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Professionals are required to only work within their competence. But what does competence in structural waterproofing mean?
There are some who are unconsciously incompetent – they don’t even realise that they aren’t competent. There are some who are consciously incompetent – they realise that waterproofing is a speciality and that it’s not their area of expertise.
You can watch a 5 min video here.
Well hello and welcome to Waterproofing Wisdom my name is ben and I’m
the Technical Director at CLW and today I wanted to talk to you about
So earlier this month I looked at a double storey basement in London
where somebody bought this very expensive home for around four or five million and
only three months later it was it was flooding.
They had a pre purchase survey done by a Chartered Surveyor and they had
done a home buyers report and that home buyers report made no mention whatsoever
of basement waterproofing.
I looked at it and I thought gosh this guy doesn’t realise that he
doesn’t know so the Chartered Surveyor had looked at it and hadn’t realised the
enormous risk of basement waterproofing in effectively an iceberg kind of basement
property so before I got there, I saw this image which was quite kind of
alarming but it’s actually it’s only the screed and the latex covering which
had cracked because the insulation had floated and here’s all the under floor
heating. Which we’ll try not to disturb too much and it’s a disaster and
obviously somebody’s brought home very expensive home and is not very happy.
So I wanted to look at this competence and I came across this diagram. It’s
interesting to me that you can have this this realm where you don’t really know
what you don’t know you’re unconscious that you’re incompetent. I don’t really
like the incompetent there you’re unconscious that you’re unaware.
I think that the Chartered Surveyor was in that realm where he didn’t
even know that he didn’t know about waterproofing and from there you could move
into a realm where you know you don’t know you’ve realised that basement
waterproofing is a complex issue and you know that you don’t have the skills to
be looking at it.
I think that’s a really healthy place to be and from there you could get
some training and do some exams and things like that and you might realise ok I’m
I’m competent to do this in terms of basement waterproofing this to be
honest I think that’s very rare that you don’t even have to think about it I
know that I have to think through waterproof and very carefully when I want to
get it right which is all the time you never want it to go wrong do you so I
wanted to share this any big professional body has rules they’re the rules of
professional conduct or codes of conduct and ICE have Rule 2 which says “all
members shall only undertake work that they are competent to do”.
Similarly RIBA has the whole principle around competence which includes
this phrase “members shall realistically appraise their ability and resources
to undertake and complete any proposed work”.
So I think as professional people we have this difficult task of
realising and being aware of what can I do and what can’t I do and the truth is
that any Chartered Engineer or Architect is very knowledgeable normally very
experienced very competent. In what they do but the thing is basement
waterproofing is not normally what they do and it is a niche area and a lot of
the time they aren’t competent in my experience to do basement waterproofing.
So I thought I’d try and think through what how I would know if I was
competent and that is an issue that I’ve come across a lot especially in expert
witness work where someone saying will you be an expert in this and I’m like I
know about that but am I happy calling myself an expert.
So something that you need to think through so here are some questions
that might help you think through if you’re competent number one have you had
any specialist training so basement waterproofing have you had any training
that is specifically about basement waterproofing the sort of the bare minimum
is I think is a course run by the PCA and it’s a three day course followed by
an examination which gives you a CSSW accreditation that’s a three day course
which is quite intense with a one day exam and it’s a written exam and an oral
exam, you know have you done that.
Number three have you got relevant experience so you might have your
CSSW but you haven’t done basements of this magnitude or this complexity of
this nature and then number four have your peers checked your work has somebody
in the industry also looked to your work and said you’re mostly right that I
think you’re missing something on.
I think if you can’t look at those four things and say yep, I’m covered I’d
be very hesitant to say I’m competent and I think that goes back to knowing
what stage you are in that learning are you unconsciously ignorant or are you
conscious that you’re ignorant or are you knowledgeable enough and therefore
I would say if you aren’t acutely aware that basement waterproofing is very
difficult it’s awkward and it’s high risk then I would suggest you’re
unconsciously ignorant and you’re not a competent person in that niche area.
So thank you for watching if we can be of assistance get in touch with
CLW we are independent waterproofing consultants we do design we do defect diagnosis
we do expert witness
Thank you for watching