What Is a 4-Point Home Inspection?

A 4-point inspection checks your house’s roof, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems to ensure the home is in good shape before an insurance company issues a policy.

Courtney Washington
Courtney Washington

Courtney Washington is a Texas A&M University graduate. Her extensive knowledge and background in auto, home, and umbrella policies make her a one-stop shop for insurance advice and information. She loves to help her readers understand their insurance choices so they can make informed decisions about their coverage.

Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault
  • Experienced personal finance writer

  • Background working with banks and insurance companies

Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

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Updated June 5, 2024

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A 4-point inspection is a type of home evaluation that a certified inspector performs to determine a home’s eligibility for insurance coverage. The inspection focuses on a home’s four major components and systems: its heating, ventilation, and air condition system (HVAC), electrical, plumbing, and roof. Many home insurance companies require a 4-point home inspection before issuing coverage.

Not every home will need an inspection to qualify for home insurance. While not legally required, you’ll likely need a 4-point home inspection if you’re trying to insure an older home or house in an area prone to natural disasters. Should issues arise during the inspection, your insurer may deny coverage until you can make repairs.[1]

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What a 4-point home inspection covers

A 4-point home inspection surveys your home’s four major structures and systems: HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and roof. During the inspection, a certified inspector examines these key areas of a home, compiling their findings into a report for the insurance company.

An insurer can order this inspection before issuing insurance coverage to make sure the home is up to safety standards. Keep in mind that a 4-point inspection isn’t as comprehensive as a full home inspection, but it can still help insurance companies determine if a home is insurable. And it can be a useful tool for you to evaluate a home’s condition before purchasing.

Here’s a closer look at what an inspector checks for during a 4-point home inspection.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/435ffd976a/freezing-of-appliances-or-hvac.svg

    HVAC

    The inspector will evaluate a home’s HVAC systems, including air conditioning, ventilation, and heating. They might take humidity and temperature readings, look at ductwork, check for signs of water damage, inspect airflow, and inspect the system’s productivity overall. They’ll note any repairs needed that may disqualify the home from insurance coverage.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/e63dd8ec77/artificially-generated-electrical-currents.svg

    Electrical

    During this check, the inspector evaluates a home’s electrical systems, including circuits, wiring, electrical panels, and outlets. The inspector might use thermal imaging devices to look for electrical components that could malfunction due to the wiring, also known as hot spots. They’ll note potential fire hazards and any repairs needed to obtain a policy.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/543689d6cb/renewable-energy-96x96-orange_013-faucet.svg

    Plumbing

    The inspector checks the home’s plumbing system, including the installation and design, and the quality of the faucets, sinks, drains, water heater, shower, toilets, and pipes. The inspector might scope the drains to see the quality of the inside of the pipes and check for leaks or partial blockages leading to clogs. Certain pipes, like polybutylene plumbing common in older homes, might lead to denied coverage until the proper repairs and upgrades can be made.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/ef76aca096/house-rental-96x96-green_017-maintenance.svg

    Roofing

    The inspector visually evaluates the home’s roof structure, looking for signs of wind damage, including loose or deteriorating shingles and damage to other roofing materials. They’ll also note the roof’s age and stability, both inside and outside the home. The typical roof has a 20-to-30-year lifespan. Roofs older than this might cause a house to fail a 4-point inspection.

4-point inspection cost

The cost of a 4-point home inspection varies by inspection company and by state. The age and size of the home can also play a role in how much you’ll pay for a 4-point inspection. But on average, homeowners pay between $50 and $150.

A full home inspection, by comparison, usually costs around $300–$500.[2]

Is a 4-point inspection required?

In general, 4-point inspections aren’t required by law in order to get a home insurance policy. But each insurance company can decide whether it wants its homeowners to have this type of inspection before granting a policy.

Good to Know

Home insurance companies typically only require a 4-point home inspection if you’re considering an older home. Homes more than 30 years old have systems that are more likely to break down, which could pose serious hazards. Newer homes, on the other hand, don’t come with as much risk.

4-point inspection vs. full home inspection

While a 4-point inspection and a full home inspection are both types of inspections that review the condition of a house, a full inspection is much more comprehensive. Full inspections typically cost more and take longer to complete than a 4-point inspection. Conducting a 4-point inspection can help you and the insurance company evaluate a home’s key systems. 

But with a full inspection, you’ll have more insight into other issues with the home, like faulty wiring, broken windows, signs of water damage or mold, issues with the installation of fixtures and appliances, foundation structure, insufficient insulation levels throughout the house, and other issues that the naked eye can’t see.[3]

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How to prepare for a 4-point home inspection

Preparation for a 4-point home inspection varies, depending on whether you already own the house or are simply in the market and having it evaluated for coverage. If you’re looking to buy, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to prepare anything in advance of the inspection since you’re not the homeowner. But you may be able to work with the seller to fix some known issues in advance.

Any issues you can address and repair ahead of time can help lessen the changes of the home failing inspection. But keep in mind that despite your best efforts to get a home in tip-top shape, the inspector may still find issues that need resolution before a company will insure the house.

Here’s a closer look at some ways to get a house prepared before a 4-point home inspection:

  • Check the HVAC. Run the home’s air conditioning and heating systems to make sure they’re working correctly. If you find any obvious issues, try to get them repaired before the inspection.

  • Do an electrical check. Inspect the property for any exposed or ungrounded wires. If you find electrical issues, consider calling an electrician in to make repairs before the inspection.

  • Check the plumbing. Double-check for signs of leaks, including deteriorating pipes or water-damaged walls. Call in a plumber to make repairs before the inspection.

  • Inspect the roof. Check the home’s roof for any signs of obvious damage. If possible, replace any damaged or broken roof shingles.

Can you fail a 4-point home inspection?

If an inspector finds a home’s four key areas need significant repairs, are not in working order, or are unsafe, it’s likely the house will fail a 4-point home inspection. Homes that fail often have an issue with one of the four components that the inspector checks. For example, homes can fail due to the following types of issues:

  • Damage to roof

  • Outdated electrical systems, like aluminum or knob-and-tube wiring

  • Polybutylene pipes or other major plumbing issues

  • Nonfunctional or missing HVAC systems, like air conditioning or heat

What to do if an insurer denies you coverage

The insurance company will usually consider a home that fails a 4-point inspection to be uninsurable. This could lead to the insurer denying or canceling the homeowners policy. But you may be able to shop around for a home insurance company that’ll agree to issue a policy if you make repairs in a timely manner, usually within 30 days or another predetermined window of time.

Some instances that could cause a failed inspection, like questionable wiring, may not require any repairs. Instead, the insurer may ask to have an electrician inspect the wires.

If the inspector finds issues that an insurer can exclude from coverage, an insurer might issue a policy with exceptions. If the company denies coverage because of a failed inspection, the homeowner can always check with another company to see if it would cover the home.

4-point inspection FAQs

If you’re preparing for a 4-point inspection, this additional information may be helpful.

  • What are the benefits of a 4-point inspection?

    4-point inspections are typically completed faster and cheaper than full home inspections. They provide homeowners and insurers both with peace of mind that the house is free of any looming problems.

  • How long does a 4-point inspection take?

    It depends. The time it takes to complete a 4-point inspection varies depending on the size of the home and the number of issues found during the inspection. Before getting a home inspected, you can ask the inspector for an estimated time frame.

  • Who conducts a 4-point home inspection?

    A licensed inspector conducts a 4-point home inspection. Your home insurance company can recommend an inspector, or you can check with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) for a list of approved inspectors by state and address.

  • What isn’t covered in a 4-point inspection?

    Unlike a full home inspection, a 4-point inspection only covers key components and systems, including a home’s roof, HVAC system, plumbing, and electrical. It doesn’t cover appliances, the foundation, windows and doors, pests, or other factors more commonly found on full home inspections.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "What if I can't get coverage?."
  2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Ten Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector."
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "Homebuyer's Insurance Guide."
Courtney Washington
Courtney Washington

Courtney Washington is a Texas A&M University graduate. Her extensive knowledge and background in auto, home, and umbrella policies make her a one-stop shop for insurance advice and information. She loves to help her readers understand their insurance choices so they can make informed decisions about their coverage.

Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault
  • Experienced personal finance writer

  • Background working with banks and insurance companies

Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

Featured in

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