Using a Drone..

How much time does using a drone add to a home inspection. Thanks!

Ed DeRousse

Depends on how you transport it, if in its case in the travel mode and you have to sit it up on site and then place it back in the travel mode to return home I spend an easy hour to the job take the pics and return home.

Just time on site I spend 1/2 hour taking good pics. If your prices for an inspection are low its not worth the time spent. Time is money and I expect to be paid for my time and charge accordingly.;-):wink:

A lot less time than a hospital stay. You won’t use one on every roof, just the ones you shouldn’t be walking on anyway.

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Shucks I did not know there was such a thing

There is such a thing for most of us. Even I know when to bow to the beast, and I’ve been walking roofs for 40 yrs.:cool:

Yes I Know I have been slowing up a bit my self been using the drones more these days. And I hate it;-)

Or paying for damage: too steep, too fragile, or too high… stay off. Sometimes you can legally use a drone if you have one and are qualified.

Once you make the effort to learn about drones and their regulations in your area you won’t be asking such basic questions.

Charley’s mule is getting older and is now beginning to refuse to walk some roofs. Charley, put on your golf shoes, walk those roofs and let that old mule rest. It’ll be good, you won’t have to carry him up the ladder anymore.

You so funny!!! Your letting my secret out as I have been wearing golf shoes for years.:wink:

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15-20 minutes on site tops which includes setup and takedown. Actual flight time is 7-10 minutes on a 3500-ish sq/ft building. Pre-inspection (off site), less than 1 minute when in uncontrolled airspace.

If in controlled airspace where I have a FAA cert. of authorization (COA) that does NOT require ATC clearance, again…1 minute pre-inspection.

In military airspace where I have a 2 COA’s, it generally requires ATC clearance and they typically want 3-days notice.

Time on site purely for drone ops is rarely greater than 15-20 minute. I still walk roofs and use binoculars as sometimes traditional methods are the right tool for the job. Sometimes I combine all 3 methods. What will bite you is failure to understand the regulatory process. The NACHI course is “OK” (no offense) but the material is already outdated and/or inadequate. To be clear its not completely their fault…the rules are changing by the day.

To operate in Class D airspace (you’ll primarily operate in this class of controlled airspace) you need to apply for a Certificate of Authorization for each airfield in your operating area. The process is simple but if you can’t follow government written instructions (satanic verses) or leave an element out it can take a long time. You can apply for a 1-time authorization or long-term COA. Mine are valid for 1 year.

Then factor in your craft. If its a DJI product you’ll need the ability to unlock the geofencing to operate in these areas. This is done by applying for an unlock code through DJI. Its a similar process as applying for a FAA COA. Some guys are purposely failing to upgrade their firmware or modifying it in an effort to bypass geofencing but I have a hunch that some day they’ll become an internet meme. That and doing it right isn’t that hard.

This just breaks the surface of what you need to do to set yourself up correctly. It took me approximately 6 months to incorporate drones into my workflow purely from a regulatory standpoint. I was able to inspect roofs immediately in uncontrolled airspace however with the regulatory hoops conquered I now have FAA COA’s for 6 or 7 airfields in my area with several more applications going out in a day or so for areas I rarely fly. Having interacted with the FAA so much now my approvals usually happen within 6 days. My first COA took 6 months however it was for a military airfield which can take longer.

The sky is literally the limit once you figure all this out…Tower inspections, aerial mapping/surveying, power lines, tall commercial structures, SAR, disaster recovery, even getting aerial images for agents. This effort has already paid for itself by allowing me to see things I couldn’t see from the ground and its actually taken a bit of “the suck” out of this profession by adding an element of fun. I’m already looking towards adding a 2nd bird to the fleet and place my 1st in back-up mode.

In the end the drone industry is still in its infancy. Those that stay in front of it will benefit. Those that don’t…not so much. I guess its the same for inspections. It actually reminds me of the early days of IR inspections when everyone looked at us like we had 3 heads, and acted like we were squashing puppies in front of a preschool.

In fact, you folks that don’t care much for this may want to re-think your position. As I write this there is an out-of-work photographer buying a drone. He will hang a sign on his truck that reads, “Joe Swampgas Aerial Inspection Services.” It’s already happening at breakneck speed, particularly in states where inspectors aren’t regulated. Even in regulated states such as Florida, existing licensing doesn’t apply to commercial work and guess who has their sights set on it? These guys didn’t foresee a day where HD cameras could be had in every cell phone and now they’ve taken to aerial imagery to save/expand their business. Problem is they also didn’t foresee a day when a 15 year old basement dweller could buy a drone and perform aerial imaging on the side for beer money.

Now they want to be inspectors.

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I just got Certified, spent 30+ years building and remodeling, plenty of time on roofs. I’m going to be using a drone from Day 1. I’m a realtor in Penna. Far too many times I’ve gotten the inspection report back and on regular basis some part of the roof didn’t get inspected. Chimney caps almost never get inspected. Just did roof on my own home over the weekend. No comparison. I’ll be using a drone.

Just wondering if anyone has a recommendation on a good drone for the job. I see bunches of them out there, but most have very short flight time and/or shoddy camera quality. Is 2mp really adequate for detailed pics? Geez!

I have the older Phantom 4 (no longer in production) but even that has a stock 12 mp camera and 4k video up to 4096x2160.

I have a DJ Mavic2 Zoom. Very easy to fly. I only fly it in tripod mode, which is GPD, full obstacle avoidance. Will hover in one place in stiff breeze (flown it in 20-25mph winds so far). See a lot of things you can’t see from a ladder or walking the roof for that matter (ie. chimney caps, big picture of roofing installation, ponding on flat roof).


I use a DJI Phantom 3 Pro with 12 MP camera and 4K video on every roof when the weather permits. This is because I have a military service-related disability that prevents me from walking on roofs. The time it takes depends on how bad the roof is! If it is in good shape, I take some good pics of vents and penetrations, check the gutters for blockage, examine chimney for flashing, cricket, chimney cap, etc. Usually, I am done in < 15 minutes on a good roof and that includes set up and tear down! I believe the Mavic Zoom is superior because it has collision avoidance and a zoom camera. That will be my next drone.

Can anyone give recommendations for which drone they like to use? I would like one with decent flight time and easy to fly. Thank you in advance