Are you a real estate investment trust (REIT), commercial roofer, property owner, or facility manager looking to perform a drone roof inspection for your facilities or clients’ facilities?
This blog will guide you through the steps involved with inspecting commercial roofs with a drone, from planning and preparing for the job, to leveraging AI, machine learning and drone technology to optimize maintenance or modernize your approach.
Why Roof Inspections?
Roof inspections save you money by avoiding unnecessary repairs, or by knowing what you need to repair before the problem gets worse or much more expensive. Studies have shown that proactive maintenance can extend the life of a roof by many years and delay costly roof replacements.
Why do a roof inspection? A roof inspection can help property owners determine if there are any problems before they can’t be fixed or cause larger problems such as rot or damage to sensitive equipment. Further, property owners leverage inspection data to prioritize where to spend limited maintenance budgets.
Pointivo partner, National Roofing Partners (NRP) has a great preventative maintenance checklist for commercial roofs here.
The drone roof inspection can tell you whether you can extend the life of the roof with minor repairs or choose which of your portfolio must be reroofed. The same theory could be applied to facade inspections. Simply put, facade inspections help building owners and managers understand, maintain, and improve their facade performance.
Regular roof inspections identify deficiencies and help maintain safe buildings for both occupants and building users. It also helps property owners take a proactive approach to maintenance. This kind of information is critical for many facilities.
Without inspections, you could end up closing down a full section of your building. Roof and facade inspections are a necessity if you want to keep your facility safe, running efficiently and kept in good condition.
In addition to the standard twice-a-year roof inspections before spring and fall, commercial roofs can also experience wear and tear that may require an immediate roof inspection. For example, there may be a leak or the HVAC equipment may need repair.
Furthermore, roof inspections can serve a dual purpose – showing repair opportunities and areas available to monetize your roof by leasing space for telecom towers or solar panels. But how do you achieve fast, consistent and accurate inspections on your building’s roof without burning man-hours, increasing truck rolls, or calling contractors (sometimes in multiple cities or states) in hopes they’ll give you a free inspection that they hope leads to a repair? We dig into the answers below.
Planning & Preparing for the Drone Roof Inspection
With a drone roof inspection, you’ll not only be keeping contractor boots off the roof, you’ll be eliminating at least one truck-roll. Prior to drone technology, otherwise referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles, and digital twins, roof inspections were usually performed by someone walking the roof with a clipboard, roof schematic, and a handheld camera. They would methodically walk the roof, marking issues on the schematic, and then taking pictures of the issue.
Upon returning to the office, they would need to make sense of all their notes and match them up with the appropriate photo for which they do not have exact data to show an accurate location on the roof. Then, they must generate a report with repair recommendations. So, in addition to the time on site, there was considerable office time to organize the valuable data.
When you partner with the right drone inspection partner who would bring in a drone service provider (DSP) to operate at scale, all of this work (nearly 80% of a roof inspection and repair estimate) is done for you, eliminating time consuming processes and human error.
However, there are key things to consider as you make this decision that will help you learn how to properly perform a drone roof inspection on your building.
Find a Credible, Industrial-Strength & Professional Drone Inspection Provider
There are many DSPs in the roofing space and many pilots readily available to fly a drone for you. In fact, the barriers to entry for licensed pilots are low – passing an exam, obtaining a remote pilot certificate, and purchasing a $2,000 drone.
However, if you’re a building owner with many properties, you want a provider that can operate at scale. There are very few drone inspection providers that allow companies to scale these inspections at large.
The best drone inspection providers partner with thousands of DSPs who can deliver quality data and analytics to quickly estimate for repairs, measure for replacement, create takeoffs or track roof deficiencies – all while keeping boots safely on the ground. These services dramatically reduce the time spent and safety risks of a roof survey and inventory by automatically delivering finely detailed, accurate dimensional data and insights.
This provider can help by not only having the ability to access thousands of drone pilots who can quickly be dispatched to fly the roof, but they should also have the experience of working with big box retailers, REITs, and state and local governments.
What you really want is a turn-key solution and a trusted advisor that has the ability to scale and the speed to market to help you streamline your operations.
NRP and Pointivo partner to deliver commercial drone roof assessments with AI-based data intelligence.
Leverage the Roof Inspection for Proactive Maintenance and Budgeting
If you own multiple properties, the last thing most building owners want is to manage each of them separately and in a disparate manner. Many large portfolio facility owners or service providers avoid this by creating a multi-year program with consistent inspection and reporting.
A drone inspection is a huge time saver, allowing you to digitize your entire facility portfolio, housed in one place, in the cloud. This way, you can have a baseline of newly installed roofs or a recently-acquired portfolio. These digital baseline inspections are a great way to ensure that construction was done to spec or repairs made properly.
More importantly, drone roof inspections enable you to prioritize larger repairs across your portfolio and apply limited capital budget to assets with the greatest risks or replacement needs, as mentioned earlier.
Consider Thermal Imaging
Many Professional Drone Service Providers have a drone equipped with a thermal camera. Thermal captures take place right around sunrise or sunset and thermal imaging is able to see issues such as moisture. This is ideal for detecting leaks or high humidity problem areas.
This type of drone roof inspection can also be ideal if you need to inspect solar panels every year after installation. Thermal imaging cameras can help you identify faults at an early stage by showing you temperature differences between cells or even to inspect connections, inverters, or other electrical components.
Drones Role In Solar Panel System Design and Installation
Speaking of solar panels, a drone inspection can help you determine ideal placement of solar panels, look for structural issues and generate a CAD drawing of the roof to support system design, when you partner with the right inspection solution.
Investment in global solar PV installations in 2022 is expected to be above $170 billion, growing 20% over 2021. The residential solar market is expected to reach $14.1 billion by 2028, but there are arguably even more benefits to generating low-cost renewable energy in commercial buildings.
Furthermore, there are significant benefits such as federal solar tax credit and net metering programs. Industry leaders like Sunrun leverage our partner DroneDeploy to “quickly, safely and effectively map and measure rooftops before panel installations”. The same value can be applied to the commercial space as rooftop digital twins continue to prove to be game-changing for solar installers.
Repeatable, Actionable, Consistent & Objective Data
Pointivo’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms can identify up to 50+ roof equipment types and 120+ deficiencies and produce actionable reports that are available at any time via any device connected to the cloud.
These reports and drone image captures can save you significant time and money. If the roof has been previously flown and processed, it is easy to compare the baseline to a newly installed or repaired roof.
It is important to have consistent data across your portfolio, so find a provider such as Pointivo who scales with your portfolio of properties and can process hundreds and thousands of detailed roof reports with takeoffs, measurements, and deficiencies in a timely manner.
Choose the Right Drone Roof Inspection Partner
Drones, which provide high value imagery and data, are becoming a common tool in commercial roof inspections for facility owners, and facility managers. To maximize your return on investment with drone roof inspections, you will need more than just a collection of drone images.
Whether you’re a commercial property manager, a building owner, or own a portfolio of properties, proper drone roof inspections can provide valuable information, save you a lot of money, and reduce costly truck rolls and resources.
Pointivo is the only company to offer a complete AI-based exterior facility inspection solution on the market. Our end-to-end solution from professional drone image capture to automated external assessment reports and data offers a platform optimized for facility owners/operators with a portfolio of facilities to manage.
Pointivo’s full suite of patented asset inspection solutions digitize and automate traditional manual pencil and paper processes thus revolutionizing the way companies make key business decisions at scale.
Commercial Roofing Drone Inspection Services
Pointivo’s Commercial Roofing Drone Inspection Service analyzes imagery of your customer’s roofing structure from UAV and drones to extract location, measurement and understanding of physical assets and structures while keeping your workforce at a safe, remote distance.
Our commercial roofing drone inspection service combines AI, computer vision and advanced analytics to deliver the information needed to quickly estimate for repairs, measure for replacement, create takeoffs or track roof deficiencies – all while keeping contractor boots safely on the ground.
Drone data dramatically reduces the time spent on a roof assessment and inventory by automatically delivering finely detailed, accurate dimensional data and insights.
The drone data platform provides commercial roofers and contractors with a powerful tool that will impact business decisions relating to measurement, damage detection, assessment, inventory management, budgeting and risk mitigation.
- Turn-key drone pilot flight, analytics, and reporting solution
- High-resolution drone imagery of system
- Automatic identification of roof inventory
- Measurement of area, length and quantity of penetrations and equipment
- Advanced take-off reports
- Sharable dynamic roof assessment reports
- Easy integration of thermal sensor data
Commercial Roofing Drone Inspection
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