What should I look for in a home inspection?

A home inspection formally documents your home’s current condition.

Serious concentrated young woman in checkered shirt inspecting the faucet in her kitchen

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:

  • Siding
  • Roof
  • Other structures
  • Gutters
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • 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 free for our customers and a convenient way to get inspections done without having someone come out to your house.

Self inspections are due within 7 days of the policy’s effective date for new home purchases and within 7 days of signing up for a policy if you already live in your home. All you need is a smartphone or tablet and about 20 minutes.

Here’s what to look for when doing a home inspection yourself.

Home inspection checklist for self inspections

A home self inspection is a quick and easy alternative to bringing an inspector out to your property. Most self inspections take 20 minutes to complete, and you only need a smartphone to do it.

The Kin self inspection is powered by eSurvey from NIIS. You only need a smartphone or tablet and an internet connection to complete the inspection.

Once you start, eSurvey will guide you through each step of the process with easy multiple-choice questions. You'll then be prompted to take photos inside and outside of the home with your mobile device. The images will automatically (and securely) go directly to us.

Self-inspection tips

  • Take exterior photos in daylight.
  • Take a clear photo of the manufacturer's label on the electrical panel.
  • Don’t climb anything to get a photo of the roof! From the ground, take a few steps back to make sure the roof is visible in your shot.
  • If you can’t access parts of the property (e.g., the attic) or the photo isn’t applicable, take a blank picture.
  • If you aren’t currently at the property, forward the inspection link to a trusted friend, family member, or tenant.

To complete your inspection, you’ll need to take photos of the following.

All four sides of the home to show the roof and ground

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.

For your roof, we'll keep an eye out for lifting or curling shingles, discoloration or granular loss, and missing tiles.

Note: never get on the roof to take an inspection picture!

HVAC furnace

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.

Please be careful when taking photos of your home. Happy inspecting!


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