Cell Tower pricing questions

Hello all. I have an opportunity to do a few tower inspections (Florida) though am unsure on how to price 3D mapping as well as Thermal Imaging? Does anyone have a ballpark figure?

Congratulations and welcome to the forum! $500 per flight seems to be a pretty common charge in our area for drone services. This is right around the ballpark of the hourly rates that I prefer to charge at $150. I find it much easier to charge hourly and to give them an estimate based on that rather than giving lump sum hard number and either price gouging or coming up short. I think it’s also a good idea to line item the services in a way that explains to the client exactly what took place.

Thanks for the info Michael. To be clear, the $500 is for tower audits, this does not include 3D mapping or thermal. What is a typical cost for adding 3D mapping? What about thermal?

To clarify what I was getting at is that it is best to propose the most comprehensive solution which in my opinion you will start to understand from client experience, but it should be presented as individual line items somewhat giving the client some choice in the matter. Charging hourly allows for the service to be scalable, but there are some clients that just want a lump-sum and they will usually tell you.

There’s not much worse than providing a professional service and missing something that the client wishes they could see or should have asked for. A mapping flight when done correctly gets your inspection photos and in my experience has been something that makes our offering more desirable than just photos.

As for thermal, I think that is a separate offering and would raise the cost which in an hourly billing is easily explained.

That said, DroneDeploy has some things to do in order to make this process much easier. They need vertical flight plans! Towers are easy enough to map manually with rising/lowering flights or more automated with orbits. Automation does remove human flight error, but not flight planning especially when you are flying around multiple towers and guy-wires/cables.

We discussed a lump sum versus billing by the hour. I will offer the 3D mapping and Thermal as line items, though I am not sure on what to charge for those.

Do you include 3D mapping in the $500 inspection quote? If so, I would like to rethink offering 3D mapping as an add-on, and instead include it in the base package.

If I am charging $150 an hour, I imagine thermal would only be an additional $150 as it is not to time intensive.

In the end it is up to the client. Some likely the more detailed and precise cost of the parts and have to submit the billings that way. Others prefer the lump some and be done with it.

Yes, I would do the 3D/Map and Inspection Photos as the base package and the Thermal Inspection as an additional service. Curiosity - Do you thermal map, just photos or video?

Be sure to include you travel time and prorate it in with the parts. As a lump sum it is what it is, but two hours round-trip (or whatever) travel should be in there somewhere. If I have multiple flights they get a break on half the trip to the next project.

Thanks again. I am thinking $150 for the additional thermal imaging, does that sound right?

I am also looking for a standard checklist. I see there is a TIA/EIA 222F inspection checklist, though cannot locate it online. Do you know were I may find that, or if I need that?

Also, I assume I have to identify issues I have found, versus just handing the video over. Is this correct?

Even if you are pricing lump sum I would suggest that you think of it internally as an hourly rate. Sit down for a couple of hours and think of everything you can that is going to cost you money to do this, figure out what you want to profit and go from there. Obviously overhead is what it is so the market will determine how close to your personal income goal you can get.

Unless the client has something that they want you to use I would recommend that you just focus on complete capture. I have only done about 10 towers of this nature, but many other facade inspections and similar structures and the first thing I decided for myself was to work the inspection from the ground up.

  1. Most vertical structure are wider at the bottom unless they were designed by Frank Gehry :slightly_smiling_face:. Don’t forget to watch out for Guy-Wires.
  2. The ground is very important to the tower so the area around the tower is important to check for condition and drainage. I usually try to make sure I capture the width of the structure outside of it.
  3. The foundation or piers should not have cracks, be washed out or very exposed.

Like I said, every aspect of the structure that you can capture in an efficient manner is as good as it is going to get unless the client asks for something specific. It’s not you job to identify problems. You are just there to collect data. I am sure this will be handed off to or coordinated with an actual tower inspector with some sort of certifications.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to debrief with the client and find out what they thought and if there is anything they would liked to have seen differently.