The valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance purposes

A modern brick house might cost of the order of £1,500/m² £2,200/m² to rebuild. We frequently visit Listed properties which cost at least three times this amount and if the property is complex in construction with fine internal features, then the cost might be in excess of £15,000/m² to reinstate.

BCH experience is that listed buildings cost significantly more to rebuild following an insured loss than unlisted buildings.

Through our experience of providing valuations of listed and historic buildings for insurance all over the United Kingdom, we know that Listed buildings cost significantly more to rebuild following an insured loss than unlisted buildings.

Naturally the question on everyone’s lips is …”how much more? What percentage should I add to the sum insured?” We would love to give you a simple answer; but unfortunately it all depends.

The first factor to understand the valuation of listed and historic buildings is, where does the starting figure come from? If you have taken building rates from the internet (such as BCIS) that are intended for a 250m² modern home of a brick-block construction and our subject house is a stone cottage, in a conservation area, approached via a narrow bridge across a stream, the price per metre could be 100% to 200% more, i.e. £2,200/m² for the modern home and £6,000/m² for the stone house.

Where a listed building is in commercial use, there is even less published data available. At BCH we see a broad spectrum of listed structures from monumental office buildings taking pride of place in our town and city centres, to converted prisons and military barracks now in use as hotels or apartments. The published rates for new build office buildings range between £1,500 and £3,000/m² whereas an assessment for a classically inspired 18th century stone building – with many retained internal period features – in use by a local authority as offices could be assessed at £15,000/m2.

4 key factors which affect the valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance

1. Professional Fees


For a Listed building one may need or want to employ a team of professionals (architects, surveyors, mechanical and electrical engineers, planning consultants etc.) who have specific experience, qualifications and/or a proven track record of working on such buildings.

Although fees are not fixed, you are likely to find that professionals with such specialisms charge more for their services than the average because of their expertise and because more time is involved to get the job done. You may also find that the correct person is not locally based and that additional travel and accommodation expenses will be charged. Very sought after teams may be busy at the time of a loss and having to wait for them may also increase costs.

Professional fees on a standard building might come in at around 13.5% including VAT of the rebuild cost. For a Listed building, let’s say an extra 5- 8% should be added. In very unique situations, 30% could be expected and some insurers set aside 25% as standard.

2. Time delays – of various types!

Work on Listed buildings tends to take longer than on a conventional building. For example, partition walls in modern buildings are often formed with plasterboard sheets nailed to timber studwork, whereas in Listed buildings timber laths and lime plaster might be used which takes much longer to construct and will involve more expensive specialist trades.

And this leads us onto the next point…

It is not uncommon for a Listed building to sit for at least a year following a major loss before reinstatement work can commence. Time delays cost money as there are still various professionals working in the background and prices tend to increase with inflation.

Time delays can also be caused by the site becoming of archaeological interest whereby the authorities insist on carrying out research etc. The cost of this is borne by the insurer.

For expected delays and increased working time on site, one could reasonably expect the overall value to increase by 5-12% depending on the specific property and grading.

3. Conservation Approval

All work to a seriously damaged Listed building will need approval from the Local Authority who may also call in Historic England. The home owner is therefore at the mercy of these bodies, who are keen to see that no traditional forms of construction are lost, when the damaged building is rebuilt.

Although some modern materials may be accepted, the cost of rebuilding will increase greatly if they insist on retaining the original form of construction. And there is no way of knowing in advance what the authorities will specify. It is not unknown, for example, for a stone quarry to have to be re-opened to provide similar stone to that which was originally quarried and used many years ago.

At BCH we will take into account the specific materials used on a site. If constructed from ashlar stone this could increase the cost of the building by over 50% compared to rebuilding in good quality brickwork.

An acceptable contingency on a modern home would be 5%. On a Listed building we would add perhaps 5-10%. If stone is from a specific quarry as detailed above, an additional contingency would need to be added.

4. Complexity

Many stately homes as well as small cottages have high sums added for garden walls and driveways, both of which should be included in the valuation upon which the premium will be calculated.

It is often said by clients that they will never lose the entire brick walls that surround their property and, in such circumstances, some insurers will pay for damage up to a certain limit (known as first loss.)

There are coach houses and other outbuildings which can add considerably to the sum insured as all of these buildings will be within the curtilage of the main house and therefore come within the Listing, even though they may not be separately described.

In London, there are difficult issues to contend with if the building fronts onto the pavement as materials delivered to site will need to be moved immediately inside the building. There are also problems and of course additional costs of working on building with restricted access and working space for reconstruction purposes.

To sum up the valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance:

It is not simply the Listed status which increases the sum insured. It is the type of materials and labour required to reinstate an historic building, the additional fees that will be incurred, specific location factors and timing; all of which increase the valuation for insurance purposes.

You can find out more about our Reinstatement Cost Assessments for residential properties here or for commercial property click here.

This paper was originally written and researched in 2014 by:

Lorna Harrington BA(Hons), MA, PGDipConsHistEnv (RICS)

Nicholas Tufton FRICS

Updated in 2018 & 2021

Historic Building Restoration

Tourism is a vital part of our economy and historic buildings lie at the heart of the industry. Planning for the cost of historic building restoration and repair is necessary to ensure that these fantastic buildings are well preserved and protected.

Tourism industry statistics

The UK was forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025, just under 10% of the UK GDP.

40% of the most visited UK attractions in 2020 were historic houses, such as Chatsworth, Blenheim and Castle Howard. Around 32% were museums and galleries (many of which themselves are housed in historic buildings). 18% were gardens, parks and zoos, with the remainder being a broad mix of eclectic structures, ranging from Stonehenge and the Roman Baths to Tower Bridge.

Historic Building Restoration – Calculating the Cost

Whilst tourists, can enjoy roaming around these magnificent places, insurers are faced with the challenge of calculating the cost of restoring and repairing these unique buildings.

Thousands of details make up a historic building – the hand painted wallpaper, intricately carved panelling, wide elm floorboards, gilded cornices, grand sweeping staircases, gaggles of frolicking cherubs dancing across the ceiling.  All of these details need to be replicated by expert craftspeople if there was a fire, or water damage from the leaking roofs or burst pipes that even the grandest of houses are prone to.

As historic building valuers, we find it difficult to appreciate wandering through these marvellous buildings without fixating on the cost of re-moulding the cornicing or re-carving the fireplace.

People often say, “You could never replace this”, but with time, money and the right skills and materials, you can.

Windsor Castle was restored after the fire it suffered in 1992, at a cost of around £36.5 million, and conservationists are currently undertaking the enormous task of repairing Notre Dame, which French economists have estimated will cost up to 600 million euros.

Rebuild Cost Considerations of Historic Buildings

To estimate the rebuild cost of a historic house, you have to consider both the external structure, and the internal finishes; ranging from the grandest of bling to the cost of replicating deceptively simple looking lime plasters.

The parts that are hidden from view also need to be considered – a house that has been added to and modified over centuries will have deep voids between floors, perhaps hidden servants’ passages within the walls.

The most interesting parts are often the areas the public never sees – the ancient roof timbers in the attic, or the stone vaulting in the cellars.  All these elements feed into the cost of rebuilding the property.

With buildings used as visitor attractions, there are also many periphery elements to cost into a valuation. There may be tearooms and gift shops, visitor toilets, audio visual installations or display cases, to be considered.

Fascinating structures are also dotted around gardens and parks.  Most large houses would have had stables, a gate lodge, perhaps an icehouse, follies, grand entrance gates and yards of boundary walling, all of which would be costly to replace.

At BCH we have assessed a huge range of unique visitor attractions, including some of the country’s most loved stately homes, fortified cliff top castles, open air museums, and in one memorable day, Heaven and Hell (in the form of painted rooms!).

At BCH, we consider all the details that contribute to a structure and prepare a tailored Reinstatement Cost Assessment as unique as the building itself.

If you are involved in the insurance arrangements of a complex building and would like to determine the precise rebuild value of a property, please contact us on 01455 293510 or email

A dissertation which investigates reinstatement cost methodology for historic buildings

A dissertation which examines the need for a database of historic and listed buildings for the protection of the historic environment.

The development of a methodology to present reinstatement costs for historic and/or listed buildings, with particular reference to family dwellings.

Read this dissertation by Lorna Harrington submitted for a RICS Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation of the Historic Environment.

Reinstatement cost methodology for historic buildings

The development of a methodology to present reinstatement costs for historic and/or listed buildings, with particular reference to family dwellings.

A review of the current insurance market for domestic residences will be looked at specifically in relation to historic and listed buildings.

The number of dwellings that are currently listed and those that are considered historic, but not specifically listed, will be reviewed.

Case studies of listed buildings damaged by fire will be analysed with reference to the insurance arrangements and the adequacy, or otherwise, of the pre-loss buildings sums insured.

A detailed study of the BCIS Guide to House Rebuilding Costs will be carried out in reference to its suitability to be used for valuations of historic dwellings.

In light of the current lack of an ‘off the shelf’ rebuilding cost guide specifically intended for historic and listed buildings, the possible different methodologies available for a nationally available database of reinstatement rates stated in £ per m2 will then be analysed and discussed.

It is explained why the introduction of a database for historic and listed buildings is a fundamental need in the protection of the historic environment.

In conclusion, recommendations for the favoured methodology will be presented and the different options for funding such a project will be discussed.

Download the PDF Document

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