FHA is primarily concerned that everything in the house functions properly and that there are no health and safety issues.  The Basic concept of meeting FHA minimum requirements is that everything must work as it was designed to work.  For example, a window that is supposed to open must open, and a built-in appliance should do what that appliance is supposed to do.  If you have a sliding glass door with a lock on the handle, the lock should work. 

 

Here is a general list of what an FHA appraiser looks for during an inspection:

  • Utilities should be turned on so the appraiser can test systems and appliances
  • Appliances must function properly
  • There should be proper drainage around the perimeter of the house
  • The heating unit must be in working order (and AC is applicable)
  • Water pressure must be adequate for the house.  Appraisers flush toilets, turn on all faucets and ensure that both hot and cold water are working
  • The water heater must be in working order and be secured as required by local code
  • Attics and crawlspaces are to be viewed at minimum from the shoulder up by the appraiser
  • When viewing the attic, appraisers make sure there are no vents, no damage, no exposed or frayed wires, and that sunlight is not beaming through.  When inspecting the crawlspace, appraisers make sure there is no standing water or any foundation support issues.  Excessive debris in the attic or crawl space should be removed
  • Paint must not be shipping, peeling, flaking on homes built before 1978 because of the danger of lead-based paint.  (lead was used in paint prior to 1978).  However, there must be no defective paint or bare wood for properties built after 1978 because defective paint impacts the economic longevity of the property.  Defective paint should be scraped and repainted with no paint chips left behind or in the soil.
  • Electrical outlets must work (outlets must also have a plate cover)
  • All toilets must flush and be properly mounted
  • Any active termite infestation must be cured
  • Minor cosmetic issues such as stained carpet or a need for interior paint is okay.  The house does not have to be perfect, but if there are any issues that would impact the safety or health of the occupants or the long-term economic viability of the property, then those issues must be cured
  • Windows must open and close and they cannot be broken.  Minor cracks are ok as long as there is not an issue with safety, soundness and security 
  • No dangling wires from missing fixtures or anywhere else
  • FHA does not require air conditioning, but if present, the system needs to work as intended
  • Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required as per local code
  • The firewall form the garage into the house should be intact.  Missing sheetrock, a pet door installed on the man-door, or a hollow door could impose a safety issue
  • The roof cannot be actively leaking and needs to have at least 2 years of economic life left
  • A house will be rejected if the site is subject to hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, or excessive noises to the point of endangering the physical improvements or affecting the livability of the property (this is not an issue for a vast majority of properties)
  • A trip hazard is a subjective call made by the appraiser and not necessarily an automatic repair unless it is considered an extreme trip hazard and poses immediate danger
  • There are things that an appraiser will call out in an FHA appraisal, but there are times when appraisers have to consider how the FHA spirit will apply in a given situation,  FHA is clear on many issues, but other times, appraisers are required to use their best judgment.