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Do You Need a Home Inspection for Homeowner's Insurance?

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James Battiston

When purchasing a home, you have a lot of things on your mind. From mortgages and down payments to property taxes and moving expenses, your plate is going to be more than full. In this competitive market, you might be tempted to forgo a home inspection and purchase a house as-is. But do you need a home inspection to get homeowner’s insurance? Let’s take a look.

Does home insurance require an inspection?

While home inspections are always a great idea, your insurance provider won’t necessarily require one. If you are purchasing an older home, your provider may insist upon one to ensure that key elements of the property, like the foundation, are structurally sound. Additionally, it lets them identify areas that need upgrading before they agree to provide coverage.

For example, if you are looking to purchase an older home that has undergone some renovations, your insurer may require a home inspection to ensure that these renovations have not caused structural irregularities. Similarly, your insurer may want to confirm that elements such as electric wiring and the type of materials used in the construction are up to code and not potentially dangerous. If problem areas are discovered, your insurer may require you to upgrade or fix the issue before providing coverage.

What are the benefits of having a home inspection?

Whether your insurer requires it or not, a home inspection is always a great idea. Home inspections help you identify any potential problem areas in your home – things that could need repairing or replacing sooner than you might expect. Knowing in advance what areas of your house might need immediate attention is a great benefit as you can often have these taken care of before you move in, therefore reducing potential headaches.

If you’re able to, having a home inspection performed as a condition of sale can also help you out in the long run. If the home inspector discovers numerous problem areas, you might choose to walk away from the home entirely. Alternatively, you can use these discoveries as a way to negotiate a lower price. For instance, the discovery of mold in a basement could result in costly home renovations to you – so if you can offset these expenses by paying less for your property, all the better.

The benefit of having a home inspection performed before you move into a house cannot be emphasized enough. Knowing if you’re going to need to repair or renovate areas of your home can save you a lot of unnecessary stress. You’d hate to have just settled into a home, having unpacked and set up all of your possessions, only to discover a major issue that requires you to pack up and relocate things.

TIP: If you’re selling your home, consider getting a home inspection done before putting your house on the market. That way, buyers are immediately aware of any potentially problematic areas and can see that you’ve taken these into account in your asking price.

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Home insurance inspection checklist

Home inspectors are trained to check the inside and outside of your home for problem areas and for signs that there might be larger issues than you can’t easily see with your naked eye. 

Inspectors will check your homes inside and outside, heating, electrical system, foundation and plumbing. They will ensure that everything is up-to-code and search for evidence of larger problems like leaks in the foundation or aging insulation that will need replacing.

Outside of your home, the inspector will check out the walls, foundation, roof, garage (if applicable) and grading (that is, the slope of your home to ensure there isn’t a risk of flooding). Inside, they’ll check each room for signs of structural problems, as well as issues that are site-specific. For example, in the kitchen, they’ll check that all electrical outlets are in the appropriate spot and any included appliances are in working order. In the laundry room, they’ll check the draining and ventilation to make certain all is up to code. 

The inspector will look at the heating system (HVAC – heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) in the house to verify everything is running properly. This includes checking the age of the system to let you know if it might need replacement in the near future. They’ll inspect the plumbing to ensure all is installed properly and the types of pipes used are appropriate.  As well, they’ll check the property’s water pressure to ensure things are running properly, and inspect your water heater to make sure it’s in good shape.

Finally, the inspector will examine the electrical system. This includes all the outlets and electrical panels to ensure that everything is functioning and grounded properly and that the panel is up to code.

A few days after your home inspection, you will receive a comprehensive report that outlines all of the findings. This will help you identify issues that you need to tend to immediately and those that might need attention in the near future.

Pro Tip: If you're thinking of doing the inspection yourself, Moving Waldo has a great home inspection checklist that can help you complete a thorough review of your property.

What to expect from your home inspection

When you have a home inspector in, you can expect it to cost you around $500 on average. The inspection will generally last between 2 and 4 hours – depending on the size of your property and how thorough the inspection is.

TIP: When looking for an inspector, request examples of inspection reports from your realtor or the companies you are considering. Not only will this give you an idea of how the companies operate, but it will also give you an idea of what to keep an eye out for.

It’s always a good idea to be with the inspector when they check out your home. That way, you’re able to see first-hand areas that are potentially problematic and ask any questions you might have. Your inspector will take photos of certain issues along the way, but it’s also advisable to bring your own camera. Having reference photos lets you easily identify things that you might otherwise forget about in all your moving stress.

Can home inspections give you discounts on home insurance?

Another great advantage of having a home inspection is that it can help reduce your home insurance costs. If a home inspection discovers that you have old wiring, for example, you can have this upgraded before moving in, then show your insurance company that the upgrades have occurred. Your insurer will then be able to adjust your premiums based on the new, updated safety precautions. Of course, if there are a lot of problems, your insurer might raise your premiums based on the discoveries.

Whatever the case, being aware of the potential problem areas in your house allows you to take action to avoid them from occurring, resulting in less chance that you’ll actually have to file an insurance claim.

Remember: The older the home means the more possible problem areas which can result in higher insurance premiums.

The bottom line

Getting a home inspection isn’t always required by your insurance company, but it’s an investment that can benefit you in the long run. It’s still highly recommended as you can find out if there are any areas of concern in your home and take the necessary action to correct them. Be sure to speak to your insurance provider before getting a home inspection done as you may discover they offer discounts if you make improvements around your home.

If you're still not sold on whether to invest in an inspection, Moving Waldo has compiled some expert opinions as to what you need to know about home inspections and why you need to consider getting one before purchasing any new property.

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