VA Loans and Local Building Codes: A Reader QuestionA reader asks, “I am looking at a specific house and the basement has a bathroom in it but behind a door in the basement there is the electrical breaker box. The house was built in 1974 and this was legal code when the house was built.”
“My question is will this be acceptable seeing when the house was built this was legal or is the VA appraiser going to require that I have this panel moved? Also, I live in Rhode Island if that helps at all with your answer.”
Situations like these are not covered specifically by VA loan minimum property requirements; instead, the state or local building code would apply. There are plenty of specific rules in the VA minimum property requirements section of the VA Lender’s Handbook; for example a home cannot qualify for a VA mortgage loan if it is within a high pressure gas pipeline easement or certain types of known flood zones.
But VA loan rules cannot and do not address every single type of code compliance issue. For that information, and for the information the reader’s question requests, the borrower must consult the local building code to see whether state or local code permit the conditions mentioned in the question, and whether there are code compliance rules that hinge on when the home was built and/or purchased originally.
The VA appraiser may or may not have anything to say about the specific condition in question. Again, if the home is in compliance with current laws and local building code, the home could pass the appraisal with flying colors. But a known issue that has come up in other appraisals may well require alternations to the property as a condition of loan approval.
In some cases the nearest VA Regional Loan Center with jurisdiction over the area in question may have some help or advice. You can find the VA RLC with jurisdiction in your area here.
Do you have questions about VA home loans? Ask us in the comments section.