When doing an FHA appraisal inspection the appraiser is required to make a “Head and Shoulders” Inspection. I received a question this week about a topic that I think most homeowners and many real estate agents are not aware of regarding FHA appraisal inspections. Appraisers are required to report on what they see in the attic of a home, and in order to do this they have to physically inspect the attic by making a “Head and Shoulders” inspection, which means they are only required to enter the attic to the extent that their head and shoulders are in the attic space. Some homes have drop down stairs that make entry into the attic easier, however other times the only access is a scuttle in which case the appraiser must have a ladder or other means to view the attic. It is also handy to have a flashlight in case there is no other light source available. According to HUD Handbook 4150.2 the appraiser must:
Enter the attic and observe the interior roofing for insulation, deficient materials, leaks or readily observable evidence of significant water damage, structural problems, previous fire damage, FRT sheathing, exposed and frayed wiring and adequate ventilation by vent, fan or window.
If any of the above conditions exist the appraiser is required to report on what they see and make the appraisal “subject to” repairs. Check out this attic I inspected per HUD/FHA guidelines.
The lender should inform the owner of the home, or real estate agent if the home is listed for sale, that the attic access should not be blocked and that entry is possible. If it is not possible for the appraiser to get in the attic because there is something in the way they must notify the lender and make arrangements to come at another time when access is possible. HUD notes that it is the responsibility of the lender to make sure access is possible. If a return visit is made it will be necessary to charge an additional trip fee, which increases the cost to the borrower. The appraiser is not required to move furniture or any other items that may be blocking access to the attic.
As noted above the following are items which the appraiser should look for and report on if noticed and pictures should also be taken to provide proof to the lender:
- Evidence of water damage- Have recent rains caused leaking due to faulty roof shingles?
- Evidence of fire damage- Is there any black charring or smoke damage caused by a previous house fire?
- Exposed or frayed wiring- Exposed wires can be an electrical shock hazard and/or contribute to house fires.
- Structural problems- Are there any roof trusses that are cracked or warped and that could cause the roof to collapse?
- Adequacy of ventilation- lack of proper ventilation can result in higher than normal heating and cooling bills.
In addition to the above items the appraiser must look for and report any other items that can pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants or adversely impact the value and marketability of the property. Do you have any other appraisal related questions pertaining to either attics or FHA requirements? If so leave me a message below and I will be sure to get back with you.