Curo is going up in the world, becoming one of the first housing associations in the country to explore the use of ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’, or drones, to carry out condition surveys across their housing stock.
Curo owns and maintains over 12,000 properties, including many tall apartment blocks such as those at Snow Hill, home to Bath’s tallest building, Berkeley House. Often the only way to checking the condition of elevated parts of a building like roofs or guttering is for scaffolding to be put up so surveyors can inspect and take photographs.
The cost of hiring, erecting and taking down scaffolding adds up – last year Curo spent around £50,000 on inspections that required scaffolding. On top of the expense, scaffolding work takes time and can be disruptive for residents.
In many cases, a drone could remove the need for scaffolding, with high quality photographs taken which can then be inspected by expert surveyors and repairs colleagues.
Louise Swain, Curo Executive Director for Customer Service, says: “At Curo we are always looking for ways to improve our customer service. This new technology affords the opportunity to make significant savings for Curo – savings we can pass on to our customers. No one likes having scaffolding outside their window, so if we can find other ways to carry out essential inspections and save money, then we think everyone wins.
“Right now we’re just exploring this idea, but if we decide to start using drones for surveys we would always let residents know in advance, just as we do today when we put up scaffolding to carry out inspections. Residents’ privacy and safety would be paramount.”
Drones are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority which stipulates a number of rules to ensure public safety. For example drones must be kept within the visual line of sight and cannot be flown within 50 metres of any person. To be flown commercially, permission is required and the drone must be piloted by a suitably qualified operator.
The properties surveyed at Henrietta Street are among 530 Grade I and II listed buildings Curo owns in Bath.