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Jan 27, 2021

5 Ways Drones are Transforming Residential Construction

Drone technology is rapidly changing how homebuilders and contractors manage their projects.
Drones are improving residential construction by providing faster, cheaper project data.
What You Need to Know About Drones

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have initiated the much-needed disruption to several industries, including construction, manufacturing, military, and agriculture. The construction industry is currently undergoing a shift and embracing drone technology to improve efficiency on their projects, particularly during the site development phase. Drone use in site work, like in other fields, has brought about massive advantages. Today, we're looking at the impacts of drone technology in the residential construction industry.
1. Faster Surveying and Land Mapping

Leading land developers, homebuilders, and grading contractors are ditching traditional survey methods and embracing the use of drones for surveying their project sites. The cost limitations and slow processing time of conventional surveying methods are to blame for this shift. While accurate, traditional surveying can take several days (or even weeks) depending on the size of the project, which reduces how frequently surveys are typically performed.


Drones fly over the site, capturing high-resolution images. A process called photogrammetry measures distances from ground control points and creates a three-dimensional model of the project. This technology is both fast (takes only a few hours) and accurate (to 1/10th of a foot) at generating a 3D map of the project site.
2. Easier Site Inspections

Using drones to regularly map project sites provides consistent and clear imagery for site inspections. Developing a drone program during the site development phase enables home building construction teams to perform visual site inspections of excavation and grading remotely without being physically present. This saves substantial amounts of time and can eliminate long drives between project sites, resulting in reduced travel costs for owners and contractors alike.
3. Visualizing Project Progress

Land development managers, project managers, grading foremen and other operations team members are required to consistently track construction progress to stay on schedule. Monitoring progress is essential to staying on schedule and course correcting when necessary. Using drones to conduct frequent scans allows project stakeholders to get real-time updates on how the job is progressing. Construction managers can use this information to inform decision making about critical issues that affect residential construction, such as site balance, schedule, and sequencing.
4. Accurate 3D Data Collection

Drones collect valuable volumetric data from the job site, and photogrammetric software converts the captured images into 2D and 3D maps. These maps allow for accurate measurements of the volume of dirt moved, pad elevations, utilities placed, and other critical activities on the jobsite. Previously, intermittent traditional surveying was the only way to obtain accurate data, but drones have made it possible to accurately assess the project weekly or more. By using drones, the increased frequency of gathering project data empowers project teams with the right information they need to perform optimally.
5. Reduced Construction Costs

The impacts discussed above all contribute to the primary intent of drone use in residential construction–making site work less expensive and more efficient. Obtaining accurate survey data, for example, ensures maximum productivity by eliminating the need for redoing surveys to correct errors. Conducting remote site inspections eliminates the need to spend more worker hours on site, reducing costs overall. In addition, the ability to collaborate and share information captured by drones digitally minimizes the need for regular on-site visits and meetings, saving home builders and land developers on time and consultant costs.
The Bottom Line

The impacts of drone technology in the home building industry are substantial, despite being fairly new to the industry. Although adoption rates have been slow among many residential builders, the benefits of using drones in residential construction are too significant to ignore, as the benefits greatly outweigh the low cost.

To learn more about how drones can improve your site intelligence on residential construction projects, meet with a member of the TraceAir team.
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