As was recently reported in Robinson+Cole’s Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Insider, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued two Final Rules for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), i.e., drones: (1) requiring Remote Identification (Remote ID Rule), and (2) authorizing small UAS (weighing less than 55 pounds) to fly over people and at night under certain conditions (Operations Over People and at Night Rule). While both new Rules are relevant to the real estate development and construction industry, the Operations Over People and at Night Rule has particular significance, offering many benefits.
Continue Reading New FAA Drone Rules Clear the Path for Use in Development and Construction

In December 2020, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) amended the small business size limit under the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program (section 1101(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94, Dec. 4, 2015).  The rule, which goes into effect on January 13, 2021, increases the DBE gross receipts cap (averaged over the firm’s previous three fiscal years) to $26,290,000 for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) related work. This inflationary-based adjustment is an increase over the prior gross receipts cap of $23,980,000 enacted in 2015. The effect of this rule, which is “not considered a significant economic impact on a substantial number of size entities”, is to allow “some small businesses to continue to participate in the DBE programs by adjusting for inflation.” This adjustment should provide relief for some DBEs that were close to exceeding the limits from 2018-2020.
Continue Reading DBE Gross Receipts Cap Adjusted for Inflation

As our previous post stated, the commercial use of drones, or small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), for urban real estate and construction has gained some traction with the passage of the New York City Council’s bill requiring the Department of Buildings (DOB) to study the feasibility of using sUAS to inspect building facades. With this new bill, as well as other metropolitan cities surely following suit, one of the biggest issues on the forefront for the public at large is privacy.
Continue Reading Guidance on Using Drones for Real Estate and Construction in Dense Cities: How Much Does the Public Value Privacy? (Part II)

The commercial use of drones, or small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), for urban real estate and construction may finally be gaining traction. This month, the New York City Council passed a bill requiring the Department of Buildings (DOB) to study the feasibility of using sUAS to inspect building facades.
Continue Reading Guidance on Using Drones for Real Estate and Construction in Dense Cities: Getting Close – But Not Too Close (Part I)

The mixture of sheltering-in-place, warm weather, and increasing drone usage creates a combustible situation – literally. Drone shootings are on the rise as property owners seek to combat perceived trespass, nuisance and invasions of privacy.

These were some of the legal issues discussed during a webinar presented by the American Bar Association’s Section on Real Property Trusts and Estates (ABA RPTE) at its 32nd Annual Conference (held virtually for the first time) on May 15, 2020. The webinar focused on the legal landscape and issues to consider in counseling real estate and construction businesses on the commercial use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). The panel included attorneys as well as an engineer, who presented drone video footage and computer graphics used to collect data more efficiently during land use evaluation, mid-construction and post-construction.
Continue Reading Balancing New Technology and Privacy When Using Drones in Land Use and Construction

COVID-19’s severe impact on some major metropolitan areas has been attributed to their density, infrastructure and inherent difficulty with “social distancing.” This same challenge with social distancing has led to either mandatory or pressured shutdowns of construction projects throughout many states and metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, and particularly during the shutdowns, building-safety mandates require that some people still physically be at the projects to ensure ongoing compliance – especially important where a half-complete project can result in its own safety problems. Simultaneously, to complete new real estate transactions, investigations of sites must still be performed for due diligence data.

Continue Reading Time to Reconsider Permitting Use of Drones for Development and Construction in Dense Urban Areas?

About ten years ago, I visited a college friend in Simi Valley, California. He graduated Purdue with an Aeronautical Engineering degree and had left Indiana to work for a company developing unmanned aircraft for the military.  He offered me a tour of the facility. That was the first time I had ever seen drone. Now, unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) are more a part of our lives than ever. My fourteen year old cousin builds them in the garage, last fall a World Series pitcher sliced his pitching hand working on one, there is drone racing, drone wrangling, and drone delivery services. More and more, however, drones are not just a hobby but drones are being used for legitimate business purposes. In this regard, the use of drones on construction projects is soaring (pun intended). Contractors, owners, and architects have started using drones for all sorts of tasks on construction projects, including inspections, photographing, security, 3-D mapping, surveying, and surveillance.

As drones are becoming widely available and easier to use, rules are being implemented governing their commercial use. One cannot simply buy a drone off the shelf and launch it from the parking lot.  Last August, the  U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the Small Unmanned Aircraft regulations (better known as Part 107 regulations) which regulate the commercial use of drones. These regulations clarify acceptable commercial uses of drones, which are in many instances making it easier for drones to be used for everyday commercial purposes. If you or your company intends to use drones for a commercial purpose on a construction project, you should be aware of the FAA’s Part 107 regulations which can be found here.

Some of the most applicable portions of Part 107 that you need to remember for commercial use of drones on construction projects are that drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, be flown at or below 400 feet in altitude and at no more than 100 miles per hour, and cannot be operated at night (operating hours are thirty minutes before sunrise until thirty minutes after sunset). Drone operators may apply for special waivers from the FAA if they want to fly drones at night, above 400 feet, or in other specific circumstances. Drone operators must be at least 16 years old and must also take an FAA aeronautical test and obtain a remote pilots certificate  before operating a drone.

A summary of SOME of applicable sections of Part 107 regulations are as follows:
Continue Reading Rules of the Drone. The New FAA Drone Rules For Your Construction Site

Last week, Maryland’s Cecil County Sheriff’s Office used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to recover nearly $400,000 worth of stolen construction equipment, which also led to the arrest of the culprit. The New Jersey State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and Delaware Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police were all investigating this case—the construction equipment had