Repairs and Maintenance

Owners of Listed Buildings are responsible for keeping them in good repair. Maintenance and repairs do not require consent if they are carried out on a straightforward replacement or repair basis. Repairs should be carried out using materials and techniques which conserve the historic fabric.

If an owner fails to keep a building in a reasonable state of repair the Council may, as a last resort, serve a Repairs Notice specifying the work to be carried out. This will ensure the proper preservation of the building.

If repair works are not carried out the Council also has powers to carry out repairs and charge the costs to the owners. In extreme cases the Council may compulsorily purchase the building, with minimal compensation, and carry out the necessary work.

Many problems with buildings relate to lack of maintenance. Keeping your building in good repair will involve small amounts of expenditure over time rather than large expenditure when things go wrong.

The following list outlines some common problems and how to overcome them:
  • Maintain external decorations regularly.
  • It is particularly important to maintain window cills and joints in joinery.
  • South and west elevations weather faster than other sides so extra attention is needed.
  • Repairs should use materials which match the existing.
  • It is important that materials should match as closely as possible, not just in terms of colour and texture but also strength. When re-pointing for example, use proper lime mortars matching the original formulation.
  • Be aware of any original features.
  • Preserve original features which will enhance the building. Even the glass in old windows can have an antiquary value (modern glass can be too flat and precise in certain situations).
  • Protect your building from damp.
  • Check that gutters do not overflow or leak; clean leaves out regularly .
  • Pay particular attention to old lead work, mortar flashings & other potential weak points where water can get in.
  • Keep the roof space well ventilated. Replace broken roof tiles
  • Paving levels should fall away from the building
  • Keep air bricks clear
  • Check that downpipes are not cracked or blocked and that rainwater is taken away to proper drains.
  • Check that materials are not piled up against the walls or damp-course
Are any Grants available towards the cost of repair?

Some Grade I or II* listed buildings may be eligible for grant aid from English Heritage.

Specialist Advice

If you have questions about a Listed Building, particularly those concerning alterations and repair, you should contact West Somerset Council’s Planning Team for advice and guidance on all these matters. Alternatively, contact one of the specialist team at Somerset County Council.

It is important to obtain expert advice when considering alterations and repairs to Listed Buildings. You are strongly advised to use the professional services of architects and surveyors who specialise in historic buildings. Surveyors can provide advice on the structural condition of the buildings fabric, and works required for its maintenance and repair. Architects are able to provide similar advice but it is particularly important to obtain their specialist advice where alterations and repairs have an effect on historic detail and design. In both cases you should find a consultant who specialises in your type of historic building.

Summary
  • Seek professional advice if you are uncertain about the regulations applying to your building or the works you intend to carry out.
  • Look after your building; it is cheaper and more prudent to carry out regular maintenance than to allow major repairs to build up.
  • Don’t start any work which requires consent until you have authorisation; it is likely to be costly in time, effort and money for you to make good or reinstate work that has been done without authorisation.

For further advice please contact the Planning Team.