About Stephen

It is reasonable to expect prospective clients to want to know about my background.  Rather than provide a conventional CV, I discuss my experience and provide information that I hope is relevant and helpful.

Education

After leaving school in 1978 I went to work for a surveying/agency practice and by way of distance learning (through College of Estate Management – CEM) I passed the direct Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) exams and then qualified in 1984.  I later became a Fellow of RICS in 1995.

Following private study in the 1980s I undertook the RICS/CEM Diploma in Building Conservation, passing this in 1992.  In 1993 I achieved Accreditation in Building Conservation through RICS – now designated ‘RICS Certified Historic Building Professional’.

In 1995 I became a Practising Member of the Academy of Experts.  Through the Academy I trained as a mediator in 2003.

I became a member of the Association of Conservation Officers in 1993 and when the Institute of Historic Building Conservation was formed in 1998 I became a full member.

In 2023 I was elected a member of The Society of Architectural Illustrators.

Work Experience

1978-1984 Whilst training I was involved in commercial estate agency, property management (commercial, retail, flats, houses and lock-up garages), rent reviews, dilapidations, housing grant repairs and upgrades (as part of the property management), as well as valuations (including mortgages).

1984-1993 Now qualified I moved on and undertook building surveys (and Homebuyer reports when they were brought out), defect analysis, insurance claim repairs, specification/schedule writing and contract management of works, planning applications, feasibility studies, mortgage and other valuations (including commercial).  I started undertaking expert witness work.

1993-2000 I formed my own company and continued much of what I had been doing previously, but with a focus on building conservation.  I found I was undertaking less valuation work (no mortgages), more building surveys and defect analysis, and regarding planning I was dealing with listed building consent applications. I also undertook a range of work involving alterations and extensions to buildings and this included preparing drawings, designing schemes and writing schedules/specifications as well as undertaking contract administration. Alongside this I was undertaking more expert witness work including party wall and boundary matters. 

2000-2001 I merged my company with Whitworth where I was a partner.  I ceased undertaking valuation and associated work.  Otherwise I continued to carry out much of what I have outlined above.

Over the past c.30 years (since getting involved in building conservation), the proportion of conservation related work to other matters has varied, but has never been less than 50% and in the past 10 years has probably been around 80% of what I have dealt with.  Regarding expert witness work, this has increasingly involved conservation matters, but as a proportion it has never exceeded c. 30% of my total workload.  I have always enjoyed variety and this is reflected in my work experience.

Stephen in his first job - training as a surveyor

Representation & Appointments

I decided to become actively involved in the RICS in the early 1990s and over the years have been privileged to have involvement in various things.  For many years I was on the board of the RICS Building Conservation Forum and was Chair from 2000-2004.  Following that I was Chair of the RICS Building Surveying Faculty 2006-2008.

In the past and indeed recently I have been a committee member on the East region board of IHBC.

Over the years other things I have been involved with have including judging RICS Award submissions (East region), being a trustee on two building preservation trusts, advisory member for the RICS/CEM Building Conservation Diploma, and an external examiner to Anglia Ruskin University. In addition I was a founder member of the Baptist Union Listed Building Advisory Committee and helped set up the initial scheme for Baptist churches to apply for listed building consent.

On behalf of RICS I have appeared before government committees, and sat on advisory and steering groups on a number of matters.

When the various conservation accreditation schemes began to emerge I was a founder member of the ‘Edinburgh Group’ that has an advisory overseeing role to the professional schemes.

One of the things I am most proud of is that I was a co-founder (with my friend Marianne Suhr) of what was then the RICS/SPAB Building Conservation Summer School.  When RICS pulled out of this in recent years Marianne and I, with Duncan Philips, set up a not for profit venture and are continuing to run this School.

Writing

Over the years I have written pieces for various magazines and professional journals.  This included Period House magazine in the past, and journals including for RICS, as well as pieces in journals of SPAB and Listed Heritage, the magazine of LPOC.  I have also written pieces for the Building Conservation Directory.  For some years I was the ‘Agony Uncle’ for the Period Property UK website.  Now my writing tends to be online and I have started to publish articles on LinkedIn.

I have sat on steering groups for various publications in the past.  This has in the past included Heritage Counts, and the English Heritage Guidance on Thatch.  For RICS I have had input on professional publications relating to insurance of listed buildings,  valuation of historic assets, and guidance note for residential building surveys.

As Chair of the RICS Building Conservation Forum and later the RICS Building Surveying Faculty, I wrote regular pieces in the relevant journals.

Examples of publications I have had input into

Media

I have been interviewed for Radio in the past, including Radio 4 You and Yours.  Some years ago I conducted an interview on Hong Kong Radio and on another occasion spent a morning talking and answering questions live on Radio Essex.

TV work has been limited but I did a piece for a Channel 5 programme a few years ago – ‘Britain’s Horror Homes’.  I also spent time at the Channel 4 studio recording a training video regarding thatch, as well as an interview about my views on damp.

I have a YouTube channel and will be adding content on a regular basis.

Speaking & Training

Having been trained in public speaking at school, and being in a competition team, I have gone on to develop a lot of experience speaking at events, conferences, and training days.  These have included providing talks for private companies, local business groups, as well as speaking at conferences for RICS, RPSA, Essex County Council, Historic Scotland, and Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors. I have spoken at training events put on by SPAB, RICS, National Trust, Essex County Council, Anglia Ruskin University, Blue Box, and others.  As already mentioned above, I co-founded the Building Conservation Summer School at which I deliver various talks.

In terms of academic courses, as an advisory group member I had input on the CEM Diploma course, as well as writing some material.  Likewise I provided input for courses at Anglia Ruskin as well as being an external examiner for a period. Over the years I have also been involved in developing conference and training programmes.

Sixth form public speaking team - Stephen on the right