The Cost of ‘Cure’ Rather Than ‘Prevention’ for Building and Asset Management

The cost to manage a building is considerable, and the costs associated with repairing or replacing assets that have been damaged due to a lack of preventive maintenance are even greater. The cost of corrective repairs can often be significantly higher than what it would have cost for preventative maintenance. This means businesses can spend far more money on the ‘cure’ rather monitoring and identifying areas of risk earlier on.

How Much Does 'Prevention' Cost?

One example of this is a church nearby to where we are based. We offered to inspect the roof, tower and steeple using accurate drone inspection techniques. Our quote was less than £2000. The inspection involved taking 300 images of high resolution in the space of a day capturing every single aspect of the building. Desk based analysis after the drone capture revealed that:

  1. There was significant water pooling around the tower, at least 2ft deep (most likely caused by blocked gutters from leaf or other debris) and
  2. Key ridge tiles were missing, not visible from the ground, risking water incursion


The report advised on measures to fix these issues and our partners in roofing and guttering provided quotes based on the reporting analysis/images we provide them with.

The gutters in the tower were cleared costing around £1000. Had they have not been cleared the estimated damage to the building would have been in the region of £50,000-£75,000 for clean-up and restoration of the church. Unfortunately, due to budgets, the roof ridge tiles were not fixed before a major rainstorm impacted the building, resulting in torrents of water inside the church and damage in the region of £45,000.

So, in this case ‘prevention’ was c.£3,000, the cure total would have been over £100,000.

This is not an isolated case, we have inspected commercial buildings, accommodation blocks and other building assets. In almost all cases identifying risks or concerns before they have occurred and not only saving having to fix the problems once they have happened but also reducing risks such as falling debris or building parts (in one case a roof section measuring over 5m x 10m about to fall) before they cause injury or other harm. The costs of which would be insurmountable.

A Programme of BIM Inspections by Drone

Buildings can be inspected once, twice or many times per year and due to technologies available, the exact drone inspection replicated to allow a building or facilities manager to inspect the results, compare to previous periods and plan works. The works can be more highly targeted, reducing the need for example to scaffold wrap a whole building versus just the area(s) identified.

Accuracy of images ranges depending on the requirement, but in some cases where minute detail is required, accuracy of 3-5cm can be achieved if planned into the drone operation. Achieved via a combination of high accuracy drone sensors, positioning software and a skilled team.

For larger projects the drone inspection data can be fed into a Project Management tool, allowing the Manager to allocate specific works to teams (concrete specialists, structural engineers, painters, roofers….) and those team can view, annotate and the whole system is updated centrally. This is a highly efficient means of managing larger assets from office blocks to dams at a fraction of the resource costs, reduced risks to personnel and efficiency of Project Management.

In Summary

Building Management & Infrastructure Management is a complex task. To reduce the costs and risks associated with managing Building Assets, BIM Inspections by Drone can be used as an effective tool to obtain accurate data quickly and efficiently. This data can then be used to inform management decisions on cost and risk reduction, ensuring that potential issues are identified.

Whilst it may be a leap of faith initially to test out a new method of BIM carrying out a ‘test’ at one site to see the value would provide the evidence for the Management team to consider. And given the cost of ‘Cure’ rather than ‘Prevention’ the business case will stack up very easily from there.

Mark Elliott – MD, S4G Drone Services. 

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City view Drone shot captured by the S4G Drone Services team