Any inspectors using drones as part of their inspections? What is your preferred model and why? Anyone using an IR camera? I’m comfortable with the US rules for commercial use with the FAA. Thanks!
It’s awesome on a ton of levels! You never have to walk a roof! Plus the ones where you can’t walk and your camera pole doesn’t reach, how else are you going to inspect the chimney cap, the ridge etc?..
There’s so much you can do with a drone with the right editing software. Watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials on how to take real estate photos. The amount of free training on YouTube is insane.
A buddy of mine does real estate pictures in Seattle and makes an extra $20,000 a year just taking pictures and only stays within a 15 min drive from his house. He charges $150 flat. Includes drive time, pictures and editing. He said he never spends more than 1.5hrs total.
A drone is a damn good investment, in my opinion.
Nathan, I bought a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise and the DJI Goggles. This drone is marketed to first responders and inspectors and includes a ridiculously-bright spotlight.
The goggles turned out to be amazingly useful, as they can be set to control the camera gimbal merely by moving your head around. I park the drone over a spot and look around, and the camera responds.
The Mavic 2 Zoom and Enterprise models both have optical zoom, which is essential (in my opinion) for this kind of work. If nothing else, buy a drone with optical zoom. There aren’t many (yet) and the few that are available tend to be expensive.
I also bought a $12 set of prop guards to provide extra protection in case you were to bump into anything, although this drone has advanced 360-degree obstacle detection and avoidance.
The whole thing set me back around $2K but I bought used and refurb units.
I always walk a roof when I can. Nothing beats that. But if I cannot safely access the roof, out comes the drone. Dealing with a 35’ fiberglass extension ladder by myself is very challenging and I avoid using it whenever possible. You should be using ladder extensions to keep the ladder from leaning against the gutter; this makes using a really tall ladder even more difficult. It’s a two-man job.
I hope this helps.
Thanks Jacob! What model are you using? I’ll still walk the roofs that are accessible and safe, but the drone provides another option. Thanks!
Thanks for the info! I hadn’t considered the goggle option - are you able to capture images from the goggles as well?
I agree about walking the roof, but having options is a good thing. Did you consider the Phantom series? Do you use any IR cameras on the Mavic 2 Enterprise?
Nathan, the video and/or photos are saved to the drone’s flash storage (internal and removable options) and also can be captured and saved on to a flash card in the goggles. I haven’t used the goggle option yet. The goggles will also play back full HD video and has HDMI options.
I did borrow a friend’s Phantom 4 Pro, with which I was able to determine that I absolutely needed optical zoom ability. Controlling the Phantom and its camera at the same time was very difficult but can be done if you park the drone and then move the camera.
My Enterprise model is not the IR one. That model is over $4K and has limitations on the zoom capability.
I would probably rarely, if ever, use the IR camera. My understanding is that they can help with finding water intrusions on a flat roof, which I rarely encounter. A commercial inspector would encounter those a lot more.
Thank you very much for the update. My question about the goggles is more along the lines of how you capture the image - let’s say you’ve got the drone in position and using the goggles, you see an area of interest. Do you press a button on the goggles or the controller to capture the image you’re seeing in the goggles? Or do you have to switch back to the image on the controller to capture the image?
Are you capable of swapping the cameras on your model - Traditional camera for IR camera in this case? It seems the Phantom series has this capability but may be more difficult to operate?
Thanks for all the help!
I use a Mavic Pro with an upgraded camera (from 30fps to 60fps recording) and an upgraded gimble. I don’t have the accessories @tthuss has, and those sound awesome, but I’m saving my money for an inspire with the really cool accessories for that.
Drones are great. PLUS you can sell your content during some crazy news story if you’re there first!
I have Mavic 2 Zoom. It has been great. Personally, I’m not into the quick on the spot fill in the blanks, sign off and email a copy of the report at end of inspection, using a drone takes more time in developing the report. But, image quality is just incredible with defined details. This part of the country roofs are typically a lot steeper, lot of rolling hills and two story homes it’s difficult to access a roof without a two man crew. Drone bridges that.
Does it require all these high end drones just to do a roof inspection?
I bought a Mavic 2 Zoom on sale at Best Buy for $1195. I did get the extra fly kit, which was a waste of $$$, all you really need is one extra battery and SD Micro Card. Got a nice carry bag on Amazon for $40.00. You can get by with one battery, be amazed at the flight time, but you probably will want a 2nd battery. No different than any other battery powered tool. I use it recreational, have flown it out little over 1/2 mile away in nice breeze at 300’ altitude along with misc flying and only used about 80% of the battery (it does calculate battery life and will return to home point once gets to critical level )
Two batteries will get you darn close to an hour of flying time. During that much air time, I’ll maybe shoot 30-40 photos (of whatever) and 15 minutes of video. That’s surprising amount of photos and video to download onto computer and edit.
Do you use the dji editing software or something else? Still learning what is quick and easy.
Here’s a good link to a list of editing software. I use iMovie since I have a MacBook Pro.
What ever one can do to charge more and make our job safer is a win in my book.
Thank you Jacob!
No problem, anytime!
Nathan, to answer your questions…when using the goggles there are a couple of ways of capturing the images. Typically, you still have a phone or tablet connected to the flight controller (the thing with the sticks) and that phone/tablet is running an app that allows you to control recording and the camera’s functions. You can also control taking video and photos with the goggles. There is a touchpad and buttons on the side of the goggles. It sounds harder than it is.
I typically am shooting full 4K video the entire inspection but when I find an obvious defect I take photos. You can take photos during the video. I’ve found that when watching the entire video after the inspection (at home, on the PC) I can sometimes find additional defects I didn’t notice earlier.
Typically, only the photos go into my report so video editing software is not required. Alternatively, you can extract stills from video.
I use Cyberlink Power Director (listed in the above link).
Thanks for the link!
@tthuss Thanks for the update. The googles sounds like a nice addition to your setup. Do you use your phone as the screen for the controller or have you added an additional iPhone or Android phone/tablet to your kit for that purpose?