I have made an offer on a beautiful listed cottage. I noticed that it has recently had all new doors and windows installed. However, when I checked on the planning authority's website, there was no record of any listed building consent for the work. Is this a risk for me if I complete on the deal?

The beauty of a listed cottage is that it should retain the original historic features of the period when the property was built, and to preserve the character and design, materials and workmanship that help tell its story.

Windows and doors may fall into disrepair over the years. However with a listed building you cannot simply replace anything. The first step is to ascertain, with the listed building officer, if the windows contribute to the historic interest of the cottage, and indeed if they are the listed features of the cottage. Some windows, if they are later modern replacements, may be replaced if the original windows were non-historic and the new replacements are of an appropriate style which enhances the building. These new windows must comply with minimum energy efficiency requirements as well. However the decision to replace the non-historic windows can only be made by the listed building officer at the council, and there should be paperwork to support this decision. The trend of thought with a listed property is that repair is first and foremost to be used, rather than replace.

Put simply there is a significant risk that if you purchase the listed cottage with no paperwork in respect of the new doors and windows you will take over and inherit the breach of the regulations relating to listed buildings, and could fall foul of the listing itself. Listed building requirements do not prescribe, which means you will have to put right the breach that has occurred to the listed cottage. This could be both expensive and time consuming, but it will have to be addressed and put right. My advice is not to buy the listed cottage until you have full information and documents to support why the windows and doors were replaced, and you are sure that there is no further risk to you in respect of the replaced windows and doors, in law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.