In recent years, drones have swooped into the building envelope and roof assessment field in a big way. Because they are safe and relatively easy to use, they have become dependable tools allowing building owners, architects and consultants to perform complete assessments, from overall visual observations to infrared moisture scans, more quickly and cost-effectively than ever.
The advantages are numerous. Consider:
Using a drone not only saves time for the service technician – it also keeps them safe. Buildings with difficult or unsafe roof access points can present potentially dangerous situations for service technicians. Because of this, roof assessments of churches with several high steep roofs and hard-to-reach steeples were once fairly unusual, but are now more common because of the widespread adoption of drone technology.
Hiring drone operators to take aerial photos has become popular among building and property owners in recent years. However, aerial imagery services alone can be costly. Savvy property owners see the dual advantages of hiring a professional roofing contractor with licensed UAV Remote Pilots who own and operate drones. That’s because clients now can have a building exterior assessment and aerial imagery of their building and grounds performed at the same time.
If exploratory roof test cuts are required, the roofing contractor can also perform that task and repair the area as needed.
For most clients, time is of the essence once a roofing deficiency has been identified. Drones can be utilized to bypass equipment traditionally needed to access the roof, such as a ladder, scaffolding, aerial lifts and more, saving time and money. The best access routes to roof areas can also be mapped out in advance so when that emergency call comes in, they know the best path to get on the roof.
When suspected roof deficiencies are observed, an expert roofing contractor can use an infrared thermal camera to capture roof conditions. Infrared scanning locates moisture under the roofing membrane, indicating possible wet insulation. The scan can also isolate the leak source to accurately determine the scope of work needed when issuing a roof repair, additional preventative maintenance or roof replacement.
While hand-held cameras are used for infrared scanning in many instances, another option gaining popularity is an infrared camera attached to a properly sized and powered drone for aerial infrared imagery. By capturing an aerial infrared scan and performing a walk-on roof observation, the overall roof condition can be determined.
As technology evolves, drones will only continue to find a place in the arsenal of tools used by forward-thinking roofing contractors. Drones are here to stay.
Don Fusselman is chief estimator and director of operations at Diamond Roofing Systems. He can be reached at 330-856-2500 ext. 103 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.