Plan on buying a house? Even though it is not required, I hope you plan on getting a home inspection done on the property by a licensed home inspector. Since most of the homes sold in the Cocoa Beach area (and almost half of the homes sold in Brevard County) are over 30 years old, you will be more than likely need to have a 4-point inspection done on the property if you want to get insurance. Most of the homes sold in our area have a mortgage, insurance is a requirement for the loan. If you are paying cash for the property, it still makes sense to have the 4-point inspection done so you can have insurance on the home.
What is a 4-point inspection?
The 4 point inspection is the one inspection an insurance company will require if you are buying a home that is at least 30 years old (Or if you are looking to get a new policy on an existing home that is 30+ years old). The 4-point inspection form needs to be completed by a Florida licensed inspector.
What are the 4 points in a 4 point inspection?
The roof, the electrical system, the plumbing, and the air conditioning system (HVAC).
What does an inspector look for?
Electrical System The 4-point inspection form asks about the main panel and second panel if applicable looking for the type of panel; circuit breaker or fuse, total amps and if it is sufficient for current uses.
They want to know the type of wiring present in the home. The inspection form asks if there is cloth wiring, active knob and tube, aluminum wiring, and if any of the connections have been repaired with either a COPALUM crimp or Alumicon connector. The inspector is asked to note if there are any visible hazards (tripped breakers, blown fuses, empty sockets, loose wiring, improper grounding, corrosion, double taps, exposed or unsafe wiring, improper breaker sizes, or scorching)
They want to know if the general condition of the electrical system is satisfactory, the panels age, the year it was last updated and the brand of the panel.
Common issues with the electrical system I have seen come up that could prevent insurance are aluminum wiring, scorched panels, and specific brand panels (Federal Pacific, Zynsco, Sylvania and Challenger). Depending on the insurance carrier, these items will need to be replaced or repaired prior to closing or within 30 days of owning the home.
HVAC The4-point inspection form asks if the AC and heat are central. If it is not central heat, they want to know the primary heating source and fuel type. They want to know if the heating and air conditioning is in good working order and if they know the date of the last service for the system.
The 4-point inspection form asks about any hazards present. If there is a wood-burning stove or central gas fireplace and if they are not professionally installed. If a space heater is the primary source for heat and if the heat source is portable. The form also asks if the air conditioner condensation line or drain pan shows any signs of blockage or leaks.
Finally, they want to know the age of the system, when it was last updated and for the inspector to provide photos of the equipment including the dated manufacturer’s plate.
Plumbing System The 4-point inspection wants to know about the water heater, the plumbing fixtures & connections, and the type of pipes that are in the home.
They want to know the age of the water heater, if there is a temperature-pressure relief valve, any indication of active or prior leaks and where the water heater is located.
They want to know the general condition of the plumbing fixtures, the connections to appliances. Specifically the dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, water heater, shower/tubs, toilets, sinks and main shut off valve.
Red flags that come up for the plumbing system are older water heaters and polybutylene plumbing. Polybutylene plumbing was used in the late 1970s to mid-1990s as an alternative to copper. Unfortunately, this type of pipes will become brittle over time and it’s not a matter of if the pipes will fail, but when they will fail. Depending on the insurance carrier, the polybutylene plumbing will need to be replaced prior to closing or within 30 days of owning the home.
Roof The 4-point inspection form wants to know the age of the roof, the remaining useful life, the date of the last roofing permit and type of covering materials. If the roof was a full or partial replacement and overall condition of the roof.
The inspector will be looking for any visible signs of damage or deterioration (cracking, excessive granule loss, exposed felt, missing/loose/cracked tabs or tile, soft spots on the decking or visible hail damage). They will be looking for any signs of leaks either on the underside of the roof decking or interior ceilings.
Whatever the style of roof (hip, gable, flat, etc) or the materials used (asphalt shingle, metal, tile, membrane, etc) the insurance company wants to see at least a 5-year life expectancy on the 4-point inspection. If there are less than 5 years of life, you will need to either have the roof replaced prior to closing or within 30 days of owning the home.
Remember, the 4 point inspection report is a requirement for insurance if the home you are buying is at least 30 years old. Make certain to have your home inspector complete this for you at the time of your home inspection. You should also have your inspector do the wind mitigation report to see if you are eligible for any credits on your insurance policy. (What is a wind mitigation report? Learn more about it here What is a Wind Mitigation Report? )
If you are selling your home and it is at least 30 years old, you should consider having a 4-point inspection done to make certain the new owner can easily get insurance. Just because you have a policy does not guarantee the new owner can obtain coverage. At the very least, do a visual check of the 4-points. Look at your electrical box to see the brand. If it is a Federal Pacific, Sylvania, Zynsco, or Challenger; call an electrician and get this updated before you list your home for sale. Verify the age of your AC, water heater and roof. Look under your sinks to see if the pipes coming in are copper. If you see a gray PVC pipe, it could be polybutylene plumbing. At the very least, call in a licensed professional to have estimates on the repair or replacement of these items to help with negotiations with potential buyers of your home. If you do not know who to call, I can provide recommendations for a licensed roofer, electrician, plumber and AC company.
I met with Adam Marrara, a licensed home inspector and the owner of Florida Home Inspection Bureau to learn more about the 4-point inspection and wind mitigation report. He is able to complete a 4-point inspection and wind mitigation report. If you have specific questions about either of these inspections you should give him a call at 321-313-3190 or visit him online at http://www.floridahomeinspectionbureau.com/ You should also consider giving Adam a call if you are house hunting. Once you find the right property, you should have a home inspection done to make certain the condition of the home is acceptable. If you are thinking of selling your home, you could give Adam a call for a pre-listing home inspection. It will give you peace of mind knowing your home is in good shape or give you a punch list of items to address to make the sale of your home a little smoother.
About the author:
Eric Larkin is a Broker Associate with REMAX Solutions. He lives, works, and plays in the Cocoa Beach area. Eric has been helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs since becoming a real estate agent in 2003. His focus is always on helping, answering your questions, and doing everything possible to make certain you have a smooth transaction from beginning to end.
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