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FHA Home Inspection Checklist

by J Scott on April 25, 2010 · 45 comments

  
home inspection checklist

As any investor who has ever sold a property to an FHA buyer knows, there is at least one mandatory FHA inspection that must be completed by the lender prior to the closing of the property.

I often get asked what types of things do FHA inspectors/appraisers look for during these FHA inspections, and what types of things will cause a property to fail an FHA inspection. I’ve had that same question in the past, so I asked an FHA underwriter that I have worked with on several occasions if he could clue me in on the types of things that are flagged during these inspections.

He was kind enough to forward me a full list of “minimum FHA property requirements,” which essentially translates to the FHA home inspection checklist. While this list is by-no-means a formal checklist followed by FHA inspectors, it’s a good set of guidelines. Just because you meet all these requirements doesn’t mean you’ll pass an inspection, and just because you may not meet one or more requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll fail an inspection. That’s up to the inspector/appraiser/underwriter to determine.

In other words, don’t put too much faith in this list, and don’t blame me if your inspector has other criteria that he uses…

In fact, as the document itself explains:

This list is for reference only and does not guarantee compliance with FHA Minimum Property Requirements. Minimum Property Requirements are to insure the health and safety of the occupants and/or the marketability of the property.


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The Home Inspection Checklist & Guidelines

Site Hazards and Nuisances

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Sinkholes
  • Active or planned gas-drilling within 300 feet
  • Within 75 feet of operating oil/gas well with no visible mitigation measures
  • Abandoned oil or gas well within 10 feet
  • Slush pits
  • Excessive noise or hazard from heavy traffic area
  • Dwelling or improvements within 10 feet of easement for high-pressure gas or petroleum line
  • Dwelling or improvements within fall distance for overhead towers (high-voltage, radio/TV, cell phone etc)
  • Excessive smoke, fumes, offensive noises or odors
  • Stationary storage tanks with more than 1000 gallons of flammable or explosive material

Soil Contamination

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Surface evidence of underground storage tank
  • Proximity to dumps, landfills, industrial sites that could contain hazardous materials
  • Presence of pools of liquid, pits, ponds, lagoons, stained soils or pavement

Grading and Drainage

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Grading does not provide drainage away from structures
  • Standing water near structures

Individual Water and Sewage Systems

  • Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:
  • Private sewage system show evidence of system failure
  • Separation between well and septic drain field less than 100 ft, (75 ft may be acceptable if local authorities allow.)
  • Separation between well and property line is less than 10 ft. (If local authority requires greater distance that requirement must be met.)
  • Property lacks connection to public water (Lender/jurisdiction may require water test and connection to public water if feasible)

Wood Destroying Insects

  • Presence of the following will require a termite inspection and treatment if infestation is present:
  • Structure is ground level and wood is touching ground
  • House or other structure show obvious evidence of infestation
  • Local jurisdiction requires inspection
  • Inspection is customary to the area

Private Road Access

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Property inaccessible by foot or vehicle
  • Property accessible only by private road without permanent recorded easement

Floor Support Systems

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Significant cracks
  • Evidence of water damage
  • Evidence of spongy/weak/rotted flooring

Framing/Walls/Ceiling

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Significant cracks
  • Visible holes in exposed areas that could affect structure
  • Damaged plaster, sheetrock, or ceiling materials in homes constructed before 1978
  • Significant water damage

Attic

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Inadequate access
  • Evidence of holes
  • Support structure damaged
  • Significant water damage visible from interior
  • No ventilation by vent, fan, or window

Basement

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Blocked or inadequate access
  • Evidence of significant water damage
  • Significant cracks or erosion in exposed areas that affect structural soundness

Crawl Space

  • Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:
  • Blocked or inadequate access
  • Space inadequate for maintenance (recommended 18 inches)
  • Support beams not intact
  • Excessive dampness or ponding of water

Slab

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Significant cracks that could affect structural soundness

Roof

Presence of the following will require a roof inspection and possible repair:

  • Missing tiles, shingles, flashing etc
  • Signs of leakage

Furnace/Heating System

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Unit does not turn on
  • Heat is not emitted
  • Unusual noise
  • Smoke or irregular smell
  • Significant holes or deterioration on unit

Electrical System

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Electrical switches don’t work
  • Outlets don’t work
  • Presence of smoke or sparks from outlet
  • Exposed frayed or unconnected wiring

Plumbing System

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Significant drop or limitation in water pressure
  • No hot water
  • Toilets don’t function or have been removed
  • Toilet leaks
  • Sinks/bathtub/shower leaks (very minor leaks may be acceptable)
  • Sinks/bathtub/shower does not work or have been removed
  • Swimming pools not operational, in bad repair or not maintained

Paint

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Chipped or peeling paint on interior or exterior of home and/or structures and improvements if home built before 1978.
  • Chipped or peeling paint on exterior surfaces if finish is unprotected (ie, bare wood) if home built after 1978.

Other

Presence of the following may indicate unacceptable property condition:

  • Missing or inoperable exterior doors
  • Broken or missing stairs
  • Absence of built-in appliances
  • Absence of free-standing stove (Santa Ana HOC only)
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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Kim April 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I’m working several short sales on houses in Florida and the inspection report on one of them shows Chinese drywall (I didn’t see this one coming). Maybe this should be added to your already-excellent list as well. Thank you for your insights on FHA inspections.

Reply

Liz Voss April 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

J Scott this is a great list to keep handy and one I did not have. Thanks for sharing.

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Chanda May 3, 2010 at 4:02 am

It really does seem to be based on the inspector, I recently heard of a home that failed inspection because it was missing a couple of switch plate covers. Another because the carpet wasn’t clean enough…

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Mike June 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm

J Scott,

Great article. We have a sample home inspection checklist that your user’s can print off and use.

Reply

Ronald Fonshill October 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I would like a copy of the asmple home inspection check list
thank you

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Debra Foust Gray July 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Can you send me a copy of check list please

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kim higginbottom August 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm

we are wanting to buy the house we are renting. can you please send me a copy of this.
thanks

kim

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Morris Wetherington September 10, 2010 at 9:03 am

As an FHA appraiser I can tell you that the most relavant issue to the inspection is looking for material defects that affect market value. Light switch covers are differed maintainance, chinese drywall is a major problem an affects market value. Most everything you have included on your list impacts market value. Issues of material cost, envioromental or external factors all play a role in determining market value.

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Beth September 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

I am a realtor. And will be proceeding on to the FHA inspection with my clients.

Will a raised piece of sidewalk (large tree roots involved) up to 2 inches raise a red flag? It was already cited with the city and must be replaced within 6 months of new occupancy.

Question: For now at least to pass the FHA inspection, can the owners do any preliminary patching to smooth out this elevation?

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Tamara September 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm

We recently had a home inspection (I hired) and the septic failed. If I am going FHA does the septic have to be fixed before the FHA inspection or can the money be held in escrow until the sale and the septic fixed.

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Dee November 18, 2010 at 9:30 am

Hello, thank you for the list. Will a Federal Pacific electric box fail the FHA inspection? I was told the are a fire hazard.

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Erica November 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

Would love to have the answer to Dee’s Federal Pacific electrical box question as well. I was just told that there are “New FHA standards” and that these boxes are included and must be changed?

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Dee December 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm

My home just passed the FHA inspection and I was told there were no objections about the FP electric box. I only have the dryer and stove on this FP box while all of my other electrical is on a newer braker box. My house was built in 1927, so it met the codes for the age of the house. -Dee 12-3-10

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Bud February 4, 2011 at 8:35 am

I was wondering about if carpet or other flooring is needed. The house we are looking at has tile in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room. The livingroom, hallway and bedrooms are all missing carpet. There is some of the carpet padding left but for the most part it is simply the sub floor. Will this prevent me from passing an FHA inspection? The house is a foreclosure and they will not fix it.

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denise April 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

I was wondering about crawlspace..My daughter is purchasing a home and it failed the inspection becasue of moisture in the crawlspace.There are several differnt ways to contain the moisture but my concern is what will pass the nexy inspctin.What is FHA code regulation on what to do?

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Ron Nohre December 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Moisture in crawlspace: Dry down the crawl space – If wood surfaces are discolored [ceiling area] this may take a bio-scrub cleaner than sealing the wood surfaces with a mold wood sealer [Perma Guard] / Dirst floor areas must be covered and sealed with a 6 to 10 mil plastic vapor barrier overlaped 6″ with sealed seals and wall area. If you know why the crawlspace got wet in the first place and correct that situation – properly ventalate and you should be OK

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Matias July 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

What about missing hardware for kitchen/ bathrooms faucets…and A/C is it mandatory for a unit to be installed?

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George September 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

I am in the process of selling a condo in DC. Two questions about the FHA inspections:
1 – The gas stove has not been used for several years. I cannot keep the pilot light on, hence the burners are not working. Does the stove need to be in working order?
2 – There are four outside windows. All open and close but one does not stay up. Is this a problem?

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ladonna November 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

need to know if ac/heat has to be working at the time,we are waiting for it to be fixed by seller,but they have to wait for the money from the sell of the home,is that allowed?

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J Scott November 13, 2011 at 10:18 am

I’m fairly certain that FHA will require HVAC to be working at time of inspection (or re-inspection) in order to close on the purchase. So, either the seller or buyer will have to make repairs prior to closing.

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Layne Duggins November 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I have a question for you inspectors out there. I’ve been getting calls for FHA inspections lately. I am a home inspector, but I don’t know much about fha inspection requirments. Do you need 250 prior inspections to be qualified for fha inspector. do I need to be certified through california FHA Programs. thanks for any input.

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Erica November 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Will missing moulding along the floor and around doors cause a FHA inspection to fail?

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Anonymous December 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I am trying realy hard to understand things my finance has been trying to get fha loan he has already had 2 diffrent closing dates its like the appraiser comes out sends his paperwork in they say everything is good with that part n then right before closing date they come up with more they say termite bond was all we were waiting for now were at the 3rd closing date n were back to the appraisal not being good anymore that there r things that need to be done to the house like peeling paint needs to be scraped n painted I just realy feel like there gonna make m spend all money n not have money for closing costa n then I worry bout a run around

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Jeppy December 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

I am trying to buy a house where the seller is being very stingy and will not pay to have things fixed that may show up on the FHA inspection. My question is about a very strong cat odor in the house. When my wife and I along with our Realtor first saw the house we were taken aback by the very strong cat smell throughout the house, the owner states that she had dogs not cats but out Realtor had to step out of the house several times because she has a cat allergy. I am trying to find out is can or will the carpets that are impermiated with this smell and some of the other flooring that is ripped up because the owner’s dog chewed it up will be seen as a health hazard and or affecting the market value of the house, forcing the owner to replace the carpets?

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Anonymous December 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

Were havn probs with r FHA loan they always wait till last minute to bring up more stuff why do they do that n how many times can they change closing date

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OJ December 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

JEPPY

There is a program fha streamline ask your lender or realtor you could replace carpet and even appliances ($5000 and under )

Reply

Kayla April 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

We are going through the process with an FHA inspector but we are failing the inspection because he is saying there is chipping paint..and our house is built in 1990…but from what i understand on here if there isnt bare wood showing then it shoouldn’t be an issue? Just needing some opinions? thanks

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Maureen May 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I had been told that an FHA inspector will require a railing going down the stairs to the basement area. There is one section in this otherwise great 1900′s home, that is wide open at the bottom of the stairway. We are trying to anticipate all issues before the inspection, since this home is sold “as is”.

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Dawn May 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I just had an fha inspection today. My 19 year old son was responsible for having the dogs out of the house today. He did do that. However when I came home I saw 3 tiny turds on the floor. My dog normally doesnt have accidents. The one time he could have an accident an fha inspector came to the house. My house has no pet odor or staining on the carpet. My house is very clean. I was wondering if this will fail the fha inspection. This house is only 7 years old and has passed the buyers inspection, now just crossing my fingers on after this today.

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Mike June 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I was wondering if anyone knew if not having any electrical outlets in the bathroom would still pass the FHA inspectio. The bathroom was slightly updated and from what i understand the electrical outlets use to be in the light fixture above the vanity. After the updating, wall outlets were never put in. Im trying to buy this house and am more than capable to put them in myself, but am worried my FHA loan wont go thru because this will be a red flag to the FHA inspector.

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Smith July 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Will having a fuse box instead of a breaker box in a house built in 1949 fail a FHA inspection in PA?

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Tommy July 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm

We are about to have the fha inspector come out to a house that we just entered escrow on. the house was built in the 1950′s and it does have some chipped or peeling paint along the siding on one exterior wall. the wood is not expossed but you can see signs that the paint is fading. The other issue is the thermistate, it does not work but the heater will turn on at the unit. how concerned should i be about failing this inspection?

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Ryan Lundquist September 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

Nice list. As an FHA appraiser, I’m looking for the three “S”s of FHA: Safety, Soundness and Security. HUD wants properties that have economic longevity and they want to ensure occupants are not exposed to any health and safety issues.

Regarding the free-standing stove, as an FYI, I’ve been told exactly the opposite from Santa Ana HOC (Home Ownership Center). A free-standing stove is not required, but only a drop-in stove. However, the lender almost always requires a free-standing stove to be present. In my reports in cases where a free-standing stove is missing, I don’t require a stove to be present, but usually the lender wants there to be a stove (so I go back out to verify one has been instaleld and all other issues have been fixed).

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John September 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Excellent checklist! It is very thorough and might make people think that no property could ever qualify for FHA financing, so I am glad that you prefaced it by saying that having one item won’t necessarily make the home ineligible.

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Moss September 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Very Informative.

A property I’m trying to buy with a 203K just failed because “emergency vehicle accessibility.” The next day the appraiser went on vacation and so, in the meantime, I’m trying to the specific regulations for emergency vehicles. If anyone has information on this topic – type of vehicle, max distance from home, etc, I’d be extremely appreciative.

Thanks

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Dee November 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I am trying to purchase a home and just learned from the listing agent that the distance between the septic and the well MIGHT be too short. FHA requires 100 ft between the leaching fields and the well. However, the town that the house is in says that 75 ft is good enough so I’m pretty sure that FHA makes an exception in this situation. Having said that, no one knows where the darn well is even located! The city health district does not have a map available because the house was built in 1957; there are no records of its’ exact location and no signs of a well cap anywhere in the yard. Should this be something that the listing agent finds out before putting a house on the market.? Since now we have to have a well inspector to come out and locate the well, should the cost for this service be the homeowner’s responsible? Is this just an ethical issue or a legal one too? The cost for this service can range from $150-$1500 depending on what measures they have to take to find it. It doesnt seem like an expense that I should dish out as the potential buyer. Especially considering that I’m already taking the risk and paying for the septic inspection, the home inspection, and the well’s flow and water tests.
Any comments from professionals would be greatly appreciated!
~Danielle

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bill December 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

hello i would like to know how to nail of the sheetrock for the inspection ty

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Ryan Hart May 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Thanks for sharing this checklist. Looks like FHA buyers will have an uphill battle if they’re buying a distressed property.

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Marcie September 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

We are about to go thru FHA appraisal on a foreclosure that is oddly in great shape. We have 2 potential issues we’re wondering about:

1. Ivy growing on house. No structural damage that we can see, but it’d take 1-3 months to remove it (spray, wait for it to die, then cut it down).

2. Inadequate heat. 1200 sq feet with only one baseboard heater on main level (1 1/2 story) and one small wall heater in bathroom. Plumbed for a propane free standing fireplace, but someone took it out.

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Meka October 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

I am purchasing a home with a FHA mortgage in NJ. The home has aluminum wiring for the electricity. Will that be a problem?

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Jennifer November 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I am wondering if a second story deck has dry-rot should it be in a whole house inspection? and can you still get a FHA loan if it is not fixed?

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Grover January 1, 2014 at 9:36 am

We are trying to get a reverse mortgage we live in the county of camp in Tx We have paid $500 for appraisal and now they say we have to have a letter of occupancy We don’t know where to go as it is not required in Camp county We are living in our home The have Sent a FHA appraiser We don’t know what to do

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Ryan Lundquist January 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Grover, you ought to ask the lender what exactly they are asking for and they should be able to provide you some guidance for where to obtain the document they need. This is not something the appraiser provides or is licensed to verify. The appraiser probably did not require a certificate either. This is very likely a request being made by the lender based on their lending guidelines. If the lender cannot provide you guidance, at the least you can call City Hall, the Assessor or your county to see if they can furnish a certificate as such. You can of course contact FHA at 800-CALL-FHA too, but keep in mind the lender may have guidelines that go beyond what FHA requires, which is why it is important to start with the lender first. Best wishes.

Reply

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