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A complete roof survey in just 10 minutes! Is that even possible?

A complete roof survey in just 10 minutes! Is that even possible?

Roof inspections can be expensive. As the number of floors increases, so does the cost. Or at least it did! Now a new technology is enabling home owners, management agents and building contractors to assess the need for more expensive intervention in just minutes rather than the days it previously took. Using drones, or Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA's) as they are less commonly known, we are able to access, record and highlight areas of concern within just a few minutes of operation. The resulting savings in both cost and time can be substantial, for example a successful inspection negates the need for expensive scaffolding as well as the costs associated with manpower and equipment hire. If problems are found, the information supplied by the drone can effectively identify the locations requiring repair or replacement and the materials and work required to effect the repair. The cost of drone operation is often a fraction of the cost of the remedial work and can save unnecessary work being undertaken. It's a win win situation for the home owner or the managing agent and can help contractors better plan for the work they will need to undertake.

As an example, the damage to the roof in the picture above was found within a few minutes of launching the drone. It shows that a tile has slipped and exposed a roof batten and the interior membrane below it. The roof at this point is completely open to the elements. This building has three stories and a large complex roof structure. Normal access would be by cherry picker or tower scaffold, both adding considerable to the cost of the work. Here, we were able to survey and highlight areas requiring repair / maintenance in just 10 minutes. Both 4K UHD and RAW stills were taken providing incredible detail of every part of the roof structure. This photo shown is a zoom in of the a part of the roof that is very exposed to the wind and elements, hence the damage shown here that has occurred over time. This damage can only increase. By identifying this problem, one of about 6 noted on this large roof, immediate repairs can be undertaken reducing the overall cost of repair to the property owner.

Location (Map)

Union St, Torquay, Torbay TQ1 4BY, UK
I'm looking for local businesses who want a free m...

Comments 4

 
Dave Collerton on Sunday, 17 April 2016 10:37

What are the problems associated with filming roofs and guttering? It seems to me that it's quite difficult getting close enough to the roof service to be able to get good footage. Is that difficult? Is video useful in these situations or do you just take photos?

What are the problems associated with filming roofs and guttering? It seems to me that it's quite difficult getting close enough to the roof service to be able to get good footage. Is that difficult? Is video useful in these situations or do you just take photos?
David Collerton on Sunday, 17 April 2016 11:26

In a word, it can be tricky. The biggest problem is wind. Although these aerial platforms are remarkably stable thanks to modern GPS positioning technology and the 6 axis gimbal supporting the camera, the drone will be continually recalculating and adjusting it's position when subjected to wind. The stronger the wind, the more adjustment that goes on. For this reason, taking individual photos of the roof surface is the preferred method. Using high resolution images provides an enormous amount of information and detail and is remarkable quick. It also allows the pilot to focus on flying, position and content rather than worrying about "making a good movie".

Getting close to the roof surface is generally not a huge issue. It's possible to fly within a couple of feet of points of interest although this is not necessary due to the fact the camera is so good. However, if needed, you can certainly do it. The reason we can do this is that the camera is providing a first person view (FPV) so effectively it's as if we are actually "in the cockpit". This makes it possible to get in close and personal without risking the aircraft. Ideally the pilot send spotter will position themselves to maintain good line of sight but where this is not possible, the FPV does provide good visual contact for determining orientation, location and position for the odd times the aircraft moves out of direct line of sight.

In a word, it can be tricky. The biggest problem is wind. Although these aerial platforms are remarkably stable thanks to modern GPS positioning technology and the 6 axis gimbal supporting the camera, the drone will be continually recalculating and adjusting it's position when subjected to wind. The stronger the wind, the more adjustment that goes on. For this reason, taking individual photos of the roof surface is the preferred method. Using high resolution images provides an enormous amount of information and detail and is remarkable quick. It also allows the pilot to focus on flying, position and content rather than worrying about "making a good movie". Getting close to the roof surface is generally not a huge issue. It's possible to fly within a couple of feet of points of interest although this is not necessary due to the fact the camera is so good. However, if needed, you can certainly do it. The reason we can do this is that the camera is providing a first person view (FPV) so effectively it's as if we are actually "in the cockpit". This makes it possible to get in close and personal without risking the aircraft. Ideally the pilot send spotter will position themselves to maintain good line of sight but where this is not possible, the FPV does provide good visual contact for determining orientation, location and position for the odd times the aircraft moves out of direct line of sight.
Guest - Graham Jones on Sunday, 17 April 2016 14:26

Interesting points. If you had to survey a block of flats with a large flat roof, how would you go about that?

Interesting points. If you had to survey a block of flats with a large flat roof, how would you go about that?
David Collerton on Sunday, 17 April 2016 17:14

Hi Graham. Height is not an issue, drones, although limited by the CAA to 400 ft AGL (about 120m) max operational altitude, can operate well above this. There are no buildings I'm aware of in this area higher than this though one or two might get close. The other limitation, other than location, would be line of sight operation. There would be times that the drone would be out of site of the operator. While FPV circumnavigates this problem, when a building is between the pilot and the aircraft, disruption to RC signal can occur and these can cause what's known as flyaways. This is why a rigorous site visit is implemented along with a risk assessment. These help us plan observation points enabling us to better manage the task.

With regards the work, in theory, the flatter the roof the easier it is to capture every bit of detail. The trick will be to create a grid and then use this to photograph overlapping sections. I'd take images in RAW format so as to capture as much detail as possible. These can be post processed later to reveal details not evident during filming. Drone aerial platforms are remarkably stable so the images obtained will be more than adequate.

The only other real concern with buildings is location. There are very specific rules and regulations relating to built up areas, roads, other aerial traffic etc so not every project is possible. If you want more information, please PM or email me and we can talk in more detail.

Hi Graham. Height is not an issue, drones, although limited by the CAA to 400 ft AGL (about 120m) max operational altitude, can operate well above this. There are no buildings I'm aware of in this area higher than this though one or two might get close. The other limitation, other than location, would be line of sight operation. There would be times that the drone would be out of site of the operator. While FPV circumnavigates this problem, when a building is between the pilot and the aircraft, disruption to RC signal can occur and these can cause what's known as flyaways. This is why a rigorous site visit is implemented along with a risk assessment. These help us plan observation points enabling us to better manage the task. With regards the work, in theory, the flatter the roof the easier it is to capture every bit of detail. The trick will be to create a grid and then use this to photograph overlapping sections. I'd take images in RAW format so as to capture as much detail as possible. These can be post processed later to reveal details not evident during filming. Drone aerial platforms are remarkably stable so the images obtained will be more than adequate. The only other real concern with buildings is location. There are very specific rules and regulations relating to built up areas, roads, other aerial traffic etc so not every project is possible. If you want more information, please PM or email me and we can talk in more detail.
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