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How To Renovate a Grade II Listed Property: Just do it?


When it comes to project managing the renovation of a Grade II Listed property, nothing is off the cards. In Theory, if you get permission, you can do anything to a Grade II Listed building. Yes – there are some restrictions and rules to follow, after all, you are the custodian of a living piece of history and any renovation must respect the character and design of the building. However,  heritage officers understand that owners of Grade II Listed buildings need to adapt their properties to modern-day living with up-to-date bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

So, what is different about project managing the renovation of a Grade II Listed Building? Does it really matter that the property is listed? After all, this is another property renovation project.

And as a proud owner of a Grade II Listed building, how do you strike the balance between conserving a property and restoring it to modern standards?

We will discuss:

  • How Revolution Projects Manage the renovation of Grade II Listed properties
  • 7 considerations when renovating a Grade II Listed building
  • Key takeaways

But first…What does Grade II Listed mean?

In simple terms, Listed Buildings in the UK are those added to the National Heritage List or The List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. These buildings are recognised as being of special interest and therefore need to be respected, preserved, and protected.  Any modifications, extensions, demolitions, or significant changes to these buildings need, by law, special permission from the planning and conservation authorities before starting any work.

“Listing is selective… and only the most special examples are protected.”
Rosie Ryder, Media Manager at Historic England.

Grade II ListedLet’s look at some figures….

  • It won’t come as a surprise that Grade II Listed properties are expensive to restore – think 30% higher than a non-listed property on average.
  • There are an estimated 500,000 listed buildings in England, with over 90% of those being Grade II Listed Buildings.
  • 90% of Grade II Listed buildings’ consent applications are approved


How to project manage a Grade II Property renovation?

At Revolution Projects, all our projects are treated the same way, uniquely. As David Smylie, Fine & Country, puts it, Listed properties are often character-filled, every room telling a story.”

We strongly believe that project managing the renovation of Grade II Listed buildings is no different to project managing the renovation of a non-listed high-end residential property. The principles are the same, your work values are the same and the trusted relationship that you foster with your clients is the same. But what about the practicalities?

Well, when engaging in the restoration, updating and renovation of a Grade II listed building, we look at the protectionary rules on these high-end residential properties as a challenge and balance the heritage limitations with the practicality of being a living space that our clients enjoy and are proud of.

  • Can I install a Satellite dish?
  • Can I put double glazing windows?
  • How about hanging pictures on the walls?
  • Can I paint the external walls of my Grade II listed property?
  • Can I put a shed in the garden?
  • Shall I change the fireplace?

All very reasonable queries. Let’s take a look at the top 7 considerations.


Our Top 7 Considerations

Consider Modern Designs

Surprisingly, if the owners of a Grade II listed property are planning to add a new extension or make significant alterations,  application officers prefer designs that are totally different from the period building.  Consider choosing a modern design. Can’t visualise it? Think of the Louvre Museum in Paris –  how the modern-style glass pyramid balances perfectly with the renaissance Louvre building. It works!

Carefully renovate the landscape

Pay attention to any changes you want to make to the landscape. Each Grade II listed building is unique and some aspects of the garden and outside structures of the property may also be subject to change limitations. Consider garden walls or outbuildings as an example.

Build a relationship with the conservation authorities

Cultivate your relationship with the Local Authority Conservation Officers. They can provide you with a list of approved heritage contractors and advise on the correct repair method, specialist materials and techniques. After all,  heritage rules are subject to interpretation as long as the character of the building is preserved!


Take your time and engage with the right professionals. New for old does not normally work for renovations of Grade II Listed properties. When teaming with heritage experts, they can advise on the options available.

Join the club!

Have you considered joining the Listed Property Owners’ Club?  They provide personal advice to assist Grade II Listed property owners with any decision-making.


It is a criminal offence to change a Grade II listed property without legal approval! Always ensure that you have approved Listed Building Consent from the local authorities before starting works.

Beware of the law

You may need Planning Permission on top of Listed Building Consent before making any changes, especially if you are in a conservation area.


Key Takeaways

Grade II property renovation is not as simple as you may think.

Remember that the challenge is part of the fun. So, here you have it – the essential thing to keep in mind when it comes to project managing the restoration of a Grade II listed building is your relationship with your local conservation and planning officer(s). Take advantage of their knowledge and expertise in heritage and conservation works and be open to their advice.


Want to learn more about Grade II property renovation?

At Revolution Projects we work on high-residential restoration projects and collaborate with expert consultants to help clients develop their Grade II Listed properties. We would love to help you too. For us, nothing is impossible and every project that we take on inspires another.

Our favourite is a recent project in Somerset requiring changes to the existing listed building as well as new external structures and landscaping design. It is fascinating and challenging – we are teaming with professional experts, from heritage architects and contractors to talented designers, working alongside Rita Koning and her team who are undertaking the interior designs of the property.

Take a look at our Grade II Listed Residential Projects

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This blog is based on our own client experiences. Written by Emile Malaney. 15/03/2022.