City council sends in drones to ensure smart spend on tower block refurbishment

City council sends in drones to ensure smart spend on tower block refurbishment

Specialist drones and abseilers have conducted an in-depth survey of a 24-storey residential tower block to ascertain its suitability for works to improve insulation and energy efficiency.

Southampton City Council identified Canberra Towers, a 1960s development of 144 flats, as requiring improvements to insulation but wanted to be sure the upgrade plan was workable and made the best use of budget. It turned to the British Board of Agrément’s subsidiary Consultancy Investigation Training (CIT) to inspect and assess the state of the building.

Keith Meredith, Southampton City Council’s Programme Manager — Capital Projects (Refurbishments), explained: “We agreed for CIT to undertake independent property pre-inspections and provide relevant reports to fundamentally determine suitability for the planned works of external wall insulation, window replacement and roof replacement where applicable.

“It gave us peace of mind that our planned works would rectify the highlighted problems and, ultimately, be a wise way to spend budget, which is of utmost importance.”

CIT experts surveyed accessible flats from the inside and used drones and abseilers to inspect the exterior of the tower block. This enabled inspections to be carried out without the need for scaffolding or cherry pickers; CIT estimated that scaffolding costs alone could have reached £300,000. The company also surveyed 35 council houses managed by the local authority.

CIT used drones to photograph Canberra Towers in detail with powerful cameras. Expert surveyors examined the photographs to identify any issues but nothing unexpected of importance was highlighted, giving the local authority reassurance that it had chosen the correct solution to solve the issues.

CIT Director Rob McCormack said: “The council planned to use EWI but required validation that it was the best course of action. We were able to inspect Canberra Towers internally looking for damp, condensation and mould and get close to the outside at high levels via the drones and abseilers, providing a close-up look at the building that would have been hard to achieve any other way. It is a really innovative service that reduces inspection costs, speeds up the inspection process and delivers peace-of-mind to clients wishing to validate their refurbishment decisions.”

CIT services include independent CWI/EWI, condensation and damp inspections and insulation-focused stock condition surveys. Its services are available to anyone dealing with the planned installation of insulation materials or with the consequences of inappropriate insulation retrofits or improperly installed insulation products.

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