This Technology has Arguably had the Most Impact on the Roofing Industry


By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.

Remotely viewing and interacting with recent, high-resolution, aerial roof imagery has made contractors’ efficiency and time savings skyrocket. See how this consultant is using it on a daily basis.

When Mark Sobeck got started in the industry 42 years ago as a roofing contractor, he said that if someone had told him that he’d be looking at a roof from an aerial view on a computer screen, he’d have told them they were crazy. Fast forward to 2018 and that’s exactly what Mark is doing at his roof consulting business, Mark J. Sobeck Roof Consulting, Inc.

Mark is a big proponent of incorporating current technology into his business operations. He uses drones to perform inspections on roofs, steeples, high buildings, towers, etc., he performs infrared roof scans, uses AutoCAD and is always interested in finding the latest technologies that can improve his business. To make sure he’s always aware of emerging trends and solutions in the industry, Mark subscribes to the RoofersCoffeeShop®’s Week in Review email newsletter.

Discovering a new technology

We had the chance to talk with Mark and his team to see how they discovered aerial maps from Nearmap and how they are using them in their business. “I found out about Nearmap from RoofersCoffeeShop,” explained Mark. “And I almost didn’t read it that morning because we were very busy. I took a glance at it and the headline immediately caught my attention. I came back to the office that morning very excited and called them right away.”

After seeing a demonstration of the technology, Mark knew that this would be a game changer for his business and signed up for the Nearmap service. As a consultant who travels across the United States and Canada for projects, being able to view the building and roof from a high-resolution, current image prior to traveling, provides a tremendous advantage for both the building owner and the consultant. Nearmap regularly captures 430 U.S. cities, which also helped Mark’s business evaluate far more roofs.

Putting the aerial maps to work

Company Vice President Rich Sobeck calls himself the company guinea pig when it comes to exploring new technologies, and was tasked with learning the product. After his initial demonstration with Nearmap’s Julie Stoneburg, he set up a second one for the rest of the office. He said that there was not much of a learning curve because the product is so easy to use. They simply log in from a web browser, type in an address and they are looking at the building.

Rich said that it’s been especially useful for him and his dad (Mark) as they are the ones usually putting estimates together for customers. “With the Nearmap tools, we can highlight the whole building and get the area calculated immediately,” he explained. “It’s been very useful for us in putting pricing together.”

Cari Jacob, project manager at the company, uses Nearmap on a daily basis and says it’s enabling them to work more efficiently and have more knowledge about a facility before they even visit. “Anytime Mark gives us a new project, we’ll jump onto Nearmap just to get an aerial look to see what the roof contains and perform some quick measurements. That way when we go out to the roof, we just verify a few measurements,” she explained.

Mark agreed with the efficiency that using the high-resolution aerial maps delivers, “The time savings is unbelievable. When you compare it to the days when there were no aerial images and we had to find and measure everything on site, it sometimes would take three or four visits to get everything right – especially on a building like a pharmaceutical plant with hundreds and hundreds of penetrations. Now with Nearmap, we simply zoom in, see the penetrations, measure them, and do that in 1/100th of the time it would have taken us in the field.”

Integrating the maps into other processes

Cari added that Nearmap and AutoCAD work well together. “I use Nearmap to get the image and the dimensions, then I export it as a jpeg,” she said. “Then I import that jpeg into AutoCAD and I can scale that roof plan to real-life scale. I’ve done it on many projects, producing something that we can take to the jobsite with us to verify or compare measurements. It’s been very helpful.”

Mark added, “By overlaying the drawing right over the image, the roofer can see the drawing and the roof plan. We know that everyone is on the same page.”

Spreading the word

When Mark finds something that he likes and works well for him, he said he likes to tell everyone about it. He thinks that Nearmap will be especially helpful to contractors who are bidding work. “As a consultant, when I am hired, I know that I am hired and have the job,” said Mark. “A contractor, on the other hand, is measuring that roof because they are going to bid on it. They might only get five to 10 percent of the work they bid, so sending a team out to measure costs them a lot in staff time for site visits and drawings. A contractor could save tremendous amounts of money using this solution.”

Learn more about Nearmap at


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