The Future of Identifying Defective Roofs with Drones


By John Lack,

Technology, including the use of drones, continues to impact the construction industry in many ways. Drones have come a long way in their design and features, including advancements in software that have made them readily available in the construction industry.

There are many examples of drones being used in construction, including quick surveys of job sites, building mapping, land surveying, showing job progress to clients, monitoring job sites, inspecting structures, evaluating dangerous situations to eliminate accidents, and keeping projects on schedule. 

Many companies, including inspection firms and insurance companies, are using drones to inspect and evaluate roof conditions. They may want to observe:

  • Is the roof clean?
  • What kind of roof is it?
  • Has it been maintained?
  • Are there areas of patching?
  • Are the rooftops on the correct roof curbs?
  • Does the roof have a proper pitch?
  • Is there any puddling of water?
  • Is the gas, eletcric, or refrigeration piping properly and securely installed?
  • How are the areas of flashings?
  • Is gravel washing into the gutters?
  • If there are shingles, are any missing or delaminating?

Also, the inspectors are looking for collateral indicators. Collateral indicators are the exposed surfaces that can quickly identify if the roof has been in a hail storm such as dents in A/C fins, aluminum flue caps, satellite dishes or wind damages at uplift area such as roof edges, outside corners, and parapet walls. 

When someone inspects a roof, he or she would typically observe the roof from ground level and then set up a ladder and physically walk the roof. This can involve steep pitches and areas that are difficult to access, resulting in unsafe conditions and inefficient inspection.

With a drone, the inspector doesn't have to pull out a ladder. He or she stays on the ground and uses a high-resolution camera to get a close-up look at the roof, including those hard-to-get-at areas. This can make documentation with photos cost effective and efficient. This can also eliminate the possibility of damaging certain roofing materials, such as clay tiles, slates, and metals, by walking on them. 

When I first heard of drones inspecting roofs, I was not too keen on the idea. After all, 90% of roof leaks occur at the flashing. I wondered how a drone could possibly inspect the flashing effectively from the air. Then, I found out about drones with aerial thermography imaging.

Thermography imaging can detect water infiltration under the roof membrane and facades. An area could look dry on the surface, but underneath be saturated with water. Mapping of these areas can show the extent of the damage as well as the area where the leaking is occurring. This can help eliminate any guesswork when contractors must remove areas of the building’s exterior for an accurate assessment. 

John L. is our Construction guru
I bring over 35 years of experience in the construction industry in both field and office positions to Acuity including carpentry, welding, project management, contract negotiation, and much more. Also, I founded my own commercial general contracting firm specializing in building grocery stores. Over the years I’ve worked closely with architects, civil engineers, and developers. I’ve found it instrumental to build solid relationships with all involved in the construction project, including insurance companies. This is why I am here, I want to help you the contractor better understand insurance and help Acuity to offer products and services that meet your unique needs. I feel a close connection to construction and with my background I feel that I can make sure contractors have a better insurance experience.


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