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Repairs to windows in listed buildings

Repairs to windows in listed buildings are inevitable at some point and done properly can bring many benefits.

Modern glazing technology can deliver greater safety, greater noise reduction and greater energy efficiency. The challenge is ensuring that all this is delivered in keeping with the historic and aesthetic charm of the property.

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Planning and Consent to repair windows in listed buildings

If you are looking to repair or replace windows in a listed property, you will firstly require consent from your local Conservation Officer. They are available for advice and guidance on repair and restoration works to listed buildings and work as part of your Local Authority Planning Department.

Over the past 5 years it is thought that Conversation Officer positions have been reduced by up to 75% across the UK. Therefore, if you genuinely require advice relating to extenuating circumstances concerning your listed buildings, by all means get in touch. However, be careful not to waste their time with answers to questions that are generally widely available on the internet. Most Planning Departments have put large volumes of useful material online just for this purpose.

Working with your Conservation Officer

The windows of a property are considered a period feature and can greatly contribute to the character of a listed building. Consent is required to ensure that works are consistent with the period of the property, ideally replicating the original or existing design and materials.  This can involve using period materials and experienced builders and craftsmen. It is worth noting that these are points your Conservation Officer is likely to insist upon as a condition of consent and that the additional time and expense involved in this process is unavoidable.

Making sure your correctly insured

If you own a listed building, whether your windows require repair or not, it is work checking the fine print of your insurance policy for exclusions concerning listed buildings. Many insurers are aware of the additional time and costs involved with works pertaining to listed buildings and often will not cover these extra costs.

How long will it take to get consent?

Content to repair windows in listed buildings will usually take around 8 weeks, although you should allow 13 weeks for larger projects.

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Is consent really necessary?

Yes, not only is it necessary, it is a legal requirement. In fact it is a criminal offence to make any changes to a listed building that affects the character and appearance of the property, without prior consent. The potential heavy penalties include unlimited fines and even imprisonment. You could be prosecuted in retrospect and made to undo the work you have had carried out.

Effecting the sale of a listed building

Be warned, the responsibility for illegal works carried out on listed buildings is inherited by the new owners. If you own a listed property, be aware that illegal building works can render your home considerably less attractive to buyers.

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The bad news…

Many listed buildings have wood sliding sash windows or wood casement windows. Single glazing is common place, which is easier to break into and offers poor insulation and noise control. Sadly the following would be prohibited in listed buildings:

  • Heavier sectioned uPVC or standard aluminium windows
  • Differently detailed widows, i.e. different opening methods
  • Modern-style windows
  • Double glazed windows

The good news…

There are options available which will give you the best of both worlds; retaining all the charm and character of a period property, whilst enjoying the greater security, insulation and noise reduction modern glazing techniques can offer.

The tasteful and thoughtful installation of secondary glazing can be a good solution, depending on the unique qualities of the listed building. Custom-built secondary glazing, designed to your property’s exact requirements can offer additional insulation or noise reduction, whilst retaining the design and style of the principal windows. It can also make it harder to break into a property.

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Planning ahead

If your listed building has sustained damage to windows, then chances are high you are looking at a lengthy and expensive process to repair them. However, if you’ve planned ahead for this type of eventuality and have an insurance policy designed to suit listed buildings, then this could be an ideal opportunity to improve upon your home, with even the potential to lower future insurance premiums due to increased security.

For help and advice on specialist insurance for listed homes, Highworth Insurance is a good place to start; they have a specialist team of advisors available to talk through your exact requirements and tailor a policy to suit you.