- The larger the homebuilder, the more likely it is to use drones or have an interest in them, according to a series of "special questions" in the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index survey.
- The survey found that only 12% of builders with fewer than six unit starts in 2015 had ever used a drone, versus the 43% of builders with 100 starts or more who had used them.
- Although awareness of drone use on construction projects (66%) is high among builders overall, only 22% of all builders have used drones, even taking into consideration the 43% of larger builders that reported having used them.
The NAHB survey also found that although 20% of all homebuilders are likely to use drones within the next three years, 38% said they are not at all likely to use them. However, the size of the builder is once again at play when drilling down into the details. Only 13% of builders with fewer than six unit starts responded that they would use drones in the near future, while 41% of those with 100 unit starts or more said they would.
In the overall construction industry, including the commercial and industrial sectors, drone use boasts more impressive numbers. In fact, an April report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) found that the construction and infrastructure industries are two of the biggest commercial drone users.
The AUVSI based its assertions on Federal Aviation Administration exemption data, which revealed that the FAA has given construction and infrastructure businesses almost 1,800 exemptions — representing nearly 60% of all industry requests and approximately 40% of the total 4,600 FAA-approved exemptions. Businesses are permitted to apply for FAA drone exemptions so that they do not have to meet the same airworthiness requirements as manned aircrafts. The FAA expects to establish drone-specific rules this year.
In contradiction to homebuilder drone-use numbers, a ForConstructionPros.com analysis of the AUVSI data found that almost all of the FAA exemptions issued to construction and infrastructure companies went to small businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and fewer than 10 employees.
Drones have emerged as a game changing technology in the construction industry due to their ability to monitor construction sites, take photos, collect information, and then send that back to the project managers or design team.