“Tim Hollingsworth, managing director of leading estate agency and surveying firm Rumball Sedgwick, explains how surveying by drone can help you stay better informed about your buildings’ condition, while keeping your costs down.
Every homeowner is familiar with the old adage ‘fix the roof while the sun is shining’ – which of course means we won’t have done anything this summer! Joking aside, though, what this really means is that all properties need regular, ongoing maintenance to keep them in good working condition, and to help them maintain their value over a long period.
Visitors from the UK to the USA are frequently amazed by how cheap houses are in the US – but this is partly explained by the fact that houses are not expected to last more than 50 years at the outside, so buildings are less well made in the first place, and depreciation becomes a real factor. And just as with an old car, there comes a time when it is not worth doing repairs. Here in the UK, by contrast, we expect a house to last 150 years or more, so it’s always worth keeping it well maintained.
When I am out surveying, I often see serious problems which have been caused by a lack of routine maintenance. Even on expensive and high-profile buildings, it is not uncommon to find that parts of the building which can’t be easily seen are left completely unmaintained. I’ve seen gutters with small trees growing in them, wooden 1930s windows which have not been painted since they were first installed, and 80-year old flat roofs which are badly cracked and letting in water everywhere. These kind of problems will eventually cause serious decay in the fabric of the building, which may result in large areas of timber, and even walls, having to be replaced and rebuilt.
In former years, one reason why building owners didn’t have their buildings regularly checked, was that the surveying cost itself could be quite significant.
However, technology is now making it possible to do initial surveys much more cheaply – at Rumball Sedgwick, we have a drone equipped with a super-high-resolution camera, on a gimbal stabiliser mount – which delivers rock-steady, pin sharp video images. These images are as good as if you were standing right next to the roof or window yourself, and they are all captured to disk, so that we can review them in detail later.
We’ve already used the drone to help customers with large, inaccessible buildings, and we’ve been able to make recommendations for work which needs doing immediately, just from the camera images. The drone also enables us to pinpoint exactly which areas need physical examination. This can save customers huge amounts of money on cherry-picker hire, scaffolding, etc.
We’re always happy to advise you on any repairs that may be required, and we can provide you with detailed schedules for
future repairs and maintenance if you want. In some of the situations described above, for example, where ongoing maintenance is clearly a problem for the owners, we’ve recommended replacing some items with low-maintenance options.
At Rumball Sedgwick we believe in using technology to keep costs down, and provide you with a better service. As well as surveying by drone, our recent innovations include an online portal for lessees and contractors, and digital surveying. All our survey information is now collected in real time and sent directly to the cloud, so that it is instantly available to all other members of the team – which means your queries will get answered faster.”