Since drones are still relatively new to the roofing world, many roofers wonder how a drone inspection might benefit their work. Some estimators are using drones to keep estimators safe and to get as much as triple the estimates out the door. If you’re wondering how drone-based roof inspections can give you results like these, keep reading.
Inspecting Without a Drone
A manual inspection might involve a truckload of gear like ladders, tape measures, digital cameras and safety gear, not to mention plenty of climbing, measuring, and drawing on a note pad. That’s all before an estimator can sit down, analyze the measurements, add labor costs, and finally get the bid out the door. Depending on the roof, you might be 30 minutes to several hours if it’s steep or large enough.
If a roof is too steep or you become too busy, you might use third parties for measurement reports and/or ladder assist services. Ladder assists can be expensive while measurement reports can be inaccurate, neither of which do you any favors when you’re trying to win more work. There are a lot of obstacles with third party involvement and if they can’t provide accurate data in a timely manner, you’re just wasting your money.
In general, drones let you get roof imagery without getting on the roof or relying on third parties. But there’s a big difference between flying a drone manually and using an automated roof inspection tool. Let’s take a look.
Manual Drone Inspection
The most rudimentary way to inspect roofs with drones is to go to a big-box store, buy a drone, and fly it manually. This will let an estimator gather images safely from the ground, but that’s really all a drone can do by itself. If you don’t use a drone solution that’s purpose-built for roofing estimates, you essentially have a flying camera. Plus, there’s still the headache of getting the imagery from the drone, sifting through it, and ultimately creating a bid.
Automated Drone Inspections
A step above manual flight are automated inspection solutions. Roofers can use an off-the-shelf drone along with an app to make the whole inspection process simple. It works like this:
- At the office or on-site, the estimator types the job address into an app, then taps out the perimeter of the roof to create a flight plan.
- At the job, the estimator attaches propellers and turns on the drone, the controller, and a mobile device (such as an iPhone), which allows the app to speak to the drone.
- The estimator selects the job to fly, and runs through a quick pre-flight checklist.
- The estimator launches the drone and it automatically maps the roof, collecting dozens of ultra-high-res images.
- After as little as 5 minutes, the drone automatically returns to the estimator and lands as it transfers imagery to the mobile device
Producing the Bid
Sure, a drone saves you a ton of time on the inspection side of things. But they can also make life a lot easier for a roofing contractor on the back end. After the initial inspection, all that quality data your drone gathered is ready to be analyzed using an app or software. What these solutions can offer roofers in a single app is:
- Get Accurate Measurements. Data gathered by a drone can be analyzed in the app and produce a measurement report that is accurate up to the inch.
- Review and Annotate Imagery. Many drone solutions give you easy ways to view drone-captured imagery and add notes.
- Use Damage Detection. Some apps have automatic damage detection capabilities. Small hail strikes that a human eye might miss detected and identified by AI and deep learning tools.
- 3D models. When a drone does a roof inspection that imagery can be used to generate beautiful and useful 3D models.
- Report building. Last you can use all the information listed above to quickly generate a various types of reports, or a polished, fair, and accurate bid.
Drones are often depicted as hard to use, cutting-edge technology. While they are cutting-edge, they’re here to simplify things. Not complicate them. Using a drone solution enables roofers to inspect roofs faster than ever with only one tool instead of a truckload. On the back end, drone data produces high quality measurement reports that give roofers everything they need to produce accurate bids and get those bids out the door faster.
Looking for a way to start using automated drones for your roof inspections? Take a look at IMGING.