Grade II listed - what repairs are allowed?

[Multi-posting to uk.legal.moderated as I believe cross-posts to u.l.m get dropped automatically.]
I'm doing a job for some folks who've just bought a grade II listed building. (Not loadsamoney: they could only afford it because it's got walls, floors, sort of a roof and that's about it.) Got scaffolding going up for roofing and today apparently part of the chimney stack fell down! Builder went up to look and apparently went white and said he'd get onto it tomorrow. I know this guy and he's not the teeth-sucking "oh dear that'll cost yer" type: if he says it needs fixing it needs fixing.
Meanwhile helpful folks at council got wind of it and came round with binoculars and digicam, looked at it from the ground and said it didn't need rebuilding. Mrs New Owner not too happy, council bods say get a structural engineer to assess it.
Now Bobski the builder will probably rebuild the damn thing for less money than a S.E. would charge for a report, so Mr & Mrs N.O. are inclined to just get Bobski onto it asap.
Q is: what bureaucratic misfortune could council jobsworths wreak on them if they're not happy with this? Assuming chimney is rebuilt as it was before?
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John Stumbles -- http://yaph.co.uk

I used to be forgetful but now I ... um ....
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Listed building malarkey can be a right pain, hopefully this will help, it's from a district council's website:
"Altering or demolishing a listed building without consent can attract heavy penalties, a fine of up to £2,000 or three months’ imprisonment, with a possible twelve months’ imprisonment on indictment and an unlimited fine. An offence is committed unless works have been specifically authorised. Only if works are essential because of public safety can a case be made for demolition, but even then a Dangerous Structure Notice has to be served by the District Council. Remember, it’s always better to ask first!"
Loopholes that spring out are if the council bods didn't see it when complete, homeowners could claim it was exactly as it was before, but you know the Council - I hate to agree with them, but as it says above "it's always better to ask first". Not worth the hassle of trying it on.
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On Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:53:32 -0800, Lino expert wrote:

...
These folks aren't trying it on: they don't want to demolish or alter anything without permission, just to rebuild something that's patently dangerous* so it doesn't crash down through their house causing 10s of Β£1000s of damage and possibly killing themselves or their children.
* in the opinion of an experienced builder who's been up on the roof and actually looked at it close up, if not to the council drongos who looked from 3 storeys down at street level at a poor angle through binoculars
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John Stumbles -- http://yaph.co.uk

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
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On Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:04:54 GMT, a certain chimpanzee, YAPH

Which particular Council drongos? The Listed Building ones or the Building Control ones?
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Hugo Nebula
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On Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:36:54 +0000, Hugo Nebula wrote:

Listed building, I think. The local BCOs are IME OK.
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John Stumbles -- http://yaph.co.uk

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Indeed, a poor choice of words on my part.
Looks like they'd need the "Dangerous Structure Notice" referred to.
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Says nothing about repairs, especially emergency repairs.
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Like for like repairs should be completely acceptable, but Conservation Officers all seem to have a mind of their own so you cant assume that what one CO will OK the next CO will too
I would def take 'before' photos as evidence that the repair is like for like. Use hydraulic lime mortar. The word 'cement' is a red rag to a bull
And much as it may be galling they should get the Conservation Officer on side. COs tend to be much more picky when they see new owners with no track record of listed building repairs. If they do this one right they will have less hassle with the CO when the next problem arises
Anna
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I agree, it really is worth taking the long term view here. Getting a 'bad name' with the listed building dept at the beginning probably isn't a good idea. Having them be suspicious of everything you do in the future doesn't seem worth it.
Whilst the OP's friends could probably legally get away with going with what the builder wants to do - as a like for like reapir (as long as it is like for like, with as you say Anna, use of the correct materials), IMO it's worth going along with the conservation officers and getting a SE to look at it.
I've always tried to involve the CO when ever I done any significant maintenance, basically they come round, we have a look and a chat, he says OK, we exchange letters to that effect and everyone is happy. It avoids the questioning of work in the future, and builds a good relationship, which might be useful in the future.
Yep it will cost more, it will take longer, welcome to the world of owning and maintaining a listed building :-)
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Chris French


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On Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:51:48 +0000, Anna Kettle wrote:

Thanks Anna, and everyone. I phoned Mr & Mrs Owner[1] this morning with gist of your contributions and Mrs O phoned CO uttering Magic Words[2] who agreed to stack being rebuilt pronto with that and original-type bricks. Bobski went off to source reclaimed bricks (originals falling apart, hence problem with stack) whilst Mrs O phoned round & found a supplier for for HLM & sent builder off to fetch that, plus supplier offered to give builder a quick crib on how to use the stuff. Talking of which any gotchas to using lime mortar? ISTR Anna writing at length about it some time back but it doesn't seem to have found its way onto our wiki.
[1] currently off-interweb until formerly wirus-ridden Windoze PC, now newly linuxified[3], gets back to them
[2] "Hydraulic Lime Mortar"
[3] The machine was practically old enought to be listed itself: you can just see it, can't you? "That PC originally had Microsoft Windows on it, so you've got to remove Linux and restore it to its original state" :-)
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John Stumbles -- http://yaph.co.uk

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Talking of which any gotchas

isnt it too cold for lime mortar, it doesnt set properly in freezing conditions?
http://www.blackdog.ukf.net /
A5 32 page illustrated paperback offering sensible, easy-to-follow advice based on 25 thrifty years
of practical experience, for anyone wishing to repair, redecorate or maintain an old building in the traditional manner. Suppliers list updated annually. Over 13,000 copies sold.
Β£4.00 per copy in UK (including post & packing), Β£30 for 10 copies.
Β£5.00 (sterling only) per copy overseas.
[g]
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george (dicegeorge) wrote:

Non-hydraulic lime needs to be treated differently to cement, or bad things can happen. But hydraulic lime sets like cement - albeit softer - and can be used much the same way as cement. I guess its still wise to cover it in this weather though for a few days until its dried (dry does not equal set).
NT
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See, they can be quite reasonable :-)

Worth checking that the mortar will match the existing mortar colour (it can be quite variable)

It may want protecting at this time of year from frost/cold winds or heavy rain. esp in an exposed location such as a chimney stack
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Chris French


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Make a hydaulic lime mortar mix with the same aggregate and proportions that he would do using cement
Technique is much the same as with cement but it will take longer to set and should be protected with hessian (which has just the right amount of permeability) for as long as possible. At least a week, preferably three at this time of year
The colour wont match, it will be far too white but do a sand colour match as well as can be managed and over the next couple of years lichen will get a hold and the new work will mellow to match the old

Someone else wrote a good summary ages ago which was on the FAQ. I tend to write regularly but not at length
Anna
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snipped-for-privacy@googlemail.com (Anna Kettle) wrote:

Painting the mortar with a thin coat of live yoghurt will help speed this process. Wait for the mortar to cure before doing it - probably four to six weeks at this time of the year.
It must be *live* yoghurt.
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YAPH wrote:

If the listing people had been around in the Dark Ages we would still be living in saxon wattle huts...
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Err - no. If the *planning* people had been around in the Dark Ages we would still be living in saxon wattle huts. If the listing people had been around in the Dark Ages we would still have lots of examples of saxon wattle huts, all completely original in the same way that the philosopher's axe remained the same axe, as well lots of new build in exciting new styles.
Sid
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from snipped-for-privacy@googlemail.com (Anna Kettle) contains these words:

Current thinking is that hydraulic lime mortar isn't the complete answer. Mixture of lime putty and hydraulic lime mortar to ensure that there's a both good initial set and long term stregth.
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Appin wrote:

My builders aid that if you used white cement and a bit of lime as well, chances are the conservation people wouldn't notice anyway..
But beware of strong repairs on weak bricks held togeher with existing weak mortars.
You may just create a new problem further down..
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

The booklet which I have bought via amazon Lime in Building by Jane Schofield
says not to mix portland cement and lime, that removing any portland cement which may have been used to patch your chimney decades ago is a hard job, and that lime takes many weeks to dry, during which time it must be protected from frost, so if it's protected by sacking would you have to have the scaffold up for a month?
the best time is late spring.
why not get the booklet?
www.blackdogpress.co.uk
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