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Flat Roofs Core Sampling Surveying

Flat Roofs Core Sampling Surveying

Flat roofs are relatively inexpensive and very efficient to keep your buildings and your internal assets covered and protected from the weather. What can you do to identify flat roof defects?

Defects for flat roofs

 

Whilst their relatively low cost for a good protection plays to their advantage, this type of roof is also notorious for defects that often remain unnoticed until it is too late. As with any part of a building, they will be subject to wear and tear and will receive copious amounts of water.  Regular inspection of the roof is essential to make sure that this essential element is in tip top condition and kept free of defects.

One of the most common defects is water ingress which then leads to a leak inside the building. When water ingress does occur on a flat roof, damage often goes unnoticed for considerable time as water slowly penetrates and soaks the decking, insulation and/or structure beneath. This can lead to extensive damage. If left unattended and no leak detection surveying takes place, it can weaken the whole structure and have catastrophic operational and financial consequences for you.

Other defects can occur too. You can read our most popular blog post about the five common flat roof defects here

 

Flat roofs core sampling to detect water ingress

Core sampling allows the surveyor to see the make up of the roof and locate where water saturation may be.

The image above shows what appears to be a roof in a good condition with no obvious signs of moisture ingress, however;  the tenant has been complaining that there are leaks into his top floor office. 

Imagine, this is your tenant. You arrive on site with a surveyor and  the tools for the job, get onto the roof above the leaking office, but where should you start to take a core sample? You carry core samples, one is wet, two are dry. So we know that the insulation is saturated, but to what extent?

Using the roof image above, grab the slider and drag it across the image to reveal the thermal image, in short, red colours reveal saturated insulation (You can find out more about the meaning of infrared colours in our Understanding Colours post.). This  tells you everything you need to know about the accuracy of core samples. By relying solely on core sampling, your surveyor could mistakenly concludes that the entire roof needs replaced or on the opposite, that the roof is sound. How can you know for sure?

If your surveyor is employed by a roofing company, the impartiality of the advice could well be put into question. It is a matter of trust and reputation.

Flat roofs core sampling technique

The method and process of core sampling is therefore important. The core sample technique should be as follows:

  • take one core sample at a high point,
  • take one core sample at a low point and
  • take one core sample mid-way.

Critically this should be at random locations on the roof, not in a straight line. That way the surveyor can find out if water is coming in at parapets and tracking it down, if the area around the outlet is wet as water loves gravity and then try to ascertain the extent of the damage at the mid-point.

The surveyor will take appropriate notes and photographs. Then of course, they must patch the core sampling holes by resiting the sample and sealing the edges. Often this is made using blow torches.

This technique carries high risks for you and for the surveyor:

For you risk of fire from blow torches. Smouldering the flat roof away and causing extensive damage which could cripple your business,

Again for you invalidating roof construction guarantees by cutting holes through potentially perfect waterproofing.

For the surveyor, the risks are inherent to health and safety: slipping on a wet surface, working at height, stand alone working, fire protection, etc.

It is therefore easy to conclude that core sampling should be a last resort surveying technique, just before the nuclear surveying method.

 

Flat roof defects: infrared is the detection solution

If you are an asset manager, estate manager, building surveyor and are being asked to make a budget go as far as possible, then it is essential you get and give impartial advice to the building owner. By investing in an infrared thermographic (IRT) survey,  you mitigate risk from a third party advising whichever solution meets their commercial needs and wants.

Infrared can’t tell the difference between polyurethane and fibreboard. Wet is wet and that effects the temperature on the surface. Why? Simply put, wet insulation doesn’t insulate as well as dry insulation – so heat escapes the fabric. Also because water has a high emissivity. This means that water radiates its energy particularly well when it has finished absorbing it from the sun and from the building itself. This high emissivity makes the wet area appear warm to the infrared thermal camera.

With drones now extensively used to take the thermal pictures, thus eliminating most if not all health and safety risks for the surveyor as well as improving the accuracy of the surveying results, there is little not to like about infrared.

IRT may help you save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning what you had assumed would be a complete “strip and re-new” into a partial strip and overlay. Conversely however the opposite may be true.

The point being: you will get the truth and if you are interested in delivering value to your clients and managing a sustainable portfolio, that’s an invaluable weapon in your armoury.

Core samples have their place of course. We will always advise you hand your infrared survey reports to your roofing company who may then core and confirm the infrared survey findings. More importantly the core sampling will allow them to establish what the roof is actually made of so that they can propose the appropriate solution for your roof refurbishment.

Do you own or manage buildings with flat roofs? We would like to know what surveying method you favour and why. Drop us a line, give us a call, let's talk all things flat roof surveying.

Understanding your stock survey report

Understanding your stock survey report

Surveying a large quantity of properties requires a certain degree of planning and execution. IRT regularly carry out housing stock survey programs for local authorities and housing associations to help  assess and improve the quality of insulation levels within the stock and meet standards, utilising ECO funding. 

Once we have surveyed and assessed each property for thermal performance and upgrade measures, what can you do with your report? The results are presented to excel to make searching and sorting as easy as possible. Follow our guide below to see how you can use it to maximum efficiency. 

Housing Stock Sample
Downloading will provide you with an easy to follow sample of a typical spreadsheet.

Introduction

The first group of columns shows the most basic information about the property, The property information provided by the client, calculated SAP and Environmental Impact ratings.       

Recommendations

Refurbishment recommendations are calculated for six main criteria. Wall insulation, Loft insulation, Window replacement, Boiler improvement, Draught Proofing measures and Energy efficient lighting upgrades. Each of the recommendations are detailed in these columns. Unless specified the measure will take the element to building regulations by default.

Energy

Each property is modelled using SAP2012 and the potential saving shown in kWh, CO2 and £s. Each refurbishment is calculated as a stand alone measure. Combinations of refurbishment measures can be calculated using the IRT Carbon Dashboard. SAP and EI improvements can also be included for each individual measure if required.      
   

Pivot Tables

The use of pivot tables can also be requested to create league tables for your stock, find the best/worst performing streets,postcode areas or cities. sort by recommendations, costs, CO2 potential savings and produce individual easy to follow reports.

Please enquire now and ask us more on how we can help.                                                     

See the Invisible - Slide to Reveal

Services used :

  • Thermal Imaging
  • IRT Envision for Energy Calculations
  • Spreadsheets

Additional services

In addition to our spreadsheet report, we can provide further reports to aid analysis if requested.

Thermal imaging Part 3: How much does thermal imaging survey cost?

Thermal imaging Part 3: How much does thermal imaging survey cost?

How much will a thermal imaging survey cost us?

By far this is the most popular question that our customers ask.

You may want to have an infrared survey carried out for a variety reasons. Your objective may be to discover and diagnose energy efficiencies or to detect and inspect property defects. Whatever it is, with a tight budget in hand, you want to know that you are getting value for money and that it is well spent. Our aim is to make sure you make informed decisions.

After looking at thermal equipment and science in Part 1 and understanding colours in Part 2, let's continue our thermal imaging education journey and look at the pricing and what is involved.

Pricing is based on two main elements: 1) the required time on your site conducting the survey and 2) subsequent analysis to deliver your project. We briefly consider each element.

 

 

Time conducting your thermal imaging survey

The first element of a thermal imaging survey cost is the survey time. Typically our certified thermographers will spend up to nine hours on site over a total 18-hour period, enabling both daylight and night time surveys of your property envelope. This thermal imaging survey of the building means visual and thermal images will be included in your report. This will allow easy identification of defects that you can subsequently instruct to get rectified on site.

As survey days are focused on time, multiple buildings can be surveyed very cost effectively. The price you pay is for the day spent surveying rather than the number of buildings. Therefore, this allows to survey as many buildings as you require within the time frame at no extra cost to you.  

 

Time analysing your thermal images

The second element of a thermal imaging survey cost is the image analysis. Once your buildings have been surveyed, the next stage is to analyse and quantify your thermal images. Analysis time is charged at a daily rate and typically takes twice as long as the thermal imaging survey time. One full day on site usually equates to at least two full analysis days although this does vary depending on the deliverable.

Roof and elevations together with the IRT eDash may, for example, require four days or more in our qualified analysts to carry out the work depending on the size and complexity of your buildings.

 

What else may be charged for?

Some companies may charge you for travel and expenses. At irt surveys, because we've got the UK covered, this charge does not apply.

Another additional cost you could be charged for is the hire of equipment such as cherry pickers in situations where access is impossible without an elevated platform.

These items should always be brought to your attention and quoted ahead of any purchase order being submitted.

 

A final word of warning

When it comes to thermal imaging pricing, there are no such thing as a stupid questions.  It is essential that you are aware of all the pricing elements and that these are clearly explained to you. Do ask as many questions as you need to until you are satisfied with the answers you are given. Get several quotes and make sure that you choose a reputable company renowned for impartiality and expertise.

Related articles: Thermal imaging Part 1 - Tech & Science , Thermal imaging Part 2 - Understanding colours

 

If you would like a quotation please get in touch using the button below. 

Gain BREEAM accreditation credits using infrared

Gain BREEAM accreditation credits using infrared

Introduction

IRT Surveys are fully trained and Qualified to undertake infrared BREEAM surveys with regards to continuity of insulation, heat loss and thermal bridging; in order to conform to the BREEAM accreditation process and BS EN 13187 Standard. 

Our client asked us to survey his new build exhibition centre property in order to gain BREEAM points under the scheme. The IRT thermal survey pinpointed 4 regions of deficiency in the building fabric at door detailing and suspected missing insulation. Our reports use clear thermal and visual images along with analysis in plain English. This allows building owners, contractors and non-specialists to understand the issues quickly and see the problems. The follow up thermal survey, after remedial works, found all regions in excellent thermal condition allowing the building to gain an extra credit and help achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating.

How can IRT Surveys help you?: 

You can achieve an additional BREEAM credit for your project by having a thermographic survey carried out on completion by a professional thermographer holding a Level 2 certificate in Thermography. IRT offer a nationwide service providing consistent surveying and reporting from ITC qualified staff.

A BREEAM Survey requires a survey of the entire external envelope (roof/walls) and in some cases, the internal envelope between conditioned and unconditioned spaces.

Each Survey Confirms:

• Continuity of insulation in accordance with the construction drawings.
• Avoidance of excessive thermal bridging
• Avoidance of air leakage paths through the fabric.
• Prove quality of workmanship
• Detect small issues before they become much bigger.

Any anomalies detected can be re-surveyed and analysed once remedial action has been carried out.

 

What Do We Provide?

After survey completion; images are uploaded to our head office to be evaluated by our analyst team for roof defects. Our upload system allows for instant handover from surveyor to analyst and fast turnaround.

  • The completed report will be available to the client within 5 working days.
  • A full colour PDF format report will be uploaded to our secure server  and a link sent to you for instant access to your results.
  • Our reports are designed for readability and understanding.
  • Each page of the report includes a thermal and visual image with corresponding location plan.
  • The primary building plan indicates which page you can find analysis for your chosen section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

Innovative surveying technology for built asset management

Innovative surveying technology for built asset management

 

It seems that you can’t move these days without hearing about drones, apps and thermal imaging, but are they truly helpful or just gimmicks? We managed to get almost all the way to 2016 without them.

Like every new industry that erupts from an emerging technology, there are people who take it seriously and do it professionally and those who charge in to make a quick buck. And like every other example in history, the cream rises to the top, the market consolidates and the cowboys are eventually driven out by the sheriff who is usually better known as legislation.

Innovative technology: Thermal imaging

Thermal imaging, or infrared thermography, has - and still is - going through this process. Companies like iRed, Thermascan, Ti and IRT surveys have been around now for more than a dozen years each. There is a healthy respect and competitive market out there. But there are a myriad of smaller companies buying low end equipment, not training themselves properly and going to market with nothing more than a nice looking website. This is why asking the right questions when making your research on infrared companies is important.

Innovative surveying technology: Drones

The same can be said of the drone industry, only it’s 20 years behind the infrared world. It is experiencing a lot of negative press also with an emerging industry to shoot them out of the sky – yep – anti drone tech is also out there. It is a little known fact that over 80% of drone pilots don’t renew their license after year one. It either means the vast majority of the market are novices, or that the failure rate is enormous.

Innovative surveying technology: IoT

The IoT industry is the next big thing for the built environment for sure. If you haven’t come across the anachronism before, it stands for the Internet of Things. Everything from your toothbrush to your fridge will be connected to the net. Lightbulbs will tell you when they become inefficient. HVAC systems will call the engineer themselves and tell him what parts they need, before they brake. Fuses will alert the electrician, or some form of R2D2 unit to repair them before they blow.

When the building itself senses that something isn’t quite right, drones will be deployed to survey a building at night, equipped with an infrared thermal imaging system. Smart meter and sensor technology is moving at an alarming pace. Or exciting pace depending upon your perspective. I love the idea that a sensor will send me a message with GPS co-ordinates to a defectuous building that we can survey and report on.

Innovative surveying technology: Caution required

Huge caution though. Just because things get all high tech and whizz bang, doesn’t make the operative an expert. Interpreting the cause for failure and understanding what the tech is telling you still requires a skilled person. No software will ever replace an experienced RICS qualified surveyor with 20 years under their belt. A sensor or thermal image may say your insulation is 20% saturated on your flat roof - a common defect – the image may point clearly to the origin of the leak but only a human can see that the roofer lapped the felt the wrong way, or didn’t seal the lap joints correctly.

Technological innovation for surveying is unstoppable.

The technology is coming, some of it is here already. It's unstoppable. Best embrace it, swimming upstream is exhausting. But fear not: the dystopian Star Trek world, where no-one has a job and everything is leisure time, is a long way off. De-skilling mundane tasks and de-bugging our built environment will free us up to focus on bigger challenges!

Would you like to know more about how thermal imaging and drones can ease the management of your asset portfolio? Click on the button below to contact us to discuss your surveying requirements and for your free and no-obligation quote.

Five Common Flat Roof Defects To Be Aware Of

Five Common Flat Roof Defects To Be Aware Of

Slide the image above to reveal hidden flat roof defects visible only by using infrared

When it comes to flat roof defects, how many of us go about our day-to-day lives with a problem quite literally hanging over our heads?

Chances are, if your building is topped off with a flat roof and you haven’t had it checked recently, you are one of them.

Flat Roof Construction

Flat roofs offer many advantages for building:

  • they can help keep the interior warmer by absorbing sunlight at a higher rate than slated roofs.
  • they are ideal for solar panel installations.
  • they can often be the most economical option for construction.
  • they are quicker to install than other traditional roofing methods.
  • they are also more accessible, allowing for easier inspection processes.

Flat Roof Defects

Unfortunately, however, property owners too often adopt the old mantra of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to what’s above their heads – and this is particularly problematic with flat roofs.

More than any other style, flat roofs need to be monitored regularly since there is no way for water to naturally filter away. It doesn’t need to be problematic but when problems do not visually present themselves on a daily basis, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at five of the most common flat roof problems and what they could mean for your property.

Flat roof defect 1 – Standing water

This is one of the primary causes of flat roof leakages. Water will start to damage your roof’s material if it does not drain or evaporate within 72 hours and that means regular inspection is particularly important during winter and spring months. The problem is usually caused when there is insufficient drainage or the roof itself is just too flat. Despite the name, there should always be a small amount of slope for effective drainage. Snow build up can also be problematic as snow and ice can block drains and gutters.

Flat roof defect 2 – Blistering

Even small amounts of trapped moisture can result in your flat roof membrane detaching from the layer below and cause roof ‘blisters’. This is the most common roofing problem and it tends to get worse during the day when the heat of the sun causes the trapped moisture to expand. When blistering occurs it is vital to identify the source of the moisture.

Flat roof defect 3 – Thermal movement

Repeated cycles of heating and cooling cause flat roof materials to expand and contract. Materials must be equipped to deal with these movements without cracking under the pressure to avoid water penetration.

Flat roof defect 4 – Exposed layers

Taking all a British winter, and sometimes summer, has to throw at you isn’t easy. Throw continual roof traffic (accessibility has its downsides) into the mix and it’s only natural that, over time, your roof’s protective layers will suffer a bit of wear and tear.

Flat roof defect 5 –  Poor quality flashing

Given the importance of drainage on a flat roof, it’s vital to regularly inspect the condition of the flashing. This is used to prevent water from penetrating a junction and problems can occur when it has been poorly installed or damaged and bent over time.  Flashing damage can also be caused by fungus growth from moisture build in problem areas pushing away flashing.

These are only five flat roof defects most commonly encountered. They overwhelmingly highlight the need for certainty in terms of refurbishment.

That’s why an increasing number of organisations are using infrared thermography to assess their properties which can reveal exactly where and why problems are occurring.

With the summer weather on its way, there is no better time to carry out flat roof inspections. With our state of the art technology, we can

  • pinpoint the exact location of trapped moisture within the roofing system,
  • determine ingress points,
  • and tell you how much it is costing.

In addition to this the IRT Commercial Envision report can provide you with a list of refurbishment options with potential savings in £s, kWh and CO2. This information can be used to build a powerful case to leverage grants and budgets.

We have helped many organisations save £000s on their flat-roof refurbishment. Contact us now to find out how you can do the same. 

What Cloud Computing means for the Housing Sector

What Cloud Computing means for the Housing Sector

What’s the fuss about the cloud?

 

More than just big fluffy life giving stores of water floating in the sky, today the cloud gives life to your computer. If you think of the cloud as a vast bank of computers you can use as and when you want to carry out tasks way beyond that of your humble PC then you understand what the cloud in essence is. You basically borrow their processing power to carry out complex time consuming tasks. Unlike having to own a server farm, like the 1990’s, today’s companies can harness the power of the cloud only when they actually need it. Driving down costs, accelerating development and making businesses much easier to scale and to attract investment into.

What is big data?

Turns out Big Data is more than just using a size 18 font in Word, who knew? The actual definition is - "Big data is high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization."

Big words huh? We humans have never had access to such powerful datasets and analytics before. Without computers and mathematics we would be overwhelmed and powerless to make sense of the information. Software and the power of the cloud enable an unprecedented insight into statistical analysis. Result? Big data and the cloud are the future of almost all decision making – software, politics, commerce, you name it – people are harnessing data to drive decisions.

What are the real benefits to using them?

Size 18 font docs floating on clouds wouldn’t be too handy, but mass data available when ever and the most powerful computers you can imagine available to you at the click of a browser? – That is appealing. For business, the benefits are immediate and tangible. You can raise investment to create analytical platforms that 10 years ago wouldn’t have been feasible. Investors don’t like spending millions to build server farms ahead of revenues. SME’s get to make big bold plans reliant upon access to the cloud, plans they couldn’t hope to achieve without the processing power enabled by the cloud. End users get access to software and analytics that run faster, cost less, can be updated daily and don’t have to invest in hardware to run the software. They only need access to the internet.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE USE OF DATA IN HOUSING?

Data drives everything. Without knowing the likely impact of a decision people are paralysed and static. If you knew the road on the left was busy and the one on the right empty, yet they both took you to your destination, you would take the right. You processed data.

Now make some investment grade decisions on a property portfolio that need retrofit measures to become compliant with legislation.

What do you fit? Why? And how much will it cost? Is there something better out there? Who provides the service? How do you ensure best value? And is that solution best for all your stock or just a handful? Are there grants available? If so, who administers them? How do you communicate that information to your boss? The board? Your investors?

Data empowers and enables exactly this sort of decision making process. 

With the additional data the thermal image can provide in conjunction with IRT DREam, you can harness the true power of data and discover the most efficient way forward with your properties.

Julian Scott – Yarlington HA

Yarlington Housing Group approached IRT Surveys because they offered a unique service for assessing our housing assets using infra-red thermography and because there was limited data around the quality of the wall insulation of our properties. IRT helped us by thermally surveying our entire stock and integrating the information into a comprehensive database which we are incorporating into our new 2020 Fuel Poverty Plan. We are able to interact with the database using their online tools in order to answer the ‘what if’ questions when considering fabric alterations. One thing I liked was their ability to quickly understand our requirements and to deliver the project on time and to budget. I found the experience positive and engaging; IRT did a brilliant job of carrying out a comprehensive thermal image stock survey which provided an actual picture of our stock portfolio’s thermal performance.