Dr Paula Lutescu-Jones
Buying a listed property? You may need Indiana Jones
7 March 2018

One of the first questions I am often asked is why does Savills have an archaeologist? Perhaps because the term archaeology often conjures up images of Indiana Jones - and that’s not something immediately associated with a land and property management company. But archaeology is the study of our human past, so anything associated with this, such as listed buildings and scheduled monuments, falls within its remit.

There are around 400,000 listed buildings in England, 30,000 in Wales and 48,000 in Scotland, numbers which increase as more buildings become designated. The large numbers in part reflect the high status, economic value and quality of these buildings, and their inherent structural longevity, as well as the love and care that has been invested in their maintenance by previous occupants. The list includes some of the country’s most prestigious houses, and some of the most spectacular architectural examples for each period in our history. These buildings are often all the more evocative because of the traditional building techniques and materials used in their construction, the time period they encapsulate, and many have fascinating associations with historical figures and events.

As wonderful as historic buildings are they come with their own particularities, and clients often need advice. Most frequently they require expert guidance where works have been carried out without proper consent in the past, or where they are considering buying a listed building and want to understand what this means for its use and management in the future. Very often large historic properties, such as stately homes and manors, will have undergone many alterations through their use, some of which may not have been granted consent and the liability passes on to the new owner. One of the key services we offer is the resolution of this for buyers and sellers, which not only provides peace of mind, but also can substantially increase the capital value of these assets.

Many clients have found that it is prudent to have this expert advice on hand from their initial viewing of a property, particularly regarding the potential for alterations to be made in the future, to discuss their own specific plans for their new home or to get a clear understanding of what constraints and opportunities are in relation to these heritage assets. More often than not, they are often surprised just how much can be done. One of the key challenges we’re often faced with is the sustainability of listed properties; ensuring that our clients can get the most out of them, and wherever needed, adapt them for modern living.

Dr Paula Lutescu-Jones is a Principal Archaeologist and Heritage Consultant at Savills.



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