Save Money – Build your own Camera Pole

Inspecting the Roof Safely

Recent regulations regarding the working at heights requirements prompted a couple of members of your board to attend the WAH training sessions to see what is required for Home Inspectors who wish to traverse the roof to inspect them.   We came to the conclusion, with the trainers, that as a single person operation, and using techniques that could not, in any way, damage the property, it is almost impossible for a Home Inspector to climb over 3 metres on a ladder without being out of compliance with the regulations.

A number of other options are available to visibly inspect the properties roof.   

For roofs with direct access (usually flat roofs on commercial buildings) there is no issue, although care needs to be taken when near the edge. 

Roof inspection with a boom liftPitched roofs present more of an issue.  You could use a drone, but then you need to comply with the ever restrictive UAV regulations being implemented by Transport-Canada. (more here) .   

You could invest $25,000+ for a used self-propelled or towable telescopic boom lift, but that’s a lot of inspections to break even.

You could inspect from the ground using binoculars or a telescopic lens camera, but that limits what is visible.  By far the most cost-effective way of viewing the roof, close-up and at the same time safely is by using a remote controlled camera, atop a telescopic pole.

Indeed the camera pole appears to be a perfect tool to meet our needs and expectations.   A camera pole meets the needs not only for a roof inspection, but it can also serve to assist in other ares where access is restricted (e.g. confined spaces)

There are are a few different suppliers of pre-fabricated camera poles made specifically for the Home Inspection profession. There’s the 25 foot Spectoscope from InterNACHI’s Inspector Outlet starting at a cost of US$299, or the 25 foot Eye-Stick from our friend Mark  over at Eye-Stick starting cost at CAD$489.    If taking the time to build your own is not your forte then please visit and research some of these suppliers as they have a great product that will meet your needs.  With the camera and tablet attachments these two products go up to US$349 and US$613 for the Spectoscope and Eye-Stick respectively.

Save a bundle and get a top of the range pole.

If you happen to be the type of individual who would like a little project, and as a Home Inspector you should be at least capable if not willing, you can build your own for about $215 CAD.

Here’s how i did it.

Colour the pole to stop over extending

The supplier I chose for the pole sections actually sells a kit specifically designed for the camera pole application.  They are based out of Georgia in the U.S. called Max Gain Systems Inc, so you’ll need to factor in the US$ conversion in the prices.  I chose the MK-4 Extend pole which is over 3 feet higher than the pre-fabricated units, at a cost of US$169.95.  Max Gain also has an adapter they sell that can be epoxied to the top of the pole that has a 1/4” 20 thread that fits the base of all standard tripod mountable cameras.  This is purpose made for the poles and will cost US$39.95 .  The kit recommended gives you a working height of 28.5’ and when fully collapsed is only 5’7”. This was perfect for me as it fits nicely in the bed of my 6.5’ truck bed with the tonneau cover closed, but will also fit inside most SUV’s CUV’s and minivans with no problems.

This pole system is fiberglass. I want to point out the importance of this as there is a good chance you will be using this close to hydro lines. There are some companies selling camera poles that are aluminum, which is conductive. Ideally you will not come into contact with hydro lines, but if you do a fiberglass pole is much preferred over the aluminum version.   

That’s it, two line items from Max Gain and you have a 28.5’ camera pole that only requires you to use an epoxy to glue the clamps on when your order has arrived. I used Marin Goop sold at box stores for about CAD$12.

When assembling all of your poles I made sure to take an extra step and color the bottom 6” of each pole red, this gives you a visual when extending the pole that you are nearing the bottom and do not go beyond that red mark.

Mounting your tablet, phablet or phone.

Completed Home Inspection poleNow that you have built a camera pole it would be nice if you could have a mount so you could use your tablet or phone hands free.

The main suppliers for these camera poles do offer them as an option at purchase and they range from $60-$140 depending on what you would like to mount.

It is of my opinion that best mount you can buy is from a company called Ram Mounts.

A complete mount for a 10” tablet will set you back $140CAD. Worth every penny.  

I have been using this camera pole pictured (left) since 2014 and have had no issues.  

I hope this helps in your inspection endeavors and if you have any questions or want to show off your recent build head over to the OntarioACHI Facebook page.  

Suppliers and component parts.

Max Gain Systems – www.mgs4u.com

            Heavy Duty Extend kit – MK-4-Ext(stainless) – US$169.95
            Camera Mount for 3.4” OD Pole – CM-34 – US$29.95

Ram Mount – www.rammount.com

            Ram Universal x-Grip Cradle – RAM-HOL-UN9U – US$74.49
            Ram Combination Strap Double Socket – RAM-B-149Z-2U – US$38.49

This content supplied by TJ Smith of All Out Home Inspection

TJ received 1 CPD for this content.

Annotation from Len Inkster, CCHI, CMI, from Future Proof Property Inspections

For inspectors who still want to traverse a pitched roof, it is important you do this safely, legally and in compliance with the Code of Practice.   The ONLY way we’ve found available to do all this as a one person inspection operation is to obtain your Working-at-Heights certificate and then use full Fall arrest equipment and the RidgePro FMU-LMD (First Man Up – Last Man Down) system .  This in conjunction with the fall arrest harness, retractable lanyard and other PPE will set you back around CAD$1,000.  This still does not solve the problems of possible  shingle, shake and metal roof damage you may be accused of causing if you traverse the roof.