Due to the disruption caused by restrictions that Australia and New Zealand have experienced as a result of COVID-19, many trades and businesses including ground engineering specialists, have been unable to visit homes in some regions to conduct on-site inspections.
Without visiting a customer’s home, it is difficult to assess structural issues like wall cracks and sinking foundations that may be caused by subsidence. However, rather than leaving homeowners to worry about the issues, and their potential to worsen, Mainmark has harnessed digital tools and Apps to continue offering expert ground remediation advice virtually. This enables clients to safely receive professional support and guidance regardless of their circumstances.
Traditionally, the site inspection process has involved visiting the customer’s home face-to-face and conducting a detailed on-site analysis of the issue. Once the problems are identified, Mainmark determines the best solution, process and timeline, before carrying out the work. A virtual site inspection, ideally via video call, can help to pre-qualify work, identifying any significant issues that might need to be addressed urgently and enable Mainmark to provide the homeowner a budget price. It also gives peace of mind to those with a more minor problem that may not need to act immediately. Customers are also encouraged to share videos of their problem areas, like this example from the owner of an ACT residence who shared this video with our local engineer, Alan Reid:
Here is Mainmark’s simple three-step virtual site inspection process which is proving to be extremely valuable for worried homeowners, utilising a combination of enhanced customer service and technology.
Step one: Connecting with the homeowner
The process begins as soon as a customer reaches out to Mainmark. Once their site’s issue and symptoms have been established, Mainmark’s team arrange a convenient time for an expert ground remediation representative to “e-meet” the customer.
Everyone has their preferred online or visual method and Mainmark connects with people in ways that make them feel comfortable. Video calls via phone, tablet or laptop are popular using platforms such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype. Others may choose to capture a video of their issue and send it to their Mainmark representative for assessment and further discussion via a phone call. Further supporting documentation such as site plans and photographs, and a builder’s or structural engineer’s report can also be sent to the Mainmark team to help with diagnosis and assessment.
Step two: Virtual assessment
Mainmark will then visually assess the customer’s home to better understand the issue. The Mainmark representative will ask the homeowner a series of questions to obtain a detailed understanding of the type of home, the condition of the foundations, the type of soil and ground conditions the home sits on, and any other factors that may be causing the damage, such as a leaking pipe. A walk through of the indoor and outdoor areas may be requested, including close ups of any cracking or other symptoms.
Step three: Solution
Once the home and surrounds have been viewed and remotely examined, the Mainmark representative will analyse the situation and discuss what could be causing the issue. While the virtual diagnosis cannot be confirmed until a physical inspection can take place, Mainmark can provide preliminary advice, explain remediation options and discuss the non-invasive solutions to fix the underlying subsidence problem, including providing budget costs.
When restrictions allow, further onsite assessment can be carried out and the actual remediation works scheduled. Depending on the nature and scope of work required, it can sometimes be possible to accomplish this without Mainmark’s team stepping inside the home.
Despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic, the current landscape has allowed us to adapt in ways that can be beneficial into the future, even after the current restrictions have been removed. Virtual site inspections can provide a starting point for homeowners needing advice, particularly those in more remote locations. The service can also support homeowners impacted by further lockdowns in the future, or residents who are simply more comfortable with an initial virtual assessment.
By Lincoln Grody
Lincoln Grody is Regional Sales Manager (NSW & ACT) at Mainmark Ground Engineering. Lincoln has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from University of Colorado and holds a Master’s Degree in Construction Management from The University of Texas. Originally from Colorado, USA, Lincoln began his career in the construction industry as a structural engineer, researching building information modelling and data analysis techniques in the commercial sector. Subsequently, he has spent the last 10 years working in various roles in engineering, project management and sales management for leading global firms in the United States, Europe, South America and Australia.