Are vapor barriers still required in FHA appraisals?

Are vapor barriers still required in FHA appraisals?

I received a message this week from a reader who is selling their home with possible FHA financing. The real estate agent mentioned to the seller that they would probably need a vapor barrier installed underneath the house, but theyvapor barrier and fha weren’t sure. Let’s take a look at what a vapor barrier is and what the FHA rule is.

What is a vapor barrier?

A vapor barrier, in case you don’t know, is a sheet of plastic beneath the home in the crawl space area. It is used to reduce or prohibit moisture from getting into the house. This is what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says:

The crawl space must be adequately ventilated, providing positive airflow with no dead air space. A vapor barrier is not typically required; however, if moisture problems are evident, a vapor barrier should be required.

So, at the current time a vapor barrier is not required unless there are problems with moisture collecting beneath the house. Of course, if water is collecting, there may be some other problems such as inadequate drainage away from the house or possibly some other foundation issue that needs to be looked at.

Some potential problems that moisture can cause include mold, rotting of wood sub-floor, and termites. While not a current HUD requirement, a vapor barrier can help prevent these conditions from occurring.


Do you have another question about vapor barriers or any other HUD appraisal question? If so, leave your question below. If you would like to make a comment about something else feel free to, and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. I own a manufactured home in the Phoenix AZ area. It is a 1998 Palm Harbor. The vapor barrier was not mentioned in the inspection. I learned months latter when getting it leveled that it must have been torn off to do plumbing repairs and never replaced, I am in the process of selling this house. Am I now responsible for replacing it? The age of this house means it was built prior to the HUD requirement of 2008 and it is is in a very dry climate. Thank you for your help!

    • I think you may be confusing the vapor barrier with a material that was covering the floor joists. The vapor barrier is installed on the ground to help prevent moisture from getting into the home. The requirement to have this would be as of the current date rather than the age of the home. It is my understanding that it would not require it unless there were moisture issues which it sounds like there are not since you have since a dry climate.

  2. What is the FHA requirement concerning vapor barriers April 2012?

    • I’m not exactly sure what date it changed but I believe at that time it was necessary to have a plastic vapor barrier, however, you may want to verify that with HUD/FHA at 1-800-CALL-FHA.

  3. Are vapor barriers now required by FHA if no moisture problem has been indicated by appraiser? The appraiser made note in bold that there was no moisture barrier. Mortgage broker is saying it’s required.

    • Vapor barriers are no longer a requirement unless there are existing problems with moisture in the crawlspace, in which case a vapor barrier would then need to be installed.

  4. Nice job on this Tom and perfect timing. I’m trying to decide whether or not to add a vapor barrier to property right now. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the brush up on vapor barriers Tom. I pulled up the hole to a crawl space a few years ago and the water was so deep that it was almost touching the cover. They had a plumbing leak causing the problem. The owner had no idea and the vapor barrier was acting like a liner to a swimming pool.

  6. Nice job, Tom. I like how you said, “at the current time” when talking through the issue. As we all know, FHA standards (like any standards) can change over time. This is good advice.

    • Thanks Ryan. You’re right about FHA standards changing. As you know, this new relaxed standard was a change from the older one that required all FHA loans to have the vapor barrier.

  7. Bill Harb says

    Peeling paint (minor) on foundation exterior and storage shed. Is repainting necessary?
    House was built prior to 1978. Thansk.

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