How We Located a Construction Defect in Our Roof


Drip, drip, drip, the sound of water falling from the ceiling was either a welcome sound or an overwhelming distraction in our office space. I work in a coworking office in Fort Mill, SC and we had moved in to our brand-new location right before the holiday season; come January, the roof was already leaking!


Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone)

Wondering what might be the cause and not wanting to make a mess in the exposed rafters right before our grand opening, Matt Mulhernn with Go Unmanned came to our rescue. Using a Matrice 100 quadcopter with a FLIR XT infrared camera, he flew over the office building and identified several potential trouble-spots.

While locating a leak this small is not a normal usage of the FLIR XT, we were able to identify locations where the roof was not adequately providing heat protection and could potentially be areas where a leak would occur.

Sure enough, the problem with the roof was that a simple step had been missed on the exterior, and water was entering the roof at the point shown in the photo below. The owner of the building could see where the problem was being caused, identify the sub-contractor who needed to repair their work, and have them out to fix the building within the week.


Results of the Drone

As the picture above shows, there was a discoloration in the flashing that indicated a possible leak. This discoloration showed up in every color scheme, at every angle the UAV took photos and video from. This temperature difference made all the difference in identifying and fixing the source of the leak. Now, several weeks later, we have had multiple storms with no roof leakage.

Although the owner could have followed the water trail to the location of the leak inside the building, it would have caused a mess and possibly damaged internal insulation, requiring replacement. With how new the building was, the roof leak could not have been happening very long so that drying out the insulation was a good way to save the insulation.

Not only did it save time and resources to find it, but we quickly ascertained where the problem was without getting onto the roof. With healthcare and workers comp insurance both significant costs to employers, getting a bird’s-eye view with a drone was an ingenious way to save time while keeping all the humans involved safely on the ground.


Guest Contribution by Paul Davis for

Paul Davis

As a writer for Go Unmanned, I love learning about drones, pilot-less flight, and the amazing advancements businesses get from automation. UAV software, flight controls, uses in industry, and improvements in design, construction, and marketing are my forte!

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