Drones Become Indispensible to Construction and Real Estate Industries

Digital images, maps and other shareable files are being furnished by drones at construction sites

Drones to the rescue

Lamberto Frescobaldi is the boss of an enterprise. He is supervising a construction project employing technology that would have appeared surreal to his ancestors: super quick drones.

The technology enthusiasts nowadays consider drones as commonplace and simplistic as toys. They are, in fact, also being used for reconnaissance and military purposes. But they have gained massive importance in construction and real estate sectors. They are affordable and easy to maneuver which makes them a suitable option for architects, landscape designers, surveyors, builders, structural engineers and brokers.

Site inspection with drones

Frescobaldi monitors the progress of a 25,000 square feet garden that is being constructed on top of one of his cellars by virtue of drones flying in the skies over the Perano vineyard in the Chianti Region south of Florence.

The garden has been designed by a British landscape architect, Richard Shelbourne, who believes that he was greatly assisted by the aerial imagery provided by drones. He says that the design of the garden originated in his head and then he transferred it onto paper. Subsequently, the project is visible from the skies and all the lines and curves are where they were intended to be.

Revolution in modern era

The operation of excavators and motorized barrows can be monitored with the help of drones along with that of arches, fountains and mud walkways. The engineers decided to alter the entrance to the garden after viewing the video footage provided by the high flying drones.

Frescobaldi says that he asked his son to fly over numerous times so that he could imagine how it could be planted to ensure attention to detail from an angle that nobody would have envisaged just a few years ago. He believes that these modern gizmos certainly represent a revolution in the modern era.

Drones become more and more popular

Compact sized, swift and nifty, drones have substituted the more expensive and less agile helicopter for missions that involve monitoring, surveys, measurements and promotional imagery.

Drones are becoming popular for both consumer and commercial purposes. The year 2017 saw an increase of roughly 33 percent in contrast to the previous year according to a market research conducted by NPD Group.

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted permission for commercial usage of drones for a wide range of enterprises, albeit with certain restrictions: drone operators must be 16 years of age and qualify a written examination.

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Project oversight enhanced

Digital images, maps and other shareable files are being provided by drones on construction sites; thereby saving precious time and monetary resources according to Mike Winn, the Chief Executive of DroneDeploy, a San Francisco based company established five years ago and creates software for operating drones with smartphone applications.

Winn says that the travel time of executives with hectic schedule is being reduced thanks to drones. He adds that drones let all the stakeholders including the safety team, costing team and the designers stay onboard with the recent developments, contribute their ideas, share data and comment on the work’s progress.

Safety standards improved

Drones have also enhanced the safety associated with construction projects. Winn says that in the days prior to the advent of drones, a person had to climb up to the top of a roof to measure it for the installation of solar panels. This ended up presenting inaccurate results despite all the hard work and sometimes also created life-threatening circumstances.

John Murphy Jr, a contractor on the Paramount Worldcenter which is a 58-story condominium tower being constructed in downtown Miami, says that the risk factor is amplified in the construction of skyscrapers. Murphy tells that in the days before drones, technicians desirous of access to the exterior of a skyscraper had to be dropped over the side in swing stages, small platforms that hung from wires. Swing stages are typically used by window cleaners and can be potentially dangerous in gusty winds.

Murphy says that the whole exercise is fraught with danger and it becomes quite intimidating.

Harrowing statistics

The figures released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that 384 out of 991 deaths in the construction industry could be attributed to accidental falls. This number could be significantly brought down by the use of drones for quality control inspections and similar tasks.

Murphy was present at the Paramount site to oversee the drone inspection of window glazing on the tower and said that his company was concentrating on reducing the exposure to workers. The inspection involved the search for any possible leaks, water intrusion and other things that could not be viewed from the interior of the building.

The drone was also used to monitor the quality of steel connections in a bridge 72 feet above the ground that linked that main tower to a parking structure.

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Drones used for conceptualization of projects

Drones are employed way before the foundation is poured. They assist planners determine where to place the new building. The architect who was contracted to design a fourth floor balcony of the 87-room Foundry Hotel in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, used drones to figure out how best to take benefit of the view.

McCall Capital is transforming a 1925 office building in Bristol, Virginia, into a 65-room Bristol Hotel which is expected to be opened this fall. Alexandros D Papapieris, the development manager at the firm, says that a drone is instrumental in helping us visualize what a development will actually be as it can get complicated to accomplish the same from a set of plans. He believes that aerial imagery is something that has the ability to capture the imagination of virtually anyone and that is precisely what he along with his team used to bring about a picture for the investors of what they were planning to do with the development.

Careers get transformed

Careers are also going through a paradigm shift with the emerging technology. A videographer in San Sebastian, Spain, Pedro Domecq, bought his first drone ever for $6,000 way back in 2011 and now its price has plummeted to $1,000 and it is equipped with far better features, he says.

In the beginning, Domecq used his drone to capture the aerial images and video footages of his sensational Basque Country landscapes and share them on various social media platforms. Now, he has established a company by the name of Heliworx and spends majority of his time completing contracts with builders.

Domecq has been conducting high definition aerial surveys for the construction conglomerate Acciona of late. Acciona are in the middle of constructing a high speed railroad connecting the Basque Country with Madrid. Domecq believes that things get a whole lot easier with drones.

Pedro Domecq is employing drones assisted by photogrammetry, a technique in which three dimensional digital images are created from overlapping images of structures, landscapes or objects. Some of the flights also include mapping the routes to be taken underground by the numerous tunnels needed for the railroad in the area’s mountainous terrain.

Money making machines

Drones are also being viewed by youthful entrepreneurs as a means to earning money. Matt Coda graduated from college four years ago and started a small video marketing company in Charleston, South Carolina. He was asked to produce industrial videos with his drones. His company is called Vive Media and their biggest project hitherto has been the opportunity to document the initial phase of the construction of a 280 acre container terminal for the South Carolina Ports Authority.

Coda is currently 26 years of age and he says that his company went on furnishing monthly reports for more than a year to their clients, SJ Hamill Construction Co., in the shape video updates. They used to fly their drones on the same paths on the construction site to show their clients the entire project during the course of its period.

This summer, Coda initiated working on the construction site of the South Carolina Aeronautical Training Center. This is a 224,000 square feet structure at Trident Technical College in North Charleston and is likely to cost a whopping $80 million.

Coda is also a certified drone operator and finds it extremely fascinating to witness the evolution of a project. At the same time, he breathes a sigh of relief at being a drone operator only and not the one working physically on the construction site.

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