Northern Winter Months & Inspections

I am curious… How do home inspectors in northern climates with a lot of snow inspect foundations and roofs in winter months? Do you “disclaim” these items you may not be able to see at the time of the inspection?


Yes ,of course.

Inspections are visible by nature.

I inspect what is visible and disclaim what isn’t.


If it is covered with snow you can’t see it and most houses around here have basements

I don’t shovel snow.

Ditto to all above…

Howdy Tex,
Here we have been in quite a cold snap with still plenty of snow on the roofs and even more on the ground. It’s bad enough to track though all that during the inspections, but you have limited visuals of the whole picture as you can imagine. Taking photos help as proof of the current conditions.
Some areas, if visible, even slightly, I may move a little snow to get a better view, still not being invasive though. Shoot photos of that as well.
Roof ice damns help to see possible issues of water intrusions.
If you were to reschedule for later when the snow has melted it may be a few more months down the road.
So you do what mother nature will allow you to do.



Limitations, limitations, limitations… Roofs can be very dangerous in good conditions. I do not shovel roofs or around the home. As long as the limitations are explained the customer will fully understand.

Most of the homes here in Maine have basements if not all.
When in the peak of winter, most homes will have 2’ +/- around the perimeter, but you will also find that on the South side, the snow is melted away from the foundation enough to evaluate the condition of the concrete walls or blocks on some and look under the siding to see what they have for sheathing and WRB’s.
Most homes have the standard foundation windows that are approximately 32"x16" cast in the foundation when poured.
This means that at least 12" to 18" of foundation is exposed.
The rest of the inspection is done on the interior of the basement where it usually tells all of the story as to what is happening with the foundation.

Snow covered roofs, you stay off. A ladder and inspection at the eaves usually tells most of the story. Off course you can’t evaluate the conditions of the flashing and what not, but disclaiming that is all you can do.
Again here, after a few days, the south side will reveal a little more for inspections. One needs to note that a full evaluation of the conditions was impeded due to the conditions.
In most cases, the heat loss from the foundations can recede the snow cover away from the foundations enough for you to inspect the condition, cracks, spalling, etc…

Be prepared to walk around the structure in two feet of snow.

There is always a path to the oil fill pipes on the home, cause they will not deliver if not shoveled out. This gives you one more access to that area.

Decks are never shoveled out so that is another item you can not inspect.
I just list areas that were not accessible due to the condition of snow cover and never had to go back.
Simple notes like: The ledger attachments and flashing requirements were not observed due to the snow cover and the condition or acceptability of the construction standards were not verified.

Some older homes only have about 6" of exposed foundation and you cannot make a responsible evaluation and note it just as is. Not much you can do unless the client wants to pay you to come back in the Spring.

Hope this helps a bit. :):smiley: