Drone surveying is the latest technology to empower stock condition assessments and support both surveyors and asset managers in their day-to-day work.
Scaffolding, ladders, cherry pickers – these are all bits of kit which instil fear into the minds of health and safety managers. But they’re necessary pieces of equipment for completing full maintenance and repair schedules on buildings and property portfolios, or are they? What if you could assess the state of a property’s roof from the comfort of your own desk? Drone surveying is arguably the most exciting, efficient and effective technology to hit the housing sector this decade.
How could you integrate drone technology into your day-to-day work?
Drone photography and videography is the safest and most cost-effective way to inspect the condition of a property or building’s roof. The latest drones use high-definition 4K cameras to provide clear and detailed, bird’s eye view photographs and enable them to pin-point specific areas in need of repair. They can spot cracked and missing tiles, broken or clogged guttering, damaged chimneys, disintegrating slates and storm damage. And with excellent zoom qualities, they can reach areas which are often otherwise inaccessible.
When these photographs are combined with aerial measurements, you can not only see the problem but also know exactly where it is. That means, for example, if you do need scaffolding to fix the damage, it only needs to be erected in a small area, saving you more money and time.
But it’s not only photographic cameras that can be carried by a drone. You can also attach thermal-imaging cameras in order to reveal insulation deficiencies, damp and water ingress, air leakage and electrical defects. The cutting-edge technology provides critical insights into areas of damage and energy inefficiencies within roofs and high walls to detect even the most subtle inefficiencies or indications of moisture intrusion. Combined with a handheld thermal camera, the two can provide an incredibly in-depth survey of an entire building, providing up-to-date, practical and constructive data to work with.
A 3D model of a property provides a powerful marketing tool. They are stunning to look at and incredibly revealing, giving visitors or prospective buyers a greater understanding of a site as well as informing decision-making and helping to visualise any changes and improvements.
Our top tips when thinking about employing a drone pilot:
Is your drone pilot fully qualified and insured?
Your drone survey process should be managed from start to finish, following strict and detailed planning and preparation guidelines which ensure everything your pilot does adheres to current legal requirements, while also maintaining the privacy and safety of your clients. Look for the PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) qualification and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) certification before employing anyone. And always ask for proof of insurance to ensure the company you use is covered for any eventuality.
Understand the process
Drone surveying is more than just flying a drone. Pilots must perform a number of pre-flight surveys and assessments to ensure that where and when they are flying is safe, legal and ethical. This needs to be done both before the flight day and on the day itself. Using a drone company enables you to handover this process and reduce your administrative load.
Whether the weather
Rain and snow can stop play when it comes to drone surveying. Your drone pilot should work with you to assess long-range weather conditions and attempt to pick a day when there is more certainty over weather conditions. But you will have to remain flexible and know that the flight day could change at the last minute, particularly if there are high winds. Any drone pilot will understand this and work to a flexible schedule to enable your survey to be done as quickly as possible, providing new dates and being as accommodating as possible to your schedules.
Alert property owners
We have all heard the negative news surrounding drones. They can cause huge problems, particularly close to airports, and therefore people are wary of them. The right drone company will know exactly whose permission you will need in order to fly legally. Therefore make sure whoever you choose for your drone survey works with you to ensure, no matter how many households you look after, everyone is kept informed and stays comfortable about your decision to use drone technology.
Look for expertise in housing
A lot of people have turned to drone flying as a quick way to make money. Look for a drone pilot with experience and expertise in housing to ensure they understand your requirements and needs.
Paul Harrison is the managing director of Integrator Drone Services.