When a roof is too steep to walk or to high to access than the only thing a home inspector can do is observe from ground or ladder. This is not idea for inspecting roofing materials. There are many times when not all areas will be visible from the ground and defects can be missed. Looking from the ground with binoculars sometimes is the only option. Over the last few years drones have become popular by home inspectors and provides an option to get a great view of those inaccessible roof areas.
With a drone there is no need to put yourself in a bad and unsafe position. I have gotten on roof's that I should have not have trying to give the client the best home inspection possible. I can usually get on these roof's, but most of the time the problem is safely getting down. Some roof's are to high to access and a drone can solve this problem.
Providing your client with a better service should always be the goal of any home inspector.
One of my biggest fears as a home inspector is missing a costly roofing defect. If you miss a roofing defect and it begins leaking shortly after your inspection the client is not going to be very happy with you. It could even be worst if the client decides to sue you. You could lose your home inspection business or your home inspection license.
This is not my objection to eliminate the need to walk a roof. I still believe that walking a roof is always the best option it's just not safe or possible all the time. When you walk the roof you get to feel how the decking reacts. You can't tell if the decking material is weak unless you walk the roof. For this reason drone inspection are not perfect, but are the closest option right know and come pretty close. So with that being said I would use the drone only in case the home was not safe or inaccessible to walk.
Some roofing materials should never be walked unless you're a specialist because steeping in the wrong place can damage the roofing. Walking these certain types of roofing materials can damage them. Concrete and Clay roofing tiles are a more fragile roofing material then a regular asphalt shingle.
What do you need to fly a drone for commercial use as a home inspector?
If you have purchased a drone like, I have. Do you plan on using it for commercial use. If so there are some things you need to do before you began to use your drone commercially. You will need to register your drone. If you want to provide a drone service for your home inspection business you will need a remote pilot certification.
The certificate demonstrates that you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones. Do not start using your drone for commercial use unless you are certified from the FAA to do so.
How to past the drone certification course part 107 Exam
There are many available options to find a course online if you need the structure of taking a course.
What to do when your ready to take your FAA remote pilot license test?
Schedule the Aeronautical Knowledge Test at one of the FAA-approved knowledge testing centers across the United States. Find a testing center near you.
Cost is $150 t0 $200.00
Note you must be 16 years of age to take the test.
Apply for and obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small UAS rating (also called a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate).
Pass a background check by the Transportation Security Administration (this vetting happens automatically during your application process).
Things to know after you have your certification.
Every two years you have to pass a recurrent Aeronautical knowledge test.
Conduct a preflight inspection, to insure your UAS is safe for operation.
Follow the FAA part 107 rules when operating your drone.
What drone should I buy for my home inspection company?
I recommend doing a lot of research into drones and check reviews. From doing my own research I settled on Autel Evo. I should say the Autel Evo chose me see after scouring the internet for articles on the best drones for roof inspections and countless YouTube videos. I had narrowed down the choices to three drones. I than went to best buy to look at them. I't so happened that the other two drones were out of stock, so that's the reason I bought the Autel Evo. In all honesty it was already at the top of the list.
What I wanted in a drone?
At the top of my wish list was, I wanted a drone that was stable and could maneuver into tight areas.
I needed a drone that would capture the defects in a quality photo.
Once again I wanted quality video
I didn't want a huge case to have to carry. So this meant the drone, I was in the market for was one that folded.
I wanted to be able to complete the roof inspection with one battery. This one says 30 minutes of battery life, all the reviews I saw most people got about 26 minutes.
I didn't opt for the cheapest or a real expensive drone. This drone was about $1000.00. I did add two additional batteries, but that was a must if you do more than one home inspection per day.
TO DRONE OR NOT TO DRONE THAT'S THE QUESTION There's a lot of confusion about the commercial use of drones? I can defiantly see the potential for drones used in commercial businesses. So to me any technology to improve service for my business is worth looking into. In the home inspection industry drones could be very helpful on roof's that are to steep to safely walk. A drones use in these areas could provide images or video of these areas that would not be accessible or visible. It may even save lives or injuries. I have found myself in some dangerous situations at times trying to view areas during a roof inspection. I know we can say the roof is not safely walk-able, but not being able to see certain areas of the roof may have hidden damage.This is where the drone would be of service for a home inspector keeping you out of dangerous situations, while still being able to view these otherwise unsafe or inaccessible areas.So are drones legal to use in the home inspection industry. Well the FAA has repeatedly claimed that flying a drone for commercial purposes is Illegal. So if you go by the FAA rules you cannot use a drone for commercial use. So to make it even more confusing in 2011 a Federal administrative law judge overturned a penalty of $10,000. by the FAA on Ripheal Pirker for using a drone to film a commercial. Judge Patrick Geraghty said there are no laws on flying a drone commercially and ruled in favor of the defendant.So where does this leave us. This leaves us looking at the state laws in your state. In Texas there are some areas where commercial use is allowed it does say Real Estate brokers are able to use drones to take aerial photos, along with other exceptions. So this still leaves me confused about drone use in the home inspection business. Although we inspect Real Estate we are not Real Estate brokers.I do see some inspection companies utilizing these technologies, but am unsure if this is legal. So I'm waiting for the FAA to regulate the rules for commercial use. These are supposed to come out at the end of the 2015 year, but the FAA is behind and it doesn't appear that this will happen until 2017. So until I know that I can utilize this technology and be 100 percent legal doing it. I will wait until the FAA makes it's rule changes regarding drone being use as a commercial service.