FHA Home Inspection Guidelines: Updated for 2013
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Reader Question: “I have heard that a lot of borrowers these days are using FHA home loans to buy a house. My home is about twenty years old, and I want to make sure it will ‘pass muster’ with the inspector. How can I make sure my house will pass inspection for one of these loans? What are the basic FHA home inspection guidelines and requirements in 2013? Is there a checklist I can use? Any help would be much appreciated.”
You ask an excellent question. And timely too! You’re exactly right. A higher percentage of home buyers are using FHA loans in 2013. These are mostly people who can’t qualify for a conventional mortgage for one of two reasons. They either (A) can’t come up with a large enough down payment, or (B) can’t meet the credit score requirements. In both cases, the FHA loan program is about the only option they have.
That explains why these loans are so popular among home buyers today. Now let’s get to the crux of your question. How can you know if your house will pass the FHA home inspection process?
Homes that are purchased with an FHA loan typically have a more in-depth inspection, when compared to houses bought with conventional mortgage loans. That’s because the Federal Housing Administration (part of HUD) insures the loan against default. So the government might end up paying an insurance claim on the house, if a foreclosure situation arises. As a result, they want to make sure it meets certain standards for safety and structural soundness.
If you do a Google search for FHA home inspection guidelines, you probably won’t find what you need. At least not right away. That’s because HUD uses different terminology. They refer to these as property and valuation requirements. The part you need has an even more esoteric name — it’s called the “valuation analysis for single-family dwellings.” You never would’ve thought to Google that, would you?
FHA’s minimum property standards are actually found in three handbooks: 4905.1 for existing homes, and 4145.1 and 4910.1 for new construction. So, if you want to know if your house will pass the FHA home inspection, you should start with these three documents. I recommend previewing the PDF documents on your computer, to find the applicable sections. Then you can print them out for easier reading.
Here are some links to these items:
HUD Handbook 4905.1
HUD Handbook 4145.1
HUD Handbook 4910.1
It’s going to take some reading on your part. But these documents will tell you everything you need to know. It’s a good place to start, if you’re trying to create an FHA home inspection checklist for 2013.
There’s a lot of information in these handbooks, so I’m not inclined to reprint it all here. But I can give you a glimpse into the home inspection guidelines and property requirements under the FHA loan program:
Overview of 2013 FHA Inspection Guidelines
Most of the 2013 FHA inspection requirements have to do with structural soundness and safety. Here are some specific guidelines the inspector will use.
- The Roof — The inspector will check to make sure the roof is in good repair. It must have at least three years of life remaining. If you live in a place that gets snow in winter, he will also check the roof and attic for signs of damage and/or leaks. The house must have easy access to the attic space. The attic must be ventilated in some way.
- Heat / Electrical — The electrical system can use either fuses or circuit breakers, as long as it’s properly rated with no exposed wiring. The house must have a main shut-off breaker that cuts all power to the house. All rooms must be heated in some way (this does not include hallways). If you’re using a wood stove as a heat source in one of the rooms, the stove must be permanently mounted and capable of sustaining at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Water Heater — It must have a non-adjustable temperature and water-relief pressure valve. It must also comply with building codes for your city or county.
- Foundation — If your foundation leaks into the basement or bottom floor, you’ll need to fix it. The basement must be dry and free of structural defects.
- Crawl Space — If your home has a crawl space beneath it, there must be adequate access to the space. The crawl space must have some form of ventilation. You’ll need to remove any debris that’s under there, too.
You’ll want to read these related articles as well:
These are obviously not the only FHA home inspection requirements. These are just some of the more common discrepancies. If you refer to the documents mentioned above, you’ll be able to create a more complete checklist for your house.
This article answers the question: How do I know if my house will pass inspection for the FHA loan program in 2013? If you have additional questions about this subject, be sure to use the search tool at the top of this page. There are hundreds of mortgage-related articles on this website. Good luck.