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winter into spring illustration

All that snow might make homes look pretty, but winter poses many problems to home buying, moving, and inspections. Here’s why to buy & move in warmer seasons instead.

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As the spring thaw moves on and the Eastern Seaboard breaks free of the dreaded Polar Vortex, anyone who bought a house over the winter might find themselves having their first real chance to inspect the exterior foundation walls, roof, and more. Here’s hoping that goes well.

Snow. If it falls where you live, it makes winter home inspections dubious, at best.

Sure, the worst of the year’s weather also makes it easy to see gaping problems, like badly sealed windows and doors, poor heating systems, and so on, but there are more negatives than positives to a winter inspection and home buying. Here are some of them:

Ice & snow

You’re not just dealing with brutal cold, winds, hammering rains, ice, or snow complicating inspections, you’re dealing with the unsafe roads they create. Moving day, open house-viewing, racing to signings, and all the other running around and outdoors activities will have an extra layer of tension you could really do without.

Compromised (day)light

It’s better to view places in the daytime. Easier to see things, you can get a good look at the outside. Winter comes with darker days, shorter days, and a sun that’s lower on the horizon. It’s not a big deal, but when you’re already hamstrung on inspections, it’s not doing you any favors. After all, here on the 49th parallel, our days have 10 hours less light in December than they do in June. It makes a big difference.

The foundation & porch

If there is one place that’s critical to the well-being of your investment, it’s the foundation. Without a good one, you’re destined for a money-pit. The moment your foundation becomes cracked or water damaged will also coincide with when your wall, floor, and ceiling woes begin.

If there’s snow piling up all along the foundation, it’ll be tough to get a sense of whether water is weeping away properly, if the structural integrity is intact, and all kinds of potentially big issues like cracks that you’ll need to know about NOW.

Again, snow and ice and leaves make it harder to execute a thorough inspection. The porch may not be the most expensive project, but who wants the extra work or cost?

The deep freeze

Do the home’s windows open? Well, if it’s 20 below zero, good luck finding out. How about exterior wood, is it in good shape? If it’s frozen, it’ll be really hard to do the rot test to see if termites, water, or anything else has compromised it.

That deep freeze also sends the critters to their winter dormancy phase. Wonder if you’ve got carpenter ants? Well, keep wondering. You’ll find out in the warm season.

No cooling off period

Need a good air conditioning system? It might be awkward and tricky testing a heater in the summer, but it can be done. Air conditioning in the winter? Not so much. As soon as temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, that unit can’t be turned on without risk of damage.

Pluses to winter inspections

For all the woes of buying and inspecting homes in the winter, it’s really the only time you’ll get a good idea on the quality of insulation work and the efficacy of the heater, so there’s that, at least!

Smoother moves

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. Do you really want to make it any harder than it needs to be? Summertime moving means losing lazy days to the chores of moving in, packing, and everything else involved in a big move. But it also makes it more likely you’ll move safely and efficiently, while also allowing you to do a proper inspection on your biggest life investment. Not a bad trade-off, don’t you think?

(Please note: This article can be ignored by those of you in Florida.)

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.