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By mid-May 2015, Staples Rodway’s Christchurch office expects to be located in its new office building in the new CBD. Directors and staff are looking forward to the move, after living in temporary premises for the past 2 years. In this first part of the story we cover some of our trials and tribulations on the road to getting to our new premises.


E THOUGHT WE’D DODGED THE bullet. Until April 2013, Staples Rodway’s Christchurch office was located at 116 Riccarton Road, well away from the CBD that was so severely damaged by the February 2011 earthquake. While our office was left shaken and cracked, it was not a candidate for demolition, or at least that’s what we thought. Our engineers assured us the building was still structurally sound, and consequently we were able to re-open our doors a few days after the February 2011 earthquake. Still, I don’t think we ever felt complacent about our situation. We had frequent reminders in the form of aftershocks throughout 2011. During 2012 we had workmen opening up internal walls inside our offices to inspect the building. Our staff became familiar with a whole raft of new engineering terms used to assess buildings, not only in relation to our own situation, but also our clients’. Over time we could see our staff and clients becoming increasingly wary about the capacity of Christchurch buildings to cope with the stresses of successive aftershocks, some of them disturbingly strong. It was clear that they needed the assurance that could only come if we occupied a new building that delivered 100%+ of the New Building Standards. Still, the rebuild was only just starting, so there was not much we could do for the time being.

HURRICANE WIRE AND CONTAINERS Through 2011 and 2012 we counted ourselves lucky that we were able to stay put. Our displaced friends in other firms around town were usually in less than ideal situations, occupying anything they could find. However, our settled situation changed abruptly early in 2013, when we were advised by the building’s landlord that they considered our building unsuitable for continued occupation. This news came as a shock to us, given the assurances we had received from our own structural engineers. While we still have no doubt that our engineers were correct, we quickly realised it was an argument that we were never going to win, particularly when the landlord erected certain safety measures. First hurricane wire fencing was

installed at the front and rear of our building. Then shipping containers were arranged through which we had to access the building entrances. The previous concerns of our staff and clients quickly changed from mildly wary to being completely spooked. We knew we had to move, and fast. The words ‘building closure’ were being bandied around. The question was where to move to in a city that was already squeezed tight for office space?

GUN SHOPS AND MEDICAL CENTRES Our desperate search narrowed down to two options. One was an almost windowless 900 m2 box in a strip mall, next to a gun store, miles from any amenities. The other was a former medical centre that had recently been occupied by Mainzeal, and which had been abandoned after Mainzeal had gone into liquidation in March 2013. We chose the medical premises. At least it had natural light. And it was not too far from the building we had called our home for almost 25 years. The medical centre was considerably smaller than the space we enjoyed at 116 Riccarton Road. But by removing some of the interior walls in the medical centre, our architects Unispace were able to cleverly accommodate 45 desks, while leaving space for a narrow board room and three meeting rooms. It was going to be tight, but we knew we could make it work…just. We had tradesmen working literally 24/7 on our temporary premises removing walls, painting and preparing the building for our occupation. We got emergency temporary dispensation from the Christchurch City Council to use the premises as an office, and consequently the plugs for hand basins used in the medical consulting rooms are still visible on the walls, waiting for subsequent conversion back into being a medical centre.

A CRASH-COURSE DIET We also knew we would have to slim down before squeezing into our temporary offices, and that was probably our greatest challenge. So we ordered in bins - lots of big blue bins. We sent hundreds of files off to storage and filled those blue bins with literally tonnes of extraneous written material accumulated over many years. Every day a truck would arrive and take away blue bins and give us more which we would quickly fill. By the time moving day arrived, we were considerably lighter, but still overweight. We still had to find room in our temporary offices for hundreds of lineal metres of shelf space on every available wall for our files.


Chain link fencing decorates the exterior of Staples Rodway Christchurch earthquake-damaged premises

Our staff and clients have been very understanding. It will suffice to say there have been a few issues in this ex-medical centre such as water leaks, rodents, and getting the air conditioning system to cope. Morning tea and afternoon tea has had to run in shifts, given that we have a tea room that can only comfortably cater for a few people at a time. I suppose everyone’s acceptance of our situation has been partially due to the fact that many people in this city, including our professional colleagues around town, are similarly making do while they sort out their lives and businesses. In the next issue of Numbers: Christchurch’s new office and lessons learnt…

NUMBERS Autumn 2015 • 17

Numbers mag autumn 2015 issuu  

Hawkins Profile | IRD Investigations | NZIPOs | Tax Issues for Trustees | Employing Seasonal & Casual Labour | Improving Workplace Health &...

Numbers mag autumn 2015 issuu  

Hawkins Profile | IRD Investigations | NZIPOs | Tax Issues for Trustees | Employing Seasonal & Casual Labour | Improving Workplace Health &...