Drones: Cost-Effective Roof/Façade Evaluations Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs)

Edward J. Stewart – Registered Roof Consulant, Gale Associates, Inc.
Christopher M. Foley – MCP, Gale Associates, Inc.

Investigating and evaluating the building enclosure can be challenging due to access issues. Closely observing multi-story buildings, steep sloped roofs, steeples, and spires can be very difficult, and has often necessitated the use of lifts, swing staging, rope access, etc. These methods of exterior enclosure access can be disruptive to the occupant, time consuming, and expensive.

An alternative to the traditional methods of “hands on inspections” is the use of aerial drones. A systematic visual survey of steep sloped roofs or facades can provide sufficient information as to the condition of these components including, but not limited to, the quantity, type, and locations of façade deficiencies. For instance, a drone survey of a slate roof can give almost the same information as a “hands on” inspection off a man-lift at a fraction of the costs. Zoom in capabilities can provide information on the condition of mortar joints, extent of masonry spalls or cracking, condition of sealants, and even the extent of masonry displacement.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently adopted procedures and certifications for use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs)/Drones for hobby and business use. (UAS)/Drones can capture real-time, high-resolution video and photographs, and reduce the time and money it takes to perform a typical evaluation. Drones can quickly elevate and fly to the highest edges of a building in a matter of seconds. The ability to view these heights from the safety of the ground is a huge advantage for the observer. This presentation will detail the pros and cons of drone use on facilities, privacy issues, and FAA Regulations. The presentation will also include sample videos and images.

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