for People with a Passion for Period Property
Ask an Agony Uncle!
Stephen Boniface - Stephen Boniface specialises in building conservation providing multi-disciplinary consulting services. He is Chairman of the Building Surveying Faculty and member of the Residential faculty. He serves on the RICS Building Conservation Forum Board and is the 'Agony Uncle' on the Period Property UK website (

Ask our Agony Uncles ...

You can write to our panel of experts free of charge on any subject, providing it's got something to do with Period Properties.

Our experts are all specialists in matters directly involved with older properties. So, if you have a problem with an older building - or if you think you might have a problem - ask an Agony Uncle...

  Dec 2002  
o All ready treated for damp but a new survey indicates a complete new chemical dpc is required? Kevin Thornton (West Midlands)
o Does the Electro Osmosis system work and should I have my internal walls tanked? Philip Hunter (Essex)
o Survey indicates wordworm infestation & wet rot - what are the effective remedies for these problems? John Aitken (Strathclyde)
  Oct-Nov 2002  
o Can I covert the attic in my listed property into a living space? Pauline Marne (Liverpool)
o Whose chimney is it anyway? Peter Martin (Devon)
o Do Victorian or Edwardian properties have firewalls in their loftspaces? Wendy Kneissl (Cambridge)
o Who do I contact to help me match limewash with the buildings original stone colour? Colin Brown (Suffolk)
o Should I install a concrete chimney liner? Simon Massey (Yorkshire)
o Party Wall Act provides structure to reaching solution concerning dodgy scullery extension. Penny Thomas (Dyfed)
o Successive re-laying of road surface leads to penetrative damp on front wall Penny Curtis (Fishguard)
o Should we have cavity wall insulation in our Victorian property? Harry Manley (Manchester)
o Don't hide damp deal with it at source Claire Trickey (Hampshire)
o How do I remove a bitumen based adhesive/damp barrier on my tiles? Mark Wardell (Hertfordshire)
Linda Jardine (Westcliff on Sea)
o Crazy cracking requires raking & filling Sheila Cartwright (Northumberland)
o Sealing flagstones in Church could lead to dampness Robert Allen (Berkshire)
o How do get rid of the discoloured areas on my slate work surfaces in the kitchen? Rebecca Rux-Burton (Oxfordshire)
o How can I match & enhance the Shellac finish on my interior joinery? Peter Prescott (Nottingham)
  Aug-Sept 2002  
o How do I finish my stripped doors N F (York)
o Parquet flooring advice Marion Garner (Leicestershire)
o Damp continues after using traditional building materialse Paul Farmer (Oxfordshire)
o Advice on VAT before starting to build extension Claire Beard (Cheshire)
o Timber & damp survey fails to follow RICS best practice leading to bad advice David Purcell (Yorkshire)
o Should I use an Electro Osmosis system to deal with rising damp Iain Giles (Bedfordshire)
o Professional advice required for peace of mind Darren Jones (Yorkshire)
o Confused about damp. Get us out of here!!!!! Carole Wynne (Cheshire)
o Thatched cottage first timer needs advice on cost of thatching Elena Blanco (Oxfordshire)
o Should quarry tiles laid on an earth floor give us reason to be concerned Steve Johnson (Worcestershire)
o Can chemicals from treating death watch beetle damage our health Wendy De Verteuil (Rutland)
o Do our external exposed beams need to be treated Dawn Long (Worcestershire)
o Inappropriate materials lead to continued damp Chris Burrows (Essex)
o Does my friend really need to have her thatched roof sprayed in a fire retardant for it to be insured Jo Hewitt (Essex)
o Structural problems require specialist advice Ian Williams (Lincolnshire)
o Our house is sprouting fungi Keith Munro (Somerset)
o Frost damaged bricks leads to potential problem in dealing with damp Alison David (Derbyshire)
  July 2002  
o Shared lead valley leads to water seepage into our house Barry Hillier (Chester)
o Does the build up of moss on my roof cause any damage Robert Woolf (Cambridgeshire)
o Can our cellar be converted into a damp-free living space Terry Hall (Wimbledon)
o Do I need listed building consent for numerous small jobs Hilary Wymer (Nantwich)
o Churchyard wall bordering our property leads to damp Alli Lucy (Somerset)
o Will removal of cement render lead to reduced damp James Millerchip (West Midlands)
o Insulation advice for clay lump barn Paddy Burns (Norfolk)
o Crumbling brick walls of property give cause for concern Rob Tuplin (Lincolnshire)
o Crushed stone dust & lime provide suitable filler for stone house Chris Robinson (Wiltshire)
o Should I bed my flagstones on a dpc or breathing floor Jamie Collier (Yorkshire)
o Does rendered facade on timber framed property hide a hornets nest of problems Peter Hall (Cheshire)
o Painted brick elevation hides badly eroded bricks Natasha Doman (London)
o Screw or glue new floor Jonathan Baldwin (Clwyd)
o Should I clean by dis-coloured bricks & how? Adam Haylett (London)
o Are thatched roofs of greater risk of infestation by rodents & other so-called pests?

John Bicknelll (London)

o Chimney problems lead to dampness

Mark Berthelemy (Bedfordshire)

  June 2002  
o Thatched cottage extension advice Kathleen Harris (Hampshire)
o How do I find out if a property is listed? Kingsley Arnold (West Glamorgan)
o Should I use a DPC or Electro Osmosis to solve the damp in my house? Dean Young (County Antrim)
o Built up driveway causes damp wall Simon Slater (Surrey)
o Can conservation officers dictate the style & size of our wall? Mr Carne (Essex)
o How should I insulate my Georgian slate roof? Tim Johns (Scunthorpe)
o I've got DeathWatch Beetle, Help! Simon Harvey (Colchester)
o Patchy plastering drives me mad! Michael Werner (London)
o What questions should I ask & what should I look for when buying a thatched cottage? Andy Godman (Pinner)
o Possible Lead paint gives cause for concern Diane Brown (Essex)
o Internal chimney brickwork crumbling due to damp Paul Grimshaw (York)
o What mortar should I use to rebuild flint wall? Paul Buchanan (Kent)
o Re-pointing a stone farm house Lynne Larkman (Oxfordshire)
o How do I finish flagstones to halt dust and highlight their colour?

Robert Quail (Preston)
Matthew Hayes (Gwent)
Keith Munro (Somerset)
Patrick Sorrell (Essex)
Angela Riddle (Somerset)

  May 2002  
o Render on crumbling bricks may make the problem worse Simon Crump (Norfolk)
o Should I treat exposed timbers with a preservative? Sara Bateman (Newark)
o Building Regs cause for concern in replacing windows in farmhouse Dominic Heppenstall (London)
o Should we remove exterior paint in bid to alleviate damp? Keith Mulcahy (Essex)
o Dampness leads to possible beetle attack Mary Humphries (Devon)
o Specialist suggests pouring concrete down chimnewt to seal flue! Tamara Jones (Shropshire)
o Linseed oil coating on brickwork leads to staining on bricks Mike McNerney (Lancashire)
o Second quality bricks on gable wall lead to penertating damp Philip Branchflower (Bristol)
o Can I remove staircase in listed farmhouse? Paul Rosenfeld (London)
o Are the rules for renovating a Grade II* property more onerous than a Grade II listed property? Peter Connon (Kent)
o De-humidifier or fresh air & extractor fan to solve dampness? Andrew McGovern (Derbyshire)
o How should a surveyor test for rising damp? Tony McGuinness (Cheshire)
o Should I have the underside of my slate roof sprayed with foam? Bob Harding (Devon)
o Damp specialists suggest injected dpc or are their other solutions? Colin Hussey (Cambridgeshire)
o Should I have the underside of my slate roof sprayed with foam? Paul Humberstone (Essex)
  April 2002  
o Basement conversions rarely eradicate damp completely over time Damian McHugh (Leeds)
o Will the use of a de-humidifier help stop damp in my basement? Chris Jeffs (Lancashire)
o Experiment with brick cleaning methods before ploughing ahead! Steve Shadbolt (Hampshire)
o Sacrificial limewash coat to protect bricks Matt Fletcher (Somerset)
o Timber fillets to rid sky views from inside of house Leigh Wimpory (Kent)
o How do I remove paint from my Bath stone property? Paul Mellor (Trowbridge)
o Do I need a specialist surveyor? Derek Harrrison
o Advice required concerning insulating loft space Ken Brown (Devizes)
o Breathing floor solution to damp Nick Townley (Cheshire)
o Synthetic coating requires mechanical method to remove Alex Jeffs
o Should seal my York stone floor? Julie Friday (Stockport)
  March 2002  
o Homebuyers survey leads to asbestos & damp fears M Ross (Yorkshire)
o Ponding in lead Gulley Keith Taylor (Edinburgh)
o Joining properties visually together

Mark Jakes (Cambridgeshire)

o Dry Rot leads to concerns over replacement timbers Richard Van Ree (Norfolk)
o Quality of thatching material Nick Jay (Cambridge)
o Does my 1780 Grade II Listed property need tanking Nick Phillips (West Sussex)
o Do I need a survey from a specialist Jane Bleaken (Bristol)
o Source of Conservation accredited surveyors Ann Rigby-Nash (East Sussex)
o Scottish 'A' listed property - what does it mean Josh Gifford (Central Scotland)
o What colour can we paint our property Mike Horton (Gloucestershire)
o How strong should the mortar be for re-pointing brickwork John Bleackley (Surrey)
o Pine stripping Joanne Houghton (Cheshire)
  February 2002  
o Sources of information for renovation projects in Scotland Gary Burr (Aberdeen)
o Noisy Neighbours shatter period dream Christine Walker (Bedford)
o Traditional materials & techniques meet resistance in form of Building Regulations Tamara Jones (Shropshire)
o Basement tanking causes bricks to crumble Nic Davies (Essex)
o To line or not to line our chimney John Campey (Norwich)
o No dpc what do I do? Ian Murray (Durham)
o Chimney Sweeps have contrasting views on chimney lining Christine Roslaniec (London)
o Should I re-point my flint wall with Lime ? Heather Griffin (Suffolk)
o Improved drainage offers solution to damp Keir Thomas (Derbyshire)
o Decaying timber frame needs sensitive repair Chris Triggs (Kent)
o Removing cement renders is the preferred solution Marci` Thiel (Buckinghamshire)
o Lead water pipes what should I do? Brian Anker (Hampshire)
o Options for ceiling repair in a period house Paul Cole (Suffolk)
o What does 'Townscape Merit' mean? Anita Elms (Greater London)
o Victorian tiles need make over Angela Ragen (Lancashire)
o How do we remove paint from our Inglenook? Alison O'Neill (Derbyshire)
o Possible simple solution to sagging historic ceiling Kate Tuck (Hampshire)
  January 2002  
o Does a Traditional Brick Floor laid on Earth Lead to increased Damp Rachel Elliott (Suffolk)
o Frost Damage to Bricks Sarah White (Durham)
o Waterproofing Solution on Bricks may Cause Further Damage Paul Forman (Berkshire)
o Lower External Ground Levels Helps Alleviate Damp Richard Goodyear (Isle Of Wight)
o Timber Frame Advice Michael Westrop (Essex)
o Removing Pebbledash to Solve Dampness Maureen Wilkinson (Norfolk)
o Once Perfect Chimney Smokes us Out Allegra Amati (London)
o Woodworm in Roof Timbers Anita Omatseone (Yorkshire)
o Leaky Chimney Flashing Robert Goodwin (Cheshire)
o Flagstones May Still Require Some Elbow Grease to Clean Steven Cenci (Essex)
  Archive from 2005  
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  Archive from 2003  
  Archive from 2002  
  Archive from 2001