droneUsing Technology to Improve Home Inspections

When purchasing any product, it is important to know what you are getting.  Some may go to Consumer Reports to seek ratings and reviews on electronics before a big purchase or Kelly Blue Book to assess the value of a certain make of a car manufactured in a particular year.  For homes, there isn’t an online tool or source to help better understand the quality and condition of a home. The first assessment is when the potential homeowner walks through the home, visually assessing the condition – has the seller maintained the home, are there areas needing repair, have rooms been upgraded with the current trends?  There are many elements of the home that the average consumer is not trained to evaluate.  As a result, the buyer will hire a licensed home inspector to evaluate the home on their behalf.

A home inspection is a visual inspection of the various systems in the home at a snapshot in time.  The inspector ensures that all systems are running properly, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.  Further, the inspector assesses the condition and will point out areas that are working as intended, need repair, need additional review, and note any suggestions. The inspector will evaluate the home from top to bottom – from the roof to the crawl space.

Using a Drone for Inspections

The inspection takes a few hours and the report is long and detailed.  Some areas of the home are easy to assess while others provide more of a challenge.  The roof is an area that can pose a big challenge.  Tim Wiggins Inspections is unique in that they use a drone to assess the condition of the roof.  Tim kept running into houses where the roof was too high or too steep to explore safely.  Hence, there were sections of the roof he couldn’t access to evaluate the condition.  He needed a way to view all roof surfaces.  Tim has a strong work ethic and desire to fulfill his commitment to his clients of a thorough review of the home.  The only way to safely do this is to use a drone equipped with a camera.

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In situations where the roof is difficult to access, most inspectors use binoculars to view the roof from a nearby hill.  As you can imagine, this method doesn’t allow a thorough review of the roof.  Further, home inspectors in NC are not required to walk on the roof surface. This makes it difficult to evaluate the roof to their fullest ability without the drone.  The camera on the drone is able to take photos of all areas of the roof, removing any concerns that something is being missed.

How does it work?

First, you must have a commercial drone pilot license to fly a drone for business purposes.  The pilot navigates the drone and takes the pictures using their smart phone.  Then, after the photos are downloaded, they zoom in on the photos from a computer to evaluate the condition of the roof in great detail, shingle by shingle.

What does it take?

Costs include the purchase of the drone and camera, as well as training and certification to be a commercial drone pilot.  According to Tim, the equipment wasn’t cheap, but the biggest investment is actually the time required to be trained and obtain the commercial drone pilot license.

Impact on Costs?

At this point, Tim does not charge more for this part of the inspection. Using the drone allows him to provide better service, which aligns with the company’s values. Not all inspectors have updated their equipment to include a drone. With the drone, Tim Wiggins Inspections is able to do a more thorough job on the inspection of the home as a result.

More about Tim Wiggins Inspection

Tim Wiggins Inspections has been in business since April of 1997.  They are approaching their 21st anniversary. When they started, there were few home inspectors in the area.  Many home purchases didn’t involve a home inspection.  Today, not many real estate transactions take place without a home inspection.  Building codes, like standards with electrical systems and materials, change but the process of reviewing everything hasn’t changed much.

Changing industry

Obtaining a Home Inspectors license has changed over the years as well. Previously, a general contractor’s license or a trade license (like a plumber or electrician) was required to qualify to take the test for the Home Inspectors license.  Now, 120 hours of academic training and 80 hours of field training is required to qualify to take the licensure test.  To maintain the license, they must take 12 hours of continuing education each year.
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To learn more from Tim or hire him for your next inspection:

        Tim Wiggins Inspections