I was able to join Blue Box for two of their training events this past few weeks. Blue Box are very active in providing up to date and relevant CPD training for RICS members, usually by RICS members. This time I was along to take one of the CPD slots with a presentation on the practical aspects of damp and timber surveying.
The first event was in Brighouse West Yorkshire on 14th May and was well attended with surveyors from across the north of England and Scotland. This was followed with a further session at The National Self-Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon, which was very well attended also.
A great mix of skills were passed on by the speakers including Phil Parnham himself, taking the session on contract management, which gave his experiences on organising and supervising a wide range of projects for clients. His academic experience, combined with a great sense of humour means delegates learn easily without feeling they are being lectured to. The important points surveyors must grasp and keep on top of were well covered, and as a contractor I found myself nodding in agreement much of the time, particularly on the importance of good record keeping and prompt communication as work progresses.
Chartered Structural Engineer Simon Pitchers (Jeremy Vine’s ‘Crack-Man and Sarah Beeney’s ‘crackologist’), was on hand to take delegates through the process of assessing cracks in buildings and gave us a useful ‘toolbox’ of golden rules to help the guys and gals get to grips with cracking and movement. His down to earth and straightforward approach is refreshing and went down really well. Talking to delegates at coffee, I found that many were delighted with Simon’s approach and the consensuses was that they felt much better equipped to comment on cracking, after receiving his wisdom.
Larry Russen knows his Party Wall and dilapidations law and has gained a reputation for his work in this growing area. His presentation talk was very practical and he made sure those wishing to diversify into more of this work had a good grounding in the important fundamentals they need to take account of, especially when surfing through the gap between Landlord and tenant expectations and, how to deal with pressure from neighbours expecting ‘their guy’ to fight for them, when in fact that is not the Party Wall Surveyors role at all!
Chris Rispin, covered the ‘due diligence’ valuation surveyors must show and here, I have to say I was left blinking and incredulous at just how much responsibility and potential pitfalls there are for valuation surveyors. He used up to the minute case studies, to take delegates through court cases where one party or another were taking a valuation surveyor to task for valuation matters. Questions from the floor were many and he certainly gave the delegates much food for thought and also made sure they left knowing how they can keep the odds in their favour, by following a few straightforward pointers – brilliant. I look on valuation surveyors in a new and humble light after seeing what they have to contend with.
My session was basically a short video (one of my appallingly presented affairs from site), showing how a typical damp survey, using simple tools, eyes and one or two gadgets can be done correctly by any competent surveyor. A large part of my presentation was devoted to mould, humidity and condensation, making sure the delegates know the basic fundaments and one or two pitfalls to avoid.
Timber decay was briefly looked at and I tried to make sure they got plenty of ‘nuggets’ to take away on surveys with them, so they can offer independent damp and timber surveys with more confidence. I touched on wall tie surveying too as I find that the standard of wall tie surveying by many ‘specialists’ is poor and there is a place for independent wall tie surveys by Chartered surveyors I think.
I was chuffed to introduce Chartered surveyors George Dunnett and Kevin Shaw to the floor, who are now CSRT (Certificated Surveyors in Remedial Treatment) qualified, having attended the Property Care Association training courses and passed the examinations (timber, damp and law/health and safety modules), congratulations to them both – much respect!
The Swindon Venue was very impressive and I had a good look around at all the exhibits, especially the ‘Renovation House’ with examples of defects built in – great..
My thanks go to the Blue Box team; Phil Parnham, Chris Rispin, Larry Russen and Alan Appleby for inviting me and for their very generous donation to The Samaritans via my virgin money giving page – and to all those who kindly donated to this charity on both days – to spur me on to the London 100 bike ride I am struggling through in August – cheers.