Snow and ice may hinder winter home inspections

Snow and ice may hinder winter home inspections

Whatever the season, it’s still important for home sellers/buyers to gather as much information as possible

Snow and ice may cover the roof, the driveway and sidewalks, but that’s no excuse to skip one of the homebuyer’s most accurate tools for gauging the condition of a house they hope to buy.

Whatever the season, it’s a smart financial move to have a home inspection done if you have a real estate transaction in your future. As a seller, knowing the condition of your property prior to listing will help you determine a fair price. As a buyer, it can help you avoid costly surprises down the road. It may also serve as a negotiating tool that could result in a reduction in the price of a property.

From a Realtor perspective, home inspections are very important, especially for major issues like roofs, foundations, etc., according to John Wentworth of Re/MAX Platinum in Fenton. “Buyers do need guidance through an inspection so they aren’t alarmed by issues that aren’t really that big. Choose a home inspector that is not an alarmist with words or pricing. An inspector should give the results of the findings, not offer a cost for repairs which may or may not be accurate.”

Mark Mustola, owner of ValueCheck Home Inspections in Fenton Township for 22 years, said that the majority of prospective homebuyers do opt for a home inspection of the property they hope to buy. “The homebuyer has the right to have a home inspection,” he said. “ A Realtor often recommends an inspector they have successfully worked with before, and the buyer is the one who pays for it.”

He says that the biggest things people are concerned about when looking at a house’s condition are the roof and basement water seepage.

“The roof is second only to septic systems as the most expensive repair in a house, and not everyone has a septic system to worry about,” he said. “People always want to know about possible water in the basement, as many people have plans for using the basement as living space.”

Winter presents a special challenge for roof inspections, with snow and ice often covering the shingles, flashing, etc. “When it’s nice out, I like to walk the roof,” said Mike Cemazar of Cemazar Home Inspections in Fenton. “I can’t do that in the winter. However, I can document in your report that I couldn’t get up on the roof, but did look at photos from other seasons to see the condition of the shingles, etc. I can also look in the attic and if it’s wet or moist, you know the roof has an issue.”

Snow and ice build-up also affect an inspector’s ability to check on the grading of the soil away from the home, the foundation, driveways, sidewalks, underneath porches and decks. It’s also not a time inspectors can check on termites or other insect infestations. “Every season has its challenges, when it comes to home inspections,” said Cemazar. One of the advantages of a winter home inspection is that a home inspector can more easily detect drafts, energy leaks, insulation, etc.

“We also can’t check whether the air conditioning actually works by turning it on if it’s less than 60 degrees outside,” said Mustola. “We might damage it by turning the actual unit on. But we can still look at it, knowing its size, brand name and age, all of which will provide valuable information. We can also reference the National Association of Home Builders building components’ life expectancy chart to see what a homebuyer might likely expect down the road for repair or replacement.”

Mustola said it’s still better to learn about the 80 percent of the home that is accessible for a home inspection during the winter.

Source: Sally Rummel for Tri-County Times

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