Disclaimer: It is your responsibility to understand and abide by the drone laws in your country, state or province, as well as your local laws. The information provided in this article is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Contact your attorney to confirm or clarify anything you read here.
Professional roofers have put drone technology to good use. A drone can allow you to conduct a roof inspection or measure a roof quickly, without taking the risk of stepping onto the roof yourself. Using a drone, you may even be able to conduct a roof inspection in the winter, when ice and snow make your risk of falling much greater.
The latest roofing drone technology also has the advantage of being very precise. Your drone may be capable of measuring the roof’s surface area and slope with great accuracy, making estimating your roofing jobs much more straightforward.
Further, with the homeowner’s permission, you may be able to use images created by drones in your marketing. A before and after shot of a re‐roofing job can be very compelling to your potential customers, boosting your marketing efforts. Drone photography may be especially appealing if you’ve just installed a designer shingle on a roof that was worn down.
However, in order to get all of these advantages of roofing drones, you need to understand and abide by many laws and regulations. In both Canada and the United States, a roofer is considered to be a commercial drone user. Therefore, he or she has to be licensed and follow several rules in order to operate the drone.
It may sound daunting, but it’s not as hard to get started with a roofing drone as you think. This guide will teach you the basics about drone laws, specific to either the United States or Canada. We also delve into some state‐level laws that may affect you as a roofer.
In the United States, commercial drone fliers using a drone that weighs less than 55 pounds need to get a license. This license is called the Remote Pilot Certificate.
In Canada, the law refers to drones as Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). As a professional roofer, you will need a license to fly an RPAS as you are not flying it for pleasure but are flying it for business purposes. Unless your drone weighs less than 250 grams. Drones that small aren’t usually used for roofing purposes, so you will most likely need a license.
You are required to get a Remote Pilot Certificate in order to fly a drone for work purposes anywhere in the United States. In order to be eligible for this license you must:
Then, you need to pass:
As long as you are doing basic operations, all you need to do to get a drone pilot license in Canada is pass an online exam. It only costs $10 to take the exam. Learn the test material first and then take the exam on the government’s website.
Many states and provinces have privacy laws which limit you from flying a drone over someone’s home without their permission. Also, getting verbal consent to fly your drone may not be enough to protect your business.
Instead of relying on verbal consent, we suggest you have homeowners sign a written consent form and waiver. Have a lawyer draft up an agreement that indicates the homeowner’s permission and that limits your liability for damages.
Remember that you cannot allow your drone to fly over your customer’s neighbor’s home, as this is a violation of their privacy.
United States law refers to a drone as an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Laws restricting UAS in the United States are considered to be more complicated and stringent than those in Canada. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs these laws.
As commercial drone users, roofers should strive to use a drone that weighs under 55 pounds. If your drone is this light, you only need to follow the “Part 107” drone rules.
These rules include:
Many states have passed laws to restrict the use of drones. However, few of these laws will affect roofers performing drone roof inspections. Most involve keeping off personal property, out of park areas and out of the way of emergency vehicles.
There may be other state laws which restrict your use of a drone for roofing. Before you start flying, be sure you’re also familiar with any local drone laws and regulations your municipality may have passed.
The basic commercial drone laws in Canada include:
It’s also wise to be sure you are not flying your drone over bystanders or within 30 horizontal feet of bystanders. If so, you qualify as conducting advanced operations and several other regulations apply, including a higher level of license.
Drone Penalties in Canada
You can be penalized for breaking drone laws and regulations in Canada. Commercial users, such as roofers, face higher penalties.
|Offense||Maximum fines for recreational users||Maximum fines for businesses
(whether a corporation or sole proprietor)
|Flying without a drone pilot certificate||$1,000||$5,000|
|Flying an unmarked or unregistered drone||$1,000||$5,000|
|Flying where prohibited||$1,000||$5,000|
|Putting aircraft or people at risk||$3,000||$15,000|
At the time of writing, the provinces do not have any jurisdiction over drones, as they qualify as aircraft which are regulated by Transport Canada. Therefore, there are currently no provincial laws on drone operation.
There are, however, several municipal by‐laws that restrict the use of drones. Most commonly, according to Drone Law, these prohibit drone operators from flying in public parks. Therefore, you should be sure to stay only on your customer’s property when it backs onto a park or any other property.
There is controversy over whether some of these laws could be challenged in court, as municipalities may not have the authority to restrict drones. However, few business owners would want their company to be at risk while challenging the law. It’s best to abide by municipal by‐laws.
Your roofer’s general liability insurance policy likely does not cover damage from your drone. It is currently not mandatory in Canada or the United States to have insurance for your drone. However, it is wise to have to protect your business.
If you can legally and safely harness the power of drones for your roofing business, you may reap many benefits. Just be sure to stay up to date with the latest regulations and licensing requirements. As drones are relatively new technology, things are sure to change in the future.
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IKO strives to accurately reproduce the screen images of the shingle swatches and house photos shown. However, due to manufacturing variances, the limitations of your monitor resolution and the variation in natural exterior lighting, actual colors may vary from the images you see. To ensure complete satisfaction you should make final color selections from several full size shingles and view a sample of the product installed on a home. Please refer to our Legal Notices for U.S.A. or our Legal Notices for Canada.
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