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Advantages and Disadvantages to a Home Inspection in the Snow
by Tammy Emineth on Feb 15, 2019
People by homes all year long and a little bit of snow doesn't stop a homebuyer if they need to purchase a property. Getting to the house during heavy snow days can be treacherous and difficult, but it still needs to happen, which means that home inspection still needs to happen. Even if the house is covered in snow this time of year, it's important to get a home inspection before finalizing the transaction. So are there pros and cons, advantages or disadvantages to having a home inspection in the snow?
The most important areas of your home affected by winter weather are typically your roof, gutters and drainage systems, air-conditioning units, foundation, and siding. If at all possible, the seller should have taken pictures of what the house looks like not covered in snow but that's almost an impossible prediction. However, there are some advantages to having a home inspection in the winter.
Any major roof issues are likely to be noticeable during the presence of snow. If the roof is leaking, has damage structural integrity, or is causing any downspout issues. It may be impossible to do a truly effective inspection until the snow has melted and can be quite hazardous for the inspector, but, most inspectors can tell whether the roof is holding up its integrity by supporting the snow and not causing any leaks.
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Winter is a perfect time to test the heat. Turning on the heat can uncover drafts and insulation problems. If the heating is working, it should be quite evident during the winter months. However, inspecting air-conditioning units can be tricky since most AC units cannot be tested if the temperatures drop below 60°. It could damage the unit.
There are typically only a few places that snow or ice can restrict an inspection, the AC unit being one of them and of course, the roof. But, this is only if there is excessive snow. Many inspectors will schedule a follow-up inspection at no cost if they can't look at one area of the house during the initial inspection.
Extreme weather can cause all types of stress and damage to a home, many of which are not revealed Intel the temperatures warm back up. Homes with plumbing problems that have frozen or cracked pipes can cause major problems once things start falling out, so inspecting them now can prevent damage later on.
Having a home inspection in the snow or colder weather means it's easier to detect drafts and insulation failures. Most attics reach triple digits during the summer, making it difficult to find any drafts or insulation issues but with freezing temperatures, these kind of issues are almost always able to be discovered.
If the snow has not piled up against the house and the inspector can reach the foundation, they can or should be able to determine the integrity of the house structure itself, but, if the snow is so high that you can't get to the foundation, simply clearing away a small section may not reveal all the issues with the foundation.
Snow on a porch could be good or bad. If there's quite a bit of snow, the porch could reveal some sagging or integrity issues. Most home inspectors can look under a porch as long as you've shoveled out enough crawlspace for the inspection.
Shorter days. This has nothing to do with the house but in the winter time, daylight is more limited than the summer so it might be more difficult to perform inspections, especially exterior inspections during the daytime.
Access issues. Clearly, if there is a foot of snow on the roof, most inspectors will not even touch it. If there's too much snow built up a long and exterior crawlspace access, the inspector cannot inspect that as well.
Pest issues. Most pests and insects go dormant in the winter so their activity may not be as prevalent or as noticeable as in the summertime. However, things like termites and some insects leave behind a wealth of evidence regardless of the time of year even if they are dormant. This may or may not be an issue if again, the inspector has access to everywhere pest infestations could be.
Mold. In the freezing temperatures, unheeded basements and garages may hide the smell of mold and mildew. When it slightly warmer, these odors are very prevalent but when it's freezing, inspectors have to rely on visual evidence rather than their nose.
There are definitely pros and cons to a winter inspection but if conditions are favorable, this could be a great time to have one.
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