How do you turn a “dirty job into a fun job”? Basically, you reinvent the wheel.
Registered Building Surveyor, Darin Devanny, was awarded the NZIBS Innovation in Building Surveying Award 2016 on September 23 for designing a robot called ‘Hades’.
In front of more than 100 NZIBS Gala Awards Dinner attendees, he said he was surprised to receive the award, which was presented at the Church Road Winery.
But, he acknowledged it felt good to be recognised after working on an idea sparked by the health and safety concerns of his employees.
“When a client wants to know what condition their house is, ultimately, you have to get underneath the floor and investigate,” Darin says.
“But it’s not a very healthy or particularly safe environment. Neither is it a fun job but it has to be done as part of doing a thorough residential inspection for clients.”
Naturally, Darin called his innovation – which looks like a battery-powered miniature tank – after the ancient Greek god of the underworld.
Over the past year, he has tweaked certain aspects of the prototype so that it can fit in spaces where most building surveyors cannot.
While remotely controlling ‘Hades’, Darin seeks out damage and defects with a camera mounted in a protective plastic shell which feeds video in real-time via Wi-Fi to an iPad-like screen.
“It allows me to assess and investigate the underneath structure of most houses because Hades is only 200 millimetres high,” Darin says.
“Most inspections can only be completed manually if the space is 400 millimetres or more, and about 50 percent of houses in New Zealand have less clearance than that.
“I’m hoping the second ‘Hades’ will only be about 130 millimetres high, mitigating any limitations I might have trying to get under houses.”
While Darin’s innovative idea was inspired by the safety of his employees, it also has flow-on effects for customers.
“This means a far better service for our clients. We can complete an under-floor investigation more thoroughly, faster and with greater accuracy, all without even getting dirty.”