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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.

3 ways to maximise your portfolio energy performance

3 ways to maximise your portfolio energy performance

 

portfolio energy performance

Portfolio energy performance will soon be coming back in the news as 2018 heralds the dawn of a brave new Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS). It effectively means 31% of the built environment becomes unlawful to buy, sell, rent of lease. That’s 1 in every 3 buildings. Imagine that for a moment: 85% of the office space in London is rented. That means tens of thousands of companies becoming homeless, were this legislation enforced in its current outline. Common sense says the legislation will be watered down, pushed back and diluted. This is inevitable as it is impossible to enforce and police. However, its objectives and ethos are solid and admirable, in principle. Improving buildings, making them more efficient means they become more desirable to rent and own. Desirability drives  price and value up. When buildings cost less to operate, their Per sqM-rental incomes can be increased.

The challenge for you as the portfolio owner or manager is one of optimising budget: Where do you start? Whom do you trust? Is there low hanging fruit or quick wins out there? What technology exists than can help?

Another consideration is data. What do you really know about your buildings? Would you bet your mortgage that whatever you know is actually accurate? The stakes are high.

Portfolio Energy Performance: Circumventing legislation?

As a company, we have been surveying buildings for 15 years using infrared technology to detect defects and quantify energy loss and we have yet to find a building anywhere in the country that matches up to the drawings and specification intended at its birth. Change of usage, extensions, refurbishments, dilapidations, cowboy buildings, adhoc maintenance, all contribute to a portfolio dataset that is far from perfect. Add in trying to meet legislative compliance on a shoestring budget and the whole thing goes pear-shaped very quickly.

Take for example EPC legislation, now almost 10 years old, meaning the early ones need re-doing next year, just like MEPS, its intention is solid and admirable. The implementation and adoption however has been less than perfect.

A client once pointed out a multi-storey office block he owned: 1960’s construction, precast panels, single glazed aluminium windows, asphalt roof with no insulation and the original HVAC system from the late 60’s. Located in a city centre, it was fully occupied with tenants. £250 bought him an EPC that said the building was C-rated. The client asked me: “what would you do in my shoes? Tell every tenant to move out for a year whilst I get the roof, walls and windows and heating system upgraded, or turn a blind eye?”. I pass the building regularly and I can tell you a few years on since that conversation, the building looks exactly the same and it remains full of tenants.

Under MEPS that bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach is dangerous. If there is finance in place to pay for the building – commercial mortgages for example – the bank reserves the right to review that mortgage every two years and are within their rights to withdraw any outstanding monies with just 7 days notice. It would be best then to mitigate that risk.

3 ways you can  maximise your property portfolio energy performance

1. Understand its true condition

Get your data licked into shape and see opportunities arise that may surprise you. Poor data means a poor understanding of the challenge ahead and leaves you exposed. It’s just too dangerous to contemplate. We have already written extensively on the subject of enhancing property portfolio starting with data collection.

2. Leverage any and all available funding to retrofit

Fast forward to a future where your data is full and accurate. Now you can simulate savings, programme works, tender work packages, manage their implementation and see the savings from your efforts. Managing the retrofit of course means revenue for the managing agent or surveying practice, but the portfolio owner will love you for it. You are reducing risk, being professional and optimising his budget. Contractors will love you as you reduce their cost of sale and you tell them exactly what you want and need. That saving to them ought to be passed onto you.

There is plenty of funding out there for retrofits. ESCO companies will 100% fund retrofits that deliver results at no CAPEX to you. Walls, windows, roofs, lighting, draft proofing, insulation – you name it, funding is easily secured if the business case stacks up. Organisations like the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust have interest free money available to fund measures – you simply need to ask.

3. Constantly invest in the fabric

This sounds rather obvious, but building fabric degrades. Refurbishments have been an integral part of portfolio management since buildings have been erected.

Roofs are notoriously defectuous and won’t last for ever. You need to set aside money to patch and repair when the roof reaches the end of its life expectancy and budget for a total replacement. Ignore this reality and you will be faced with years of leaks, inefficiency, tenant complaints and stained ceiling tiles. Maybe tomorrows’ building will be owed by the manufacturers who will simply lease the fabric, replacing these buildings every 25 years and bearing the maintenance costs along the way. Until that day, it’s important to understand the value of a solid maintenance schedule and refurbishment programme.

Silicone seals around windows only last about 10 years, ignore this fact and water will find its way through and into the fabric, perhaps invisibly for years. Sooner or later someone will spot a damp patch somewhere and you will end up chasing it for years before rectifying the cause. Several thousands of pounds spent where only a fraction could have been spent as a preventative measure.

Invest today to save tomorrow.

Happy building = happy tenants = happy owner= happy cash flow for all.

 

What is best practice then in this cash-strapped, modern, post credit-crunch, Brexit’d devolved country of ours? Traditional surveying techniques may help and a fast emerging technology such as infrared or IRT, will definitely see problems the naked eye can’t. Huge portfolios can be assessed very cost effectively these days. Once data is captured, cloud based software can crunch the numbers, backfill the blanks in the assumptions, validate the data and enable rapid low cost simulations.

The internet of things will only improve this industry. Buildings will contact you and ask for help themselves. This already happens in aviation today. RollsRoyce engines talk to a central database and report health issues to an unmanned database. The software arranges an engineer, co-ordinates with a warehouse and ensure the right part is at the right airport on time to service that engine efficiently. Buildings will go the same way. It’s as inevitable as it is exciting.

Are you managing buildings, as a portfolio or facilities or estates manager? Are you concerned by the forthcoming MEPS and need to take action? Contact us today to discuss your challenges and hear how we can help you.

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Unveil the office secrets before office relocation

Unveil the office secrets before office relocation

office-image--irt-visual office secrets

Are you thinking of relocating your business premises? Put yourself in the shoes of our client and learn from their experience:

Years have been good for your business. You started off small, maybe in a room in your house, the garden shed or at a desk in a co-working environment. You had hit on a very profitable idea and your business grew over the months. So much so, that you had to take on staff.  It was not practical to get them to trail through your house to get to work or maybe there were no more desks available at your co-working office.  You had to relocate.

Reasons for office relocation

When it came to choosing your ideal new location, there were many reasons driving your decision. Do any of these resonate with yours:

  • Cost of the rent;
  • Easy access to road or rail system;
  • A city-centre location;
  • A modern building;
  • Energy efficiency credentials;
  • Proximity to other businesses, maybe closely related to your own;
  • Offer of a grant for that particular location;
  • Spatial orientation;
  • Flexibility of the space with potential for further staff to be taken on or sub-rent part of it.

There is an array of reasons why you choose that new office. Our client had decided to go for a city-centre location, a newly-built office block, which stood close to all transport networks. It was a big office that could comfortably  accommodate people, complied with all the latest accessibility requirements. It was a bright office, bathed in sun shine all day long. Perfect! The visit to the empty premises went without a glitch. They could foresee being there for several years. It was really going to be a great place to work from: modern and bright.

The 5-year lease was duly signed off. Furniture and office paraphernalia was purchased. Staff recruited and moved in, happy to be in a modern environment, close to shops for their lunch time walk. You were ready for another successful chapter of your growing business.

The startling reality of office relocation

Within a few weeks it became clear that not all was well in the gleaming tower. Staff reported feeling the chill at sunset, storage heaters were just too small for the wide open-plan space. The lack of window blinds and glaring sun created problems with workstations location and working comfort.

Then condensation appeared on the windows. When the beaming sunshine was replaced by relentless rain, water ingress at the windows became a joke with plastic cups neatly arranged on the window sill to catch the drips. With no sun, there was definitely a chill in the air. None of that was spotted during that pre-lease-signing visit.

Meantime the landlord was ignoring his tenant’s problems. Phone calls and emails were exchanged with little hope of resolution.  Apart from the plastic cups, there was nothing visible to prove to the landlord that the office was substandard. Despite paying rent on time every month, our client was continually rebuffed in their claim.

Unveiling the hidden office secrets

It did not take long to arrange for a full infrared thermal (IRT) survey of external  elevation of the office block and internal elevations of the office. What it revealed was staggering:

  • Poorly installed windows;
  • Water ingress at each window, with damp permeating through the fabric of the building from floor to ceiling;
  • Poor insulation;
  • Uncomfortable drafts.

The office block had been built only a few years back, to the latest building and architectural specification. Still, the IRT survey revealed multiple problems, completely invisible to the naked eye, linked to poor workmanship and a “built-to-budget” specification.

It was no wonder that staff were feeling cold, heaters could not cope with the damp and there was a concern that environmental credentials were being thrown out of the windows as the heating was in full blast all day to little effect.

Benefits of unveiling the office secrets

Within weeks of demonstrating to the landlord where the problems were and providing impartial evidence, our client saw the windows being repaired at the landlord’s expense who then claimed it back via the building contractor’s 10 year-guarantee.

The benefits of getting the IRT survey done far outweighed its small expense: the tenant was now happy that he was providing his staff with a warmer, energy efficient office. Staff were much more comfortable in their environment and the complaints about the chilly air stopped. The building owner sighed with relief as his tenant was staying put. The building contractor learnt his lesson the hard way that he will have to monitor his sub contractors more closely in future.

Much despair and frustration could have been avoided. A phone call to arrange an IRT survey prior to the lease being signed would have unveiled the energy secrets of the office and our client would have walked away from a deal.

What are YOUR office secrets?

If you are sitting in the office reading this, are you fed up of your staff moaning about the cold despite the heating being on? Have you noticed condensation at the windows, accepting this reality by assuming that the building is simply ageing? Are there any other visual signs that prove that building defects are at work, such as the paint flaking away, expanding water stains on the ceiling tiles?

How long will you put up with all this, and still pay the rent without complaining? Be an attentive employer as well as a shrewd tenant and get your offices surveyed with IRT technology. An internal IRT survey is done in situ, during day time, with the heating on. Your staff does not need to stop working or be moved.

As your tenancy agreement is coming to an end, are you considering moving premises? Maybe you are even thinking of purchasing a small office block? What will you NOT see during the pre-lease-signing or pre-purchase-agreement-signing visits to new-to-you offices?

Don’t let the perfect visual aspect of an office block cloud your judgement. Make sure you know the secrets that your new office could be hiding.

Are you an unscrupulous landlord, ready to rent energy-inefficient offices out to unsuspecting tenants? We don’t think so either. Protect your investment and be confident of the quality of your offices by commissioning an IRT survey and making the necessary repairs before offering it to the market.  You will be able to provide evidence to your tenants that all is well. Who knows, you may even increase the rentability of the premises.

Time to find out what your office secrets are before relocation

Whether you are about to rent or purchase an office block, get in touch with us to unveil the office secrets and make sure the building you are looking at is energy efficient so that you don’t throw money out of its windows whilst getting the most of your investment.

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Office secrets linkedin We posted the ‘visual’ image of the office in question on LinkedIn, asking what was wrong with it.

We were astounded by the number of views and comments received. All covered various aspects of the physical and visible aspects of the office, potential health and safety issues, offering advice on lighting, waste management, etc, many based on assumptions.  No building defect was mentioned because those are invisible to the naked eye. You can’t see energy loss caused by building defects just by looking at a building. You need IRT technology.

Thank you to all who commented though. We were fascinated by what people thought they could “see”.

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.

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Are you ready for MEPS 2018?

Are you ready for MEPS 2018?

The reality of MEPS 2018 is now well within sight: By April 2018 a landlord of a commercial building or residential property may not be able to rent out a building that falls below the Energy Performance Rating of E.

40% of the world CO2 comes from buildings. In a recent study of Aberdeen Asset Management’s portfolio by WSP, 31% of the buildings were F & G rated. These will become illegal to rent from April 2018 in England and Wales

If there was ever a time to have an in-depth look at the buildings you own or manage, it is now.

How do you know that your buildings are up to standard?

Are you hoping that the MEPS will pass you by?

Or would you prefer to ensure that your porfolio was compliant and energy-efficient so that you can present an honest and true offer to your current and future tenants and prospect buyers?

In a previous post we expand on 3 ways to maximise your property portfolio energy performance:

  1. understand its true condition,
  2. leverage any and all available funding to retrofit,
  3. constantly invest in the fabric.

Today, a survey and evaluation of your whole portfolio is rapid and by choosing your surveyor carefully it can be impartial and solution-independent advice. Switch on your speakers, put the volume up and click on the presentation [on YouTube] below to find out more.

MEPS 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s have a no-obligation discussion about your portfolio.

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