VA Minimum Property Requirements, Appraisals, and Local Building Codes: A Reader Question
A reader asks, “We have found a home that we love, had the offer accepted and now just waiting on the appraiser. The house was built in 1890 and is in wonderful condition with a dry basement, all appliances and clean.”
“During the inspection we found that the house has knob and tube wiring, a roof with 3 layers of shingles, but no leaks, and a hot water heater that we can’t find the vent to. We plan on fixing these issues as soon as we own the house. I am wondering if you think it will pass the appraisal.”
We often get reader questions like this, and unfortunately the answer is always the same.
It’s impossible to say when it comes to areas not specifically addressed by VA minimum property requirements as described in the VA Lender’s Handbook. For example, when it comes to “knob and tube wiring”, the VA minimum property requirements simply state that whatever is acceptable to the local authority is acceptable to the VA. Unless there is an obvious safety hazard, VA rules defer to local and state building codes in specific areas such as these.
State and local building codes are not overlooked during the appraisal process. If an appraiser finds something that is technically within VA minimum requirements but does not meet with those building codes, VA loan rules require a correction. The VA loan program is not designed to overrule state/local laws.
It’s understandable that a borrower would want to know if the property they want to buy can pass the VA appraisal, but for best results, contact a local home inspector, code compliance authority, or ask a real estate agent whether a given condition might be in violation of the codes and ordinances in that area.
The roof issues are similar–VA MPRs simply state the roof must be in good repair, not leaking, and within code compliance. Those who are familiar with the building codes in a given housing market can answer such questions with far more authority unless the issue is already addressed by VA minimum property requirements.
Do you have questions about VA home loans? Ask us in the comments section.