On the Edge of a New Chapter

1 / 10 / 2013

On the Edge of a New Chapter

As many clients and colleagues will know Christopher Moore has decided to retire, having worked in the profession for over 44 years, the last few of which have been on a part-time basis. We asked Christopher to reflect on his time at Haslams, his career and what plans he has for retirement.

“Firstly I should explain the attached photograph, which was taken recently on my Toronto CN Tower Edge Walk. As a retirement present, I and my partner took a holiday in Canada, including spending a couple of days in Toronto. The CN Tower, once the world’s tallest building, now offers an exterior walk on a narrow open platform around the restaurant pod, some 356m above ground level. Having said to my grown-up children “that looks great” they bought me a ticket so I had no excuse, but it is exciting as long as you trust the ropes and harness! For those of you who have not been to Toronto recently, the centre is a chaotic mix of new buildings, roadworks and improved underground system. The Edge Walk gives a fantastic 360° view across the city and Lake Ontario, well above the office blocks, flats and hotels, and from where the trains, cars and even city airport are in miniature. For anyone interested in architecture, construction or planning it’s an eye-opening experience, not necessarily all pleasant but certainly different to ground level. I never realised how ugly air-conditioning units and service pods on tops of buildings can be!

Back to reality. I joined Haslams in 1994 when it was a mixed professional and agency practice, and we were just starting to emerge from the early 1990’s recession – for the younger readers there have been several recessions before the current one. The residential agency arm was separated shortly thereafter, but it retained the Haslams name and for 10 or more years we shared a building, and still enjoy a strong working relationship. In the meantime the commercial agency department developed, the building surveying section expanded and the professional work grew. My first few years were taken up with mortgage valuations, surveys, capital gains tax/inheritance tax valuations, expert witness work and landlord and tenant, almost exclusively in the residential field. Gradually the instructions for mortgage valuations came not from lenders but central panels, who took their cut of the fee, and the firm now do very few, except for bank commercial loan security. For the past 10 years or so I have concentrated on leasehold reform advice, expert witness reports and other professional valuations of residential property, and for the past 2/3 years I have done little else but lease extensions and enfranchisement on flats and houses.

In many ways the firm has changed, particularly in the numbers and expertise of personnel, the expansion of the partnership and its transition to LLP status, the move to modern offices, and in upgrading of technology. In others it is still the strong professional brand it was when I joined with perhaps more emphasis on commercial work, but retaining a friendly atmosphere and team spirit, which is emphasised by the relatively few leavers in both fee-earning and administration and the progression of many “up the ladder”.

And what changes have I seen since I started my career in my early 20’s. Well, firstly there has been a tremendous advancement in technology. I still remember the days of manual typewriters, carbon paper, shorthand, no mobile phones, no emails, no direct lines, and imperial measuring sticks. Young staff always addressed their superiors by Mr/Mrs/Miss – Ms had not yet been invented – and clients were never called by their Christian names, unless they asked you to. There was far less red tape, no Red Book, no CPD, no APC, and you could walk into the Planning Office and talk there and then to an officer. Most surveyors were “jacks of all trades”, undertaking a structural survey one day, selling a house the next and submitting a planning application the day after. All that changed when more regulations came into force, structured CPD was introduced, Abbey National released mortgage valuation reports, the UK developed a litigious culture and PI became expensive. Since then we have all become specialists, which is understandable but to a degree regrettable as those surveyors engaged in one discipline know little of another. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned.

Where do I go from here? Well, no more valuations certainly, and no more solicitors or clients chasing their report, which for some reason is always more important than anyone else’s! I will not miss the endless stream of emails – in my early days I could send a letter and know I would not receive a reply for several days at least. Now an email response is often received in minutes, sometimes raising another question which needs more thought. I might miss the camaraderie of the office, the social functions and the interesting properties, and I will certainly miss the income! However, there are other pleasures in life including granddaughter, golf, garden, dog-walking, National Trust, cooking and watching various sports, all after I have decluttered and redecorated the house. So I doubt I will be idle.

Have I enjoyed my career in surveying? I have to say, mostly yes. There have been good and bad days, some amusing incidents (often involving keys or alarms) and a few tricky moments when fast thinking was called for. Obviously there are some jobs and clients, and even colleagues, I would rather forget and my years have included at least 3 property/economic recessions when life has been tough, but on balance I have been fortunate to have had a happy working life, and which I intend to continue into retirement. Thanks to all those clients, colleagues and friends who helped to so make it.”

Managing Partner Conrad Hill commented “We are of course very sad that Christopher has retired but wish him all the very best for an enjoyable, healthy and extremely well earned retirement. Christopher was a highly valued member of the team and indeed the font of all knowledge regarding Leasehold Enfranchisement Work. The Partners are very grateful for all his hard work over the years”.

Tanya Le Sueur

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Tanya Le Sueur