Drones: The Future of Building Inspections

Inspecting Buildings With Drones

At Kipcon, we understand we need to stay ahead of the curve in order to remain at the forefront of the engineering industry. As a result, we have teamed up with ABJ Drones to provide drone inspections for all of our clients!

Drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are quickly flying out of dangerous military operations and into a wide variety of commercial industries. Currently, one of the fastest growing commercial applications for these incredible devices is the use of drones for engineering and construction purposes, namely building inspections. Below, we describe how common inspections are typically performed in comparison to how they are currently being performed using drone technology.

INSPECTIONS – THE NORMAL PROCESS:

Façade Inspections:

 
Ladders, lifts and scaffolding. Unless a high quality photo can be taken from the ground or another vantage point, the only way an inspector can get a close look at a building façade is by climbing the exterior wall or dropping down a scaffold from the roof. Consider not only the building height, but also the need to cover the entire area. Talk about time consuming and expensive, not to mention dangerous. This may seem feasible for 2-3 story buildings, but what about 50 story high rises? How about complex architecture with various nooks and crannies? Such an inspection is often not even possible, and as a result a large amount of unobservable building façade will go unseen.

Roof Inspections:

In best case scenarios, an inspector can safely walk a flat roof and note its condition based on a visual observation. In other cases, complex designs and steep-sloped roofs make this process extremely difficult, unsafe, and often impossible. Sometimes a single roof may have a variety of elevations, requiring the inspector to climb multiple areas, quickly racking up the time and effort it would take to do the job.

Moisture Testing:

Even if the exterior condition looks okay, there may still be moisture present causing hidden damage. Typically, testing for moisture infiltration involves an inspector locating areas that show potential signs of deterioration (which is not always a result of moisture) and inserting a probe to test the material for moisture. These meters only show the moisture level in a particular location and not a larger area, making it difficult to assess the severity of the problem. The only way to accurately see the size of a moisture-infiltrated area is to physically remove the building’s exterior, which is very costly, time consuming and invasive.

DRONE INSPECTIONS – THE SOLUTION:

From the safety of the ground, a certified pilot can fly a drone around and above the entire building in a matter of minutes. Expensive scaffolding and dangerous ladders are no longer necessary. Equipped with a high definition 4k camera, the drone will film the entire building exterior while giving our engineer the ability to zoom in and take photos from angles that were previously inaccessible, especially for complicated structures. The film and photos will then be archived and analyzed by one of our experts.

Looking for water infiltration? The drone’s 4k camera can easily be replaced with a thermal imaging camera that will identify specific areas of the structure containing moisture beneath the surface, as well as areas of heat loss. As can be seen in the photo, the left side shows thermal imaging of areas with water infiltration that would otherwise go unseen. With commercial drones constantly evolving, the possibilities are endless.


Interested in offering drone services to your clients? Learn more about joining our national network of affiliates and adding drone technology to your business offerings.

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