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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 survey,  you mitigate risk from a third party advising whichever solution meets their commercial needs and wants.

Thermal imaging 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.

Drones  are now extensively used to aide thermal imaging, 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.

A thermographic survey 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.

Drone technology for infrared thermography

Drone technology for infrared thermography

You may want to have an infrared survey carried out for a variety of reasons. Infrared thermal imaging technology is ideal for detecting defects and energy deficiencies of buildings and housing stocks. Combined with drone technology, it becomes a limitless tool.

Let's take a closer look at drones.

3 ADVANTAGES OF DRONE TECHNOLOGY FOR IRT SURVEYING

For 16 years IRT Surveys have been surveying buildings using infrared thermographic (IRT) cameras. Mostly on foot. This means that when it is a high building or a flat roof which needs surveyed, equipment  such as cherry pickers have to be hired. This has cost implications for our clients and Health & Safety implications for our certified thermographers and anybody or building in the surrounding area.

There are other technologies available:

  • Radio controlled tethered air balloons: wind and power lines make them impractical.
  • Telescopic pneumatic mast bolted to a van:  a relatively successful technology that IRT Surveys used for years. Ideal then to capture an entire flat roof in a handful of images. The downsides are time-consuming set up, dangerous in windy conditions, and taking images at weird and unexpected angles. Also from a practical point of view, parking the van at the correct location for carrying out the infrared survey can be problematic. The whistling noise created when driving the van is also distracting. Today, masts are largely a thing of the past thanks to other technological advances.
  • Radio controlled helicopters have been around for years, but are difficult to fly and terrifying with the blades and internal combustion engines wiring away.

Nowadays we use drones. IRT Surveys have a small fleet of drones in the UK operated by CAA approved, ITC qualified thermographers with night-time licenses.

ENHANCING IRT SURVEYING: FROM FOOTPRINTS TO DRONE FLIGHTS

Drones are a breeze to fly and present at least three main advantages.

  1. Drones are safe and get the camera to places that are cost-prohibited by any ground based system. From a high vantage point we can also cover large areas in a short window of time.  They are therefore ideal for tall building and flat roof surveying.
  2. They are capable of carrying thermal imaging cameras better than handheld ones to heights that neither a mast nor a cherry picker could reach.
  3. The flight plan can be programmed on a tablet allowing the drone to fly largely autonomously . Since it’s usually us humans that crash the things, this can only be a good thing.

As with any technology, they aren't perfect and and their future will be determined by regulation. Many companies are investing in anti-drone technology now to shoot drones out of the sky. We shall see how this materialises.

CONDITIONS TO USE DRONE TECHNOLOGY FOR IRT SURVEYING

  • The thermographer must have the permission to survey the buildings, the owners/tenants and neighbouring buildings of the activity.
  • An area adjacent to the surveying site must be cordoned off for take-off and landing.
  • A qualified operator has to provide his permissions to operate with certificate from the CAA. Without this the operator will not be insured.
  • They has to carry out risk assessments that are site specific.
  • Finally they also need thermography experience in order to capture the correct data and setting up the correct parameters required for the job in hand.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE USE OF DRONE TECHNOLOGY IN IRT SURVEYING?

Like all emerging technologies, the sector is full of “give-it-a-go-heroes”. Fast forward 5-10 years they will be gone, the market consolidated and a handful of professionals left doing it properly.

For IRT surveys, it is a nice thing to have available to us. Still 95% of our surveys are still done on foot by thermographers at night in low wind.

Maybe down the line when you call we will simply deploy a local drone to your building and not need the skilled local thermographers to actually take the pictures at all. Their role will become one of convincing you it’s a good idea and to talk you through the findings and recommend solutions based upon technical knowledge and experience.

Looking in the short to medium term, at IRT Surveys, we can’t see the drones replacing a skilled human just yet though. But like the humble hammer, there will come times when you need a drone. It is always handy to have the tool in your box.

Do you have high buildings or flat roofs which require surveyed with thermal imaging? If so, please do contact us for a fast, impartial and clear survey.

Thermal Imaging Part 5: The influence of atmospheric conditions

Thermal Imaging Part 5: The influence of atmospheric conditions

Let's look at the influence of atmospheric conditions on thermal imaging surveying. After tech & science, colours, price and company selection, the last episode in our educational series tackles a favourite subject in the British psyche: the weather.

Thermal imaging or infrared  surveys are a hi-tech solution to building surveys. They really do move the game on from traditional methods of surveyors with clipboards or tablets relying upon decades of experience, but they are not infallible. Where a surveyor can survey in all weathers, infrared thermal imaging (IRT) is a bit more sensitive to moisture, temperature and humidity.

 

The influence of atmospheric conditions on IRT surveys

 

As you are ostensibly taking a picture of energy radiating from an object it makes sense that you don’t want anything to interfere with that radiation.  Although the word "radiation" may make you raise your eyebrows, it is all safe. If you have nice dry homes, with the heating on, the sun set two hours ago, it hasn’t rained that day, there is little wind, no fog or mist, then you can survey away and you will get awesome results.

The best atmospheric conditions for thermal imaging surveying are: after sunset, little wind, no rain, fog nor mist, and the heating on inside the houses.

 

Changing atmospheric conditions

Even with the current excellent weather forecasting capabilities, the best atmospheric conditions are often unpredictable. What can happen and how does it affect IRT surveys?

  • Turn up the wind however and all that lovely radiating energy will be blown from the surface you are trying to measure. Poop.

 

  • Wet the surface and double poop. The water cools the surface and absorbs the energy, then radiates it but with a different emissivity to the dry bits.

 

  • Switch the heating off and you lose the temperature difference between inside and outside. As a result, the energy has no incentive to move, so your thermal imaging surveying results will be poor. You will think the building is perfect.

Think about sitting in your lounge nice and cosy; the door to the cold hall gets open and suddenly the lounge feels cold. Why is that? That is due to the large difference in temperature, the heat cannot wait to leave and warm up the hall. Keep them both at the same temperature and you won’t experience this effect.
Another example: Take your cup of hot coffee outside on a cold day. It will get cold fast!
Your house is the same. The laws of physics and thermodynamics remain.

Rain and humidity in general are real no-no’s for a professional thermographer.

 

Educating clients on thermal imaging surveying technology

 

As IRT surveys, we conduct Continuous Personal Development (CPD) seminars up and down the UK every week for building surveyors raising awareness of the technology, its benefits and the optimal conditions to use it. We often ask people to think of their buildings inhaling and exhaling energy. To conduct an accurate defect or energy audit we need the building to inhale energy from the sun or your heating system, wait for it to absorb the energy then exhale. An infrared thermal image is an image of that energy being exhaled (or emitted). We can use big words, like thermal inversion, but we find it is better to use plain English in our communications and reports alike.

If you need to commission a survey to detect energy deficiencies of for your house stock or inspect your flat roof, do your research and choose a thermal imaging company wisely.

Once you have appointed your thermal imaging surveyor and they turn up to survey during daylight, rain or high wind , please protect your property and financial assets: get rid of them there and then. Contact us by clicking on the button below.

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

 

 

Commissioning an infrared thermographic (IRT) survey is easy. We tell you here what you can expect during the survey process so that you have a stress-free IRT survey.

Reasons for commissioning an IRT survey

We have already pointed to a few strategic reasons why you would commission an infrared survey. We have been providing infrared services to the construction professional sector in the UK for 14 years and the reasons are wide and varied but can be distilled down into 3 main headings.

  • You have a problem and nothing else seems to be helping resolve it.
  • You are not sure if you have a problem and want an expert opinion.
  • You definitely have building issues and no-one can agree who is to blame.

More often than not you are seeking a reactive survey to a problem which manifests itself in a new building or refurbishment project. IRT surveys is often called upon as a “silver bullet” solution.

Managing your expectations

Managing your  expectations as a client is part of what’s involved in the process. Most of our clients have little technological knowledge of IRT. They rightly rely on us to know what we are doing and wrongly  do sometimes ask impossible things. No, we cannot find a leak on a roof from a satellite in space. You need a thermal imaging camera mounted on a drone and a thermographer for that.

The technology has its limitations. But you will be blown away by just how useful a tool IRT is for the maintenance of your site. Here are the 4 common expectations from our clients that we systematically need to address if we want you to have a stress-free IRT survey.

Your expectation: 'My thermal pictures will be really sharp.'

We have already discussed the technology and science behind IRT. Today’s cameras are digital, radiometric (every pixel has a value), portable, un-cooled and affordable. We use FLIR cameras. They fit in our pocket and can be bought for less than £500. That alone is great news for us all.

Don't expect great resolution as this is still way behind that of your average smartphone though, but that will change. Fast forward 10 years and they will be embedded in every smart phone.

Your expectation: 'The survey will be conducted as soon as I submit the purchase order'.

How do we take an image properly, i.e. an image you can rely upon to make an investment-grade decision?

Once you have established your need to get a survey done and contacted us to describe your problem to one of our team members, you decide to proceed. Your deadline will be our major hurdle.

The weather is the biggest challenge we have. We need the right conditions to carry out a successful survey. No point promising you that it will be on your desk tomorrow if it is raining today and is too windy the next day. We need cool, dark, dry evenings to take thermal images. This means that you will have to wait until the weather conditions are correct.

Your expectation: 'You can come and survey at anytime.'

The shape and height of your buildings are not a problem: with our fleet of drones we can survey tens of thousands of metres of flat roofs in under one hour. We even take care of the civil aviation and insurance bureaucracy.

Access to your premises may be a problem though. We need to be able to see the entire fabric externally, internally, in daytime and again at night time. Sometimes special entry permission are required as invariably there will be out-of-hours access required. You need to make sure that security personnel has been informed, that someone is available to open and close the doors, that required authorisation  has been given and recorded. We can't enter premises without this, and will have to come back if we can't get access, hence delaying the survey and the reporting.

Your expectation: 'I'll get the report the day after the survey is done.'

Once thermal images of your building have been captured, depending on the size of your project, there is in general up to 5 days worth of  skillful analysis to be conducted. We don't take this lightly and do make recommendations based on the findings so that you can target repairs or refurbishment. This is what your infrared survey report is here to deliver: visual results and impartial advice so that you can make informed decisions.

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

With trouble-free access, the right weather and up-to-date equipment, we stand an excellent chance of successfully meeting your objectives.   If you are contemplating stripping off a flat roof on the advice of your flat roof leak survey report you are paying for, you best make sure you can trust the company providing that advice.

Used properly, IRT is an amazing technology which can save you thousands of pounds on your maintenance budget. By knowing what makes a valuable survey and its subsequent report, you are guaranteed a stress-free IRT survey experience.

Are you looking to refurbish your buildings and don't know where to start? We will be happy to advise you. Please contact us for your free no-obligation quote by clicking on the button below.

Why you must attend CPD sessions

Why you must attend CPD sessions

Delivery of CPD session

The sole purpose of Continuous Professional Development or CPD is to ensure professionals remain exactly that – professional.

Before answering the question “Why you must attend CPD”, we look at what CPD is, its purpose and its format.

CPD – Definition

According to The Business Dictionary, The definition of professional is –

“A person formally certified by a professional body of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards”.

Purpose of CPD

The purpose of CPD is to help keep professionals up to date with technological advances, procedures or legislative and regulatory changes that impact upon their profession. For example, you wouldn’t want to undergo surgery  if the surgeon couldn’t be bothered keeping themselves up to date with the latest techniques and instrumentation. Scary thought!

It is also about training, expanding your knowledge and most of all increasing your competency so that you can offer your clients the best advice or service and they can be reassured that they are spending their money wisely with you.

Many professions require CPD to be undertaken to retain a particular status often linked to their chartership, eg accountancy, surveying, human resources management, engineering, information management. The list goes on.

Architecture and building surveying are no different. A surveyor who is unaware of how materials interact or an architect who is blissfully unaware of a building that collapsed due to a design flaw is risking their reputation and the lives of those occupying his buildings. It can be that important.
Not all CPDs are created equal of course and whilst some are common for a wide range of professions others are specific to a trade: for example, learning about the latest wallpaper adhesive might not save lives, but maybe it uses non-toxic, recyclable materials that make disposing of it safer for the environment or taking it off again much easier. If you aren’t open minded and listen – you will never know, and you may left behind by your competitors who will be aware of new developments.

Format of CPD

CPD can take many formats. You can attend exhibitions, conferences, workshops, lectures or host events for your team in your office. Professional organisations such as RICS propose day-long CPD session in various cities in the UK.

Companies like ours, IRT surveys, offer free CPD seminars that will enlighten you as regard the technology, advances in software and changes in legislation. A true CPD seminar isn’t a sales pitch from the company providing the service,  but they are provided free of charge, so please give  the provider a healthy round of applause at the end.

Companies that offer free CPD often do it to educate the market about their latest innovations and products, but also to present themselves to you as both market and thought leaders in their field.

Personally, I like face to face CPD in the board/meeting room. One presenter and 10-12 in the audience. It a nice size to present to, people are not intimidated to ask pertinent questions, they don’t feel the peer pressure like they do with 200 in the audience and consequently they ask great questions. Our calendar of CPD events is filling up and sessions are always well attended.

Why you must attend CPD sessions

There are many reasons you should attend a CPD:

  • To keep yourself up to date and relevant.
  • To elevate your company above your competitors.
  • To train your staff, often for free.
  • To mitigate risk from law suits.
  • To maintain your professional status.
  • To exploit your new knowledge to increase revenue.
  • To increase efficiency.

Do you keep putting off your next CPD session? Do you have the intention to attend the next one, but get distracted at the last minute by something that seems more pressing?  Then how can you truly say that you are a professional?

Don’t let your chartered status be at risk. Keep up with your profession, make your services future-proof by attending your next CPD session.

Get one better: organise a session in your office and invite your colleagues and your clients.

We are already looking forward to your phone call to arrange a date and deliver a session on infrared thermal imaging technology, its applications and benefits for building surveying.

Get in touch