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Are you planning to get homeowner’s insurance? If so, a home inspection is a mandatory step before you can get a policy. It’s a process that is required by all insurers.

In getting insurance, you may see two different terms when dealing with the home inspections:

  • A four-point home inspection
  • A full home inspection

These two types of home inspection share the same goal. Before any property transaction is finalized, Cavalier Estates explains, buyers and insurance companies need to know about potential issues and damage regarding the home. The results communicated by the inspector help to make wiser decisions.

In the following article, you’ll learn about the main differences between four-point and full home inspections. Keep in mind that at least one of these inspections is necessary to acquire an insurance policy.

How does a four-point inspection work?

home inspections

Insurance companies are known to get a four-point inspection done for homes that are over 20 years old. But there are other scenarios as well. For example, insurers may want to use a four-point inspection for newer houses that have been vacant for a substantial amount of time.

The four-point inspection gets its name from the four different areas of interest in a home:

  • Electrical wiring
  • HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
  • Plumbing
  • Roof & structure

This visual evaluation focuses only on these key areas. That’s because the HVAC system, electrical wiring, and similar areas of home carry the biggest risks. Especially in older buildings.

Here are some of the questions that an inspector will want to find an answer to:

  • Are there any bent or damaged wires in the electrical system?
  • What type of pipes is in the inspected home?
  • Is there leaking in the HVAC system?
  • Are all the shingles attached to the roof?

How does a full home inspection work?

home inspection

A full home inspection takes more time. You may also see this type of evaluation being called “a buyer’s inspection” or just “a full inspection”. It’s considerably more exhaustive compared to a four-point inspection.

Full home inspections usually focus on these areas:

  • Heating and cooling systems: efficiency and potential issues
  • Appliances inside the house
  • Plumbing problems
  • Basement and crawlspace situation
  • Roof, chimney, and fireplace
  • Electrical system, including breakers and receptacles
  • Structural integrity
  • Condition of the interior and exterior surfaces
  • Grading of the site
  • Mold and mildew in the indoor spaces

The actual inspection may include further areas. This depends on the inspection company and terms in a particular contract. In most cases, buyer’s inspections won’t cover structures separate from the main home building. For example, this type of inspection usually excludes sheds, septic tanks, shelters, and wells.

An important part of every full home inspection is the final report. Home inspectors need to communicate all their findings in writing. Additionally, skilled inspectors add photos to illustrate any significant findings.

What’s the difference between these inspections?

home inspections

The main difference between four-point inspections and full home inspections is their respective scope and depth. Four-point inspections focus only on the key high-risk areas of a home. This is vital knowledge for buyers and insurers to make informed decisions.

Full home inspections, also known as buyer’s inspections, take a longer time to finish. Compared to four-point inspections, this type of evaluation focuses on many more aspects.

However, you may wonder why buyers and insurers opt for an inspection that provides less information. Four-point inspections are a cost-effective solution. Even though these evaluations lack a wider scope, a four-point inspection still highlights the most hazardous issues in any given home.

Full home inspections always cover the focus areas of four-point inspections. If the report contains significant findings, both types of inspections may result in additional requirements for homeowner’s insurance. For example, the insurer may request leaky plumbing to be fixed before a policy gets signed.

The bottom line: Four-point inspections and full home inspections

Insurers and buyers want to make sure that a purchased home holds up to all the standards. Serious issues, such as leaky plumbing or exposed wiring, greatly increase the risk of accidents and further damage.

Insurance companies set home inspections as a condition for obtaining homeowners insurance. The results acquired from home inspections help the companies lower their risk. Insuring a damaged or otherwise problematic home incurs big costs.

There are two major types of home inspections. Four-point inspections are shorter evaluations that focus on four key areas in a home: electrical system, plumbing, roof, and the HVAC system. Full home inspections, or buyer’s inspections, are extensive evaluations that cover virtually all the visible areas in a home.