All you need to know about buying a listed property in Scotland

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If you love older, characterful properties, you may find yourself eyeing up a listed building as your next potential home.

Full of amazing potential, they can make charming places to live but how does being listed affect your ownership and how is it different from buying a newer property?

Advantages of owning a listed building

Aside from owning a piece of history, owning a listed property, or living in a conservation area could mean that you qualify for grants to help pay for repair work or restoration fees. Older properties also come with original features like wooden beams, fireplaces and bay windows and often larger rooms, more land and mature gardens.

Disadvantages of owning a listed building

Obviously, a listed building will be older and will require lots of updating and restoring which means you’ll need to invest a lot of money and time in this project. With its age, it can also mean that they aren’t exactly energy efficient and things like windows, wiring and boilers need to be brought up to working and legal standard. In the long run it can pay off, but you may be in for a good few years of hard work.

Firstly, you need to know the different categories of listed properties in Scotland:

Category A: Buildings of special architectural or historical interest which are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type. This category also covers good or little marginally altered examples of a particular period, style or building type.

Category B: Buildings of special architectural or historic interest which are major examples of a particular period, style or building type. A building of regional or local importance, which may have been altered.

Category C: A building that is one of local importance, a lesser example of any period and one that may have been moderately altered.

If you’re buying a listed property in England and Wales, the categories are named Grade I, II* and II.

The good news is buying a listed property only really becomes an issue if you’re considering making a change or a repair, but here are some things you need to be aware of before you buy a listed house.

Specialist surveys

Before you buy it’s worth getting a survey done by a surveyor who specialises in historic buildings, just to ensure there are no skeletons in the cupboard (or ghosts in the attic!).

When you’re working out your budget, it’s also worth remembering traditional buildings typically need more maintenance than a modern home. Make sure the property has been kept as dry as possible as excessive moisture is a major cause of problems.

Conservation areas

These are areas that are deemed to be of particular importance either historically or architecturally and therefore can include several listed buildings. The listing will apply to the whole property, both inside and outside, and conservation area laws act in partnership with the listed buildings regulations. Before you make any changes, you will need to obtain conservation area consent which might restrict your plans.


If you want to carry out an alternation, an extension or a demolition, you must apply for listed building consent. After all, no one likes to see a conservatory bolted on to a castle or a water slide in the moat. Remember, the conservation regulations are in place to protect the integrity of the building and its history and a certain amount of respect and care needs to be considered when making huge changes to modernise the building.

Contact your local council first as they should be able to advise you if any changes require consent.


It always pays to make the call before you start doing any work on a listed property. Chances are if you’re simply replacing old for new in a way that doesn’t alter the character of the building, you won’t need consent – but double check with your local council’s planning department first. If you can, enlist the help of a specialist trades person that has experience in listed buildings or the materials you are planning to use. Occasionally a modern method isn’t suitable for a listed building so always seek specialist advice.


Having specialist insurance in place could prove invaluable. When you’re negotiating with a provider make sure the policy covers pre-existing work carried out by previous owners without local authority approval. You can also discuss your future plans and any building work you are planning so they can take that into consideration when quoting for your premium.


Now for the really exciting bit: touring everything from stately homes and cool castles to mini-mansions and terrific townhouses at

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