Birdseye view of drones - Part 1: To infinity and beyond

This article was co-authored by Angela Bhaseen and Tom Higgins, Trainee Solicitor, Manchester office.

The use of drones (UAV’s -Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) has rocketed both commercially and non-commercially and is predicted to grow due to technological advancements which makes them ever more affordable, easier to use and increasingly sophisticated. Here, we look at the impacts drones are having in the real estate market. In Part 2, we will look at the legal framework underpinning this area in light of Brexit. Drones are giving sellers in property transactions the edge both when marketing the property and in the due diligence process

The benefits of drones in real estate

Drones have the ability to capture more accurate pictures from various angles that may be hard, if not impossible, to get without. They also have the ability to capture high quality video footage. Many property marketing companies now offer drone services specifically to those looking to sell both commercial and residential property. Drones have the ability to create captivating and immersive video tours which leads to an emotive response. This heightened ability to market emotionally has boosted the saleability of a property.

A drone's ability to reach and capture the internal and external areas of a building that otherwise may have been inaccessible or unsafe can give a more accurate reflection of the condition of a property. This increases a buyer's confidence and in turn the ability to sell. Drones can be fitted with an in depth array of sensors such as heat seeking monitors for use in damp inspections. Detailed high quality images can be included in the schedule of conditions which have historically consisted of photos rather than video footage. Drone data and recordings can be shared quickly and incorporated into property contracts offering all parties greater transparency and confidence. Furthermore, capturing drone footage is quicker than traditional methods (such as photographs or separate reports), and will be more cost efficient especially on larger commercial sites. The cost efficiencies will be amplified as technology, the ease of producing drones and competition in the marketing of drone service companies increases. This, in turn, will result in the decrease of the price of acquiring high end drones and using the drone services outlined above.

Looking ahead – the dizzying future of drones

There are suggestions that drone inspections may replace physical property viewings altogether in the next decade. With the current surge in the online market place, it’s only a matter of time before big players such as Amazon obtain final approvals to launch their Amazon Prime Air - a drone delivery service aiming to get customer products to them within 30 minutes of ordering! Other big players in the food industry could follow suit as the automatous flying ability of drones will offer a quicker, cleaner and perhaps safer (post Covid-19) point of delivery to the consumer. To facilitate this, there will be a demand for land and property that can accommodate the smaller regional hub units with landing platforms. This may be a commercial retail space to look out for given the move from the traditional large warehouses with fleets of lorries to a network of smaller hubs all connected to larger central holding sites.

Benefits of drones in construction

The construction industry has seen one of the fastest uptakes in the use of drones which include the following benefits:

  • Drones have specific applications both before and during a construction project
  • During the design phase, drones can capture in depth footage and extremely accurate site measurements. From this, 3D models can be produced which can help understand a project's early design and feasibility
  • They can also monitor and map the developments of a project in a quicker way compared to traditional methods, providing a cost effective way of getting essential and accurate updates
  • Drones can spot risks as the project develops and can quickly relay this information
    They can keep checks on materials, stock levels and provide information on security risks and breaches.  
  • Drones can alleviate risky roles that were previously undertaken by the workforce.

As drones and the technology they can carry develops, the roles they can perform in the construction industry will continue to widen and increase at a rapid rate as they provide a faster, safer and more efficient way to perform many construction roles.

Comment

Drones are becoming an integral part in both the marketing and due diligence process in real estate transactions due to the ease of use, efficiency, accuracy and better quality material they can produce especially in those areas which cannot be reached by humans. The use of drones is still in its infancy and as technology becomes more sophisticated and we move to an electronic society, their full potential is yet to be discovered where the sky may not be the limit.

In part 2, we will look at the updated regulations and flying requirements following Brexit along with the wider implications on operators and pilots including issues such as liabilities following incidents, commercial insurance requirements, data protection issues and flying drones abroad.

Read other items in Commercial Brief - March 2021

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