Horizon Imaging

Benefits of drone and mast aerial photography in the construction industry for marketing and inspection

One of the few certainties about Brexit is that the UK is not going to stop building. In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, relaxed the fiscal belt a notch or two in order that the country could remain economically active throughout the process of leaving the European Union. The UK’s property development and construction companies have performed particularly well during the last quarter, reinforcing this point. 
This blog post explores the work we undertake in the construction industry, and how aerial photography can be used to support and enhance projects undertaken in this exciting sector. These include: 

Composite imagery i.e. super-imposing CGI models of new buildings onto actual photographs of the surroundings

Filming and photographing progress on active and completed construction sites 
Performing quick and cost-effective aerial inspection work 
Large construction sites can be things of great beauty. The scale and complexity can be a sight to behold and often only aerial photographs can capture how an entire project is progressing. Even small sites can have their intricacies, and that’s why we offer clients the option of either drone aerial photography or telescopic mast photography (or both!) – scaling our solution to the size of the site and its physical location. 
Drone aerial photographs before and after the conversion of a crumbling private house into the luxury 5-star Coworth Park Hotel in Ascot, Berkshire. Click to enlarge. 
Construction projects take time, both to plan and to complete. Today, people are familiar with time-lapse photography, compressing year-long projects into 60 seconds or less of video – it’s a fun way to zip through a project and to see buildings appear out of the ground in front of your eyes! Whilst this is not a service we offer (whereby a camera is fixed to a temporary structure and left in place for the entire duration of a project), we do offer progress photography packages where we visit your site every few weeks or months to take an updated set of aerial photographs from the same angles. 
Regular aerial progress photographs of a construction site are not only a fantastic marketing tool for keeping the end client and members of public up to speed with a project’s progress, but they’re also ideal for sharing with your own staff, allowing them to see how the company’s projects are progressing from a unique birds-eye point of view. You can see examples of how our progress photographs have been used in this blog post, and also in this case study
Mast aerial photographs of two construction sites in Central London. Click to enlarge. 

We have worked with a number of large construction companies over the past 8+ years including Willmott Dixon and Galliford Try. Both greatly appreciate the value of the service that we provide, as it helps them to document and market their work in a unique and refreshing way. Galliford Try sent us this testimonial after we had worked with them on their prestigious Coworth Park project a few years ago: 

“The additional dimension, coupled with the quality of the images, has generated a great deal of interest in the project from both outside and inside our organisation.” 

Before any construction company considers commissioning a drone aerial photographer to visit one of their sites, the drone operator they choose must be able to show evidence of their: 

CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (required to use a drone for any type of commercial work) 

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Site Visitors Card 
Public Liability Insurance, usually with at least £5m of cover 

If the operator cannot show evidence of a current CAA Permission, it is illegal for them to be undertaking commercial aerial photography work for your company. Similarly, it is not possible to obtain adequate insurance cover for drone work without a CAA Permission, leaving your company and its personnel unprotected in the event of an incident involving the drone. Copies of all our documents are available to view on request. 

Drone aerial photograph of a construction site in Holyport, Berkshire. Click to enlarge. 
Drone aerial photograph of a construction site in East Grinstead, West Sussex. Click to enlarge. 
Below are three examples of projects in the construction industry where our aerial imagery has been used for three very different applications: combining real aerial imagery with computer generated models to help in the planning phase of a new large-scale urban development; producing promotional films using aerial and ground footage at a number of construction projects to share at internal staff meetings; and how drones can be used to perform quick and cost-effective aerial inspection work. 

Composite imagery: Combining the scenery of today with the buildings of tomorrow

Combining aerial photographs captured from our mast or drone with computer-generated imagery of buildings which do not yet exist, enables developers to show how a new development will ‘sit’ in its environment. Horizon Imaging was commissioned by Realm Communication to take aerial photographs of an area of land directly adjacent to the Madejski Stadium in Reading. Realm then used this imagery as the background for computer-generated models of the proposed buildings – allowing the whole development to be marketed before so much as a spade touched the ground. 
The project threw up several challenges including flying from publicly-accessible but privately-owned land, flying in built-up areas and only working on non-match days near the Stadium – but these were all taken care of by us as part of the drone photography planning process. 
Composite images using a drone aerial photographs of the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire with computer-generated buildings superimposed on top. Click to enlarge. 
“We found working with Horizon Imaging a real pleasure while working on marketing drone images for a Reading Stadium development. David handled a lot of security, and access permissions, allowing the drone photo shot to go smoothly and within budget. His technical understanding of photography and his bespoke drone allowed us to achieve near exact matches of our proposed views. We, and the end client, were extremely pleased with the end results, and will be using David again.” 


Composite imagery: Combining the scenery of today with the buildings of tomorrow

It’s not over emphasising the point to say that drone aerial photography is revolutionising the construction industry and saving it money. Contractors can now economically inspect a roof, chimney or overhead pylon in just a few hours – a process which used to take days and often involved the erection of expensive scaffolding. Drones can be flown with great accuracy, which means inspecting tricky parts of a structure or site can now be carried out quickly and economically. The high resolution of the modern digital cameras we use allows our clients to zoom into the inspection images and scrutinise the finest detail of the building or structure in question. 
Below is an example of an inspection photo we took for Galliford Try during a construction project to extend an old school near Haslemere, Surrey, and turn it into a care home. With the drone we were able to survey the entire roof structure of the existing building in about an hour – something that would have taken many days with scaffolding or a cherry picker. 
Drone aerial inspection photographs of Wispers Care Home in Haslemere, Surrey. Click to enlarge. 

Project showcasing – giving your projects a larger audience

We have recently been very busy working with national construction firm Willmott Dixon, producing short films to showcase their latest projects. The films are designed to give someone who has not visited a site before a sense of the scale and complexity of the work that has been undertaken. The films combine both aerial and ground-based footage, and have been produced at both completed and active construction sites. We are delighted to work with such a well-known player in the construction industry and they recently provided this kind feedback on the service we provide for them: 
“The all-round package that we received from Horizon Imaging was great. David is very flexible with regards to taking the images and access to the locations. The finished photos and videos are great and fitted our brief perfectly.” 
Promotional video for Willmott Dixon of their Bohunt School site in Worthing, West Sussex. Click the play button to watch. 
Promotional video for Willmott Dixon of their Warfield Primary School site in Warfield, Berkshire. Click the play button to watch. 

Do you have a construction project which you need to document and present to investors, clients or staff? Are you looking to take your marketing imagery up a level with some beautiful aerial photographs of a recently completed project? Or perhaps you’re about to undertake some renovation work on a large building but need to carry out a preliminary visual inspection first, and don’t want the cost and hassle of using scaffolding? Contact us today for a free initial consultation without obligation and we would be delighted to talk through your requirements with you.