Florida firm offers drone building and roof inspections

By Patrick C. Miller | December 08, 2016

GCI Consultants LLC in West Palm Beach, Florida, has joined the ranks of companies using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for building and roof inspections.

GCI performs consulting on construction engineering on issues related to the integrity of a building’s exterior envelope. Its services include design advice for new construction, forensic investigations of building envelope failures, quality control inspections and expert witness testimony.

Using a DJI Phantom christened AIR GCI and carrying a camera to collect high-resolution images, the company flew its first building inspection Nov. 21. The drone was used to inspect and zoom in on areas of the building where problems often begin. The video can be stored, shared and retrieved for follow-up investigations.

“We’re able to do things faster, better and less expensive,” said Paul Beers, GCI founder and CEO. “Before, we had to use boom equipment and lifts to get to the outside of the building. It was very expensive. It was invasive. It bothered a lot of people.”

Even then, some roof areas were inaccessible for practical or safety reasons, he said.

Sam Chiodo, GCI senior consultant, said that using the drone helps identify the problems more efficiently. In the past, inspecting an 18-building complex in south Florida would have taken a week, required renting man-lift equipment and setting up ladders. With AIR GCI, the company completed the job in a day.

Beers said AIR GCI enables the company to bring its clients annual inspections on high-rise buildings that were too expensive.

“We can cover large complexes all at a cost that makes sense and ultimately ends up with a better building for our customers,” he said. “This will be a big benefit for our customers in proactively identifying and correcting issues which will extend the life of their building systems.”

Beers said adding drone technology to its inspection services is a big step for the company.

“We’re proud to be part of this moment,” he said. “It’s clearly a highly efficient way of doing business and providing clients with an outstanding roof inspection, but it’s also much more than that. This technology is going to make building inspections safer, faster and less expensive.”