A while back, water started coming through the ceiling of one of my rental properties. I talked to a handy friend and he said I needed my roof repaired as there’s nothing else in the attic that could be creating water (no pipes or anything). I called a number of roofers and asked them to come for an inspection and a bid.
The first company that came, the young guy said he’d look inside the attic before he climbed on the roof. After having a look around, he came back down and said the problem was the AC unit in the attic – the drainage pipe had a leak. He told me an HVAC tech or a plumber should be able to fix us up and left with no charge.
Another company came when I wasn’t there and got on the roof to have a look (supposedly). I get an e-mail from them sayings they could see exactly where the water was coming in, there were other areas in rough shape, and that we needed a new roof.
Beyond highlighting which roofing company I’ll be doing business with in the future, this showed the problem with getting an inspection from a roofer: it’s like asking a car salesman if you need a new car.
This business idea, which I admit isn’t new – the are even posts recommending drones for this purpose, is to inspect roofs for a set fee using a drone. You’d charge the customers a fixed price, drop by with your drone at your leisure and fly over and record their roof. After inspecting the video and photos, you’d e-mail them to the customer along with an inspection report and suggestions for any roof work they should consider.
If you didn’t feel confident assessing the roof condition (and couldn’t be bothered to learn what to look for), you could send the electronic images and video to someone else who had the expertise and pay them to assess the condition and write the report.
You wouldn’t want to offer promotions/recommendations for a specific roofer – this would compromise your objectivity. Really what you’re selling is an honest assessment of the condition of the customer’s roof. I’d pay $60 – $80 for this.
A friend I bounced this idea off of was convinced that a drone couldn’t get all the information you’d need to accurately assess the roof and his suggestion was to hire and train unskilled workers and have them get up on the roof and manually inspect it. You’d want to have insurance if you were doing this!
You could make the argument that having someone climbing around on your roof has the potential to do damage. The trade-off between the drone that won’t touch the roof versus someone getting up on it and being more accurate would have to be evaluated or offered as different options to the customer.
If you were going to proceed with a business like this (drone or manual), you’d need to make sure you had all the permits and approvals needed – in the US you now need FAA approval for drone businesses and, in some places, you can’t operate drones in a residential area.
People are already operating businesses that do exactly this, often as part of a home inspection service or as part of the inspection offered by a roofing company. I suspect there is an opportunity for people who want an objective assessment without a full inspection (and at a cheaper price). If you do a Google search on “drone roof inspection” you’ll see companies doing this, recommendations for drones to purchase for this purpose, and sample videos. In many ways, this is the best possible sort of business to start – intensely local with many examples of it working in other areas. If no one is doing this where you live, or if you think you can do it cheaper or better, consider starting a roof inspection business!
For this post or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously, I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and I’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.
Drone Roof Inspections says
There are ways to collect various data, accurately and effectively in terms of roofing inspections. There is also software that can do a lot of the data heavy lifting. The pricing mentioned in this is on the low end, that’s for sure.
John Champaign says
I first wrote this years ago and didn’t do much research into pricing, so I’m not surprised I got that wrong =). I suppose that you have to offer enough of a discount compared to having a roofer walk the roof…
Thanks for commenting!