Winter Inspections

Hello everyone,

OK theres 2 foot of snow on the roof, 4 foot snow drifts around the perimeter and on the decks, the ground is frozen 12 inches deep (septic system), the driveway isn’t plowed (have to park on street). Needless to say the exterior inspection in general is almost impossible. The client wants to know what I’m going to do about it and if I can’t inspect these areas why do they have to pay the full price. Aside from buying a plane ticket and head South, what would YOU do? AHHHHH Life in the Pocono’s!

Come on Spring!!!

Brad Chasse
Safeguard Home Inspections
Pocono Lake, PA

What did you do?

Just explain that in your area inspections can be limited due to weather. this is not your fault or your clients fault it is a naturally occurring event which you have no control over. Explain that you will do your best with the situation and provide the best report possible.

I bought the plane ticket:mrgreen:

Seriously, I did what I could and explained that I have no control over Mother Nature. That didn’t quite cut it with this particular client. I refunded half of the inspection cost (just to shut her up) and suggested that maybe they should wait until the weather improves before purchasing the house. Of course that didn’t over very well with the agent. OOOOOPS:shock:

Make sure you take a PIC of anything that restricts your inspections.

Never been a problem here. People understand weather. Poconos? Client should get a clue. 1/2 the inspection was way too much. I might have given her a Starbucks coupon. I bet the inspection took almost the same amount of time. I won’t walk a roof in the rain either. Should I reduce my price due to rain???

Well at least you can put up a ladder and see a roof in the rain. I couldn’t see the roof, the decking, the foundation, the grading, the septic inspection was out of the question. On top of that the client was the nervous type. I wanted to give her one of my Xanax. Instead I took 2. :smiley: I have 2 inspections today. I took the snowshoes off of the wall and dusted them off. They work great by the way! Should be an interesting day!!! My wife wonders why I come home grumpy. :mad:

You should have explained prior to the inspection that your inspection is a visual, non-invasive inspection. And that there are limits to what you can see. Some of those are because of finished interiors, some of those are owner belongings, and some of them are because of nature.

After the fact, I would have told her the same thing. My fees are not based on what I can or can not see, or what I do or do not have access to. She hired me to do a non invasive inspection, and I have done that to the best of my ability based on the limits at the time of the inspection. I would have also told her that when the snow melts, or when someone cleans the snow off, I would be happy to return at a reduced cost to reinspect the exterior.

You probably did the right thing , Maybe not half price though. some people just do not have a clue. As Nick said take lots of pictures of restricted area’s , Keep them because if she was like that you will be getting a call back. Perhaps mention when weather clears you will come back for a fee to inspect the outside.

I do not think I would have refunded any of it. If, as a consumer, you don’t understand that certain types of weather are going to affect your inspection, you are lost. Obviously if there is that much snow, there will be some restriction, no fault of the client or the inspector. Why refund the money, you are still there spending your time doing as thorough of an inspection as you can. This should have been shot down on the initial phone call and it wouldn’t have been a problem.

I had a similar situation yesterday with a client who was very understanding. I couldn’t look at their roof or their deck due to snow and an exterior assessment was minimal. Based upon them being so understanding, I told them I would come back when the snow melted and look these items over. I also explained that it wouldn’t be part of the report, that the current limitations still stood. The client and the agent were very appreciative.

If they were not as understanding as your client was, I would definetly tell her to accept the inspection as is, or re-schedule. If that didn’t work, she would have to get another inspector. Maybe the $75.00 guaranteed guy!:slight_smile:

You cannot change your business practices and get the reputation that comes with it for one inspection. Every time there is some form of inclement weather or situation arises that you cannot inspect something, people will have their hand out for a discount.

Offer to perform the inspection and report writing time on an per hour basis, at $125.00 p/hr if they think it will be cheaper without the exterior. Me’thinks it will cost the same, or more!!!

It takes me the same amount of time to do the exterior inspection in winter, maybe even longer. I have a small shovel I use to dig around a few areas. Like digging around the A/C unit, sub surface drainage leaders, steps.

I charge the same summer or winter. Most clients understand.


And just because the exterior is partialy hidden, doesn’t mean I don’t look twice as hard at the interior.

Just because a Doctor can’t see your heart, doesn’t mean he can’t diagnose a problem. And he sure as hell isn’t gonna charge you any less!

Exactly, you have to be even more diligent in interior areas that are affected by what you can’t see outside, so in these cases, the inspection may take longer, not less time. Good points Jeff and David.

Thus my post (#12) about charging by the hour :wink:

I want to thank everyone for their input. I’ve been doing inspections in the Pocono’s for 10 years in all kinds of weather conditions. This client was just extremely difficult. It’s all in a day’s work. Did 3 inspections since then in the same conditions and didn’t have any issues with the clients. All water under the bridge at this point and a good lesson on prepping people under these extreme conditions.

It’s good to have the work these day’s given the current market!

Thanks again.

“Just treat your clients as you would want to be treated and you can’t go wrong”

I agree do the best you can photograph and document any restrictions and put it in your report as a disclaimer.

I did an inspection on a ground floor split level condo unit, lower portion was below grade. It was 20 degrees middle of December, ground was covered with snow. Brought attention to my contract and verbally noted that the common areas are not apart of my inspection and maintained by the HOA. I also noted during my inspection that there was a possibility of below grade water infiltration but due to new finishes this could not be verified. Moisture meter did not detect anything out of the ordinary.

About a year and 1/2 later middle of July after a week of straight rains I get a call from the client stating there is water in the basement the wood floors that were “newly” refinsihed at the time of the inspection were ruined the “newly” finsihes walls were ruined, and that what was I going to do about it. I pulled the report read my findings to the client then read my contract and disclaimers, and told her the best I can do is possibly recommend a water proofing contractor.

Moral of the story CYA, document it, because it can still come back to you.

Oh and another thing she did not have a copy of the report, so I sent her another PDF copy via Email.

Well said. That’s the key - setting the expectations.

You may loose a job or two, by being upfront about the limitations, but, IMO, it’s better than not bringing it up and having an upset client at the time of inspection. If folks really expect you to get up on the roof with a foot of snow on it, IMO they are unreasonable. Better to loose the job than find out when you arrive that their expectations are different than yours.