What Is a 4-Point Home Inspection?
A professional home inspector needs to know how to conduct more than one type of inspection to have a successful business. Examples include being trained and certified to conduct inspections for detecting the presence of vermin, radon or mold. Inspectors in coastal areas of the Southeast might also consider being trained to conduct wind mitigation inspections.
Although there may not be a lot of requests for them, professional inspectors also need to be able to perform 4-point inspections. A residential 4-point inspection is a quick assessment of a home’s major components that are frequently used when an in-depth inspection isn’t needed or might involve more administrative time and paperwork than the task realistically requires.
Who Orders 4-Pont Inspections?
Four-point inspections provide a snapshot of a property’s condition. They’re frequently ordered by insurance underwriters before issuing coverage for a homebuyer who will soon need coverage or a homeowner who’s shopping around for a lower premium.
Four-point inspections are often called for when insuring older homes. In recent years, insurers have become increasingly reluctant to provide coverage on older homes. Most insurance companies now require 4-point inspections for houses more than 40 years old or for rental properties older than 30.
Why Not a Full Home Inspection?
Insurance companies don’t need the in-depth examination of a full or homebuyer’s inspection, which includes establishing the condition of the following items:
- Interior and exterior of the home
- Structural integrity of the residence
- The garage
- The home’s plumbing and septic systems
- The electrical system
- Kitchen and bathroom fixtures
- Kitchen appliances
- The HVAC system
- Grading and site conditions
- Doors and windows
- The roof and roof coverings
- Attics and insulation
- Stucco and siding
- Porches, patios, balconies and railings
- And more
Although a 4-point residential inspection shares some similarities with full home inspections, they cover only the four main components of the house, which are:
- The HVAC System. In addition to the condition of the equipment, some insurers will deny coverage on homes without central air conditioning and heating.
- The Electrical System. The inspection includes the panel, circuit and type of wiring. Faulty wiring is a major cause of house fires.
- The Plumbing System. The condition of the pipes and the material from which they’re made are part of a 4-point inspection. Polybutylene pipes are prone to bursting, and although some insurers may provide coverage, it normally will exclude water damage.
- The Roof. Most insurance companies won’t insure homes with roofs that are more than 40 years old. Damaged roofs and water leaks are other reasons for denying coverage.
Major defects in any of these four areas are potential sources of hazard or conditions that could result in future claims by the homeowner. An old roof that’s failing might collapse, causing the policyholder to seek reimbursement for damages to the home or its contents. There are similar concerns as to the condition of an older home’s electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. If they were improperly installed or need repair or replacement, there’s a risk of their failing and causing fire or water damage to the home. Knowing the age and condition of these four items is the basis for the insurer to either issue the coverage or deny the application.
Insurers don’t need to receive other information about the home’s condition, such as peeling stucco, worn carpeting or a cracked driveway to reach a decision as to whether a policy will be issued. An underwriter’s job is already challenging enough without adding the unwanted or unneeded paperwork that’s associated with a full home inspection.
Four-point inspections can be completed in as little as 20 or 30 minutes, whereas a full inspection typically takes two and a half to three hours or more. Not surprisingly, 4-point inspections cost less than full inspections since they take less time to complete. A typical 4-point inspection runs between $50 and $100. Full homebuyer inspections can cost as little as $200 for smaller homes or condominium units, but can be $400 or more, depending upon the size of the home and its geographic location.
More About 4-Point Inspections
A 4-point inspection requires the same knowledge and skills for examining and reporting the condition of the four components just as if it were a full inspection, including noting all defects in the inspection report that’s submitted to the client.
There are no standard forms for 4-point inspections. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) has a universal form for conducting 4-point inspections, although there are no regulations that require it to be used. Some insurers may want inspectors to use their company’s standard forms, or they might simply outline the scope of the work and expect the inspector to come up with their own format. Insurance companies normally will want photos of the front and rear of the house. Some may also want pictures of each of the four elements inspected.
Realistically, 4-point home inspections won’t make up the majority of a home inspector’s income. Learning how to conduct them, however, adds another service you can provide, which helps build your business. Four-point inspections are among the several topics covered in Inspection Certification Associates’ online Home Inspector Training Course. Our program allows students to learn at their own pace, which means our students can continue working at their current jobs while training for their new career.
ICA’s Home Inspector Training and Certification course is considered to be among the best in the country. To find out more about ICA, watch a video demonstration of our training. You can also contact us online or call us 888-374-4096. Do it today – you’ll be glad you did!