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Faster flood recovery assessments and estimates

Dec 2023

A1 Services draws on Nearmap aerial data to help determine high-level estimates, assessments, and consent deeds for flood-affected properties.

Dec 2023

In a recent catch up with James McInerney, Disaster Estimating Manager at A1 Services, we spoke about the work James and his team undertake for disaster projects. This involves helping provide crucial information and estimates to state governments and insurance organisations.
A large proportion of tasks focused on property assessments and estimating for residential properties, infrastructure, and assets are for those that have been impacted by floods. This work takes the team to areas spread across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland. Nearmap is helping with remote access to imagery and data that provides clearer insights for inspections and assessments, without having to send staff on-site.
We only need to look around us – natural disasters are happening more frequently, with a scale and intensity that increases as conditions worsen.
When disasters strike, fast response is critical. The A1 Services team draws on as much data as it can to help give people as much information as possible about the impact of disasters on their property, and to create estimates that are as accurate as possible.
James explained that initially the team would be given limited information to work with – often a rough ‘mud map’ with basic property outlines, similar to a real estate site floor plan, without much supporting detail or current data.
“That’s where Nearmap comes in,” said James. “We’ve been able to use measurements off aerial imagery to identify property elements, gain averages, and square-metre calculations – getting as much information as we can to create estimates that are as accurate as possible.”
In the aftermath of a disaster, assessors are often tasked with inspecting a number of properties to assess across a large area. Travelling to inspect properties in person is one of the least productive in terms of time and cost outlay involved. There's also the risk that access is limited – quite often the case in flood-affected areas.
“We realised that by applying averages based off the data we could see in Nearmap imagery, we had all the information to make quicker assessments,” said James.
Those calculations can help the A1 Services team understand the requirements for components such as external cladding, wall plaster, vinyl flooring, and other items – to provide insurers, government authorities, and repairers with more accurate reports of anticipated replacement and rebuild costs.
This level of detail, across multiple properties over large areas, can help government and insurance stakeholders understand the likely cost of flood remediation.
When properties are slated for demolition, A1 Services can provide an aerial view of the buildings earmarked for removal, informing all affected parties, from the property owner to local and federal government authorities, and demolition contractors.
“When jobs progress to remediation, we’ll use Nearmap for further assessment to understand factors such as building boundaries and surrounding infrastructure – for example, removing or rebuilding a wall on a property boundary. We can see that detail in the imagery, which helps with decisions to get building underway,” said James.
Nearmap imagery also helps the team confirm a propery's pre-disaster condition, comparing it with post-disaster imagery. “In some cases imagery might show a caravan or shed on a property that was there prior to the flood, and imagery taken after the flood would show it was completely washed away,” said James.
The team also uses imagery to validate damage claims, confirming that the damage wasn’t pre-existing, and to confirm when remediation work and rebuilds have been completed.

“The information we’re giving to the government and the resident is as accurate as it can be.”

James McInerney,Disaster Estimating Manager, A1 Services.
The time saved by enabling remote assessments has helped the A1 Services team complete more estimates than would have been possible with in-person inspections.
“It’s been a time saver from a property assessment side. In Victoria alone, we’ve done more than 2,075 property assessments in just under a year,” said James.
"In that time, we also inspected over 9,000 properties in New South Wales as part of the NSW Flood Property Assessment Program, along with 259 refurbishment and 90 demolition estimates for the NSW Disaster Relief Grant," he said.
This was in addition to 830+ residential flood assessments in South Australia, and around 2,200 insurance-related assessments in Queensland for an integrated building services provider.
Over 18 months, A1 Services has used Nearmap to help determine high-level estimates, assessments, and consent deeds for flood-affected properties. This includes:
  • Measurements/calculations of square meterage (m2), perimeter (lm), elevations (m) and distances (m/km) of structures and properties for estimating purposes
  • Establishing distances to nearest floodwater source
  • Assessing condition of access and distance to structure from road/entrance of property
  • Assessing property boundaries and fencing for Title Searches
  • Determining exclusion zones for asbestos removal, mould remediation, and demolition procedures
  • Assessing site conditions prior and post flood event using timelapse
  • Determining structures affected by flood on a given property
  • Including Nearmap aerial imagery within reports and assessments
For more insights about Nearmap for flood assessment, download the A1 Services customer story, or book a demo.
Download Customer Story