Drone roof inspection

Drones for storm damage assessment

So, here we are in February 2022 and expecting Storms Dudley & Eunice (really?!) to batter us with sustained high winds of 40mph – 50mph and gusts in the region of 70mph – 80mph and higher in more exposed areas. There will definitely be damage with gusts of this severity so how do we assess that damage?

With residential buildings, it most commonly going to be either roof damage with tiles or chimneys broken/missing or fallen trees on or near the property.

With commercial buildings, issues could be ingress of water from overflowing guttering or worse. I witnessed a large warehouse lose its entire first-floor office space due to sustained water ingress where the guttering was blocked with sediment and growth. A storm delivered a huge volume of heavy rain over a 24hr period which caused catastrophic issues as the first-floor ceiling collapsed. Luckily, this building was vacant at the time and nobody was hurt but the insurance claim would have been substantial!

In days gone by, a property owner would have to wait for a roofing contractor to be available directly after a storm at a time when many people require their services and perhaps then wait, too, for scaffolding to be erected before even an initial assessment can begin. However, technology has moved on and one can now call in a drone operator who will safely and quickly inspect the area of concern. The mission is often low cost and will promptly deliver an initial assessment of the visible damage. Peace of mind on the one hand, along with a series of high quality, close up images and/or video that the property owner can use to pass on to a roofing contractor or other specialist.  So useful for all stakeholders trying to solve a problem. If a few days of scaffolding is not needed for the initial assessment then a substantial added expense has also been saved.

A drone flown by an experienced operator, fully insured and, if necessary, with an Operational Authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority, can get very close to a roof or similar structure, taking high-quality close-up images. That can be extremely useful in tracing a leak, identifying damage, finding cracked tiles not visible from the ground, seeing gaps around chimneys and other structures that could be a source of water ingress. Importantly, it is also possible to check guttering for blockages that can cause bigger problems over the long term if left unattended.

Let us all hope that the latest round of named storms do not cause the damage they are obviously capable of and that property owners take the time to make sure they take appropriate measures to avoid issues in the first place. Should there still be a need after that, once the dust settles next week, you know who to call!

*With particular types of damage, a more thorough survey should be undertaken by a suitably qualified roofing professional but, in the first days after the storm, quantifying the visible damage quickly from the air can hugely reduce the worry and stress of a property owner.

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