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THOUGH owners of listed buildings will spend five times the national average on repairs and home improvements over the next three years, most will ignore planning laws and prefer builders to architects as their advisers, according to a report published this week. Historic Houses: A Growth Sector, based on responses from 120 owners of Grade II- and Grade II*- listed houses, estimates that the owners' outlay is likely to total pounds 3.5bn; but despite the fact that 75 per cent of those questioned had applied for a grant, they resent being told how to spend their money by local authorities and English Heritage. Asked whom they would contact first to discuss work, 51 per cent said they preferred a local builder, 21 per cent a surveyor and 13 per cent an architect. And while nearly all had carried out repairs or improvements in the previous three years, only 31 per cent had sought listed building consent.