Obtain and keep copies of documents, including receipts and permits, describing home upgrades and inspections of your house. Some homeowners have reported that the stickers on their doors and windows showing they’re impact-resistant are fading. Take digital photos of the stickers before that happens. Keep Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance records and copies of roof and other permits that verify when the upgrades were made and which building code applied. Sandy Teich, of Coconut Creek, reported her insurer has agreed to refund more than $500 this week based on the NOA documents.
Compare the new inspection report to the old one. If your first one was done before April 2009 and your second one after that, it may explain some of the discrepancies; The state changed a form used to verify discounts then.
Contact the inspector you originally hired for help reviewing the new inspection. Several homeowners who have been successful getting discounts reinstated did it with the help of their former inspectors. For instance, Bob Cornish, a retiree in Delray Beach, said he had an inspection done and shopped around for insurance before he purchased his home this year. Still, he said his insurer, Citizens Property Insurance, sent its own inspection firm months later and based on that, planned to raise his $1,750 premium by about $600.
Cornish said his old inspector “went nuts” when he told him what happened and helped him verify that the nails used in attaching his roof to his home were more than two inches long – unlike what was stated in the new inspection – because both old and new photos showed they went completely through the two-inch plywood. His inspector also noticed that the size of the sheathing in the new inspector’s photos looked like it was different – only because he used a different type of ruler. “Who uses [that kind] of a ruler?” Cornish said. “In my opinion, it was a very shady mistake. [Then again] who knows how many jobs they do a day?” so it could have been an innocent mistake.
Cornish also contested the new inspector’s finding that nails on his home’s beams were not 6 inches apart. “He found one beam where the nail was 7 inches apart because the seam was there so there was not going to be a nail on it,” Cornish said. “How long did it take him to find that one nail?”
All of his discounts were reinstated.
Check if changes in state rules on discounts will affect you. Changes to a state form used to verify discounts take effect Feb. 1 so Mike Rohrbaugh, Cornish’s original inspector, said he plans to email all of his former customers to offer to fill out the new form for $25 each. Rohrbaugh said his firm, Home Team Inspection Service in Pompano Beach, has all the photos and documents on file so it should take him about an hour to do each one.
Some of the changes are expected to help homeowners. The new form allows discounts for tile roofs; roofs attached to a home that don’t have the exact measurements required in the old form but have an equivalent wind-resistance rating; and roofs attached to the walls with two nails on one side and one on the other – common in South Florida, Rohrbaugh said. The last change could help homeowners save up to $500 a year, he added.
Get help from the state if the insurer discontinued a discount without an independent inspection conducted to verify or dispute the original inspection results. The Division of Consumer Services in the Department of Financial Services can be contacted at 877-693-5236 and 850-413-3089 or the request can be made online.