Can we apply for restrospective building consent?

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty explains the process of applying for retrospective building consent for listed properties
Click to follow
legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: I am buying a Grade II-listed house. The present owner has knocked out an internal wall and put in horrible uPVC windows at the back. My solicitor says there was no 'listed building consent' and that this is a big problem. Is it?

Answer: Most property issues can be resolved provided you are prepared to spend a bit of time and money.

It would be prudent to get your survey from someone who knows about listed buildings. Get the surveyor to check out these alterations and tell you what the chances are of getting retrospective listed building consent.

If the chances are good, try getting the seller to apply for the consent (and let them pay for it). It can be a slow process, taking three months or more, so the seller might not be prepared to oblige.

Next you should consider obtaining indemnity insurance, especially if the surveyor thinks retrospective consent is unlikely to be granted. Again, the seller should pay for this.

Only consider indemnity insurance if you have no plans to make any alterations yourself that would require consent because if you make an application, this could lead to a building officer coming to call - and spotting the previous alterations and making you reinstate everything.Your insurer is unlikely to cover you in these circumstances.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram