Property Inspection by Drones

As technology advances new tools become available to assist contractors, insurers, property managers, owners and others in monitoring and inspecting commercial and residential real estate. The introduction of drones in particular has been eagerly welcomed; providing the user with a high resolution bird’s eye view without any serious safety risks, all while offering a toy-like experience for the operator. As a result drones have quickly become commonplace throughout the industry.

The benefits of drones cannot be argued and they are here to stay. However, as with any new technology there is a tendency to over rely on it or have unrealistic expectations as to what it can do.

As insurers across the country begin rolling out drones to survey potential property damage the stage is being set for abuse. While these devices can assist in measurements and identifying severe damages, they simply cannot perform thorough and complete inspections of the building’s envelope (exterior). So while they may be an invaluable tool in seeing where a tree fell, spotting large bruises from hail storms or measuring a roof or line of gutter, they cannot check for everything such as loss of adhesion or fastener pull through due to a wind event. Such damages simply cannot be identified or documented apart from a thorough inspection by a professional trained in identifying them.

Nevertheless, insurers and their adjusters are performing more and more inspections solely via drone and denying claims more and more due to incomplete property inspections.

Both insurance and construction industries will continue utilizing these modern marvels in their operations and both are understandably grateful to have them, but anyone who tells you they are all an inspector needs is either mistaken or intentionally deceiving you. Drones are a tool and should be used to assist an inspector, not replace them.