Avoiding an Over-Reliance on Technology

by Mike Smyth, sales estimator, Overson Roofing









(Editor’s Note:  Mike Smyth is the sales estimator at Overson Roofing, a roofing contractor located in Mesa, Arizona, that has served its clientele with respect and professionalism for over 30 years. The company won the Better Business Bureau Blue® Torch Award for ethics in 2016.)

Technology in the roofing industry has come a long way in the last ten years. The implementation of drone and mapping technology has made photographing and mapping a roof easier and safer than any other point in our industry’s history. On top of that, estimation software has made quoting a client easy and quick. However, roofing contractors should be aware of the limitations of this technology and avoid using it as a crutch.

Roofing technology, such as drones, has been a great tool for our company, Overson Roofing.  Drones have made our jobs safer by allowing us to do inspections when the weather is to inclement to allow our contractors on a roof. However, aerial photography is no substitute for the tried-and-true method of roofing professionals on roofs.

Roofing is a craft mastered by years of hard labor and nothing hones that skill more than traditional roofing. Traditional roofing is when an estimator is physically on the roof inspecting every inch and shingle. There is nothing that compares to physically inspecting a roof. A drone cannot feel the soft spots on a roof that will be an issue for water drainage. A drone will not catch cracks in the underlayment. A drone can take measurements but it can’t catch the intricacies that go into roof repair. It can’t catch the smallest issues that will turn into big problems down the line.

We want to catch all the nuance a roof can offer and we don’t get there by simply taking aerial photos, quoting the client, and leaving. There is no better way to get the info we need than putting a ladder up against the wall and climbing up to the roof. We don’t think doing it any other way is the right way for us to work on a roof.

Good roofing contractors should be up on roofs, but that does not mean technology does not have its place in our industry. During the pandemic we used many virtual systems to communicate with clients and send them photos and estimates virtually. This technology allowed us to continue to work with customers while maintaining social distancing. It is still a system we use if our clients want to continue social distancing. We use drones and aerial photography when it is unsafe to be on a roof and that technology has improved dramatically over the last decade.

We are also always looking to implement new-age roofing materials such as special coatings and roof underlayments. The biggest tech advancements we have implemented are the underlayings we use. We use rubberized fiberglass-reinforced based sheets. This has been an essential advancement in roofing technology for us due to the fact that we work in Arizona where high temperatures are a constant issue for our clients. Arizona roofs can reach temperatures of up to 150º and this rubberized material can expand without breaking the tiles.

We are also experimenting with solar reflective shingles. The granules are coated so it reflects more heat off the roof. They cool the roof, making it more energy efficient.

We are always experimenting with new technology, but widespread implementation is a slow process for us because we need to test them and ensure they work. Just because something is new does not mean it is a good product or a good fit for our Arizona clients. Every roofing professional should implement test runs and collect the necessary data to ensure you are providing the best materials for your clients.

Technology in roofing has advanced leaps and bounds, but that does not mean you should use it as a crutch. Roofing contractors should be on roofs whenever it is safe to do so. This will guarantee roofing contractors are inspecting every inch of their client’s roof and giving them an accurate estimate.