Just as home sales occur year-round so do home inspections. Snow can pose several problems for home inspectors who conduct winter home inspections. If a snowstorm occurs the night before your winter home inspection, the home inspector will be limited in what they can do with regards to the exterior of the home. Colorado home buyers should be aware of the limitations of a winter home inspection. That said, having a home inspection in the middle of winter is not a complete waste of money. Every season teaches you something important about your house or the house you are going to buy.
During winter months, a home inspector may be able to brush off snow from a roof to see a small piece of it, but he or she will not be able to make a thorough assessment. Another winter home inspection limitation: a home inspector won’t be able to ascertain the condition of the landscaping or irrigation/sprinkler systems. It may be possible to inspect decks, patios, sidewalks and driveways if the snow is not too deep. Sellers should make every attempt to clear these areas of snow prior to the inspector’s arrival.
Additionally, a home inspector will not be able to properly test an air-conditioning system in winter months. Running an air-conditioning system when the outside temperature is below 60 degrees can cause damage to the compressor and pump. While you may not be able to have an accurate air conditioning test in winter, you can account for it in your home purchase contract. As a buyer, you can ask your Realtor or attorney to see if your contract can be revised so that the seller will cover any sort of problem with the air conditioning when the cooling season comes around.
Other weather-related problems not necessarily limited to winter, such as a heavy rain, can also make a home inspection difficult. With regards to winter weather conditions you can control, try to have your inspection done during daylight hours after dark because you want him or her to inspect the entire property including all exterior and interior spaces. Daylight makes the home inspection process much easier, especially in the winter.
Some home flaws will not be visible because of the snow, and yet winter also presents an opportunity to see other things that the snow can teach you about the house. Seeing how a home reacts to freezing temperatures, snowfall and additional moisture in the air can also have its advantages. Another advantage of a home inspection in cold weather months is that it is easier to detect drafts and insulation failures. During the summer months, attics can reach temps of 120+ making it difficult to detect areas of concern. In the winter, it’s more obvious where there are cold spots or drafts. Also, with a snowpack on the roof, it presents an opportunity to check the integrity of the framing and how things are holding up under the extra weight.
In conclusion, yes, a home inspection can and should be performed in winter. Snow and ice do present challenges, but they also present opportunities to see things that are more difficult to detect in summer months. A winter home inspection can help Colorado homeowners avoid more serious damages when warmer temperatures arrive.