At-A-Glance FHA Home Requirements
Realtors and home buyers are always wondering what standard FHA Aprraisers use when approving or rejecting a home for FHA financing. As a Home Inspector, they call me for the explanations. I am not an FHA Appraiser. My main source for the following information was the "FHA Guidebook for Appraisers." The following is a quick list of many common reasons for a home's rejection by an FHA Appraiser.
- Must have access to all of the crawl space areas.
- Major water build-up in the crawl space is not allowed and must be remedied.
- Any areas of wood rot must be removed and repaired.
- Ventilation & vapor barrier are required.
- At least 18" clearance is required from the floor joist to the ground.
- If the crawl space has been dug out, the earth cannot be disturbed within 1 foot of the stemwall or pier supports. If the earth has been disturbed, then a retaining wall should be installed.
- If a sump pump is used, it MUST be hard wired. Extension cord hook-ups are an extreme safety hazard and cannot be used.
- Access must be provided (except where there is no attic space such as with some vaulted ceilings or in mobile homes).
- The attic access opening cannot be smaller than 14" x 22".
- Attic must be adequately ventilated, providing positive airflow with no dead airspace.
- The roof must have at least 3 years of remaining life.
- Estimated life expectancies:
- Rolled roofing:....................NOT acceptable for FHA.
- Composition roofs:............average life 15-20 years
- Wood shingle:.....................average life 16-22 years
- Built-up roofs:....................average life 10-13 years
- Torch down roofs:.............acceptable w/certification that roof was installed per manufacturer's specifications.
- Metal roofs:.........................acceptable w/certification that roof was installed per manufacturer's specifications.
- Roofing on slopes of 2 1/2:12 or less MUST be installed by a licensed roofer using built-up roofing that meets the Uniform Building Code. Rolled roofing is not acceptable.
- FHA will accept a maximum of 3 layers of roofing material. If more than two layers of roofing exist and re-roofing is required, all of the old roofing must be removed as part of the re-roofing. The placement of composition shingles over wood shake shingles is not acceptable.
- A single main shut-off breaker is required.
- If more than one breaker must be tripped to disconnect the power, a new service panel is required.
- The main service must be at least 100 amp. If it is less, a new service is required.
NOTE: These electrical requirements eliminate most pre-1960 homes that have not had an electrical upgrade. If FHA is the only financing option, then a 203K program should be considered to finance the improvement.
- The heating and cooling system must have at least 2 years of remaining life.
- Wood stoves or solar heating are not acceptable as the sole heat source. NOTE: Coal or wood stoves with automatic stokers are acceptable.
NOTE: These heating requirements may eliminate most pre-1960 homes that have not had a heating system upgrade. If FHA is the only financing option, then a 203K program should be considered to finance the improvement.
HOT WATER HEATER
- MUST have an installed Safety Release Valve (SRV).
- The SRV must have a discharge line that drains to the outside of the home. It cannot be reduced in size from the valve outlet. In the case of a basement installation with a drain the discharge line must exhaust 6" to 24" from the floor.
NOTE: The Safety Release Valve upgrade is usually under $20 for the valve plus installation.
- All properties built prior to 1978 should be considered as target housing for lead-based paint hazards. Defective peeling/flaking paint on any interior or exterior surface must be identified and repaired following the EPA guidelines.
- Homes with septic systems are acceptable.
- Evidence of septic tank pumping within the last 5 years is required.
WINDOWS FOR SLEEPING ROOMS
- Escape or rescue windows shall have a minimum net clear openable area of 5.7 square feet. The minimum net clear openable height is 24" and width is 20". The maximum escape window sill height is 44".
NOTE: These window egress requirements may eliminate most pre-1960 homes that have not had a window upgrade. Small basement windows can be enlarged and upgraded. It has been my experience that most FHA Appraisers overlook this requirement unless the windows are inoperable or are set into an underground basement with 60" plus sill height. If FHA is the only financing option, then a 203K program should be considered to finance the improvement.