Roofing is Not for the Faint of Heart
Did you know that residential construction workers are far more likely to suffer a work-related injury or fatality than almost any other civilian industry? From 2011-2016, 836 workers died as the result of falling from ladders, and 763 died after falling from roofs. Professional roofers make it look easy, but roofing is much more complicated than it looks. It takes a strong heart to succeed in this field.
According to the most current Bureau of Labor Statistics report on fatal work-related injuries on residential construction sites, fatal injuries increased by 74% from 2015-2016 for residential roofing contractors. Of those injuries, falls from roofs and ladders top the list. Falls are not only the most common type of injury, fatalities due to falls increased by 26% from 2015 to 2016.
Because accidents are most likely to happen when we are unaware of the present danger, the more aware and prepared you are, the less likely you will be to take a fall.
This is a critical detail since, unless a roof’s pitch is particularly steep, many contractors do not use basic safety gear during the initial inspection and estimate and so may find themselves at a disadvantage when a roof presents unexpected risks. One of the simplest solutions to being aware of a precarious situation is the transition from manual roof estimate — that is, climbing atop a roof and measuring by hand — to digitally measured estimation. That’s where drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can come in handy.
Staying safe and alive isn’t the only reason to make the switch to drone technology; drones can help your business in other ways as well. If you are still on the fence about whether you want to start employing a drone for estimates in place of your trusty tape measure and ladder, here are five reasons that will get you to jump down from that rickety old fence and join the growing army of drone-flying roofing contractors.
Why Use Drones in Roofing?
1. Safer Estimations
From rooftop and ladder slips and falls to electrocution from power lines and lightning strikes to lack of structural integrity (especially with roofs that are 30+ years old), the number of accidents that fell workers each year is terrifying, but with drone camera technology, these incidents are more preventable than ever before. The drone camera can act to alert the contractor to potential trouble spots before he or she ascends the ladder.
For the seasoned roofing contractor who has done a thousand roof estimates, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are a lot of unknowns. Accidents don’t happen on purpose, after all; they usually happen when we are unprepared. A drone camera can be your best first-line of defense when embarking on the unknown.
In fact, using a quadcopter drone camera along with roof measuring and estimating software that you can carry in a hand-held tablet eliminates the need to climb onto the roof at all, giving you more time on the ground with your soon-to-be client, and more time to move on to the next potential client.
2. More Precise Estimations
No one would suggest to a roofing contractor that he or she should pack up their measuring tape for good, but using drones for real-time images of the roof, along with roof measuring software, can allow for more precise measurements than most humans are able to achieve with tape alone.
High definition drone cameras are capable of creating clear images of the entire rooftop and roofline. Taking those clear images and uploading them into a roofing software app gives you the ability — without ever climbing a ladder to the roof — to record square footage, pitch and surface areas, slope, and unusual roof features that can be awkward to get to and difficult to measure by hand. Real-time images will also alert you to overhanging trees, fallen objects, or power lines that may not show up in a satellite image and which can pose a very real danger to life and limb. Quadcopter drones can be navigated beneath tree branches, over obstacles, and over slippery or steeply pitched roofs and unusual roof angles. And with added thermal imaging technology, drones can also convey data on locations where moisture and water are trapped; places where the naked eye cannot reach.
3. Lower Liability Costs
One of the biggest expenses for a roofing company is liability insurance.
This is the way insurance companies view your liability: The more time you spend on a roof, the more likely you are to have an incident. An incident means a payout. Therefore, the higher your liability, the higher your insurance premiums will be to cover the expected incidents. However, insurance companies also reward clients who can demonstrate that they are less likely to make a claim due to accidents. This is true for car insurance, health insurance, and for roofers’ liability insurance.
After you’ve signed on to the project you can continue to use your drone camera to ensure safe working conditions for your crew when you include it in your morning site inspections. Using a drone camera along with your visual inspection will greatly minimize unknown dangers, while also improving efficiency by cutting time spent on this daily chore.
When you can establish that your crews remain safe and uninjured year-over-year as the result of using strict safety protocols in combination with advanced technology, your company will be placed in a lower risk category, lowering your insurance premiums.
Fewer injuries, lower premiums, bigger profits. Everybody wins.
4. Seal More Deals
Linking your drone camera to a hand-held tablet and then running the images through measuring software is, without a doubt, one of the greatest advancements in the roofing industry. You can’t underestimate the “wow” factor that comes from presenting your concise estimate to a homeowner using software developed for contractors – with real-time drone camera images, satellite images, exact measurements, cost analysis, and multiple tile choices overlaid on the home with a simple swipe left – on a hand-held tablet.
Being able to make your bid in real time, without having to go back to your office to draw up papers and without having to pull out a tattered tile catalogue, will be an enormous time and money saver over the long run.
Compare the images below. If you were a homeowner, which would impress you more — the image on the right, or the one on the left?
5. Generate More Leads
In many municipalities drone operators are required to communicate to the surrounding public that they will be flying a drone camera close to their property. Even where not required, it is a best practice that can be used not just to avoid bad blood from the neighbors, but to explore potential new leads in the neighborhood.
While visiting your client’s neighbors to disclose your drone fly-overs, you can use the visit as an opportunity to tell them more about your business and to leave a card. If there has been a recent weather event related to your visit, this would be a great opportunity to offer to assess their own roofs for damage while you are there.
Safety and efficiency are the best reasons for including a drone in your company strategy, but there is also this: Drone use is growing in the construction industry more than any other. If you are still reluctant to bring a drone camera into your business, you are at risk of being left behind. Don’t go the way of Blockbuster by clinging too tightly to the old ways. The future of roofing technology is not just on its way – it is here.
iRoofing is an app that can help your company close more deals using state of the art, personalized software that is designed with all of your company’s needs in mind. Using advanced satellite, blueprint, and drone imagery, the iRoofing app creates precisely measured reports and customized images of clients’ future roofs, stores customer history and records, as well as stores images of your business portfolios and product catalogues, which are automatically updated in the app as manufacturers update their offerings. Estimates can be done on the spot or remotely, allowing contractors to do more estimates in less time, and close more sales. iRoofing’s innovative platform has been proven to help thousands of businesses become more efficient and more financially successful.