The use of technology in Building Surveying – Covid-19 and beyond
7th October 2020
Covid-19 has changed many aspects of life as we know it. MacConvilles Surveying and the work we undertake has been touched and we are redesigning the way we work to evolve and adapt to the changing times.
All change for the new norm
From normalising working at home to having to book a table in a pub in order to have a drink with friends all our lives have changed. During the pandemic there has been a trend for meetings to take place digitally to enable social distancing whilst universities have switched to online lectures for students, ensuring that there will be a steady stream of new building surveying graduates and the RICS has been undertaking their professional assessments using Skype.
The nature of building surveying is that being onsite is integral to the way we work, and like every other industry in the UK, surveyors have to adapt to continue to provide for clients with technology playing an increasingly larger role in our day to day work.
All aboard the tech train
Over the last few years significant advances in “PropTech” have helped to transform our industry. And with the Coronavirus outbreak the importance in adopting and engaging in the use of new technology has proved essential in order to stay ahead and provide value for money for clients.
During the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the adoption of technology across the construction industry.
One obvious development in technology with rapid uptake within the construction industry, as a result of the pandemic has been seen on sites. In order to make sure construction work on essential sites was able to continue throughout lockdown, sites had to adapt to be able to adhere to social distances guidelines.
Using ‘prop tech’ Site managers were able to ensure that site operatives maintained safe working distances from each other by providing monitors to be worn on their wrists, which would trigger an alarm when they got when operatives got to close to each other. Alongside this site meetings were able to take place remotely, with surveyors and project managers able to send/recieve photos and record videos to show progress of works onsite, further minimising any risk of breaching the 6ft rule.
The use of high resolution 360 degree cameras has also enabled surveyors to capture a large amount of data in short time, which can then be reviewed remotely. Floor plans are generated in a matter of minutes using the camera’s built-in laser and reviewed back in the ‘home office’ once again reducing time on site.
Taking this one step further, Scaled Robotics has combined a 360 camera and robot! Using technology not all that unlike a driverless car these robots are able to navigate construction sites, all bar the stairs, scanning their environment and fusing it with digital plans to highlight any discrepancies. The idea is that these autonomous rovers will deliver faster, more accurate progress monitoring, reducing the risk of human error, cutting costs and quickly providing actionable information to project teams.
Taking to the Air
Not all tech prop is land based. One of the best known piece of technology used by surveyors is drones. They not only capture a larger overview of a site but can also help to obtain and process more information than would normally be obtained by the use of a MEWP (Mobile Elevating Working Platform). This additional tool in our surveying box allows access to all areas of a roof whilst reducing the health and safety risks which are presented by working at height.
And we must not forget our long time friend Ball Cam! The remote activated camera mounted on an 8m extendable pole. Simple technology at its best.
Reaching the areas other ‘Proptech” can’t reach
As well as emerging “Proptech”, the more traditional technology used by building surveyors, such as damp meters and boroscopes, will continue to be vital to finding solutions to many issues. We recently undertook an inspection of a flat in London using an endoscope camera. Gaining access through a small hole a contractor on site relayed images which allowed us to view and identify defects in the construction of the ceiling remotely, once again minimising face-to-face contact and adhering to the 6ft rule
Technology will continue to evolve, and the Covid-19 outbreak has only served to highlight how beneficial this technology is for surveyors and our clients. Enabling us to continue surveying whilst social distancing is a concern and with its longer term benefits of improving efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, enabling work to be delivered in a risk-controlled manner and providing valuable information for clients and the wider project team ‘PropTech’ has more than earned its position here at MacConvilles.