Roof Inspections Using Drones

May 28, 2020

Metro City Roofing recommends regular roof inspections as part of a home or building’s proper maintenance. A periodic roof inspection may uncover minor issues before they become major ones – like a rusted vent that may cause a future leak inside your home.

Further, home inspections are standard when buying or selling a residential or commercial property. You may need a roof certification letter if you are selling or refinancing your house or commercial property. A roof certification letter describes the general condition of your roof and estimates its lifespan.

At Metro City Roofing, we provide roof certifications for customers and real estate professionals.

A home inspector should be able to advise whether your roof needs to be replaced. A professional roofer is specially trained to look at different roof materials and can advise if your roof needs immediate roof replacement or roof repair, preventative maintenance, and life expectancy before you will need to replace it.

Drone services are becoming increasingly popular as a tool used by home inspectors for roof inspections to replace traditional methods like a physical roof inspection.

At Metro City Roofing, we believe nothing beats a physical inspection, when conditions allow. There’s nothing like being on a roof and a qualified inspector’s touch and feel for hail impact marks or dents in matting. There are times when a roof inspection is valuable, so let’s discuss in more details.

What Does a Roof Inspection Include?

As part of a roof inspection, a trained roofing professional will look for wear and tear on a roof and identify problems that may need immediate or future repair. A roof inspection includes the following.

  • Evaluate the overall rooftop appearance including any missing, broken, or damaged shingles or tiles; for metal roofing, this can include dimples caused by hailstones
  • Identify areas where water could collect such as roof valleys or low-slope roof materials
  • Look for any areas of missing or damaged flashing vents and pipes; this can include rust or cracks which impact your roofing systems ability to prevent water damage
  • Inspect fascias, gutters, drains, downspouts, skylights, solar panels, and chimneys
  • Provide an inspection report to document any damage using accurate measurements. The roof report should also include a count of any damaged roof vents, skylights, chimney flashing, and more.

Types of Roof Inspections

There are three types of roof inspections: physical, drone, and infrared.

  • Physical inspections. These are the most common type of roof inspection where a roofing contractor physically climbs a ladder and examines your roofing system.
  • Drone technology roof inspections: A roof inspector will use a drone when the homeowner’s roof is challenging to access, such as a very high or steep roof. The inspector will fly a drone over the roof and document the inspection with photos and videos to analyze correctly.
  • Thermal camera roof inspections: Thermal camera, or Infrared, roof inspections, use a drone equipped with a high-resolution camera that can capture thermal images of your roofing. A thermal camera roofing inspection can avoid human error and accurately identify warmer or cooler spots on a roof, which may be cause for concern and action required.

The following are several pros and cons of using a drone for a roof inspection.

Pros of a Drone Roof Inspection

  • Roof accessibility and safety. When inspecting a very high or steep pitch roof, a roofing contractor may be nervous about falling with every second spent on the roof. By using a drone, he/she can spend as much time as needed to inspect without ever feeling nervous about falling. The inspector can also inspect otherwise inaccessible areas.
  • Type of roofing material. Certain roofing materials are more difficult to inspect than others. As an example, an asphalt shingle is much safer than wood shingles or tile roof – as these can be slick when wet, already cracked, or cause risk when walked on to create future damage.
  • Additional images. With a drone, an inspector can capture aerial photographs harder to take while merely standing on a roof. For example, a drone can document an entire roof’s surface with thermal imaging to detect water leaks and hot or cold spots.

Cons of a Drone Roof Inspection

  • Nothing beats a physical inspection. Drones cannot accurately identify the extent of a shingle bruise like a physical inspection. Depending on what you see after the drone inspection and video is analyzed, you may still need to get on the roof for a closer inspection.
  • Flight time is limited per drone battery. Most batteries have a flight time of 40 minutes or less, which means that a drone pilot will need several batteries over the course of a business day if inspecting multiple properties, or even a single property that is large or complex.
  • Weather. Drones are relatively lightweight and are limited by weather conditions. As an example, a drone cannot be flown in moderate to high winds due to flight stability. (And we’re not talking extreme high winds.). The gimbal will shake and provide unusable photos and videos. As such, scheduled inspections may need to be rescheduled due to wind, which can be difficult for the drone inspector and owner’s schedule.

Drone Licensing and Insurance Requirements

  • Licensing requirements. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that any person operating a drone outdoors for a commercial purpose must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC), register their drone, and follow specific requirements when operating the drone.
  • Insurance requirements. A person or company operating a drone for commercial purposes needs General Liability insurance to protect another person or property.

FAA Drone Safety Tips

  • Register your drone
  • Fly your drone at or below 400 feet
  • Keep your drone within your line of sight
  • Be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions
  • Respect privacy
  • Do not fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Do not fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people
  • Do not fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts
  • Never operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Which Drone is Best?

There is a frequent discussion on which brand and model is the best drone, with top drone manufacturers including DJI and Autel, and many models from which to choose. At Metro City Roofing, we fly the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

gray DJI Mavic 2 Pro quadcopter drone with legs and blades extended

Why Metro City Roofing?

Metro City Roofing is both licensed and insured for commercial drone solutions.

We are a full service, licensed, and insured roofing company – and only do business in the State of Colorado. We are leaders in the roofing industry that specialize in hail damage roof replacement, restoration, and roof repairs, and strive to deliver hassle-free, outstanding customer service.

Metro City Roofing is your hassle-free answer to professional roofing services – residential roof replacement, commercial roof replacement, restoration, and roof repair. We are hail damage and wind damage roofing experts and have perfected the insurance claims and roof restoration process. Our professional roofing services staff will represent you during all interactions with your insurance company, settling your hail or wind insurance claim directly, including possible code-related requirements, to ensure that you receive all funds owed to you. We work with all insurance companies.

Metro City Roofing installs the highest-quality roofing materials and aims for your complete satisfaction at every stage of the roof replacement process. We approach every roofing project like it is our own home.

Contact Metro City Roofing today to schedule your free roof inspection.