Drones

Photos Courtesy of Georgia Drone Services

Surveying the Land

New construction requires precise surveys of the proposed home or development site. Data must be collected from numerous points on the land and then input into BIM (building information) software such as AutoCAD or CyperCAD. This process of data collection and analysis can take weeks. UAVs can do the same job in a fraction of the time (in many cases, just minutes) saving time and money. Professional land surveyors have begun using UAVs in their work to provide more detailed modelling of the jobsite topography. Developers use this detailed information to identify and address any issues early on in the planning phases.

Use of drones allows the land survey companies to provide a lower cost option to their clients while increasing both the accuracy and completeness of the data they collect. A quicker turnaround time and lower cost for the survey are great perks you, the builder, can benefit from.

Jobsite Usage

UAVs could well become an integral part of the home builder’s “tool-kit” with their wide range of applications. At the 2018 NAHB International Builder’s Show (IBS), Craig Hassell, of Magleby Construction Inc., of Linden, Utah, spoke about the advantages using a UAV gives him in managing his business. He started thinking about using a drone for the inspection of roofs in a ski-in, ski-out community he was developing in Park City, Utah. The houses are very close with multiple levels and pitch of the roofs, and it was dangerous and time consuming to move from home to home, moving the ladder, attaching the harness, and climbing up to conduct an inspection. Using his drone, Hassell can inspect the roofs from numerous angles, obtaining photo or video documentation of the work. Problems found can be addressed in detail with the roofer using the photos to ensure all parties involved have a clear understanding of the changes or corrections that needed to be made. Hassell also uses the drones to verify that the corrections are completed per their agreement.

Hassell stated he also uses the drones now to verify the accuracy of all his sub-contractor crews’ work. “It may irritate them, but they were hired to do a job, and I want to make sure it’s correct,” Hassell stated in his IBS presentation. He went on to say that he felt that some sub-contractors might feel as if they were working in a vacuum, and no one was checking their work. As general contractor, however, Hassell must consider the whole project. The ease of inspecting via drone has given him a greater sense of control over the construction site. Hassell also uses the drones to capture images of the work in progress to document the installation of such items as sewer lines, driveways, and drain fields.

Safety

UAV footage allows you to ensure the safety of your workers and the jobsite. Craig Hassell states the UAV shots show whether the workers are using their safety harnesses and tie-off points as required. He noted that on one occasion the drone photo showed a safety line that was simply looped around a satellite dish instead of being secured to the tie off point.

A drone is very useful after a storm or other incident that might have produced hazards at the jobsite. Sending your drone in to inspect for damage such as fallen trees, power lines, or flooding will keep your workers out of harm’s way.

Client Communication

New construction requires a builder to communicate plans and progress updates to the client, and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. UAVs can document the building progress quickly making communicating problems and successes more clearly to the client without the delays caused by trying to coordinate your schedule with that of your client. Digital photography can be emailed directly to the client, streamed live, or uploaded to a shared site such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Clients will have the images at their fingertips and can have a clear understanding of the problem. The jobsite shots allow builders to facilitate a more informed decision-making process with their clients.