Measuring Building Facades from Photos

Measuring Building Facades from Photos

Industry  Construction, Inspection
Objective  Measure the facade elements of a newly built house: walls, window finish, terrace ceiling, roof
Drone  DJI Phantom 4 pro
Flight Data Camera angulation: Various: from 45oto 0o to 30
Grid: Manual Vertical
Height: from 5m to 30m
Duration: 19min 
Dataset Size  299 images
Data Processing  40 min using medium software settings
Hardware  Intel i7 8700, 16 GB of RAM, dual Radeon rx580, SSD drive

 

Challenge: Checking and Acceptance of the Executed Works

The construction industry is known for its complexity. One construction project will have a number of organizations engaged. The client can be a property developer, a private company or an individual. At different stages the works will be carried out by different entities: construction consultants, main contractors and subcontractors. Main contractor ensures that the finished building reflects the quality laid out in the project brief, is on time and within budget. Measuring building facades from images can be of a great help.

Unfortunately, the often occurrence is that none of these criteria are met. Going over the original agreed budget is one of the main issues. How can you check if the main contractor completed the works as he states? How can you do it in a quick and competent way?

Building analysis from pictures – it’s a fast, accurate and safe way to check the building’s exterior works.

Data Gathering

In this particular use-case, the analysis was carried out for two facades, the roof and the immediate surrounding area. In order to achieve this, 299 photos were taken using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, equipped with a 20-megapixel, 1-inch imaging sensor camera.

To gather as much information as possible about the different elements of the facade (i.e. the ceiling of the balcony), the drone was flown manually, in a vertical trajectory, up to a height of 30 meters above ground. Drone camera angle was adjusted several times.  But even with these specific requirements, this task was completed in 20 minutes.

Data Processing

Using Pix Pro software (with medium settings), the reconstruction of the building in 3D took 40 mins. In order to conduct a detailed analysis of individual elements, a Dense Point Cloud had to be generated.

 
Original building view
Original building view
3D model of the building
3D model of the building

Data Analysis

PixPro software allows you to mark the points of an object with great precision (the accuracy is up to the centimeter). All it takes is to mark the point in 3 different photos and the software accurately calibrates that point automatically.

 

Point position calibration in photos
Point calibration in photos

This accurate point placement, allows you to mark even the hard to reach areas – for example the balcony ceiling or the window trim.

By connecting points using lines, you can measure the sides of individual objects. And by connecting lines to create polygons, you can measure the surface area.  Surface area can be calculated for symmetrical and asymmetrical geometrical shapes. It’s especially useful for uncommon projects.

Window trim measurement
Window trim measurement

All of the selected lines, points or their combinations can be exported to AutoCAD with a single click.  The resulting file will contain all the measurements and geographical data, as such the project designer will not need to draw them from scratch and save a significant amount of time.

Lines on the dense point cloud
Lines on the dense point cloud
Lines for export to AutoCad
Lines for export to AutoCad

You can easily check the surface area of a roof, accurate placement of its individual elements, even the pitch in comparison to the horizon. Since the software is capable of presenting the information with the accuracy to the centimeter, even a small deviation in measurements shall be eliminated.

Roof area calculation
Roof area calculation

The work acceptance includes the building and its surrounding area. The best way to carry out those measurements, is by turning the 3D model at a downward angle of 90 degrees.  This way you can avoid the noises from the surrounding objects or inaccurate point selection due to a different projection angle. All you need to do is outline the desired object (I.E. the pavement or the lawn patch) and the software will present accurate measurements.

Measuring the surrounding area of the building
Building surrounding area measurement

Benefits

Pixpro provides extremely accurate, time saving and most importantly – safe way of getting the necessary information.

It took around 1 hour to generate a detailed 3D model of the two facades and the roof (the travel time is not included).

Such innovative method highly facilitates measuring hard-to-access objects and locations, i.e. terrace ceilings or window finishings.

The Pixpro software integration with the AutoCad software makes it easy and fast to design and visually manage projects.

The collected information presents an enduring value. It can be accessed at any point to produce measurements for elements that may not have been relevant at first. You do not need to go back on site.

This innovative method of object analysis eliminates any direct contact between the worker and the object, thus increasing the safety of your employee. Everything can be performed remotely.