Aerial Image Technology for Roofing

By Piers Dormeyer, President, Construction and Utilities, EagleView

Let’s start with a simple fact: today’s technology makes routine climbing a ladder and measuring the roof by hand for a potential job an unnecessary burden on your sales process and business. Moving to remote, aerial photography and measurement systems is a simple change that can save any roofing company a lot of time and money and improve the quality of their offers.

Depending on the distance you need to travel and the size and complexity of the roof, rolling a truck to a pre-arranged site visit can cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 400. Making these visits regularly will also cut your precious time, limiting the number of potential clients you can quote and your focus on existing, paid work.

Routine site visits and hand measurements prior to bidding also provide an easy way for human error. Maybe you’re in a hurry, or maybe the customer is distracting you from the ladder with questions. It’s not difficult to miss a dormer or transpose a measurement. In the metal roofing industry in particular, however, a measurement error can lead to poor, margin-damaging estimates, expensive miscuts, additional site visits, and delays in order planning and payment.

A comparison of roof reports produced with different measurement processes and image sources shows the importance of using up-to-date high-resolution images and 3D modeling technologies.

Measurements based on satellite imagery did not take into account any changes the structure had undergone in the past year, making the measurements and the official report ultimately unusable for this contractor.

In many ways, but perhaps most treacherous for your business, are the health and safety risks of going up on rooftops when not required and the potential liability associated with exposure to viruses on you or your sellers.

The good news is that today’s aerial photography technology can help you do business and avoid margin chomping errors (see www.eagleview.com/newsroom/2020/10/waste-factor-forty-percent for an example -dodecagon-roof). . It can help you put your best foot forward without ever setting foot on the property, let alone the roof.

Whichever technology you choose – measurements derived from detailed images captured by specially equipped aircraft such as EagleView reports or lower resolution satellite imagery – will definitely affect the size and quality of your business profits.

Years ago satellites offered some hope, but in reality freely available satellite imagery does not offer any major advantages to consumers: resolution and timeliness. An up-to-date, high-resolution aerial image captured by aircraft and available to roofers is critical to deriving accurate measurements. Building changes happen all the time, and an older image can result in inaccurate measurements that can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars lost on a job, especially on metal roofs.

While satellites take overhead (orthogonal) images, they do not provide true oblique or angled images from the north, south, east, and west. In short, you don’t get a 360-degree view of a property from a free satellite aerial photo. They also do not come with the creation of a 3D model to ensure that the measurements are correct and that every part of the structure is taken into account in detail. (You can find another example at www.eagleview.com/casestudy/proven-accuracy-outdated-imagery-inaccuracies.)

Satellite imagery can vary in age, and 3+ years (which is not uncommon) is a large window of time for change, not just in structure, but also in the environment. While satellite imagery provides 45-degree views that may resemble real oblique images, these views cannot measure the features of the building. Instead, this imagery is complemented by a parallel projection that distorts features in the distance and impairs measurement ability. These distortions can affect measurements by up to 20%, making using these types of images to correctly measure a structure another unnecessary risk.

Your measurements are the basis for your bid and for the material you have ordered. If you do something wrong – especially with metal roofing – you jeopardize your chances of getting the job or having the right materials on site, and your ability to make a fair profit and build a healthy, thriving business.

EagleView pioneered and pioneered the ability to capture intelligent angled images from the air and is the leading provider of images to local, county, and state governments. With more than 100 aircraft equipped with exceptional image capture capabilities, EagleView routinely “mows” the sky and flies routes back and forth over 98% of the population. These flights generate images that we process using computer vision technology to create an ever-growing and refreshing library of hundreds of millions of oblique and orthogonal images.

Hundreds of millions of oblique and orthogonal images are “stitched together” to produce detailed images that are 70 times more accurate than satellite images.

These are then “sewn” together using patented processes to provide customers with incredibly detailed images that are 70 times more accurate than satellite images with a soil sample spacing of 5 cm or better. Seriously, you could count the blades of grass if you had the free time!

Metal roofs are valued for their strength and durability, from hurricane shores to hail alleys to northern snow country. Despite the pandemic, the metal roofing market grew by around 7% in 2020. As a taller roofing product, metal roofs are more environmentally friendly than asphalt roofs, last twice as long (or longer), and require little ongoing maintenance. And while they can be successfully installed for every 12 months – giving roofers four full business hours and better potential to keep valued employees busy throughout the winter – they remain a niche market. Many roofers shy away from start-up costs and installation problems.

Aerial photography offers a dramatic and proven reduction in the cost of labor. Roofers, in turn, can make metal roofs more cost-effective and drive growth in this industry segment. As a high quality roofing product, it also pays to meet customer expectations by working with cutting edge professionals on the significant investments they are making in their home. RT

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