What is a 4-point Home Inspection?


If you are in the market for a new home or thinking of selling? You have likely been looking into home inspections as a mortgage requirement. Sellers may have an inspection done before they list to avoid surprises. If you want to make home updates or wonder where to spend your home improvement funds, an inspection may also be for you.

A four-point inspection reviews just four parts of the home: electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and roofing. This differs from a full home inspection, which covers most or all components of your home. A four-point inspection takes less time and can be less expensive. We’ll show you how a four-point inspection works and why it’s important next.

What does a 4-point home inspection include?

There are several levels of a home inspection.

  • A pre-inspection is a visual, non-invasive review of the essential workings of a home. They will note any roof, foundation, crawl space, basement, and attic damage.
  • A full inspection will delve deeper into these parts of the home and check to see that the day-to-day functions are operational.
  • A four-point confirms the working condition of just the HVAC system, electrical, plumbing, and roofing.

HVAC

An HVAC inspection reviews the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This inspection measures your home’s thermal efficiency, comfort, and air quality. An inspector will take temperature, infrared, and humidity readings around the house. This includes areas where airflow or moisture could be trapped or leaking, like the attic, garage, and windows.

From there, your inspector can identify where you’re losing heat or trapping moisture. Losing and trapping heat can increase air conditioning and heating bills. Moisture is a bigger issue in that it can lead to mold and decrease air quality in the home.

The vents and junctions are also inspected, including the bathroom and kitchen where vents pass through the ceiling, roof, and walls. There should be a tight seal around the vents so air and moisture do not pass through the cracks. They should also be free of damage, crimping, or blockages like bird nests or buildup.

The appliances are also inspected to ensure they are functional. For example, water damage on an AC unit may mean it isn’t working well. A dirty furnace filter may be straining your furnace and causing wear and tear. Homeowners should change the filter in their furnaces twice a year for good air quality.

Electrical

Your inspector will also look at all indoor and outdoor outlets as well as the breaker box. A visual inspection will check for burn marks, heat, and connection.

A burn mark results from an overloaded circuit caused by too much demand on one outlet. The largest amount of power drawn from any outlet is 80%. If the breaker says 15 amps, then the most output at any given time should be 12 amps. If the breaker services many outlets, then that number is further divided. You can check your appliance’s electrical stickers to see how much power they draw. Modern electrical systems have GFCIs that will stop power to outlets when it becomes overloaded. This is why your breaker flips off, and you must reset it.

Excessive heat around any outlet or circuit box could signify that excess power is being drawn. Loose and damaged wiring can also be a cause. In any case, this can be a significant fire hazard, and you should pay prompt attention to it.

Where possible, the inspector will check the connections of wires to their terminal points. It’s impossible to view the wires in the walls, but thermal imaging can give a general picture of hot spots. Attics, crawl spaces, and basements are easier to access, so your inspector will assess the construction quality as well. They will check to see if the attachments are loose and if any wires show signs of fraying or damage.

Plumbing

A plumbing inspection will review the flow and quality of the water, pipe installation quality, and the pipes themselves.

A water quality check will look for cloudy or turbid water and water that has a strong odor. Water odor and turbidity are common issues with well water, but a municipal system should not have either. Turbidity and odor are signs there are contaminants in the system somewhere. Common causes are old corroding pipes and tree root invasion. A camera inspection can identify local issues, but if you fear a problem with your city’s system, send a sample of your water to a lab for testing.

The overall design and installation can identify likely problem areas. The P-trap and J-joint trap a small amount of water and act as a barrier against the odors from the sewer gasses that want to rise back up. They can also trap residues caused by soap buildup or grease, leading to clogging. These drains need regular use to ensure proper functioning. System repair should use the same materials to provide a smooth connection. Not all pipes are the same, and the adhesives are specific to the line.

A scope or camera inspection of the pipes will locate any areas that have been invaded by tree roots or damaged by digging. It will also show areas of build-up that can trap hair and other materials leading to clogs and potential water damage. 

Roofing

A roof inspection looks at the condition and structure from the outside and the inside. On the outside, the inspector will look for hazards like branches and hedges close to the roof that may fall. They will also look for signs of damage like broken or loose shingles, gutters, and signs of animals. The older the roof, the more likely it will show signs of deterioration. Most roofs need to be replaced every 20-25 years.

Based on the shape of the roof, your city, the inspector may assess future problems caused by strong or damaging winds and snow. For example, homes with a hipped roof are more likely to withstand strong winds than a home with an open or box gable.

The inside of the roof can also display warning signs. The inspector will look for gaps and twisting in the ceiling joists, rafters, and decking. They also look for dry rot, mold, and water damage signs. Dry rot is fungal decay that happens when the timber has a moisture content of 20%+ and there is airflow in the space. Because the fungus that causes dry rot is natural in the air, it happens easily.

A four-point inspection can be performed in just a few hours and is reasonably priced at about $300. Positive results can reassure buyers, help with mortgage approval, and help with home insurance. An inspection that uncovers issues can give the buyer negotiation leverage to help guide renovations.

The HVAC inspection can also help homeowners save on monthly energy bills. Improvements to these areas can decrease day to day costs of heating and cooling the home. Whether buying, selling, or maintaining a home, a four-point inspection can save you time, money, and headaches.