What to Look for When Doing a Home Inspection
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection checks the home’s condition, including its structure, foundation, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. While home inspections are usually used to help you make an informed decision when buying a home, they are also useful when helping us write your home insurance policy.
An insurance home inspection usually considers your home’s:
- Other structures
- Windows and doors
- Surrounding grounds (including pools)
Why Do Home Insurance Companies Require Inspections?
Most home insurance companies, especially those in catastrophe-prone states like Florida, require a home inspection before or after issuing a policy. This is to make sure the home meets underwriting requirements. It also documents the home’s condition before the policy takes effect to help limit the chance of fraudulent claims for damage that already existed. The inspection may also reveal some repairs that need to be made in order for your home to be eligible for insurance.
We’ve recently adopted home self-inspections – they’re a free and convenient way to get inspections done without hiring an inspector. Self inspections are usually due within 7 days of the policy’s effective date. All you need is a smartphone and about 20 minutes. Here’s what to look for when doing a home inspection yourself.
Home Inspection Checklist for Self Inspections
The Kin self inspection is powered by the Truepic smartphone app that guides you through the inspection step by step. You simply take photos of different parts of your home and property, and the app logs the images into a report that shows the exact location and time the photos were taken.
To complete your inspection, you’ll need to take photos of the following.
All four sides of the home (include the sky and ground in your photo)
This documents your home’s exterior, including its roof shape, gutters, and foundation. You always hear a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true: we can tell the home has settled if porch steps are leaning, there are gaps around window and door frames, or the chimney is cracked.
A furnace usually has a life of 16 to 20 years. If yours is past its prime, it might need to be updated to ensure your home’s safety.
Pool (if applicable), along with every gate / latch that secures the pool
Because pools increase the risk of an injury happening on your property, we always want to check that they are properly secured and not standing empty. If you do have a swimming pool, it might be smart to increase your personal liability coverage.
HVAC condenser outside the home
An air conditioning unit typically has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, and its serial number will show how many years of use it may have left.
Sheds and outbuildings, if applicable
Your home insurance policy includes coverage for other structures on your property. We usually recommend insuring your other structures at about 10 percent of your dwelling coverage. So if your house is insured for $200,000, you’ll typically have $20,000 in protection for your garage, fence, etc.
All plumbing, including under all sinks and toilet shut-off valves
This will help document the type of piping you have and whether there are any hidden leaks, sediment build-up, mold, or rust.
Electrical panel and the manufacturer label
Older electrical systems can be a big fire risk, which is why we check both the panel and the manufacturer. Knob and tube wiring, for example, is usually ungrounded and can cause electric shocks. Or, when circuit breakers trip on Federal Pacific Electric panels, they’ve been known to overheat and cause fires.
Water heater and the manufacturer label
Tank-style water heaters usually have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, whereas tankless water heaters may last about 19 years. This photo will let us know how much life your system has.
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