Taking Due Diligence to New Heights with Drones

07/31/2018 - Blog

From e-commerce delivery to construction monitoring, unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, have a vast range of applications impacting industries from agriculture to advertising.

Some environmental firms, like EBI Consulting, have honed in on the benefits of drones, and in the commercial real estate due diligence process they are delivering faster results and greater options to clients. There are a variety of ways drones can enhance the due diligence process and provide unique data to prospective buyers. Here are some examples:


Property and Pre-Acquisition Flyovers

Drones-1Imagine viewing a property from literally every angle in three dimensions and in motion. Drones can go above and beyond maps and standard photography delivering a true sense of the land and improvements. In addition to the complete picture, drones can enhance boots-on-the-ground inspections, providing information to leverage negotiations faster and more cost-effectively.


Multisite or Large Acreage Environmental Site Assessments

Drones-2Environmental site assessments (ESAs) on multiple or very large properties often require more field assessors or more time, which can add to total costs. Drones can mitigate both: in less than 5 hours, drones can survey over 100 acres of land. Followed by ground-truthing analysis (relating image data to real features and materials on the ground), this method is highly accurate and meets ASTM guidelines.


Roof & Façade Inspections with Thermal Infrared Surveys

Drones-3It is nearly impossible for an assessor to physically inspect every inch of a roof or façade, especially if the building is expansive or above three stories, has steep-sloped roofs or complex designs, or has areas that are inaccessible. Drones don’t replace the assessor, but they take the guesswork out of identifying potential problem-areas. In addition to visual data, drones can take thermal infrared surveys of buildings to identify moisture or heat loss and the specific size and location of the damage, which can be invisible to the eye. If a problem is identified, a specialist can perform further testing and analysis only on those particular areas.


Topographic & Volumetric Surveys

Drones-4Drones can precisely measure horizontal and vertical contours of the land surface and elevations. Additionally, they can measure the volume of a specific area, like a stockpile or containment area. These surveys come in handy when determining the potential costs of razing or leveling portions of land for construction or removing stockpiles, which can add up to thousands of dollars.


Taking the Guesswork out of Real Costs of Ownership

EBI completed an Acquisition Property Condition Report (APCR) on an 800,000 SF office building where time was of the essence for the clients in the middle of purchase negotiations. The customized scope of work for this APCR included eight different investigations and reports, and while the clients needed a fast turnaround, they did not want to compromise on the depth of information they could receive. Fortunately, EBI had the solution to meet their needs: drone technology.

The building façade was 215,000 SF and had hundreds of windows and doors to inspect. For precision, the façade was divided into 20 faces, and each face received at minimum 5 pages of in-depth reporting by a specialist on conditions, costs of annual maintenance, replacements, and immediate or short term repairs along with high quality photographs. The same process and reporting was also completed for 26 sections of the 200,000 SF roof.

The client was satisfied to learn as quickly as possible that the façade was in need of immediate repairs totaling over a million dollars and sections of the roof would need replacing in the next two years, another million-dollar expense. Having this information early on in the negotiation process is powerful. While it wouldn’t have been impossible to complete as thorough of an investigation without the drones, it would have taken a lot more manpower to accomplish within the clients’ time restriction, and manpower is expensive. In this example, drones provided a win-win solution.


Current FAA Regulations

There was some initial hesitancy for businesses to invest in drone technology due to uncertainty surrounding FAA regulations. Seeing the value drones could provide to clients, EBI Consulting determined it was worth the risk to be able to provide this service, and we (and our clients) are glad that we did. FAA regulations have been further eased rather than restricted, with minimal impacts on our ability to provide the suite of drone services we have available to clients.


Effective & Efficient Due Diligence

EBI Consulting understands the value of timely due diligence in transactions. The efficiency of drones for this purpose cannot be understated, cutting the number of man hours by half or more. Simultaneously, they provide highly accurate data that, when backed by a team of experts like ours, delivers actionable information to help you make the best investment decisions. Committed to providing best-in-class and cutting edge technology, EBI has the future and your dollar in mind. To learn more about our drone or acquisition services, visit our website or contact us to find a local consultant.


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