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FHA/usda Crawl Space Req's

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sandss115

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Freshman Member
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Aug 1, 2013
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Mississippi
I recently declared a house as not qualified for USDA based on it's limited crawl space height. Now I'm getting a bunch of push back and I'm trying to make a final determination. Thought I would ask the opinion of other experts! The crawlspace ranges from 0" on the front corner to a maximum of 15-16" in the rear on the highest corner with the other corners hovering around 10-14". The plumbing is all in a line along the highest portion of the crawl space so that's not a big issue but I question the issue of ventilation as well as being able to "visually examine all areas of the crawlspace. Please feel free to weigh in. Also, I've checked the existing handbook as well as the one that's coming in June and I don't find any real significant differences.
Oh, the realtor called a lender "friend" who checked with one of their appraisers and he said the requirements for ventiliation minimum clearance didn't apply anymore so long as the plumbing/ductwork could be accessed. Tanks in advance.
 

sandss115

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Freshman Member
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Aug 1, 2013
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Mississippi
Whoops, Thanks in advance, not tanks. :)
 

sandss115

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Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Mississippi
Well, I got an answer on this and thought I'd pass it along for the help of those who might come across this thread in the future. I felt like the intent of the guideline resulted in a clearance of at least 18" and it turns out this is correct. I called an appraiser friend who also happens to be an appraisal education instructor and she, in turn, contacted the main man at FHA here in Mississippi. This gentleman pointed out that the new handbook coming out in June of 2015 will address this issue specifically, clarifying the intent of the guideline. As is often the case, it seems many appraisers have looked at the existing rule and come away thinking that if you can pretty much see all the crawl space and the plumbing/ductwork is accessible the 18" is irrelevant. That is not the case. The new handbook will specifically state that if there are ANY components in the crawlspace 18" is a requirement and the verbiage "suggesting" 18" in general is being removed. It will be a requirement.
 

RSW

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Tennessee
I guess we will have to wait and see. I won't believe it until I see it in writing. My understanding of the crawl space height as of right now is that the 18" requirement is subjective and it is the apprairsers call as to if there is adequate room for someone to enter the crawl space. I am not aware of any height requirement for ventilation.
 

CANative

Elite Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
From the new 4000.1

m. Crawl Space Observation Requirements
The Appraiser must visually observe all areas of the crawl space and notify the Mortgagee of
the deficiency of MPR and MPS when the crawl space does not satisfy any of the following
criteria:

• The floor joists must be sufficiently above ground level to provide access for
maintaining and repairing ductwork and plumbing.

• If the crawl space contains any system components, the minimum required vertical
clearance is 18 inches between grade and the bottom of the floor joists.

• The crawl space must be properly vented unless the area is mechanically conditioned.
• The crawl space must be free of trash, debris, and vermin.

• The crawl space must not be excessively damp and must not have any water pooling.
If moisture problems are evident, a vapor barrier and/or prevention of water
infiltration must be required.

The Appraiser must report any evidence that may indicate issues with structural support,
dampness, damage, or vermin that may affect the safety, soundness and security of the
Property.
 

Meandering

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2006
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
Pennsylvania
If you have 0 clearance, does it then follow that you have wood to ground contact with the floor joists? or does the crawl space have a concrete floor?
 

Lee in L.A.

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
How is it a crawl space is there is zero clearance? :shrug:
What happened to head and shoulders, you can't see all areas of the crawl or the attic that way. :leeann:
 

andrew81

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Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2008
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
Not all houses (especially historic houses) with a vacant area beneath the flooring are considered to have a crawl space; it may be an intentional void, with no mechanical systems and no intention or reason for access.
most of the loans in my area for RD or USDA are of 100+ year old homes with a partial basement (usually around 200sf - 400sf) with dug out spaces in the 'crawl space' where they installed ductwork and/or plumbing in the vacant areas. in these areas it still may not be 18 inches.
 

andrew81

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Dec 5, 2008
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
How is it a crawl space is there is zero clearance? :shrug:
What happened to head and shoulders, you can't see all areas of the crawl or the attic that way. :leeann:
m. Crawl Space Observation Requirements
The Appraiser must visually observe all areas of the crawl space and notify the Mortgagee of the deficiency of MPR and MPS when the crawl space does not satisfy any of the following criteria:
• The floor joists must be sufficiently above ground level to provide access for maintaining and repairing ductwork and plumbing.
• If the crawl space contains any system components, the minimum required vertical clearance is 18 inches between grade and the bottom of the floor joists.
• The crawl space must be properly vented unless the area is mechanically conditioned.
• The crawl space must be free of trash, debris, and vermin.
• The crawl space must not be excessively damp and must not have any water pooling. If moisture problems are evident, a vapor barrier and/or prevention of water infiltration must be required.

The Appraiser must report any evidence that may indicate issues with structural support, dampness, damage, or vermin that may affect the safety, soundness and security of the Property.

In cases where access through a scuttle is limited, and the Appraiser cannot fully enter the crawl space, the insertion of at least the head and shoulders of the Appraiser will suffice. If there is no access to the crawl space but there is evidence of a deficient condition (such as water-stained subflooring or smell of mold), the Appraiser must report this condition and the Mortgagee must have a qualified third party perform an inspection.

If there is no access, the Appraiser must report the lack of accessibility to the area in the appraisal report. There is no requirement to cut open walls, ceilings or floors.

Not all houses (especially historic houses) with a vacant area beneath the flooring are considered to have a crawl space; it may be an intentional void, with no mechanical systems and no intention or reason for access.
 
Last edited:

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
Many very old houses may have the high corner sitting right at ground level, not exactly "zero" inches but not enough to get to it without digging out. I prefer slab construction, but if a crawl space, I want no less than 36" - encapsulated, screw venting. It won't build moisture if done right.
 
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