Should I De-Winterize A Property for the Home Inspection?

With so many people buying vacant, bank-owned or foreclosed-upon properties, it is important to keep in mind that many times these homes are winterized.  When purchasing a winterized home it is essential to understand what this means and be an informed buyer before deciding to make your final purchase.

When having the property inspected, you will want to consider some of these reasons to have the house de-winterized before your inspection.

Pipes – Just because a property has been winterized, it does not mean that it did not have damage before it was winterized.  Damaged, leaky pipes cannot usually be detected without running water. If the property has been winterized it is a good idea to have it de-winterized and then to have the water company turn on the water to the property. It is best to have someone at the house when the water is turned on if it has been off in case faucets were left on or pipes are broken.  Don’t forget about outdoor faucets.

Plumbing – To ensure you have an operating plumbing system in the house, you will want to have the house de-winterized to have the plumbing inspected.  This includes water pressure, under sink pipes, and toilet operation. Be sure to allow time for the water to be turned on and have toilets cleaned to be able to see the water and the water flow after the water is turned back on. Check inside the tank to ensure there is do no debris or damage before you start flushing toilets.

Crawl Space – Home inspectors check the crawl space for damage, including evidence of flooding. However, if the home has been winterized, it is possible that any flooding has evaporated or returned into the ground. Be sure to have the water turned on after de-winterization so that the pipes running through the crawl space can be inspected thoroughly. Remember, sometimes, in the case of vacant property, pipes may also have been removed.

Loan Requirements - Be careful to ask your lender if there are requirements regarding winterized properties. Some lenders require that a property that has been winterized to be de-winterized before inspection. You want to be sure to follow the guidelines of your lender to ensure there are no issues with your loan.

If you are seriously considering purchasing the home, it is a good idea to have it de-winterized before the home inspection. Though a winterized home can have an inspection done to it, several things that a home inspector would typically inspect cannot be inspected properly if the house is winterized.  If you are truly hoping to purchase the home, you may want to consider having it inspected after being de-winterized. This expense can be a small expense up front compared to the expense of repairing damages that you did not know about.