You may be wondering about using a drone for a home inspection. There are many tools that make doing a home inspection easier and more effective and a drone can be one of them. But there are always pros and cons. In this article, we will outline some of the things to consider when making a decision.
A drone is used for home inspections to see the roof. It’s a huge help in situations where it’s unsafe to go onto the roof, or you don’t want to get on a ladder. The drone can take detailed images and videos that show the wear and tear on the roof. To use one for inspections, you’ll need to be certified by the FAA and follow their rules and regulations.
The information you obtain from a drone can be invaluable to an inspector, but there are some drawbacks.
First and foremost, you’ll need a license. You may be surprised by this because you know someone who has a drone and didn’t need any special training or licence. That’s because you don’t need it for personal use in some cases. But if you’re going to use your drone for a commercial purpose, like a home inspection, you’ll need a Remote Pilot Certificate.
The Remote Pilot Certificate is offered and required by the government to use a drone for any business purposes. It involves a class, an in person test, and registration of your drone.
Should you use a drone for your home inspections?
There are several good reasons to invest in a drone:
- It increases the quality of information you provide to clients
- It decreases your injury risk because it’s less likely you’ll fall off a roof.
- It provides a competitive advantage. Offering drone inspections of roofs when other inspectors in your area don’t might give you an edge and allow you to sell more inspections.
- It can help you do the inspection faster without cutting corners.
The roof is one of the most expensive areas of the home to have fixed. Buyers are often worried about it’s condition because they don’t want to be stuck with costly repairs. So you know that your clients will be thrilled to have extra information in that area. A drone can sometimes help you identify shingles peeling up or other areas of note that you might not be able to see from a ladder or the ground.
As always, there are also some downsides. For one, drones are expensive. Getting a good drone that has the features like stabilization and a good camera will be a significant investment. You’ll need to know that you’ll get something out of it. Consider adjusting your marketing and prices to reflect this extra service. Plus, if you don’t follow the rules correctly you could be subject to fines from the FAA and/or your state.
Consider Nearby Airports
If you live in a larger city, this might be a big consideration for you. If you fly a drone within 5 miles of an airport you have to notify the airport beforehand. So you can see if you do inspections all over town, you might encounter a lot of situations where you’ll be flying within 5 miles of an airport. However you might get the hang of contacting the airport and think it’s no big deal. You can read more about the airport regulations here and find a search engine with airport contact information here. The FAA also has an app that shows flying area restrictions that will be helpful.
If you’ve decided you don’t want to use a drone for roof inspections, what else can you use? Many people use a camera on a long pole to allow them to see the condition of the roof. Some inspectors climb up and walk the roof if it’s safe and won’t cause any damages. Some inspectors use binoculars to inspect the roof from the ground. So if you decide not to use a drone, there are some other good options. And know that many inspectors aren’t using drones so you don’t need to feel left behind or like you’re not providing a good service if you opt not to use one. You can provide a great home inspection without a drone.
A choice you need to make for your business
As you can see, this is something that you need to decide on for your business. There’s a wide variety of roof inspection techniques, with pros and cons to all of them. Luckily, it’s something you can change your mind on. If you’re just getting started and aren’t sure yet whether you want to use one, you can always add a drone in later. Or if you try out a drone and then decide not to use it after some time, that’s okay too. That’s the great part about being in business for yourself. On the flip side, you could decide to base your entire marketing strategy on the fact that you’re the only one in your area using drones. It’s up to you.
If you plan to use drones, be sure to study the rules and regulations. InterNACHI has a great article on the laws, you can find it here. You can also research directly on the FAA website. Know Before You Fly and the AOPA are also great resources for info.
How to choose a drone?
There are many different drone companies and models all at various price points. So how do you choose? Start with knowing two things – what features are a must for you and what is your budget. Be sure to include other accessories in your budget too, like extra batteries, a protective carrying case, and a controller if it’s not included.
Do some research on the options available at the time you’re looking to buy. There are always new models being released. New models sometimes means older models will go on sale, or you can check ebay for older models to get a better price.
What features of a drone are important for home inspectors?
Drones have tons of neat technical features. However, for roof inspections, many features are not important. For example, many drones advertise long flight range, up to 2 miles in some cases. Though that is a neat feature, it’s okay to ignore the hype around it. Keep in mind that you’re inspecting the roof of a house you’ll be standing on the ground next to. You don’t need to fly it a mile away. So long flight range is not something you need to pay extra money for, and if it’s not affecting the price, you can ignore it.
This might be one of the most important factors. You need to know that your drone will last long enough for you to inspect the whole roof. You’ll need at least 15 minutes of flying time. That seems like no problem as many of the popular drones can fly for 25 minutes or more. However, the caveat is that the advertised flying time is for optimal weather conditions. If it’s cold or windy, it will take more power to fly and so your battery will die more quickly. You should never use a drone while it’s raining or snowing, but if you live in a cold area, you will want to do more research to get an accurate knowledge of winter flying time.
If you perform more than one inspection each day, you’ll probably want to get an extra battery. Batteries can take a while to charge and if you use 75% of your battery life at your morning inspection, you risk running out of power mid flight during your afternoon appointment.
You’ll most likely want to opt for a drone with a camera included. Most of the good drones are built this way. Compare the megapixels of models you’re looking at and check for 4k capabilities if you plan to use videos. The camera is one of the most important deciding factors. After all capturing photos is the whole reason you’re getting a drone.