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Changes in Florida Home Inspections Rules Can Minimize Discounts

July 7th, 2010

Tighter home inspections guidelines are expected to lower the amount of storm-mitigation insurance discounts that homeowners in Florida receive. According to market analysts, these changes can make it harder for homeowners to qualify for discounts and will likely cause increased maintenance costs.

According to local inspection firms, only one percent of homeowners in the state are expected to retain their discounts. They revealed that one of the changes is the absence of discount for tile roofs, even those that have been built in compliance with the 2010 code. They added that a longer form will be required for a residential inspection which has been approved by the state Cabinet.

Inspectors also revealed that the changed guidelines resulted from two developments. First is the Office of Insurance Regulation's plan to tie discounts strictly with findings from a 2002 scientific study on hurricane costs and common building materials. They stated that if building materials, like roof tiles, were not tested in 2002 then they will get no discount.

Another factor behind the changes is the Legislature's attempt to prevent fraud by requiring detailed home inspections documentation, including digital photos, which should appear on the inspection form. Most of the standards have been retained, particularly those related to roofing requirements.

As before, hip-shaped roofing qualifies for discounts, but only if a carport or porch roof is part of the exterior wall and is not part of the main roofing system. Under the newly designed form, an attic vent attached to a gable roof should have its own shutter for hurricane.

Furthermore, if a house inspector was unable to document the front door's wind rating, discounts for exterior openings that are storm resistant will not be provided. Some inspectors have stated that this will likely cause much discount loss in the area since most homeowners do not keep rating documents on their doors and they usually paint over rating stickers.

Changes in the home inspections guidelines of Florida are expected to minimize the amount of property insurance discounts that most homeowners will receive during the year. The changes, according to local officials, are meant to eliminate residential inspection fraud.

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