What is a 4-Point Inspection?
If you own or have purchased an older home, you likely already know what a 4-Point Inspection entails (in fact, you were likely FORCED to get such an inspection to secure insurance coverage for that property). If you are purchasing a home older than 30 years, or less if you are purchasing a rental/investment property, you very well may be required to have a 4-Point Inspection completed. This inspection is SOLELY for the benefit of the Insurance Company, and it informs them of the liability they are taking on by insuring your property. The 4-Point inspection concept began after the passage of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. This storm caused a shocking amount of financial loss, which came as surprise to the Insurance Industry. They (collectively) believed that the building materials had a more lengthy lifespan and would hold up better to passing storms. This eye-opening event caused the industry to look toward ways they could assess the competency of the materials being used in the homes they insure.
A 4-Point Inspection focuses on the most critical 4 components from an Insurance RISK standpoint. It includes the:
- Electrical System
- Heating and Cooling Systems
- Plumbing Systems
If you have older, or systems deemed more prone to failure, you may be declined for coverage altogether. These 4 components represent the areas most commonly cited items in insurance claims. The inspector conducting this 4 Point inspection is seeking to document the functionality, the safety, the age, and any issues affecting the performance of these 4 critical items within a residence.
While the criteria will change from Insurance Company to Company, generally asphalt shingle roofs that are over 19 years old will be required to be replaced to collect coverage. The same goes for tile (concrete or clay) roofs that are more than 40 years old. If the roof you have, of any material, has notable damage or functional leaking issues, then you can expect to be required to mitigate the issue or replace the roof prior to coverage. If you have excessive granule loss, loose shingles, lifting shingles, cracked or missing tiles, missing or damaged fasteners, or roof leaks you can expect an issue to arise during this inspection.
The inspector will document the materials used in the roof’s construction. He/she will document the condition of the existing roofing. They will attempt to research the history of the roof, and find any permits associated with the construction of the roof.
Many times, homeowners selling their houses think they need to find a roofing company to conduct the roofing inspection. Our advice is the same every time: have a home inspector do the roof inspection and then have a roofing company fix the issues outlined in the inspection report (if this is a part of the contingencies.) The insurance company often requires the inspection to be from a home inspection company. This will save time, money and energy of going back and forth!
The Electrical System
You can expect to be required to replace a fuse breaker box that was manufactured by certain brands that were deemed unsafe (like Federal Pacific, Zinsco, Challenger, and Sylvania). These boxes pose a fairly significant fire risk, so changing them out is in your best interest anyway.
Also, if your box has screw-in fuses or knob & tube wiring you can expect those components to need replacement. The same goes for aluminum wiring or cloth-lined wiring. There should be no double-tapped breakers, two-prong outlets, or neutrals/grounds on the same bus bar in subpanels. If the home does not have proper GFCI and AFCI protection, you should start to budget to have some put in.
To complete this portion of the inspection, the inspector will document the wiring type (copper, aluminum, cloth-covered wire, etc.). The inspector will look for evidence of faulty wiring, as this causes nearly 90% of residential fires.
Heating and Cooling System
If your home does not have central heating and air-conditioning, expect that to pose a problem. Assuming your house DOES have a central air-conditioner, your inspector will document the brand/age of the in-place equipment. They will document the condition of the equipment. Is there any apparent signs of failure or deferred maintenance?
The Plumbing System
Plumbing materials have changed over time, and we now know that certain materials were not as suitable for the task as originally thought. Items like Orangeburg piping and polybutylene piping were heavily used in the past, but are highly known to be susceptible to failure. As such, expect the insurance company to require the replacement of these systems prior to a policy being issued. If your water heater is over 18 years old, expect that to cause an issue with insurance coverage as well. This timeframe correlates to where unique safety features came online for water heaters, which helped them become significantly safer. Most notably, the devices (after 2003) were no longer required to be elevated 18 inches off the floor, due to ignition from leakage having been eliminated by the new component designs.
Now having some of these systems does not necessarily mean you will be walking away without coverage. It often means you may need to omit certain coverages to gain the policy. This means that a failure that develops due to that omitted component will not be covered by insurance in the event of failure.
Your inspector will document the material used in the pipe’s construction. They will note any leakage or issues they see in the piping, and water heater. They will note that the water heater has a TPR (temperature Pressure Relieve) valve, and that its discharge tube is properly provided.
So WHO can do 4-Point Inspections
To be eligible to conduct 4-Point inspections you must be one of the following (and have the training to complete these examinations):
- A general, residential, or building contractor
- A building code inspector
- A registered architect
- A home inspector
- A professional engineer
- A building code official who is authorized by the State of Florida to verify Building Code Compliance
You should note, however, that individual licensed trade professionals can sign off on their respective components of the 4-point inspection (i.e., A roofer can sign off on the roofing portion).
So now that you know what a 4-point inspection entails, you can make an informed decision on whether you want one conducted or not. If you choose to add one of these valuable add-on inspections to your next FULL Home Inspection, we can save you money due to the fact that we will already be onsite. See our PRICING to see what the costs associated with these inspections and our availability.