Four Point Vs. Full Home Inspection

If you are planning to get homeowner’s insurance coverage, then your insurance firm may require a home inspection be done on your home before they will issue a new policy. Generally speaking, there are two inspection types they may request: a four-point inspection and a full-home inspection. 

Both insurance companies and buyers require them for their interests. The goal of these inspections, as RentSmartUSA Management in Orlando says, is to uncover any notable issues or damage before the property is sold. 

In this post, you’ll learn what the main differences between the two inspection types are and know what to expect. 

A Four-Point Inspection 

Do you own an older home in the state of Florida or other coastal states? If you do, then you might need a four-point inspection. A four-point inspection is usually required if you are either purchasing an older home or if you are renewing your existing homeowner’s insurance policy. Defining what constitutes an “older home” is subjective, but the generally rule is 30-years or more. However, we have seen a few insurance carriers require them on a home only 10-years old! Ultimately, each insurance company sets their own standards for this.

The reason why this type of inspection is popular with older homes is that such homes have issues in four key areas: The roof, plumbing, HVAC and electrical. To make this easier for clients to remember, we sometimes use the acronym PERM (you know, like that thing people did to their hair in the 80’s): Plumbing, Electrical, Roof and Mechanical (AC). 

During a four-point inspection, the following are the four things that an inspector will look at: 

  • Plumbing: When examining your home’s plumbing, the inspector will pay particular attention to the types of pipes in your home to determine their likelihood of bursting. If the inspector finds polybutylene plumbing, chances of coverage may greatly diminish. Some insurance companies, however, may still insure you but exclude water damage. This means that you’ll become entirely responsible if water damage occurs in your home due to pipes bursting.
  • Electrical Wiring and Panels: What kind of wiring does your home have? If your home has knob-and-tube or single-strand aluminum wires, chances of getting insurance are minimal without repairs. 90% of all residential fires are caused by faulty wires, and this is something that insurance agencies don’t take lightly. Copper is the standard.
  • Roof: The inspector will examine the condition, material, and age of the roof. Generally speaking, an insurance company won’t insure metal roofs aged more than forty years or shingle roofs exceeding twenty years.
  • Mechanical/HVAC: Does your home have an HVAC system? If so, what condition is it in? Does it leak condensation? While every insurance company has what it considers “acceptable”, it isn’t uncommon for coverage to be denied due to issues here, or a lack of AC.

How long does a four-point inspection take? 

A four-point inspection takes about 45-60 minutes and is only visual. 

How much does a four-point inspection cost? 

Although the costs vary from one location to another, expect to pay anywhere between $125-$175 for this stand-alone inspection. They can be more affordable when performed at the same time as a full home inspection.

Who can perform a four-point inspection? 

In Florida, a four-point inspection is usually performed by licensed home inspectors like us at Whitt Inspections, but can be done by a registered and licensed architect, a building code inspector, or a general, residential, or building contractor. 

Who pays for a four-point inspection? 

A four-point inspection is normally paid for by the home buyer during a real estate transaction. If you already are a homeowner simply looking to switch insurance carriers, then you would be responsible. 

A Full-Home Inspection 

A full home inspection is unlimited, non-invasive scrutiny of a home’s condition. Standard home inspections include a review of the home’s electrical systems, interior plumbing, and heating and cooling system. 

  • The Roof: An inspector can tell whether a roof has been done by an amateur or a professional. They will check to see that openings like skylights or chimneys have good flashing and are free from debris and moss growth. 
  • Major Systems: From HVAC to plumbing to electrical, an inspector will look at all the major systems in a home. 
  • The Exterior: An inspector will walk the property to examine its structural integrity. They will look at things like the home’s foundation, the drainage, and how the walls intersect. 
  • Safety Checklist: Safety is a critical component of any home inspection checklist. An inspector will look at safety systems like the smoke detector alarms, ground fault interrupters, stairs, and safety glass. 

Additionally, home inspectors will also look at the operation of doors and windows, operation of toilets and sinks, moisture intrusion or plumbing leaks, and the interior of the home. 

A point of distinction: A full home inspection is much, much more thorough than a four point inspection. We see buyers and sometimes even agents (gasp!) make the mistake of only getting a four-point to save money, but this is a folly that will often cost them much more than they think they are saving. Don’t be penny-wise but pound-foolish when it comes to the biggest purchase you will probably ever make. Home inspections, in the scheme of things, aren’t very expensive, and can help keep you from buying an unsafe home or leaving money on the table during negotiations. We promise that buying a money pit will cost you so much more, so do your research and get the very best inspection you can afford. This is in your best interest, as inspectors are people — not commodities — and are simply not all the same. Maybe we’re biased, but trust us here. We’ve seem some awful so-called “inspections” out there.

How long does a full home inspection take? 

For a typical home, expect the inspection process to take a couple of hours. The report will usually be ready in about 2 or 3 days. 

How much does a full home inspection process cost? 

The average cost of a home inspection process is $325. Homes under 1,000 sq. ft. cost as little as $275 while those with more than 3,000 sq. ft. will run at least $425. 

Who can perform a full home inspection? 

Home inspections are done by trained and certified home inspectors. Different states have specific requirements. In Florida, all home inspectors are required to be licensed by the state DBPR. 

Who pays for a full home inspection? 

Just like in a four-point inspection, the buyer is responsible for paying for the home inspection. 

There you have it. Major differences between a four-point inspection and a full home inspection. When hiring for either task, make sure to choose an experienced professional, like us at Whitt Inspections, LLC