< Back to articles

Why housing associations are switching to digital building surveys

March 23, 2022

Many housing associations are currently organizing building surveys for their real estate portfolio, in order to plan maintenance for the coming year. These recurring inspections are time-consuming and often do not provide the desired result in order to optimize maintenance schedules. This would require continuous insight into the actual state of the buildings. And this, of course, should require as little resources as possible.

That’s why Spotr started working with digital building surveys a few years ago. For housing associations such as Brabant Wonen and the Alliantie, which are now working with this new way of surveying, this saves time and provides better controle of maintenance programs and sustainability budgets. Improved maintenance programs means that more work can be done with fewer people, which leads to significant cost savings on maintenance.

Housing associations are facing significant challenges at the moment. Buildings must be properly maintained, renovated and made more sustainable. All that under enormous time pressure and with less and less staff available. That’s why more housing associations are starting to use latest techniques and data in order to take datadriven decision and achieve policy goals in time.

But how do you collect this data efficiently? And how do you ensure that there’s one single source of truth where all data about your real estate comes together? Ideally, you’d easily gain insights into the maintenance needs of your portfolio and how to best combine maintenance activities. Also, you should be able to compare scenarios objectively – based on data – to make informed investment decisions.

From traditional maintenance plans to digital building surveys

The limiting factor with traditional maintenance plans is that they are largely based on theory. For example: painting has to be done every 6 years. As a result, expensive maintenance work is being carried out even though it wasn’t necessary. Or, for example, windows are painted which would be replaced the following year anyway, due to sustainability measures.

In addition, it’s often only possible to inspect a (small) part of the property with traditional means. Wouldn’t it be better to perform maintenance on what is really needed? Based on the current state of your entire property, instead of a small part? And then be able to combine work in an optimal way to preserve budgets?

“By switching to digital building surveys, more and more housing associations are now saving no less than 70% of surveying time and substantial annual surveying costs.”

Digital building surveys

Here at Spotr we’ve been working on this issue together with housing associations since 2018. And we found the answer in digital building surveys.

The digital building survey gives housing associations and property owners continuous insight into the state of their properties, without having to do on-site inspections. Spotr collects images of each property from 6 different sources, which are then assessed by surveyors.

That means a full scan of the portfolio where images are available, not just 30% of the portfolio. Defects are assigned to an exact location, to gain insights in specific areas and to be able to easily plan follow-up actions. The results of the entire digital building survey are projected on the map, making large scale analyses about the condition of the properties incredibly easy.

Up-to-date, complete and visual information

One of the forerunners who are using digital building surveys is housing association the Alliantie. The Alliantie uses Spotr to map its entire real estate portfolio, including photos of satellites, aircrafts and drones. All data and images are collected in one place, so the Alliantie and its maintenance partners always have the same, up-to-date data.

What does the complex look like, what’s the quality of building elements, what’s the maintenance requirements? Which homes need a paint job? Where are too many leaves in the gutter? Which houses are at risk of subsiding and is fall protection on the roof present or not? Are there any solar panels placed on the roof, or is there an opportunity to place them?

More than the eye can see

By using data and images and selectively visiting estates, the Alliantie and its maintenance partners save a lot of time. “Besides”, Fred Jak from the Alliantie continues, “Spotr also delivers a more complete view than the eye can see, literally. When we visit an estate on site and want to understand the quality of the window frames, we don't look at each frame individually. You cán however see 100% of the frames on Spotr's images. Based on the images you can see if something is wrong. And if necessary, you can still always visit a building for further inspection. But you’re selective about it. That’s much more efficient.”

One single source of truth

Spotr unlocks all primary information about your properties. This means: all images per estate, information about all your building elements and quantities and their current condition. The digital building survey offers a detailed insight into the current state of the buildings, the defects found and the assessed images. The final survey report is always in line with local regulatory requirements.

“The final survey report is always in line with local regulatory requirements.”

70% time saving

By switching to digital building surveys, more and more housing associations are now saving no less than 70% of surveying time and substantial annual surveying costs. The average housing association inspects up to 2 to 3 months a year. Using image recognition and AI, Spotr is able to inspect thousands of homes within weeks. This allows housing associations to focus on their core tasks and, more importantly, their tenants.

In addition, digital building surveys give housing associations much more control over their maintenance budgets and schedules. Last but not least, digital building surveys cause less nuisance for residents and there is less CO2 emissions due to fewer on-site visits. In short, digitizing the surveying process creates a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Interested in switching to digital building surveys?

We’re happy to tell you more! Feel free to contact us and we’ll share our insights about digital buildings surveys and how other housing associations are employing them: