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Drones transforming building surveying

Drones transforming building surveying

Drones make it easier, safer and cheaper to gather building data


Drones are transforming the building surveying sector by making it easier, safer and more cost-effective to gather an increasingly rich range of data, says a pioneer of their use in New Zealand.

David Guy, Director of Building Consultancy at Colliers International, says the commercial property industry was a relatively early adopter of drone technology.

However, their use has mostly been limited to capturing aerial photography and video footage for property marketing purposes.

“The use of drones as a professional property services tool is still in its infancy in New Zealand – but the potential is huge,” Guy says.

“Drones offers a low-cost, efficient and safe means of surveying commercial buildings in high definition. It’s an exciting time for the industry.”

Colliers International’s Building Consultancy team was the first in New Zealand to employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a standard building surveying tool.

“The entire team is equipped with drones, which form an essential part of our surveying kits,” says Guy.

“The technology allows the team to improve safety by removing the risks associated with surveyors accessing difficult to reach areas and carrying out work at height.

“Falls from height account for a large proportion of workplace accidents, and the use of drones often allows our surveyors to stay safely on the ground.” 

Guy says using drones also reduces the time taken to carry out property inspections, therefore improving the team’s efficiency and cutting costs.

All of the team’s UAV flights are carried out with Civil Aviation Authority Part 101 rules at the forefront of every project.

“We ensure our drones are operated safely and responsibly by using desktop site reviews to determine the presence of any airspace restrictions, pre-set flight plans, and the drones’ built-in collision avoidance technology.”

Guy says the team’s innovative use of drones has come with somewhat unexpected rewards and improvements for client deliverables.

“Our emphasis on the use of high-quality drone imagery means we supply a diverse range of clients with a medium which can be universally understood, especially for those whose first language is not English.

“Images from the drones can convey the same detail as a lengthy written description, but in a more clear and concise format.

“A newfound motto is ‘a picture tells 1000 words.’ This commitment to diversity and inclusion has developed from experience working with foreign investors, and remains crucial to delivering the highest quality reports to stakeholders.”

Guy says video capability, particularly with the use of drone footage, is changing the way in which the team can interact with, and add value for clients.

“Outcomes for reports are generated faster, more cost effectively, and in a simplified visual format.

“We’d like to think this is just the beginning for us. In the future, we’d like to use the data captured by drones to allow entire buildings and sites to be rendered with 3D modelling software.

“The next question seems to be, how will drones continue to transform workflows and generate insights in new and innovative ways?”

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David Guy

Managing Director


Having qualified as a Chartered Building Surveyor in 1995, I have worked from graduate through to director level with some of the top real estate firms.

I specialise in Technical Due Dilligence and have led teams advising on the acquisition of landmark commercial property throughout the UK, Europe and Australasia and The Pacific Islands. I am privileged to have worked with some of the very best clients in each of these markets.

Having relocated to New Zealand at the end of 2011, I am now a New Zealand Citizen and Managing Director of the Building Consultancy division of Colliers International.

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