James A. Rhodes State Office Tower Done Inspection

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, are becoming a must-have tool for building inspections.

While they aren’t a perfect fit for every building inspection task, drones have many advantages for inspecting building exteriors in search of leaks and wear that can lead to costly failures if left unchecked.


Here’s a look at the most compelling advantages of putting drones to work inspecting building exteriors:

Speed. An experienced drone pilot can scan the exterior of a building in a sliver of the time required to inspect a building manually. That allows inspectors to take on more assignments and ensures each inspection can be more thorough.

Cost. Because time is money, speedy drone inspections cost far less than manual inspections. Furthermore, aerial photography that used to be cost-prohibitive with planes or helicopters is now widely available thanks to drones.

Safety. Manually inspecting the exterior walls of a high-rise building requires an inspector to repel down the side of the building with ropes, pausing to look for damage or flaws along the way. High winds could put the inspector in danger. A failure in the rope equipment could be fatal. Remote-controlled drones eliminate these risks.

Liability. Because of the hazards of traditional manual building inspections, the liability exposure has been substantial. Inspectors have to be insured, and those who hire them had to be indemnified against the cost of serious or even fatal injuries. Removing these risks with drones shrinks potential liabilities.

Maneuverability. Drones can hover over a specific area to check for potential problems, and they move into places that human eyes could never see without assistance. Complex building exteriors that jut out at odd angles to suit the whims of architects can easily be inspected with remote-controlled drones.

Visual clarity. Cameras with up to 4K resolution can reveal flaws or damage that the human eye tends to miss. Thermal cameras on drones can detect heat differentials that reveal leaks.

Share-ability. Digital video and images are easy to share among multiple stakeholders, so everybody who needs to know about an exterior problem can see it with their own eyes in high-resolution.

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