Two housing associations have become the first to purchase drones – flying camera-installed devices – to try to reduce the costs of managing their homes.
Halton Housing Trust and Bromford have invested in the technology and will examine the possibilities of using them over the next few weeks.
Halton believes using drones equipped with cameras to inspect roofs could reduce its bill for scaffolding costs, which last year totalled £310,000. It estimates 15% of this cost relates to routine inspections, which require staff to erect scaffolding to allow them to take photographs of roofs and gutters to check if repairs are needed.
Scaffolding costs £500 to erect and take down and can cost thousands of pounds to hire
The 6,400-home association has bought a £200 drone to test its use.
Nick Atkin, chief executive of Halton, said: ‘This could allow us to make savings and ensure greater convenience for our customers because scaffolding can be very intrusive.’
Mr Atkin said the quality of photographs from the high-definition camera on the drone would be good enough to allow them to investigate roof leaks.
Bromford has purchased a £380 drone and is planning to test it to carry out inspections of roofs and inspections of land before development.
If it decides to press ahead, the 28,000-home developer-landlord may invest in more expensive drones that have GPS technology
Paul Taylor, innovation coach at Bromford, said the association might need different types of drones for different purposes and may need a license for some commercial uses.
He said: ‘If [our] development [department] need one to scan land, they may need it to operate at different distances and heights, there is no way we are going to go the expense of that without testing cheap kit first.’