Before You Apply

What is Wildfire Prepared Home™? 

Wildfire Prepared Home is a designation program that enables homeowners to take preventative measures for their home and yard to protect against wildfire.

Is my home eligible?
  • The applicant must be the owner of the 3-story or less, single-family detached home.  
  • The home must be in California. A 5-foot noncombustible buffer must surround the home and accessory structures. 
  • Designation certificate requirements are stringent. Tree requirements may disqualify some homes, and some homeowners may have to work with neighbor(s) to meet the requirements.  
  • If your state isn’t participating at this time, you can still benefit from the actions required by this program. Please see our How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist to learn about scientifically proven ways to lower your home’s wildfire risk.  
What is the 5-foot noncombustible buffer requirement?

One of the most stringent required actions is creating a 5-foot noncombustible buffer around your home and decks. ALL vegetation, trees including overhanging branches, grass/turf, wood/rubber mulch, wood/vinyl fencing, and any stored items within 5 feet of your home must have been removed. Your home will not receive the designation certificate without meeting the requirements.  This includes removing ALL vegetation and trees within 5 feet of any exterior wall of your home and decks/covered porches.   

I like plants and trees against my home. Why do I need a 5-foot buffer?

During a wildfire, embers travel miles ahead of a fire front and accumulate at the base of home’s exterior walls and out 5 feet. Anything combustible such as vegetation, mulch, and fences in this critical zone may ignite, creating a pathway for flames straight to your home. Trees or branches that overhang this 5-foot zone drop debris regularly, making maintenance almost impossible. When certain species of trees are ignited, they can lead flames to the home if they are in close proximity.  

How do I prepare my home before I apply so I can pass the inspection? 

Use the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist to confirm your house will qualify for Wildfire Prepared Home. Take corrective actions as needed to complete the requirements of Wildfire Prepared Home.  

After you apply, photos of your house will be reviewed, and feedback offered  as to your next steps in the application process.  

Are there options for my home to achieve a certificate?

We offer two solutions. To receive a designation certificate, your home must meet all requirements listed for the desired level. 

 Wildfire Prepared Home Base — This group of required actions includes creating a 5-foot home buffer, preparing the home’s exterior, and maintaining the deck/covered porch and yard, typically achieved through retrofits to existing homes.  

Wildfire Prepared Home Plus — This group of required actions builds upon Wildfire Prepared Home Base to add an extra layer of home protection, commonly achieved with newer home construction or after exterior home renovations.

 

How can I learn more about the program?

Visit the Homeowner page to learn more.  

When my home gets a designation certificate, do I get a discount on my homeowner insurance? What are the other benefits? 

With wildfires becoming more frequent and happening anywhere, the Wildfire Prepared Home program’s goal is to help homeowners take preventative measures to protect their home against wildfires.   
 
A 2022 California Department of Insurance (CDI) regulation requires insurers to offer discounts for wildfire mitigation actions.  While insurers in the state have filed new rating plans with CDI reflecting this requirement, these rating plans must be reviewed and approved by CDI before going into effect. This regulatory process is still underway. We anticipate that a Wildfire Prepared Home designation certificate may be used by some insurers to determine whether a homeowner has undertaken wildfire mitigation actions to receive discounts.   
 
If you are trying to sell your home, this certificate may be a big selling point to a buyer who may be looking for home insurance before closing.  

How long is the certificate good for? Do I have to get my home certified each year?

The designation certificate is good for 3 years. Within that three-year period, an annual landscape review is required to ensure plants have not grown into the noncombustible zone.. After 3 years, you must reapply and have the house re-inspected.

How much does this cost?

The application fee is $125. Please review the requirements before applying as this fee is nonrefundable. 

Annual Review 

An annual landscape review is required for the first and second year after a designation certificate is issued. This ensures the landscaping remains within the requirements of Wildfire Prepared Home. 

We offer 2 solutions for the annual landscape review: 

  • A homeowner can provide photos. There is a $25 fee for this review.  
  • A third party can provide a home inspection. The fee is $100 for this review. 

After 3 years, a full recertification is required to keep the designation certificate active. Homeowners can use their portal log in to apply for a new home inspection to verify program requirements have been maintained. 

How do I get started?

Step 1:  Use the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist to ensure you have completed all required actions before you apply. 

Step 2:  Optional: Take the free online quiz to ensure you haven’t missed any actions and to see if your home qualifies for inspection. 

Step 3: Once all required work has been completed, you are ready to apply for Wildfire Prepared Home. 

I’m not sure if I’m ready to apply and pay. What if I missed something?

Take the free online quiz before you apply. This will help you review all the requirements and let you know if you are ready to apply. You can take the quiz as many times as you’d like before applying.  

Print the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist and use a measuring tape around your house to confirm you have completed the required work. 

How do I take eligibility photos before my home is qualified for an evaluation?

You must submit photos demonstrating that you’ve completed the required D-I-Y prep work outlined in the How-To Prepare My Home Checklist to achieve a designation certificate. Our team will review them and offer helpful guidance on any remediated work needed before the in-person evaluator arrives. The in-person evaluation will be entered into the queue once the photos are approved. 

Photography Tips:
CAPTURING: Capture a wide-angle photo of every side of your home. If you can’t see a whole side clearly without vegetation, stand at each corner and take pictures along the length to include the 5-foot noncombustible zone. Aim for 4-8 photos in total. 
FILE FORMATS: We accept the following types: jpg, pdf, jpeg, gif, png, svg, webp, jfif.
FILE SIZE: Maximum file is 10 MB.
NUMBER OF PHOTOS: Maximum number of photos accepted are 10. Please submit all files at once by selecting the first file and holding shift to select the last file to select the group of files or drag and drop the group of files.

Preparing Your Home

My neighborhood has a HOA, and they have rules about the plants in front of my house.

There are no exceptions for the requirements of Wildfire Prepared Home. Some homes simply will not qualify due to factors outside the homeowner’s control. Please use the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist to confirm your house can qualify before applying for the program.  

How do I measure the 5-foot noncombustible zone?

The noncombustible zone is measured from the exterior wall. If you have a covered porch, deck, pergola, or similar building feature, the noncombustible zone includes those elements, making them a part of the noncombustible zone. 

I have protected trees around my house; I can’t cut those.

There are no exceptions for the requirements of Wildfire Prepared Home. Some homes simply will not qualify due to things outside the homeowner’s control. Please use the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist to confirm your house can qualify before applying for the program.  

I have vegetation such as grass, roses, succulents, or cacti in my noncombustible zone. Do I really need to remove them?

Yes. All combustible items must be removed from the noncombustible zone. This includes all plants, wood and plastic items.

I have a composite deck. How do I measure the 5-foot noncombustible zone?

Woodframed decks are all treated the same, regardless of the type of deck boards. Measure 5-feet from the outer edge of the deck. 

I have a stone or masonry patio; how do I measure the 5-foot noncombustible zone?

An open masonry patio doesn’t extend the noncombustible zone. Measure the 5-feet from the house exterior. 

If you have a pergola or other shade structure on your patio, the noncombustible zone extends to that structure. It will need a 5-foot noncombustible zone around the perimeter, just like the house. 

I have a hot tub. What should I know?

While they are full of water, most hot tubs are made of various plastic and foam components. These are combustible items and cannot be within the noncombustible zone, including underneath a porch or on a wood framed deck. 

The best practice is to put the hot tub on a masonry pad at least 10 feet from the house.  

My outdoor furniture is flame-retardant. Can I have those in my noncombustible zone?

Storing cushions inside on high fire risk days is a requirement of the Wildfire Prepared Home program. Since it isn’t practical to store entire patio furniture sets inside, patio furniture within the noncombustible zone must be noncombustible. 

I have a fireplace and store firewood for winter. Where should I stack it?

Firewood storage must be at least 30 feet from the house and auxiliary structures. During winter, no more than one day supply of firewood can be within 30 feet of the house. 

I have a large propane tank that gets refilled. Do I need to do anything about it?

Stationary propane tanks must be at least 30 feet from the house. Work with your propane supply company to develop a plan for moving the tank if needed. 

If there isn’t room to relocate the tank 30 feet from the house, there is an alternate solution where the tank must be at least ten feet from the house and buried or enclosed in a noncombustible structure with a 5-foot gravel noncombustible zone around it. Talk with your propane supplier about your options. 

I have wood siding. How do I get a 6-inch noncombustible surface at the bottom of my walls?

Measure the 6” from the adjacent ground. Use noncombustible materials such as metal flashing or fiber cement board to cover the portions of the wall within 6-inches of the ground.  

This also applies to wood porch or deck posts.  

After You Apply

What happens if I’ve paid and my home doesn't pass the inspection? Do I have to pay again?

Before an inspection is ordered, photos will be reviewed to review the most common failure points. During this phase, Wildfire Prepared Home will offer guidance on meeting the requirements of the designation and ask for updated photos throughout the process.  

Wildfire Prepared Home is a homeowner-driven process. The homeowner is responsible for ensuring the home meets the standard. The Wildfire Prepared Home team is responsible for verifying the work has been completed, and the house qualifies for the program. 

If the house doesn’t pass the in-person inspection, the reasons will be communicated to the homeowner, and they will need to re-apply to the program.

How do I take eligibility photos before my home is qualified for an evaluation?

You must submit photos demonstrating that you’ve completed the required D-I-Y prep work outlined in the How-To Prepare My Home Checklist to achieve a designation certificate. Our team will review them and offer helpful guidance on any remediated work needed before the in-person evaluator arrives. The in-person evaluation will be entered into the queue once the photos are approved. 

Photography Tips:

CAPTURING: Capture a wide-angle photo of every side of your home. If you can’t see a whole side clearly without vegetation, stand at each corner and take pictures along the length to include the 5-foot noncombustible zone. Aim for 4-8 photos in total. 
FILE FORMATS: We accept the following types: jpg, pdf, jpeg, gif, png, svg, webp, jfif.
FILE SIZE: Maximum file is 10 MB.
NUMBER OF PHOTOS: Maximum number of photos accepted are 10. Please submit all files at once by selecting the first file and holding shift to select the last file to select the group of files or drag and drop the group of files.

How long does it take for someone to come and evaluate my home? 

The timeline varies depending on several factors including weather, location, workload, and staffing. Evaluations are done by a 3rd party company that understand our goal is for inspections to occur within 30 days of completing the eligibility photo process. Rural areas often take longer than suburban areas. We cannot provide a timeline for individual evaluations.  

Can I hire a company to help me qualify for Wildfire Prepared Home?

Most of the work can be completed by a handyman and gardener, there are companies beginning to offer consultative services.  

Madronus Wildfire Defense offers a priority inspection and mitigation service that meets the Wildfire Prepared Home requirements. Homeowners can contact Madronus directly to inquire about the services available in their area. 

Can I get the inspection when there is snow cover?
  • The documentation process requires us to see the house including the roof and ground around the structure. The inspection process cannot be completed when there is snow cover. Homeowners at higher elevations will need to plan their application process around the seasonal weather.
This is time sensitive for my homeowner's insurance. Can I rush my inspection?

We do not have an expedited option. If your application is time-sensitive, the most important step you can take is completing the required work for your home and yard.  See the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist for more information.  

Keep your insurance agent informed about your progress.

My house was inspected, and photos were taken last week. When will I get my certificate?

We appreciate your patience with this process. All documents go through a thorough quality review process. Homes that qualify will receive the designation certificate by email.

How long will this process take from start to finish?

The timeline varies a lot. Some homeowners apply without using the guidance and require multiple rounds of changes requested before an inspection is ordered. It can take several months to achieve the designation this way.  

On the other hand, homeowners who complete the How-to Prepare My Home for Inspection Checklist before applying often qualify for the designation in a few short weeks.  

How will I know if my home has achieved a designation certificate?

Once your home has been designated, you will receive an email with a link to download your certificate. You can also log in to your account to download the certificate.  

What happens if I have landscaping installed in the noncombustible zone after the inspection process? Will my house remain designated a Wildfire Prepared Home?

Reviews will occur at least annually using various methods including in-person and satellite imagery. Any deficiencies discovered after the designation process will become urgent action requirements to keep the designation active.

Contact Us

Is there a phone number I can call to have my questions answered?

We do not have a call center.  

If you have already applied for Wildfire Prepared Home, replying to one of the emails is the best way to contact us.  

Alternatively use the contact us form to communicate with the team.

Trademark Usage and Licensing

I am a vendor and would like to reference Wildfire Prepared Home in my marketing material. How do I get started? 

Wildfire mitigation vendors interested in referencing Wildfire Prepared Home or using the Wildfire Prepared Home logo in marketing materials should submit Trademark Licensing Application. Trademark Licensing Applications will only be considered from vendors who provide products or services that help meet the Wildfire Prepared Home Base and Wildfire Prepared Home Plus standards. Submission of this request does not constitute a licensing agreement. IBHS retains the exclusive right to approve or deny any request to use its trademarks.  

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