Drones for asset & building inspections

Case studies     3 ways to use drones      4 videos      Cost?      Quick checklist      Example Inquiries      Get some quotes     

Case studies: how Aus architects and engineers are using drones

3 ways architects & engineers get value from drones

1. Annual or ah-hoc Inspections
Early adoption of drone photography for inspections has been observed particularly for:

Roofing, facades, walls
Communications towers
Microwave radio towers and sites: obtaining a ‘line of sight’
Water or gas pipelines
Power lines (thermal imaging for hot spots)
Road and rail
Water damaged or post-disaster inspections

For buildings, the increase of building height in Australia's cities and suburbs and contractual obligations for maintenance and pre-purchase due diligence reports are fast making drones an attractive option. Drones allow for inspections through aerial photography of the most challenging roofs and buildings without the architect inspector leaving the ground. Whilst the drone is up in the air, the architect can view the footage via a tablet, and takes photos of the roof and the building (façade, roof, dilapidation survey etc.).

You can zoom in specifically on defects such as cracking, corrosion, storm damage, guttering and facades. This has added a major safety factor to building inspections as well as eliminating traditional manual inspection processes such as hiring access equipment and scaffolds to gain access, which can cost thousands of dollars a day.

2. Replicate the view for a proposed site development
Drones are also used on vacant sites to fly up and get 360-degree shots to replicate what the view will look like from predetermined heights/levels of the proposed structure/building.

3. Constructing 3D models of structures
E.g. point cloud of a building, or 3D models of communications towers

Pilot can acquire many overlapping images of its subject which can later be stitched together with drone photography. After the drone has landed and the image data taken out of it, various platforms such as Propeller and Arc GIS can be used to stitch the images and process the data to deliver 3D models. Outputs are geo-referenced and ortho-rectified, meaning measurements and calculations can be taken directly from them.

Propeller, Red Bird and 4D Mapper are relatively new programs that can make your final models visible via your browser so your clients can easily view them without needing to download and learn how to use expensive software. These platforms basically allow you to manage share your geospatial data in a browser – be it LiDAR, point-clouds, imagery, orthomosaicks, 3D models (DSM/DTM), GIS data or metadata. You can even do some simple interactive functions such as overlay, digitize, measure points, lines, areas, profiles and volumes.

4 example videos

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Drone used to inspect power transmission systems

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High Rise Building Inspection by UAV

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Elios, the collision-tolerant drone for industrial inspection

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Drone building inspection/facade Inspection, downtown Cleveland US

How much do experienced drone operators charge?

Experienced drone operators in Australia will charge around $145-$235 per hour for architectural and engineering work. These guys are not your run of the mill drone flyers – they have experience working around building sites, understand the need for accuracy and high resolution imagery, on-site safety precautions, and whether or not asset geo-referencing is required.

Before hiring a drone operator: quick checklist

1. Licenced and insured. Commercial drone operators must have one of these 3 options covered before they can legally be hired by you. Also make sure your chosen drone operator holds a current public liability insurance policy that specifically covers the operation of a drone.

2. Relevant experience. As always - check the operator’s images and videos for relevant experience with construction sites, design and buildings in general. You might be looking for roof inspection, aerial shot for your website, a 3D model or point cloud - find someone who can actually demonstrate that they have done something similar to your request.

3. Area approval. Sometimes drone operators will need to request an area approval depending on the job location. You should ask your chosen operator about this before they commence the work.

Drones For Hire is the largest drone operator directory in Australia

158 architecture & engineering specialist operators currently listed
56 architecture & engineering quote requests made in the last 4 weeks
3 examples of actual quote requests below

Job type: Construction and engineering (e.g. to show progress) - 360 degree panorama / VR
Job done by: By a specific date **/**/2017
State: NSW
Name: Howard B*****
Email: howa***@***.com
Phone: 0432 71* ***
Location: Corner of Ox**** ****
Suburb: PAD**** *** **
I need aerial photography of a new property development in ****** Sydney.
we will be redeveloping the site (will take the building higher).
Need 360-degree panoramic images at 4 heights: 15m, 18m, 21m, 24m.
we are working with the architects now so would like it done asap.
the architects will review the 360-degree shots and this will assist their designs for optimal views for the new building.
Need the files by late Thursday.
Job type: Asset or industrial inspection (e.g. roof inspection) - Roof inspection
Job done by: On a specific date */*/2017
State: VIC
Name: Kamil s*****
Email: kamil*****@********.com
Phone: 03 9652 ****
Suburb: MEL*****, ****
Building Inspection.
Looking around the roof and the facade of the building, in the *****.
About 30-40 levels, or 80-100m high.
Looking for drone photography images to clearly show the roof and upper facade area, decent size images - about 2mb per image
would also like some thermal images of the same area.
we do a lot of building inspections so there will be a future need if it goes as planned.
On or around 1 May.
We will be replacing the need for rope access and BMU - building management units.
About us - We are a specialist multi-discipline group including architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers and scientists with a wide range of backgrounds including façade design and fabrication, materials science, buildings physics, and project management.
Job type: Asset or industrial inspection (e.g. roof inspection) - Roof inspection
Job done by: By a specific date */*/2017
State: VIC
Name: Mark D******
Email: mark****@**********.com.au
Phone: 03 9809 ****
Location: Pa****** Road
Suburb: PAKE*******, ****
A block of land at a local school, they are building a new year 9 center. Need some aerial photography of flying over the area of where the building will go. it will be superimposed over an architect's drawing. Need a fair bit of video so we can select the best part. You will need to be there for 1-2 hours.
please also include 10 aerial images in the quote.
About us - AdPlace Media specialises in the strategy, planning and integration of traditional, digital and emerging media solutions across the advertising spectrum. Potential for future projects.

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