When you decide you want to restore, clean or repair a listed building, the minefield of complex rules and regulations for Grade I, II* and II-listed buildings can be overwhelming – particularly when you are already anxious to preserve the integrity of your historic building.

Although the lists of dos and don’ts for listed building restoration in the UK is complex, there are key things you can and can’t do that provide a clear overview from which to plan a way forward.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to listed building restoration using 7 key things you should know before you decide to restore or clean a listed building.

Grade 2 listed tone building surrounded by scaffold.

What is a listed building?

A listed building is a historic building which is of special interest due to its historical background and unique architecture.

Listed buildings can be classed as: Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II.

Most listed buildings are Grade II which means they are of special interest. Grade I status is awarded to buildings identified as having exceptional historical importance and Grade II* for building of significant importance.

You can expect any building that pre-dates the 1700s or was built between 1700 and 1850 to be a listed building unless it is now far beyond its original condition.

Why must I seek consent for listed building restoration?

Once a building is listed on the National Heritage List for England by the government, it becomes subject to the UK’s statutory planning system whereby listed building consent must be sought for any type of works which may alter, extend or demolish the building.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each maintain their own heritage list.

Planning restrictions apply to renovations and repairs to the listed building’s interior and exterior. For many listed buildings, outbuildings and garden structures are also included.

Before your listed building can be altered, extended or in some cases demolished, you will need to gain permission from the local authority planning department whose decisions are made using listed building consent based on government planning guidance.

Although the guidance is lengthy and decisions take into account things like the condition of the building, viability, local importance and functionality, it is possible to make changes to your listed building.

These are the 7 crucial things you can and can’t do to a listed building, you should know before you make any decisions about listed building restoration or cleaning.

Listed building restoration: what you can and can’t do

1. Facade restoration:

As appealing as modern methods may seem, to preserve the history of your building you will need to use traditional methods, colours and materials for any repairs, listed building cleaning or alterations.

Something as simple as listed building cleaning, painting, roof repairs or rendering is likely to be subject to guidance criteria so the original quality and appearance of the building is maintained for the future.

Similarly, if you want to add any external decor to the building, such as lighting, solar panels, signs or satellite antennae, you are likely to need to seek permission.

scaffold with cleaning equipment on next to a white stone building that looks recently cleaned

2. Original Features

The features of a listed building are part of its uniqueness and thus most are rigidly protected.

From fireplaces to doors, windows, floor tiles, internal walls, staircases, chimney stacks, iron work and stonework, these are prized elements of the building that make it special. So, you can expect firm guidance about any changes or repairs to these detailed or delicate architectural features.

On the other hand, the painting of internal walls is usually ok although it may be best to seek clarification from your local conservation officer before doing so.

3. Stone Cleaning

Cleaning is an everyday ritual we pay little attention to. However, in the context of your listed building, you will need to think carefully before embarking upon any major external cleaning works.

Stone cleaning and restoration is one of the many listed building cleaning jobs that must be done by experienced experts to avoid causing serious damage to your building’s fabric. Harsher methods such as sandblasting aren’t strictly off limits, but make sure when consulting an expert, you choose the right solution to ensure no damage occurs to your stonework. At Building Transformation, we make sure our work is carried out in line with the philosophy of English Heritage and Historic England.

Man on MEWP lift using steam cleaning to clean the stone underneath an ornate window.

4. Roof repairs

Similarly, if you own a property, roof repairs are a standard part of general building maintenance. However, if you want to make repairs or renovations to the roof of a listed building there will be many guidelines to adhere to.

For example, repairs, replacement or changes to roof materials, roof timbers, roof structures or chimney structures are extensively covered by very precise guidelines and consent.

5. Extensions

It is possible to add a modern extension to listed buildings.

You’ll need to work closely with your conservation officer and an experienced architect to follow the unique guidance for your building. Most listed building extensions are minimalist designs that don’t detract from the original building and pay homage to its original materials and features.

6. Minor Repairs

As the owner of a listed building, you probably don’t have to seek consent for every tiny repair. The type of repairs that requires consent are unique to each building, so it is always advisable to check with your local conservation officer before taking any action.

If you are unsure about how to carry out the repair work to certain areas, it may be best to speak to an expert. Especially if you are in need of specialist access services to reach any external repairs.

Close up shot of a man repointing stonework with new mortar.

7. Advice

There are many places you can turn for solid advice about what you can and can’t do to your listed building.

Historic England, your local conservation officer, staff in the local authority planning department and Stone Cleaning Experts UK, are all great places to go when you need some reputable guidance.

Final thoughts:

Although the many restrictions to listed building renovation may feel frustrating at first, once you’ve got your head around the main areas of contention, it is possible to make changes to your listed building that you are happy with.

Listed buildings are a statutory fixture. Knowing what you can and can’t do in advance is essential if you want to avoid undesirable costs, delays, damage, the threat of legal action and worse in the long run.

At Stone Cleaning Experts we have extensive experience in listed building restoration and cleaning.

From stone cleaning to façade restoration, roof repairs, external paint removal and more, we can provide the specialist care and attention your building needs, working precisely within your listed building’s needs. Contact us today on 01234 964016 to speak to one of our experts.

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Building Transformation’s unquestionable honesty and enthusiasm for ensuring the client receives the correct whole-life solution (rather than a quick fix) resulted in us being able to ensure the building was not only returned to its former glory, but will stay that way for years to come. I would recommend them to anyone.

Kenny Gash - Carillion Amey

The work provided by Building Transformation was excellent. Their product and building exteriors knowledge is detailed, comprehensive and practically applied to the client’s needs. They offer a professional, detailed, high-quality and customer- focused service which meets the short, medium and long-term needs of the client, and provides practical, cost-realistic advice.

Kerry Quinn - Echo Arena

Customer service is paramount to Building Transformation and they invested vast amounts of time in providing me with a programme to facilitate what was a very complex and time-specific programme of work for the site. The quality and level of support provided by Building Transformation is priceless to any client/contractor.

Marc Blow MCIOB MBIFM - Carillion Amey

The approach and advice on setting up the works at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre were first-class. Building Transformation’s attention to detail was excellent and the RAMS were followed meticulously to every detail. We were delighted with the works and service, and would not hesitate to use them again, nor hesitate to recommend them to any organisation.

Kevin Egginton - Wolverhampton Council

A 200,000 sq. ft., four-storey leisure venue in the heart of Nottingham city centre surrounded by major traffic routes needed work to be done overnight to deal with the traffic issues, while the site remained open throughout. The project took around three weeks to complete and went exceptionally well; the Building Transformation staff were flexible and able to work round dynamic operational issues. The clean was of a high standard and has made a significant different to the image of the building. A very difficult job done well.

Suzanne Green - Land Securities

May & Co have worked with Building Transformation on a number of projects which have included external building cleaning and refurbishment. They provided a great service, supported by the high level of documentation from the initial quotation to books and industry-related guidance, all relevant to our project.

Anton Theobald - May & Co

I am very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. Also the level of cleaning provided and attention to detail is much appreciated.

Waqas Bin Tahir - Ibis Southampton

I am using Building Transformation’s work to help justify façade restoration works around our business.  They have produced excellent presentations on what can be achieved and is a brilliant piece of informed marketing that is helping slowly win people over in our business to take façade cleaning and restoration more seriously.

Needless to say Building Transformation is a name that is now becoming known and respected.

Simon Attwood - Broadgate Estates Ltd.

Building Transformation gave great communication throughout our projects.
It will be my pleasure to recommend Building Transformation.

Sarah Cameron - My Hotels Group

Just signed off the job with Richard. Myself, the bosses and the tenant all are very pleased with the work. It definitely looks rejuvenated just a case of painting the concrete window surrounds in the new year to finish it off. Have found your company and staff very professional and helpful which has facilitated a project with minimal inconvenience and disruption to our in situ tenants.

Mark Hollinshead - Headruddy Property Development

I had a walk around today with Dave and am impressed with the work so far.  Dave and the team have done a great job.

I’d certainly love to work with you in the future so perhaps before the job is completed we could look at what opportunities there are for the future.

Marie Green - Novotel Sheffield

At this stage, from my point of view your team has been extremely professional, informing us of what was happening at all times and most importantly no disruption whatsoever to our guests and business.

Ludovic Verzi - Novotel Leeds

We are very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. The operatives on site were very professional and communicated to us at all times.

Maria Pinana Mateu - Science Museum

The team at Building Transformation understood our challenge of finding a facade cleaning solution that would initially restore the glazing to its original state, protecting our building for years to come. Through intelligent and thorough testing right through to the full restoration of Block D, we have been very satisfied with the project management and delivery of the cleaning programme.

Colin Pilkington - Renaker Build Limited

Thank you for all the work that you carried out in cleaning the outside of our school.  We are delighted with the results.  You have managed to completely remove heavy staining from many areas around the building.

We found you extremely easy to work with: your quote was reasonable, you carried out the work quickly and you were very flexible in terms of timings.

Tamsin Griffith - Courtney Road Primary School, Bristol

have worked with Building Transformation on several projects within the hospitality industry and have found
them to provide high levels of professionalism and workmanship.


e will definitely be working with you again! Your engineers were very polite and accommodating every time they visited site and have done a first class job. I will be recommending Building Transformation to everyone!

Mark Healy - One Facility


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