10 things you need to bear in mind before commissioning a drone-based roof inspection / survey

There are 10 key things you need to remember when thinking about getting aerial photography, filming, survey or inspection work done by drone. These are:

1. Are there any neighbours within a 30 metre radius of the proposed take-off / landing site - if so I may need their express permission?

2. Is the site big enough to enable the drone to move around the building where required? Are there any tree lines / overhanging trees, power or telephone lines etc close to the land / property in question (at the relevant drone height(s) of operation)? Can the drone operator get round to all 2 or more sides of the building easily, especially if the building is large or in a very built up area? For close inspection work we would aim to fly within 10 - 20 feet of the roof, in order to keep the drone in sight at all times we need to be able to have ready access around as much of the building as possible. ​Ideally we'd like to have access to all 4 sides of a very large building but as long as we can keep the drone in sight at all time even when flying low over the roof.

3. Are there any sensitive sites within that 30 metre radius (take-off / landing) or 50 metre (for the purpose of general flying) ie railway tracks, main roads, schools, nursing homes, police stations, prisons, animals ?

4. Does the property fall under the remit of other airspace users ie airports, aerodromes - your drone operator will research this element for you but it may impact whether or not a drone flight can take place and under what limitations or additional requirements.

5. Do I own this land or can I get the landowner (or their authorised agent's) express permission to fly a drone from this area for this purpose?

6. Is there a suitable area (30 metres for take-off / landing) for the drone to take-off / land from on the site I want to photograph / survey? We need to be able to restrict access to that area for the 20 - 40 mins (or however long the survey / filming is estimated to take place) - for the safety of the occupiers / visitors / residents and also the drone pilot (vehicles entering / manoeuvring in that space).

7. Does the property immediately border any roads, rail tracks, public access - especially if this is within the 30 metre take-off / landing area or within 50 metres of where the drone will fly.

8. Does the property have any other rights of way, public or general access ie main entrance, footpath or other access rights that the drone operator will need to be made aware of?

9. Is the site or building multi-tenanted - if so I need the landowner's permission and to alert the tenants / employees regarding the drone flight / filming (data protection).

10. If the multi-tenanted building is a residential one, I may need to get the permission of the landowner and possibly the residents / occupiers and I will need to take steps with the drone operator to safeguard their rights under data protection (as a drone operator we can provide the necessary method statement to assist with this).

The presence of one or two of these factors doesn't necessarily mean that we can't fly but that we might need to make special provision in our method statement and any risk assessment.

To see the general rules from the CAA on flying a drone see here.

See our guide on commissioning drone-based aerial photograpyy or filming