A graded (or listed!) a building is a property that has been allocated certain rights and guidelines due to containing special architectural or historic features of interest. A graded building can be any kind of structure, including a church, an office block, house or an industrial property. The listing gives protection to the building from demolition or modification without consent.

It’s important to keep in mind that the act of the building being listed is not only to preserve the specific property for its own sake, when applied to multiple properties – it preserves our culture and heritage. Without this, it’s inevitable that some property developer who is after a quick buck (or is just not informed!) may demolish or damage important features, erasing architectural history forever… Before you know it, the world would be full of only prefabricated properties.

Should you Actually Renovate a Graded Building?

Before work even begins, you should feel confident in the plans you have for a graded building. Is the work really necessary, will it take away significant aspects of the building? You want to do your research, take it slow and be considerate about what changes you are making to old buildings. There could be unique and valuable aspects of the property that you have not yet considered, like hand-crafted railings, rare wood finishes and more. The decision to actually carry out renovations is ultimately up to you, but we would urge you to do so carefully. Of course, some jobs will need doing, such as leaks! So that type of stuff is a no-brainer. Though, a glass extension may not be essential for a listed church, if you catch our drift. Renovating older buildings can be a matter of taste and you don’t want to do anything too drastic, otherwise what was the point in buying an old building in the first place – just build something new!

You’ll find that the local council or relevant authority in the area will likely have some guidelines and restrictions about what you can and cannot do to the building if it is listed, often they use a scale such as Grade 1, Grade 2 etc. So this alone can prevent you from gutting a cultural landmark to add a swimming pool, but if you do find ways around this, just because you can – it doesn’t always mean you should!

Remember that in construction and design, things quickly go out of style, so that fireman’s pole or split level kitchen may not be cool in a few years from now. You want to be sure that the work you are doing is going to stand the test of time, just like the property has been so far.

How to Find the Right Contractor for Your Project?

We can not understate how important it is to do your research and find a decent renovation company, if you plan to work on a graded building. Yes, this can sometimes be a little pricier than your average construction company, but that’s because they tend to be armed with many more years of experience and have a different perspective when it comes to renovation – bringing a premium approach to the table.

Specialist construction companies who actively work on graded projects have a deep sensitivity and understanding for architectural and historical features, meaning the work carried out will be more delicate and considered. This is crucial when bringing power tools into a listed property, because only a small mistake or lack of consideration can have massive effects. It’s no job for your average cowboy builder, that’s for sure! With a quick Google search you can find specialist companies that renovate listed buildings, so we’d suggest going with these instead of any old service, just because of the price.

What are Some of the Most Common Renovation Projects on Graded Buildings?

Unlike typical renovation projects, which are often for the sake of aesthetic and design, to boost value. Renovation projects for historical buildings tend to be more on the side of functionality and necessity.

As the buildings are older and were built with different materials to today, issues like leaks, creaks and blockages can pop-up. As such, these types of issues tend to be the start of the more popular renovation projects.

Another side to this is when buildings become residential. For example if a graded church is purchased with the plan to make it into a family home, a lot of work will need to be carried out. A large portion of historical buildings are not insulated or soundproofed, so there are steps that need to be taken to make living in this type of property feasible. Without this type of renovation it can lead to high heating costs and inefficient heating systems. Insulation renovations can be as simple as installing insulation in between walls, ceilings and floors or adding insulation panels behind exterior walls.

The Challenges of Renovating a Graded Building

Of course, every renovation is challenging enough in its own right, construction is difficult work. But for graded buildings in-particular, you can come across some interesting challenges to say the least. As buildings are used by multiple generations, they become a mixture where layers of construction overlap. This means that when you go to take down a fake wall, rip up some laminate flooring or remove an electric fireplace, you never really know what you’ll find.

From non-level ceilings, unstable petitions, poor conditioned beams, there is an unlimited amount of challenges that may arise when looking into the past. This can require the need for engineers to come and sign off additional work or the need for more materials.

To counter this, a thorough evaluation of the property is needed, by an experienced and specialised renovation / construction company. Of course, things still may pop-up, but chances are you’ll get a good idea of what’s coming up before it does.


It’s got to be said that there is a certain charm that graded buildings have that just cannot be matched with new builds. Though, there is definitely a higher level of care needed when carrying out renovation projects. Other than the question of taste, which is highly subjective – when you’re actually working on graded properties there are many factors to consider in order to do the job properly. Our advice, in short, is to never rush this type of project and never settle for anything less than perfection. Historical buildings won’t just come back, so we had better look after them.

Good luck with your project and feel free to get in touch to show us what you are renovating! We’d love to see what you do with graded buildings.

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