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Thinking of Buying an Older Building?

This page is a starting point for those thinking about buying an older house. It provides advice on preliminary steps, insurance and finding a property.

Should I buy an older building?

Buying and living in an older building can be extremely rewarding. However, it's important to bear in mind that older buildings do differ from modern ones, so before you buy, we recommend you think about the additional considerations this might involve.

Preliminary steps

In addition to the research you would normally do when buying a property, we recommend you think about the following points.

Planning regulation

These can be answered by your local authority. Advance knowledge of extra planning regulation can help to avoid delays when planning any work.

If you are buying a property and want to make alterations, we recommend contacting your local authority as soon as possible to discuss your plans.

Structural surveys

  • What materials are the property built from?
  • What condition is it in?

A full structural survey will provide information on the building’s materials, its general condition and any causes for concern. This information will be invaluable when maintaining or working on your building.

The survey is carried out by an architect or surveyor. We recommend using a professional familiar with historic buildings, preferably accredited by a professional body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. For more details see Finding Professional Help.

Where can I find a historic building?

As well as estate agents, specialist organisations such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or the Listed Property Owners Club can offer information on historic and/or listed buildings for sale.

SPAB has also produced very useful guidance for those thinking about buying an older property called 'Look Before You Leap'. 

Additionally, our annual Heritage at Risk initiative highlights problem buildings, some of which are likely to be for sale. We enthusiastically support the rescue, repair and re-use of historic buildings currently at risk or vulnerable to neglect and decay.  

Insuring historic buildings

If you decide to buy a listed building, a standard home insurance policy might not be adequate for this type of property.

You should get advice from a specialist insurance broker or let your insurer know if your property is listed, as this may require specialist insurance. 

The cost of rebuilding a listed building is likely to be higher than for a standard property. A detailed specialist valuation from an accredited surveyor or architect can help you to decide on the most suitable insurance policy.

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