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Email: john@johnsparks-surveyor.co.uk

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Useful Links

Below is a list of web sites that you may find interesting. I would stress that while I may have had professional dealings with some of the organisations and be a member of others, I do not have any commercial relationships with them.

Also while I may be generally supportive of their aims and objectives I do not necessarily agree with all the content and statements on these sites.


The Society For The Protection of Ancient Buildings

The Society For The Protection of Ancient Buildings


Founded in 1877 by William Morris to defend old buildings from “over restoration” and the “scraping away of past history”. The principles are still very much the same today and now form the bedrock of much modern conservation practice. Wherever practical old materials should be retained and careful repair should be favoured over replacement. The SPAB runs courses for both homeowners and professionals, as well as producing technical literature. If you are new to old buildings and are considering purchasing one, read the “Look before you Leap” article. Also I would strongly recommend reading “The Old House Handbook” and also “The Old House Eco Handbook”.


The Government Long Term Flood Map

The Government Long Term Flood Map


This site is a useful way of checking the risk of flooding for both surface water and river/sea flooding. As with any computer generated search where post codes are used, some common sense is needed when in interpreting the results but these maps are actually relatively property specific.


Historic England

Historic England


Historic England which deals with listing and conservation issues has been divided off as a separate body from English Heritage. By searching “the List” you can check whether a property is Listed and see a copy of the Description in the Listing. The quickest way is to use the Post Code and then look at the triangles shown on the map to identify the property you are looking for.

The Advice section of the site also gives access to quite a large amount of downloadable advice on such subjects as thatch and the relationships/conflicts between energy efficiency, Part L of the Building Regulations (insulation) and old buildings.


Local Authorities

www.midsuffolk.gov.uk | www.babergh.gov.uk | www.ipswich.gov.uk | www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk

If you go to the Planning and then the Conservation sections they have various useful bits of information about Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas etc. Most although not all have on- line mapping which shows the location of Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings and Tree Preservation Orders.You can now check on line the past planning and building regulation history of a building although in some cases it does not go back that far and most of the information is only very basic, such as the date of the application, what it was for and what the decision was. Cases where the documents and plans are accessible on line are comparatively few.


Pyramus & Thisbee Club

Pyramus & Thisbee Club


A club, which seeks to advance knowledge of party wall legislation and procedure and to promote best professional practice in its application. The web site contains a lot of useful information and the government advice/handbook on Party Wall matters can be downloaded from this site. It also has a register /search system for local Party Wall Surveyors by region/post code.


The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors


The web site of the RICS of which I am a Fellow. Gives general background information on the organisation, what it does and the regulatory issues which all members must comply with.

There are also a number of useful Guidance Notes on issues such as Party Walls, Flooding, Asbestos etc. The easiest way to find these is probably by using Google and putting in “RICS……” and whatever you are interested in and if there is a useful pdf. it should come up. Some of these may be designed for surveyors rather than the general public but still can contain useful information.

Click here to see The RICS Home Survey Standard 1st Edition November 2019


Traditional Oak Carpentry

Traditional Oak Carpentry


A small team of carpenters based in Wetheringsett in Suffolk specialising in hardwood timber frame repairs as well as building some new frames. The “Projects” section is well worth a look. Founder Rick Lewis is not only a skilled frame repairer but has a significant depth of knowledge regarding the history of the buidings, the construction techniques and the tools used by the original craftsmen. He also acts as a tutor on a number of courses dealing with timber frame repairs.


Dominic Meek - Master Thatcher

Dominic Meek - Master Thatcherwww.dmthatching.co.uk

A Master Thatcher based near Halesworth, who works in both the local traditions; water reed and long straw.




Place Services (Essex County Council)

Place Services (Essex County Council


A branch of Essex County Council which runs a series of traditional building skills courses, some of which are aimed at the homeowner. You can also get details from the site about Essex County Council’s Heritage Publications by downloading the programme for the courses. They have some useful guides about weatherboarding, windows etc


Orchard Barn

Orchard Barnwww.orchardbarn.org.uk

Sarah Partridge, with the help of a large number of volunteers, restored this small 17th century barn in Ringshall near Stowmarket and they are now rebuilding a 17th century house timber framed house found as a bunch of rotting timbers under a bank of brambles. Many of the repairs were carried out as part of “hands on” courses about timber frame repair run by Rick Lewis. (See Traditional Oak Carpentry above). Emphasis is very much on sustainability and use of local (minimal) resources. Now used as a base to run a series of courses about traditional building methods, many of which have been tried and tested on site!