Street in Cerne Abbas, Dorset
Street in Cerne Abbas, Dorset © Historic England
Street in Cerne Abbas, Dorset © Historic England

You and Your Older Home

Older buildings are valuable for what they tell us about the past, no matter how modest they might appear and many are protected by law due to their special architectural or historic interest. There are additional considerations when owning and living in a listed building or living in a conservation area but we can help you get to grips with owning an exciting and different home. 

Owners and conservation

As the owner of a historic home you will be faced with the challenges of structural decay and desirable modernisations. You, the owner, have an important role to play in looking after your home. Keeping it well maintained is the best way to ensure the building survives in good condition. There are a number of simple steps, such as clearing gutters, stopping leaks or repairing windows that will help keep the building weatherproof and watertight. 

Four essential points for owners

Living in an older building is about using it in a way that meets your needs without compromising its historic character. Always try to make sure that you:

  • Carry out regular maintenance: Small amounts of regular maintenance will keep your home in good condition. This is especially important for historic buildings
  • Find out if any extra protection applies: Additional permission may be needed before you carry out any work if your building is listed or in a conservation area. The National Heritage List for England will show you if your building is listed and you can contact your local authority to find out whether you are in a conservation area
  • Understand its importance: This can be anything from the materials used to the design, date or people who lived there previously. Knowing what is significant can guide planned works and inform your management of the building
  • Respect its materials and craftsmanship: When planning work, use materials and techniques that are sympathetic to what is already there

More complex repairs and changes

More complex work or larger changes to your home will probably need the advice of a specialist. They will be able to advise you on what sort of proposals would be suitable for your building and what materials would be best to use. See our page on finding professional help for further information.

Due to the traditional materials likely to be used in your home you will also need specialist advice if you are making your home more energy efficient.