A four-point inspection is a home inspection that looks at the four major systems of your home and assesses it for risk. The four major systems are your roof, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. You might need this inspection if you own an older home. The good news: it’s usually pretty quick and may open up more home insurance options for you.
Who needs a 4-point inspection?
Homeowners who have older homes may need a four-point inspection before they can get home insurance. During a four-point inspection, an inspector evaluates how up-to-date four key systems are in your home, namely your:
- Electrical wiring and panels.
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
Four-point inspections identify key areas that most commonly result in insurance claims. If a home fails all or part of the inspection, the inspector will go over what needs to be fixed or replaced to alleviate deficiencies. The fixes may be necessary to obtain insurance.
You should note that a four-point inspection cannot replace a new home inspection. If your home insurance company says you have to have an inspection, be sure to ask specifically what type of inspection you need.
Is a 4-point inspection required in Florida?
If you own an older home and are up for renewal on your homeowners insurance in Florida, or you’re purchasing an older home, chances are you will be asked to submit a four-point inspection as part of the underwriting process. This practice is most common in Florida and other coastal states.
There is a basic outline of what’s covered under a four-point inspection; however, each insurance agency has its own set of rules regarding who needs an inspection. The International Association of Certified Home Inspections (NACHI) provides a universal four-point inspection form, but using this form isn’t required by law.
4-point inspection vs. home inspection
A four-point inspection is specifically for homeowners insurance, and shouldn’t be confused with a new home inspection (also called a buyers inspection, real estate inspection, home inspection or full inspection depending where you live). This distinction is important because the new home inspection is required to close on a home and meet eligibility criteria for your mortgage. It also takes two to three hours to complete. A four-point inspection takes about 30 minutes and is only visual. However, if you buy an older home you might be required to have both inspections.
Four-point inspections tend to be more prevalent in coastal states, specifically in Florida and Texas. Coastal areas, like Tampa, Miami, or Jacksonville, experience more inclement weather that leads to catastrophic devastation (loss of life; destruction of entire towns; demolished power grids, roads, airports; etc.). This prompts lawmakers to frequently update building codes. Homes built 40 or more years ago were made in accordance to different standards than those built today, which is why they may not be considered as safe as more modern homes.
4-point inspection vs. wind mitigation inspection
A wind mitigation inspection determines how well your home resists wind damage by going over certain building attributes, such as:
- Roof shape.
- Roof covering.
- Roof-deck attachment.
- Opening protections.
As in a four-point inspection, this type of inspection takes a close look at your roof. But a wind mitigation inspection also involves other aspects of your home’s structure and can help you get a discount on your home insurance.
What does a 4-point inspection cost?
You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $175 for a four-point inspection. The cost varies based on location and inspection company.
Your 4-point inspection checklist
A four-point inspection looks at your home’s major systems, but what exactly does the inspector evaluate? Here is a helpful checklist you can review to help you prepare for your four-point inspection.
Electrical wiring and panels
What kind of wiring is in your home? If a home has copper, aluminum, or knob-and-tube wires, chances are it will not be insurable due to fire hazard risks. The inspector will also look to see if you have a recalled electrical panel.
Faulty wires cause nearly 90 percent of residential fires, so this is something insurance companies take very seriously. If your home is found uninsurable due to wiring issues, it is vital to budget for necessary upgrades. If you don’t, your risk of fire is significantly amplified.
Does your home have central heating and air conditioning? What condition are the units in? Are there any signs of obvious damage such as leakage? Remember each insurance agency determines what it considers “acceptable” when insuring older homes; however, it’s not uncommon to see coverage denied for lack of central air and heat.
Inspectors look at the type of pipes in your home to determine how likely they are to burst. If polybutylene plumbing is found coverage can be denied as these are more prone to bursting. However, some insurance companies may still insure you, but will exclude water damage. In that scenario, if there is a flood due to pipes bursting, you are 100 percent responsible for the total expense.
What’s in a roof? Roof age, material, and condition are what inspectors look for. Generally, insurance companies do not insure shingle roofs more than 20 years old or tile or metal roofs more than 40 years old. However, if your roof is younger but has apparent damage outside or water leaks inside your home, that might be cause to deny coverage.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.