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Thermal Imaging Part 5: The influence of atmospheric conditions

Thermal Imaging Part 5: The influence of atmospheric conditions

Thermal imaging atmospheric conditionsLet’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 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.

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Budgeting for your IRT surveying services

Budgeting for your IRT surveying services

Budgeting

After careful consideration, you have decided to go ahead and commission an IRT survey. Now you are turning towards budgeting for it. Here we provide you with the information you need to unlock the finances and place your order.

We have already discussed what is included in the price of an IRT survey. Let’s look at it again and explain the value of the elements comprising IRT surveys services.

The price of infrared cameras

Back in the 1980’s cameras were the preserve of universities. They cost close to £250,000 and you had to be kitted out with the car battery to power it, liquid nitrogen on your back to keep it cool, periscope to look through, VHS to record video footage and a hand held sensor.

Fast forward to the millennium, cameras were £40K, hand held, digital, un-cooled and offered a truly portable solution.

By 2010 the same camera technology was closer to £10K, more ergonomic, lighter, sleeker, had more features, in some cases higher resolution and were being integrated into the main stream.

Today,  the same camera is 50% less at around £5-6K – but a myriad of low end cameras have been introduced to the market place. You can spend less than £1,000 and get a piece of a high-performing equipment.

But just because you can – should you?

The price of expertly using the technology

Owning a camera does not make you a photographer. In all likelihood you are reading this and have an impressive camera on your desk, would you therefore describe yourself as a photographer on your LinkedIN profile? The same can be said for low end IRT cameras.

For the plumber and electricians out there having an IRT camera in the toolbox will be as everyday as their screwdriver and spanners, the tech will save them hours hunting for overheating cables and leaking pipework.

There will always be a market for consultants with high end equipment, providing a service to building owners and occupiers who regularly need the service. Clients who need to rely upon the advice in a court of law or to arrive at a cost-effective refurbishment solution for their portfolio. Those surveys can’t be done by low end IRT cameras. More than that though, they can’t be done at all by unskilled labour. You need to understand the physics going on within a building if you are to successfully survey it using IRT techniques.

You can buy a camera for less than a survey these days, but you need to carefully consider the hidden elements such as software, training, calibration, insurance and most importantly – liability. That’s without mentioning health and safety. As an asset manager, would you sleep at night if, using a £500 camera, you advise a client to rip off his roof and spend £500,000 to refit based on your advice?

How much are IRT surveys services for an asset manager?

At IRT surveys, thanks to the unique way we have grown across the country we are able to offer uniform pricing. From Inverness to Plymouth a survey costs the same. The service, speed and cameras are the same. The surveyors have undergone the same training regime. The cameras are FLIR and all are annually calibrated. Every office is insured to the same level.

Most critically of all, the reports are written centrally by qualified analysts who do nothing other than analyse images.

We charge our services at £1200 for surveying time on one site and £650 for office time. We don’t add anything to those prices. No mileage. No expenses. No hidden anything.

This flat pricing structure means you can budget for the survey accordingly and build it into your bill of quantities at an early stage.

Need to survey the roof of a building? One site and one office day. Simple.
Want to add the walls whilst we are there? Thank you – it adds £650.
You would like to quantify the images for energy loss? No problem – it adds… you guess it: £650.

The pricing model also allows us an economy of scale if you wish to survey multiple buildings. The same rules apply.

How much are IRT surveys services for a housing stock manager?

The same level of expertise and diligence applies as for built asset surveying.

Pricing for a housing stock is more complex as it depends on the size of a housing stock and the breadth of services required.

However, for budgetary purposes for you as a housing stock manager in a local authority or housing association, prices start at £20 per house. Pricing are based on the volume of houses, the level of surveying and the data exploitation thereafter using  our bespoke software.

Should you want to discuss your IRT surveying requirements, please contact us  by clicking on the button below.

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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”.

Infrared energy audit: 5 reasons to have it done

Infrared energy audit: 5 reasons to have it done

Hand with fingers showing 5 energy colours

Infrared technology is now being used by many major players in the built environment such as Housing Associations, Health Trusts, Local Authorities and Building Surveyors to reveal their assets inefficiencies and take meaningful decisions. You may have heard of it but you are not sure if it is for your building project.

Here are 5 reasons why it is time you considered using infrared technology to bring a visible and clear dimension to what you want to do.

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