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...

  November and October 2004  
o Flat leaseholder seeks clarification of freeholder's development rights. Helenal O'Neill (London)
o Do new Part L regulations mean I have no choice but to have double-glazed sash windows? Amrit Sachar (London)
o Chilly Gilly seeks advice on cold bedroom. Gillian Weatherburn (Gloucestershire)
o Should I use sprayed foam to repair my slate roof? Stephen Hall ( London)
o Pooling water under floorboards gives leads to musty smell in house. Bernard Franklin (London)
o Legal advice sort over uninhabitable third bedroom. Seth Barber (Cheshire)
o Crumbling sandstone windowsills lead to concern. Sam Turnbull (Suffolk)
o They know it's damp, but did they have a legal obligation to tell us? Chris Frazer-Smith (Greater London)
o Paint removal from fireplace reveals mystery stone. Simon Keen (Bedfordshire)
  September 2004  
o A damp flank Roger Lankester (Salisbury)
o Copper mesh on a thatch Tony Pay (Bedfordshire)
o Replacing the windows whilst keeping the glass Dawn Bovey-Pilkington (Staffordshire)
o Underpinning foundations Lawrence Lee (Greater London)
o Conflicting advice on damp Christine Butterworth (Cornwall)
o Problem with a jutting out wall Lise Tole (Central Scotland)
o Woodworm infestation Mehala Singam (Greater London)
o Efflorescence coming through the walls Mal Jones (Herefordshire)
o Lifting and replacing terracotta tiles Claire Jaggard (Gloucestershire)
o Insuring an older property following statements within a surveyors report Sarah Aske (Somerset)
o Asbestos tiles David Drake (Essex)
o Badly cracked ceiling Lauren Beck (Yorkshire)
o Collapsing hall floor Bryony Thompson (Oxfordshire)
o Concerns about lead in the water Lydia Pendlebury (Greater London)
o Free water pooling under the house Carol Bowden (Yorkshire)
o You would think we were living in a paper bag Madeleine Brooks (Yorkshire)
  August 2004  
o Water in my cellar Richard Butler (West Midlands)
o What to do about the damp patches and plaster crumbing from the wall ? Clive Loe (Southampton)
o Is damp caused by modern paints being less porous? Alan Malcolm (Edinburgh)
o Do I need to consult my neighbours if I wish to reslate my roof? Karen Steel (Basingstoke)
o Oak beams treated against fire Helen Cocaign (Bristol)
o A bodge job cottage with a granite floor under concrete Alison Owen (Cornwall)
o Suitable types of paint for a Dorset long-house Georgina Kitching (Dorset)
o Damp steps Samantha Robinson (Greater London)
o Rising damp - a new interior wall or a second skin? Catherine Moore (Somerset)
o Deadening sound between floors Susie New (Greater London)
o Lime courses in Norfolk Desmond Legget (Norfolk)
o Sand blasting wood Anne Goatman (Gloucestershire)
  July 2004  
o Repair of floor leads to modern building regulations vs. traditional conservation problems. Martin Spice (Greater London)
o How should we deal with property we wish to buy which has suffered from subsidence? Ms Visavadia (London)
o Loft conversion may result in the loss of period features Tam Hobbs (Central Scotland)
o Low ceilings in period properties cause headache for London giant Richard Maynard (London)
o What not enough slates? Duncan Macrae (Central Scotland)
o Advice required on common defects to external walls in Victorian properties. Katherina Madden (Bristol)
o Solution required to stop damp & flooding without causing bankruptcy Phil Tebble (Gloucestershire)
o House prices appear to increase but ours falls by 43,000 in 12 months Elizabeth Grieve (Cambridge)
o Guidance required for colour of sash windows. Andrew Knightly-Brown
o Underground lake beneath ground floor flat gives cause for concern. Bruce Haines (London)
o How do I support my Corbels? Simon Hughes (London)
  June 2004  
o Is he or is he not using lime mortar A Smart (Northumberland)
o What should we look for and what issues need we be aware of when buying a 300-year-old property? Marjorie Roberts (Worcestershire)
o Pebbledashed exterior ruins dream period property Kay McCluskey (Greater London)
o Can you wallpaper over sandstone walls? Mike Byrne (Cheshire)
o Roofer suggests my lead roof is defective due to crystallisation. Is there such a defect? Lee Brace (Essex)
o Advice required following survey on Victorian property reveals penetrative damp. A Smith (Greater London)
o How do I remove stone cladding and then finish the walls? Sue Finn (Hampshire)
o Advice required on finishing touches to Victorian property's front garden? Ceridwen Maddock Jones (Surrey)
o Yes you are mad to remove original marble fireplace and replace it with reclaimed fireplace. Joanne Littlewood (Cheshire)
o Work on Victorian conversion by freeholder causes damage to my flat. M Smith (Liverpool)
o Can we get grant aid for work on our period properties? Steve Clark (Surrey) & Justine Gee (Cambridgeshire)
o Extensive work on listed building may be unauthorised B Hutchings (Northern Ireland)
o Do I require listed building consent for alterations inside a listed property? Christine Hawkins (Northamptonshire)
o Alternative sort to gutting of interior of property to deal with alleged damp and wood boring insect problems. Emma Selway (Lothian)
  May 2004  
o Homeowner lives with deathwatch beetle for 35 years Rob Wilcox (Kent)
o How do we plaster the ceiling gaps between our beams Katrina Walker (Yorkshire)
o What should I use render to cob wall? Sue Welham (Devon)
o Can I waterproof my Georgian cellar? Stephen Fasham (Wiltshire)
o Longevity of reed thatch. How long is a piece of string? Kevin Smith (Cambridgeshire)
o How much is a BWPDA report and should I avoid free surveys? Sarah Newman (Hampshire)
o What kind of survey do I require for a Victorian property? Lorraine Bennett (Greater London)
o Earthy smells give cause for concern Raymond Pring (Kent)
o Should I remove my cracking render in exposed location? Vicky Thirlwell (Cumbria)
  April 2004  
o Khaki stains on lime plaster Jacqueline Martin-Greatjead (Lancashire)
o Large chunks of myhouse are falling off Hedley Francis (Cambridgeshire)
o Building a flint wall for outbuilding Antony Etwell (Surrey)
o Do open fireplaces provide background ventilation Peter Smith (Greater London)
o Inglenook restoration in need of structural advice Frances Tanner (Somerset)
o Rules of thumb for underpinning quotes Dawn Brealey (Lincolnshire)
o Borehole water staining - is this normal? Tony Aucott (Powys)
o Fumes leaking from flue into attic bedroom Cath Holmes (Lancashire)
o Penetrating damp Sarah Wickham (Yorkshire)
  March 2004  
o Leaking smoke from chimney gives cause for concern Mark Wilkins (Wiltshire)
o Legal advice first port of call concerning absentee landlord. Anthony Matthews (Carmarthenshire)
o Dodgy builder claims you can get dry rot in bricks Ben Miles (East Sussex)
o Local council rejects sympathetic plans for conversion of outbuilding. David Armes (Hertfordshire)
o Acid washed bricks give perpetual salt deposit problem Ponset Brown (Greater London)
o Rebuilt conservatory destroyed by lilac tree leads to problem with local council Natasha Hitchcock (Cheshire)
o Should I asphalt my quarry-tiled floor before laying new Oak boards. Robert Fraser (Cheshire)
o Survey says damproofing work needs to be re-done by professionals. Is this good advice? Caroline Skelton (Warwickshire)
o Does bulging wall need to be rebuilt. Shona Williamson (Northumberland)
o Should we lime render our exterior brick walls after removing cement rending? David Newby (Cheshire)
  February 2004  
o Traditional finish for oak windows Adrian Scott (Derbyshire)
o Buyers put off property by surveyor's report Jennie Kelly (Yorkshire)
o Lower groundlevels help alleviate damp Edmund O'Shaughnessy (Cambridgeshire)
o Builder provides inaccurate advice regarding lime plastering. Michael Venus (Cumbria)
o Sealant on my 3ft thick stone walls? David Stokes (Yorkshire)
o Should I follow survey's advice? Paul Griffiths (Cheshire)
o How do I match my bricks? Gary Smallbone (Hampshire)
o Survey says... Is this good advice? Anne Wright (Hertfordshire)
  January 2004  
o Does a clunch property really require an injected dpc? Nick Lloyd (Surrey)
o Improve ventilation & provide more even heating to avoid condensation Nigel Smith (Shropshire)
o How do I clean our church windows? Gary Thorn (Nottinghamshire)
o Shelter coat of limewash will help to protect stonework. Jonathan Pickard (Northampton)
o Lining chimney costs. Jane Morton (Tyne and Wear)
o Rampant Squirrels become new housemates. Lynne Vitale (Bristol)
o Mining mice make result in rapid degradation of thatch. Ann Caswell (Cambridgeshire)
o Noisy neighbour pushes homeowner to brink. Andrew Finlay
o Do I need to render exposed chimney brickwork in loft Kevin Rich (Surrey)
o Never accept conclusions of a free damp surveys Jackie Pedley (Shropshire)
o Avoid spraying underside of slate roof with foam Martin Consterdine (Pembrokeshire)
o Dry lining wall provides solution to penetrative damp. Anne Brookes (Gloucestershire)
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  Archive from 2001