085 Seeing the Bigger Picture in Surveying with Phil Parnham

Phil Parnham is a Chartered Building Surveyor with expertise in the diagnosis of defects in residential properties. Phil has many years of experience in the social housing, higher education, and residential sectors. He has developed a range of training services for residential practitioners of all types.

Better Ways of Connecting with Surveyors

Phil reminisces about the relationships he built before COVID-19 changed the way he connected with people in surveying.

“We all went to the CPD events and things like that,” Phil says. “Although we value being with people and having those shared experiences, the thing that COVID-19 and the virtual world has taught me is that a traditional conference isn’t the most effective way of being with people.”

“Even if people want to join, it’s difficult,” Phil continues. “You have to drag them away from the coffee stations because they’re still catching up, they’re still discussing issues. I’m thinking that when life gets to some sort of normal, surely, there are better ways of interacting professionally than just hundreds sitting in a room, listening to one person.”

Bigger Picture vs. Details in Business

Phil says that he does not consider himself a proper surveyor. Rather, he considers himself good at listening to surveyors and putting together knowledge that can help surveyors conduct their business.  

“I’ve been fascinated in a very small-minded way with buildings, how they perform over time,” Phil says. “I never looked at business-related issues. I never worried about what’s the best for tax, what’s the best strategy, what was coming up in the future and all of that sort of stuff.”

“I’ve run loads of inspection master classes for surveyors,” he says. “I’ve been amazed at how quickly some of the best surveyors I’ve ever met can focus on the main issues about the property, whereas I’d be focusing too much on nuance or detail. I suppose that’s what business gives you. You’re running this broader business serving clients and you’ve got to focus on the most important thing.”

Dealing with Claims

Phil recalls his experience receiving a claim when he inspected a waste pipe and drainage connection. He also shares the learning process of dealing with self-doubt. 

“When the claim came in, what could you do?” Phil says. “Yeah, it was a payout and it was a learning experience. It showed me that you’ve got to keep that focus during the inspection. But also, it taught me how bad it makes you feel, how you question your own competence, and how it shapes that confidence. I know that the next time I was doing an inspection report, I was much more cautious and measured.” 

“It’s that vicious cycle, isn’t it? It’s hard to get out of that and to remember that I’m here to serve the client. I managed to provide them with the advice they needed to make a purchase decision,” he concludes.

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