Even the most straightforward construction projects today are challenging, requiring coordination of work teams, communication with multiple stakeholders, and constant attention to budgets and schedules. Even with thorough planning, unforeseen obstacles are often met as projects progress. Some developers have found that construction cameras help them reduce or even prevent a range of common problems, such as liability and travel expenses, and keep projects on track.
Avoiding Costly Errors
With construction cameras, potential mistakes are caught before they become major issues that can affect the final price of a project. “We look at the total cost of doing business,” says Lloyd Lords, assistant vice president and construction manager for BJ’s Wholesale Club. Sometimes the total cost includes what didn’t happen because a construction camera was monitoring the job site. BJ’s develops and operates warehouse clubs and fuel centers in 15 states in the eastern U.S. At one particular job site, “during installation of the petroleum fuels tanks, one of our engineers noticed that a tank was being installed incorrectly,” explained Lords. “We were able to catch it while it was happening and contact the job site immediately. That was an issue involving thousands of dollars, and we were able to stop it from happening.”
Blake Germillion, president of construction for D’Argent Cos., experienced a similar save. While watching in real time as exterior block was being delivered to a job site, Germillion noticed that the material was the wrong color. “It turned out to be an error from the manufacturer, but that would have been extremely expensive to replace had it been installed that way.”
Every day that doors don’t open for office space, residential units, or retail stores means lost revenue. Kevin A. Cooke, director of operations for the construction management firm BOND Brothers, relied on a construction camera to meet a tight schedule on a complex project. “There were people in the industry who told me that this building could not be built in the time frame required,” said Cooke. But he was able to manage the project off-site during extended hours to plan ahead and meet the aggressive schedule:
“In the time it would have taken me to get to the job site to address an issue, I could log in to the camera, see what was happening, and call the right people based on what I was seeing. It enabled timely responses to situations that occurred after hours.”
Saving Time on Travel and Expenses
KZ DevCo is a California-based real estate development company specializing in build-to-suit projects for national tenants, including Starbucks, Dollar General, and CVS. Senior VP Pat Cowan’s team uses construction cameras to maximize productivity and minimize travel. Cowan noted that having people in the field is a significant project expense. Utilizing cameras cuts travel expenses while still providing job site transparency and accessibility. Lloyd Lords noted in particular that “OxBlue’s versatility and the web-based platform lets us access time-lapse images on our computers and mobile devices” regardless of location. Construction time-lapse cameras allow project managers and developers the flexibility to oversee their projects from anywhere at any time.
Protecting Against Losses
Real estate developers can safeguard themselves against expensive liability claims through the use of the historical documentation feature on a construction camera. John R. Morgan, senior vice president and global head of construction and design at IDI Gazeley, gives an example of a case in which construction cameras saved his firm a considerable amount.
“When we had roof failure in one of our developments, we were able to go back in the archived images and find out exactly what the weather conditions were when the roof was laid. With the time stamps and weather data captured with the images, we were able to refute liability for the failure. That saved us $2 million.”
When D’Argent Cos. wanted to set itself apart as it expanded into a new industry vertical, the company bought its first construction cameras. “Our use of construction cameras started with a new client in the oil and gas industry – our first [in that industry] – and we wanted to be able to impress them. That project just kept leading to more and more work because they were impressed with us and with the ability to go online and look at the project anytime,” said Germillion. D’Argent’s ability to make a positive impression with the help of construction cameras is not an isolated case. “It’s great to be able to provide access to the CVS executives in Rhode Island,” remarked Cowan. “It’s a level of reporting that they haven’t experienced before.” He adds that, because of the cameras, KZ DevCo was able to take on additional projects.
The Cost of Not Using Construction Cameras
These builders and developers easily provided examples of expenses they would have incurred and opportunities they would have missed if they did not have cameras on their job sites. With construction cameras, developers give themselves a competitive edge by avoiding expensive mistakes and excessive travel costs, keeping their projects on schedule, protecting themselves against losses, and building clientele bases that can span across industries.