Happy 39 years of experience in the damp proofing industry to our surveyor Steve Hall
8th October 2018
Steve Hall celebrates 30-years at ProTen Services
We are delighted to be congratulating Steve Hall, our Northern based property preservation surveyor, on reaching a 30-year milestone of working at ProTen Services. In total he holds an amazing 39 years of property preservation industry experience which we view as invaluable.
After he was made a bit of a fuss of in the office, we asked Steve a few questions about his career journey and to give a little bit of an insight into life as a property preservation surveyor.
Steve Hall works throughout South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and surrounding areas.
How did your career in the construction industry start?
I started my working life as a joiner apprentice originally for the local authority in 1979. In 1988 I started working at ProTen Services as an operative. I remember being worried about making this move as it was quite a gamble leaving the security of what was back then considered a job for life with the council. But I took the plunge and I then began surveying 3 years later. I don’t think I imagined that ProTen would end up becoming the job for life!
If you hadn’t been a surveyor, what else would you have been?
I thought seriously about joining either the police or fire service, but I have always had an interest of buildings and construction, so this was quite a natural career choice for me.
Our statistics tell us that you can do anything up to 25 damp and timber surveys a week. That’s a busy week. Can you describe your typical working day?
Assessing properties for the cause of damp and the resulting problems such as woodworm or dry rot is what my day is all about. I am out on the road by 8.00 every morning and I work to a logical route to suit with an average of 3-4 surveys a day. I try and complete all my site visits in the morning and then arrive home or into the ProTen Leeds office at around 2pm to write up the report and ensure a quick turnaround for our clients. If needs be, I will survey empty properties at the weekends. I also fit in site visits for jobs that are running and stay in touch with our Leeds contracts team and of course my clients.
You must have been to a lot of properties over the years. Is there a property that stands out?
The majority of my surveys are for local authority properties so the properties I visit are not particularly out of the ordinary. However, I do remember surveying a church roof from a vault ceiling below. You could see a 60ft drop to the altar which was a little out of my comfort zone as I’m not too keen on heights!
And is there a particular project that stands out for you?
I was on a Saturday morning site visit to a bank where we were carrying out basement waterproofing work, when we set off the secret alarm to the police. We came out covered in dust, wearing dust masks and baseball caps and found ourselves surrounded by 3 police cars!
Surveying wise, I was carrying out an external survey doing my usual assessment for property defects and found myself walking backwards to assess the roof and gutters and fell backwards into a fish pond. Luckily it was a vacant property, and no one saw me.
Have you ever encountered anything that wasn’t quite as it seemed?
I once uncovered 2 lead lined coffins in a vault! That was a little unexpected!
What would you say is the most common cause of the damp problems you come across?
Water ha-ha ?. Lack of property care, and condensation is a major issue these days particularly in social housing. There are ways to combat this problem but the methods that can be used are often more complicated than its thought. Its not always as easy as opening a window.
Congratulations on your 39 years of property experience. How important do you think experience is to become a successful surveyor?
Experience is key, but it is also important to continue to learn, be organised and ask questions. And always listen. You may be told something that completes the missing part of the jigsaw and may change the remedial treatment decision that you make.
I am also very fortunate to work with a strong support team and they play a vital role in being a successful surveyor. Our site operatives have over 160 years of industry experience between them. This is invaluable to getting the job done to the highest of standards.
Can you name the 3 key attributes which you think make a successful surveyor?
- Hard work and punctuality
- Good communicator and listener
- Professional presentation
Overall, asking yourself if you would accept the workmanship, would you recommend yourself to others and give the service you would expect to receive yourself from start to finish (including office back up and the team onsite).
What would be your advice to anyone thinking of a career in the property preservation industry?
Be patient, work hard, and listen to your customers. Advise them – don’t tell them – you are there to solve their problem.
You can’t always be solving property damp problems. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Family time is very important to me. I am a lifelong passionate Sheffield United fan, holidays to my favourite island of Fuerteventura and my time to relax. And there is always golf.
Thanks Steve. We wish you well with the next 30 years!
If you require any information about our services or if you would like to discuss a damp problem at your property with Steve or a member of the team, then don’t hesitate to contact us