500,000 listed buildings in the UK. Listed buildings do not necessarily have to be stately or buildings with a significant historical background. Any man-made structure can be considered for listing from churches or schools, bridges or locks and include smaller structures such as tombstones and telephone boxes.

The DCMS has an approved set of criteria which it uses to judge whether a building warrants a listed status. Advisors are used who are professionals from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, otherwise known as English Heritage.

What is a listed building and types of Buildings listed

The following types of building are listed:-

  • All buildings built pre 1700 that have stood the test of time and in anything like their original condition.
  • Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840.
  • Only buildings of certain character and quality built between 1840 and 1914 are selectively listed providing they show character and quality, technological advances or designs from notable architects.
  • Some buildings of high quality and/or historic importance built between 1914 and 1939.

The qualities that are looked at when a building is being chosen to be listed include the special value of the building (for example schools, theatres, oast houses), technical innovation (for example early pre-fab constructions) and the association of a building with a well-known character or an event.
Listed buildings are classified in one of three grades to denote their importance. However, this does not mean that one grade is more important or better than another.

In Britain and wales there are three listing categories:

  • Grade I- listed buildings are of exceptional importance, often nationally or even internationally. Only 2.5% of listed buildings fall into this category. Examples of these are the Lloyd’s of London building, Cifton Suspension Bridge and Buckingham Palace
  • Grade II* -listed buildings are of outstanding interest, usually regionally. 5.5% of listed buildings fall into this category and examples are Battersea Power Station and Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge as well as many private dwelling houses.
  • Grade II -listed buildings are both important nationally and of special interest. 92% of listed buildings fall into this category. Most private residential buildings are of this type.

Scotland grades their properties slightly differently into three categories A, B and C:

  • Category A – “Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic or fine little altered examples of some particular period, style or building type”
  • Category B –“Buildings of regional or more than local important, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered”
  • Category C(s)– “Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style or building type, as originally constructed or altered; and simple, traditional buildings which group well with others in categories. A and B or are part of a planned group such as an estate or an industrial complex.”

Owners of listed buildings are affected by this as a listed building cannot be demolished, extended or altered either internally or externally in any way that would affect it’s character. Listed Building Consent must first be obtained, as well as Planning Permission and Building Regulation Approval having been granted. Listed Building consent is given by the District Council who are advised on such matters by it’s Conservation Officers, who may also consult with English Heritage.

It is important to know what a listed buildings protections or restrictions are and  heavy penalties can be given for any unauthorised alterations or extensions which include a huge fine or possibly imprisonment. Any alterations which affect the character of the listed building and work requiring consent can range from removing an internal feature to adding an extension and includes both the inside and outside of the structure. Therefore before doing any work on a listed property the local planning authority should be contacted, they will then put you in contact with your local conservation officer. This officer will have the authority to advise, issue or deny permission for any alterations to the building and if you get “listed building consent” they may become involved (depending on the nature of the work involved and the importance of the building itself) with the whole process from deciding which materials and techniques are to be used to overseeing the changes themselves and ensuring the character of the building remains unchanged.

Consent for the partial or total demolition of a listed building is only given in very exceptional circumstances.
In order to alter a listed building to either enhance it or simply to carry out a repair it needs highly skilled tradesmen using sympathetic building materials. Therefore, an architect with suitable qualification or a historic building specialist is advisable. The Council will require that all work carried out blends sympathetically with the existing building. UPVC or aluminium window and doors are usually unacceptable.
Listed Building Consent is even needed when Planning Permission is not, for example when replacing windows/doors, painting exterior walls, installing solar panels, alteration or removal of internal features such as fireplaces, panelling and staircases.

It is also advisable to employ a qualified professional with experience of listed buildings to act on your behalf and prevent / foresee any possible problem in the future.

Why do I need listed buildings Insurance

A listed property will require specialist listed building insurance and it is advisable that you speak directly with a specialist insurer rather than arranging listed property insurance through the internet using online quote forms that offer an immediate quote. By speaking to a specialist insurer, they will help  ensure that all your needs are covered and all the facts are disclosed to save problems should you need to make a claim in the future.

In the case of a disaster or even minor repair work, the cost to reinstate the property “like for like” will usually cost more as traditional materials and methods may have to be used to restore the building to the same as before the incident. A local conservation officer or Building Control officer could be involved to ensure this happens and may insist on specialist workmanship or materials to be used, therefore if you have a listed building, then it is important you have insurance for listed buildings.

Neill Kimber ACII is Managing Director of Highhouse Insurance and has a keen interest in historical buildings, he will be pleased to discuss your insurance requirements for your listed property or structure.

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