Buying a Historic Property – Case Study

Whilst we survey all kinds of property from commercial buildings to first time purchase flats and homes, new builds and “doer uppers” our Historic property expert, Nina Robinson often gets called out to look at some stunning and very old houses. For many people the dream of owning a listed or historic home is a big one, something they may have been hanging on to for years, but when the time finally comes to go for it it is important they are prepared. Owning an old house is wonderful, the sense of stewardship can be very fulfilling but it can also be challenging. It is important to go into a purchase with your eyes open as this case study shows.


Chiltern Associates carried out a building survey on a 1650 property in Hadleigh. As a result of a thorough examination of each element various defects were uncovered including:

  • Concealed damage to front sole plate
  • Hard render rather than lime render which does not permit the walls to breath
  • Damp issues with flooring to be improved with better ventilation and a wood burner rather than ripping up the floor
  • Damp treatment via a French drain around the outside wall rather than an inappropriate modern DPC plus removal; also removal of bitumen paint allowing the walls to breath

Each of these items were confirmed by the Historic Building Company as being the best solution to naturally deal with the problems of a listed historic property

The client was very pleased with the work Nina undertook:

‘We hope to complete in the new year, and look forward to setting about this project, most likely with the builder’s help’

Historic Building Problems

The list of issues with the property were not as long as some but for people looking to make their first move into a listed building it may come as a surprise how much often needs to be done. It is critical that buyers consult an expert surveyor like Nina when it comes to historic buildings. This is because the issues and materials are all unique to this type of building and a less experienced surveyor may miss something that could be very costly at a later date.


Thanks to the initial survey the buyer was made aware of all these issues. We then put them in touch with a trusted contractor and historic expert to get some idea of the cost of repair. The buyer now has a full “ball park” quote around the repair work so can move ahead with the purchase.

It is at this point that some people make the sad choice to pull out of the purchase. It is never an easy thing to do for anyone involved but it is so important that they had the information available to make a proper informed decision. Buying a property only to find out it needs tens of thousands of pounds worth of work when there is no budget to do so can cause enormous problems, stress and financial issues. Buying a listed building without knowing the full picture or getting an expert to do a full survey can be very dangerous.

If you would like to discuss a potential historic building purchase then please get in touch today. we can help make sure you know exactly what you are getting into and how best to approach it.




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