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Drone roof inspections & building inspections with a drone

The Complete Guide to Drone Roof Inspections: How to Avoid Costly Repairs

What is a Roof Inspection?

A roof inspection is a visual evaluation of the condition and performance of the roof. It is a comprehensive assessment that examines all aspects of the roof, from its surface to its structural components. A building inspection with a drone is a similar exercise to assess the condition of a building at elevated positions that aren’t easily inspected from the ground.

Drone roof inspections are a quick and cost-effective way for property owners to assess the condition of their roofs and identify any potential issues before they turn into costly repairs. With the right tools and techniques, a drone operator can use a drone to thoroughly inspect a roof, gather valuable data, and make informed decisions about maintenance and repair work.

Drones are also useful for building inspections beyond just the roof. For example, a drone can be equipped with a thermal imaging camera to detect temperature variations on the exterior of a building, which can indicate underlying issues such as insulation problems or moisture infiltration. A drone can also be used to inspect the exterior of a building for damage or issues such as missing bricks or siding, cracked windows, or other issues. This can be especially helpful for larger buildings where it would be time-consuming or difficult for a person to access all areas.

By using this data, property owners can make informed decisions about maintenance and repair work, helping them avoid costly repairs and maintain the overall condition of their building. Overall, drone building inspections are a valuable tool for identifying potential issues and keeping a building in top condition.

A roof inspection usually includes

  • An aerial assessment by drone with a camera, thermal camera or multispectral camera
  • A similar ground-level examination of the exterior and interior surfaces of the building envelope
  • An examination of specific sections or areas where problems are suspected
  • An evaluation for leaks, moisture intrusion, or other damage
  • A roof inspection isn’t restricted to just the roof structures but can also include Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) equipment housed on the roof or in other elevated positions of a building.

Example roof and building inspection

In the example below a resident had identified dampness in their living room on the chimney. An internal thermal camera inspection revealed a problem on the righthand side . The problem was confirmed with a moisture meter. The resident had assumed rising dampness but the inspection indicated the source was from above. External images revealed other problems with heat loss and a drone inspection of the roof and chimney revealed the source of the water penetration – a large gap in the launching at the top of the chimney and a listing chimney pot. Both were quickly fixed by a local roofing contractor.

Thermal Camera image of the front elevation of a dwelling showing areas of heat loss - most visible on righthand first floor window and the roof above
Thermal Camera image of the front elevation of a dwelling showing areas of heat loss – most visible on the righthand first-floor window and the roof above
Thermal camera image of the rear elevation showing significant heat loss around the chimney and the adjacent loft space.
Thermal camera image of the rear elevation showing significant heat loss around the chimney and the adjacent loft space.
Internal thermal camera image of the chimney in the living room indicating some problems on the right hand side - confirmed with a damp meter
Internal thermal camera image of the chimney in the living room indicating some problems on the right-hand side – confirmed with a damp meter
This drone video inspection quickly revealed the problems of broken flaunching and peeling flashing. A roofing contractor was brought in to fix the problems.
The video helped the roofing contractor to assess the problem before leaving their office saving them time and money too.

What are the Reasons for a Drone Roof Inspection?

A drone roof inspection can be used for a variety of reasons. Drone roof inspections to find and fix issues with their roofs. The drone can also measure and record details about the equipment that is often located at heights, such as masts, dishes, and tanks. There are many other systems located on rooves, like air conditioning, air source heat pumps or photovoltaic solar panels that also need maintenance. These may not be readily accessible but a drone can carry out an inspection in minutes. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) equipment is usually found on commercial and industrial rooves

Drone surveys are safer than a physical inspection

The primary benefit of this type of inspection is that it is non-invasive and does not require any heavy lifting or climbing on the roof. We can assess the condition of your roof using a drone camera or thermal camera, identifying any faults and providing you with high-resolution images. We can also help loss adjusters and structural engineers assess fire damage, water damage and structural problems without risking their or our personal safety.

During the inspection, the drone operator will use the drone’s high-resolution camera to capture images and video of the entire building from various angles. This information can be used to create a detailed report of the building’s condition, including any visible damage or wear, and any potential problem areas. Sometimes a drone survey will involve a separate drone pilot and camera operator for extra safety in complex environments.

In the UK, it’s important for drone operators to obtain necessary permissions from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and other airspace operators before conducting a roof inspection. The operator should also follow all relevant laws and regulations to ensure a safe and legal inspection.

In 2020 the Health and Safety Executive reported that 25% of all construction industry accidents were from roofing work. Largely, due to falling through fragile roofing or structures. So any time personnel can be kept out of harm’s way with a drone survey will be beneficial for all concerned. Read the HSW guide to Health and safety in roof work HSG33

TOP ACCIDENTS
26 Slips, trips, or falls on the same level
18 Falls from height
3 Injured whilst handling, lifting or carrying a load
3 Contact with moving machinery

Source: NFRC Annual Review 2021 – accident data
Building and roof inspections of occupied or empty properties

Building and roof inspections of occupied or empty properties.
Drone surveys can help in crumbling building that may not be structurally sound

Fire damaged buildings  can be structurally dangerous to inspect without a drone

Fire-damaged buildings can be structurally dangerous to inspect without a drone

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Drone Roof Inspection Done?

What are the costs of a drone roof inspection?

The cost of a drone roof inspection depends on the size and complexity of your home or building(s). The average cost for a typical domestic drone roof inspection is £300 +vat. For larger dwellings, commercial or industrial properties it could be between £500 and £1,500 +vat. There are specific safety considerations with a drone flight that we need to assess, depending on the air space and the location of the property. We will also factor in the specific tasks needed to give you a specific price for your needs, adjusted for the complexity, and size of the roof. We will employ various sensors to get the most information possible about the condition of your roof.

What are common faults a Drone Roof Inspection can find?

Drone roof inspections are a great way to ensure the safety of your home or your property portfolio. Once the weather starts to penetrate a roof the water damage can grow quickly. Drone-based inspections can help identify faults which if left unattended could result in considerable repair costs. Faults often occur at seams or joints where roof features break into the roof surface. Joints or seams can fail with age or from incorrect construction. Such failures can let water in and heat out. Often an inspection with a thermal imaging camera can identify those points of failure which are hidden from an RGB camera inspection. For example, thermal bridging can happen when isolation isn’t fitted properly. That can be important as thermal bridges can increase heat loss and the risk of condensation, leading to interstitial condensation within walls and other building elements.

Extract of the roof survey video showing the faults that were letting rainwater penetrate into the loft space ad down to the master bedroom.
The roof survey was just after some rain and the drips can be seen running off the tiles under normal and failed conditions

10 common roof faults a drone can quickly and safely identify in domestic, agricultural, commercial and industrial roof inspections

  1. Cracked, broken or damaged roof covering materials: tiles on pitched roofs; EPDM Rubber/GRP Fibreglass/Polyurethane Liquid on flat roofs
  2. Cracked or broken sheet covering materials on agricultural, commercial and industrial properties, including Plastic, metal, bitumen, polystyrene and fibre cement
  3. Broken or peeling sealants or flashing
  4. Blocked guttering, roof valleys, vents and chimneys
  5. Bent, rotten or broken guttering supports, soffit boards and facias
  6. Exploding masonry and brickwork from water/frost damage
  7. Weathering of masonry/blockwork from wind and acid rain
  8. Failed brickwork pointing, haunching, flaunching, benching or undercloak bedding
  9. Penetrating, pooling or trapped water in or under roof materials
  10. Listing, leaning, dipping, sagging roof structures, chimney pots, chimneys or vents
Common areas of a roof that can allow water penetration into a building
Common areas of a roof that can allow water penetration into a building are joints and seams around objects
video still of recent roof inspection revealed broken/loose roof tiles and undercloaking, along various sections of blocked guttering
Video still of a recent roof inspection revealed broken/loose roof tiles and undercloaking, along various sections of blocked guttering
Another video still showing the miss-aligned tiles, broken/loose roof tiles and undercloaking,
Another video still shows the miss-aligned tiles, broken/loose roof tiles and undercloaking from another angle
Drone roof inspection during construction where limited space precluded the use of costly platforms and cherry pickers

Drone roof inspection during construction where limited space precluded the use of costly platforms and cherry pickers

Here are some common questions and answers about drone roof inspections

What is a drone roof inspection?

A drone roof inspection is a quick and cost-effective way to assess the condition of a roof using a drone equipped with a high-resolution camera. The drone operator will use the drone to capture images and video of the entire roof from various angles, including hard-to-reach areas, and create a report of the roof’s condition.

Why should I get a drone roof inspection?

A drone roof inspection can help identify any potential issues with your roof before they turn into costly repairs. It can also provide valuable data about the condition of your roof that can be used to make informed decisions about maintenance and repair work.

What are the benefits of a drone roof inspection?

Some benefits of a drone roof inspection include:
1 Quick and cost-effective
2 Ability to access hard-to-reach areas
3 High-resolution images and video
4 Detailed report of roof’s condition
5 Can help avoid costly repairs

Are drone roof inspections safe?

When conducted by a trained and certified drone operator, drone roof inspections can be safe. The operator should follow all relevant laws and regulations, including obtaining necessary permissions from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and other airspace operators, to ensure a safe and legal inspection. Our drone operators have a GVC qualification and we have an Operational Authorisation from the CAA. Our drone operations are governed by that and our Operation Manual which specifies how we will work in a safe way to minimize risk to other air users, people and property. Since 2015 the AAIB is only aware of one serious injury from a drone The number of incidents involving drones is low compared to the many 1,000s of flights in the UK each year. By 2030 the number of drones in the UK is estimated to be over 900,000.

Can a drone roof inspection replace a traditional roof inspection?

While a drone roof inspection can provide valuable information about the condition of a roof, it is not a replacement for a traditional roof inspection. A traditional roof inspection may be necessary to further assess any issues identified during the drone inspection or to inspect areas that the drone cannot access. However, a drone inspection will narrow down the inspection area and allow a roofing contractor to properly assess the risks of a closer inspection, minimising their own exposure to risk.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Why You Should Ask Us For A Drone Roof Inspection

There are many new roofing materials coming to the market all the time. Some tried and tested methods of covering a roof are under pressure from cost, environmental or other design considerations. The push for environmental sustainability and rising energy prices has led to many innovations which all need maintaining. Retrofitting photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, PV tiles, or other solar gain or solar energy harvesting systems introduces new points of failure to roof spaces.

We can quickly and safely help with routine inspections of roof spaces, elevated MEP equipment and building structures using a drone to identify points of failure early. Our knowledge of drone survey services when applied to a drone roof or building inspection will save you money on hefty repair bills, scaffolding, inspection platforms and lifting equipment. If you need a roofing contractor you can do worse than have a look at the NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors) directory. NFRC is the largest roofing trade association in the UK.

Our drone inspection survey will:

  1. Inspect the roof and any solar panels or MEP plant from all angles
  2. Check for any signs of leaks or water ingress into your property
  3. Check for any signs of heat loss
  4. Look for any cracks in the tiles or around chimneys and vents
  5. Make sure there is no vegetation growing on the roof
  6. Roof drainage systems are clear and work as intended
  7. Identify signs of decay or structural failure

We will provide you with high-resolution RGB photographs and videos, thermal camera images and where appropriate a 3d model/digital twin of the roof/building as well as a report of our findings. This will help you to find out any potential problems, save time when you need to approach a contractor for repairs and help make sure that your roof is in good condition for the foreseeable future.

Contact us for a drone roof or building inspection quote today.
Have a look at the full range of drone surveys we can provide.

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