Quite honestly, winter is the worst time of year to conduct a home inspection. However some things can’t always fall under our control, so we have to make the best of the situation we are faced with. Many important items such as the condition of roof covering(s), lot grading and drainage, condition of walkways, balconies, decks and patios as well as the condition of A/C units cannot be inspected during winter due to restricted access or visibility from snow build up.
Some people will expect that a home inspector go onto a snow covered roof (yeah really?!!) and remove the snow from the roof in order to inspect the shingles or roof covering. Despite the fact that this is just plain silly and dangerous, it would be a waste of time because the inspector would most likely end up damaging the roof to some degree by doing this. In order to properly and effectively inspect a roof, it must be clear of debris so the entire roof can be viewed and assessed correctly. This can be nearly impossible to do during winter.
Lot grading and drainage is a very important item to check during an inspection, however in winter it is next to impossible for the home inspector to determine whether the grading is adequate due to snow cover. Once the snow melts, you may find the need to re-grade the property in order to keep water away from the foundation.
Condition of foundations and inspecting for major cracks or structural deficiencies can also be very difficult if the snow depth around the house blocks the inspector’s visibility of the foundation.
Our advice is if you are having a home inspection performed during winter, then it would be a very good idea to consider having a backup budget ready for items that your inspector cannot inspect due to circumstances out of his or her control.
Remember a home inspection is an inspection of the readily accessible items at the time of inspection, therefore if snow conditions hinder the inspector’s ability to access certain items; you must be prepared to deal with the potential problems that may exist. If this falls outside of your comfort zone, then perhaps it’s wise to buy a home outside of the winter months to ensure you can get the most thorough inspection possible.