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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.

5 signs it’s time for your asset portfolio audit

5 signs it’s time for your asset portfolio audit

As an asset portfolio manager, you are responsible for millions of pounds worth of bricks and mortar. Your reputation dictates that you need to be fully aware of the value of the assets you are managing so that you can advise your clients on the best course of action for their investment. Here are 5 signs that it is time for you to commission an asset portfolio audit:

1.You don’t trust the data you have.

In order to make good decisions you must be in possession of the facts. Don’t charge into battle until you are armed and you know exactly what you are up against. Too often businesses are almost forced, coerced or misled to carry out works that simply aren’t required by a corporate version of a dodgy tradesman sucking his teeth and saying 'x' when actually 'y' would be better and cheaper. If you are being asked to embark upon a major capital programme but aren’t given the resources and tools to deliver results without risk, think again. Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Don’t rush headlong down a path without truly exploring the data and ensuring it is honest, trustworthy accurate and above all – impartial. In another word, plan well first  with valuable data.

2.You have a merger looming.

Merging portfolios, merging businesses: It is coming to you and you are about to inherit the motherload of problems. Is their data accurate? Is it better than yours? Will they use your lack of knowledge to beat your price down? Or exploit your lack of understanding of their data to drive their value up. Due diligence is a part of life. Do it better than the other party and you stand a good chance of leaving the room standing tall and confident in your decision. Who knows, you might dodge a bullet and walk away unscathed. Ask Royal Bank of Scotland about their due diligence process on the purchase of Dutch Bank. They did not have one and it almost bankrupt them.

3. Your client wishes to dispose of their assets.

At some point your client will want to sell on a property or two, maybe even their whole portfolio. What do you advise them? Which ones do you sell? Nothing short of an in-depth understanding of every facet of that portfolio is good enough. Your client is paying for professional advice: you need to be confident that you know their portfolio inside out without any nasty surprises  and that the information you have at your fingertips is up to the minute to provide accurate advice to the best of your knowledge. You must become an asset management Jedi with a crystal ball.

4.Brexit impact

2016 has brought a fresh challenge for the property world. We have witnessed the Brexit vote result. Now there are talks of a possible Clexit, where Britain bows out of all the climate change targets. This will trigger yet more unwelcome uncertainty. We all saw the effect the Brexit vote had on share prices and the unprecedented action taken by the likes of Aberdeen Asset Management. Investors like bricks and mortar for the long term stable nature of something physical. Brexit and Clexit are speeding things up to say the least. The risks and their impact are very real. Of course the market will recover, but the long term effect of the likelihood of sudden and dramatic risk is toxic for us all. Yet here we are. The world is still turning and people still want to invest and make decent returns. Brexit didn’t bring about a revolution overnight. If you are currently trying to dispose of a portfolio, you may consider putting it on the back burner for a while and instead use the time to ensure your portfolio is the very best it can be and use technology to increase the assets value.

5. Legislation presents a risk.

As mentioned above, legislation is so fluid at the moment it represents a credible risk to the market. Remember ESOS? Ever even heard of it? 12 months after Energy Saving Opportunity Surveys were introduced and implemented by the brave few, they were abandoned. What a waste of money for all parties. Will MEES / MEPS go the same way? (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard and Minimum Energy Performance Standard) Same thing two different names. They are major pieces of legislation with Royal Assent that say you can’t sell rent or lease a building with an F or G rating. It is estimated that 31% of the built environment falls into that space. (Source WSP on Aberdeen Asset Management’s portfolio).

I can tell you first hand from three of our clients their thoughts:

One said: “we need to provide professional advice, this is of grave concern we must deliver rapid cost effective energy audits at scale to satisfy our client’s needs”.
Another client said the exact opposite: “the legislation won’t come. If it does it will morph into something else, I am not advising my clients spend needlessly when I have no faith in the government following through”.
A third client literally took me to a 30-storey building erected in the 1960s with uninsulated roof, concrete precast modular walls, single glazed, original heating system etc. He then proceeded to show me the £250 EPC certificate boasting about his C rating.

Why invest millions when a £250 piece of paper will suffice?

If you are seeing one or all of the above signs, help is at hand. Today, rapid portfolio evaluation and impartial, solution-independent advice is a phone call away. Technology has progressed to the point where infrared images can be quantified, data augmented and calculations carried out by sophisticated algorithms – all for much less than you might think. Drones and software advances have meant surveying is easier, reporting online and the deliverable all dynamic and interactive. Experts are being replaced by sliders and speedos on dashboards. Simulations that were once a black art practiced by experts only are now child's play. If you can catch a Pikachu you can conduct an energy audit on a portfolio.

Are you seeing the signs? Then please do contact us to discuss your requirements by clicking on the button below.

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”.