Unfortunately if you’ve run a web search for the phrases “four-point inspection” or “wind mitigation inspection,” you’ve no doubt received a lot of advertising but very little in the way of facts. It’s time to clear up what these inspections do and don’t do, and why they are not a substitute for a full home inspection.
Insurance companies can be very reluctant to issue an insurance policy for a home in excess of 35 years. Building codes and standards change over the course of years, and an older home may not meet those standards unless it has been recently renovated. A four-point inspection is one that focuses on the following areas:
- HVAC. An HVAC inspection focuses on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems of an older home. Potential problems include unsafe wiring, units in poor repair, improper venting and other problems.
- Electricity. Electrical wiring and panels will need to be inspected, as faulty wiring is the principal cause of fires in older homes. Older homes may also be underpowered; electrical service of fewer than 100 Amperes no longer qualifies for coverage. Other problems include obsolete wiring, obsolete fuse boxes and other code violations.
- Plumbing. Plumbing is also part of the four-point inspection. Some homes built from 1978 to 1995 have polybutylene plumbing. Some plumbing installations may not have been done with a permit, and my also need to be remediated. Also, older homes can have corroded and leaking pipes or problems with lead in the soldering or fixtures.
- Roofing. Roofs in older homes may need major renovations, including reframing, resheathing, and having layers of shingles peeled off in order to make way for new shingles. Often an older roof will need to be brought up the current building code. In order to pass inspection the roof must have at least three more years of life and it.
A four-point inspection is not a substitute for a home inspection, which takes into account the entire house. This inspection is meant to look at some of the generators of some of the most expensive insurance claims. Even after this inspection is done still need to have a whole house inspection undertaken.
A wind mitigation inspection ensures that your property is protected as much as possible from windstorm or hurricane damage. Wind and water can damage a home by entering through unreinforced gables, vents, improperly sealed windows and doors; winds can literally tear the roof off a home. After an inspection, you may need to install water barriers, reinforce your foundation to wall anchoring, install storm shutters or replace doorways and garage doors with hurricane rated doors.
Working with an experienced insurance agent can help you to either prepare your home for sale by having these inspections done for prospective buyers, or make sure that you’re not being handed a pile of someone else’s problems in the shape of a house that will require extensive work before anyone is willing to insure it.