FHA Attic Inspections
FHA Attic Requirements
FHA has always had a requirement for appraisers to inspect ‘attics’. However, HUD/FHA does not have a real definition of ‘attic’ in their documentation.
Because there is no definition of ‘attic’, assumptions have been made by FHA and appraisers that the ‘attic’ includes any space above the ceiling and below the roof inside dwellings – despite that space in modern design homes typically not having any flooring.
An appraiser in WA State, not me, was concerned about this inspection requirement and sent an inquiry question to HUD/FHA. Their response is below. Be sure to read this very carefully because it probably will alleviate fears some appraisers have. I have added enhancements to the typeface for emphasis:
FHA attic observation requirements will not change on September 14, 2015 when the 4000.1 handbook becomes effective. FHA requires that the appraiser observe the attic for evidence of needed repairs and non-compliance with FHA property eligibility requirements. If the appraiser cannot observe the entire attic, a head and shoulders observation along with an explanation from the appraiser regarding why the entire attic could not be observed is sufficient.
If the attic does not have a floor for the appraiser to stand and walk on and the appraiser believes that it would be both dangerous to the appraiser and possible damaging to the home, the appraiser may perform a head and shoulders observation and explain to the lender the circumstances and scope of the appraiser’s work.
DISCLAIMER: All policy information contained in this knowledge base article is based upon the referenced HUD policy document. Any lending or insuring decisions should adhere to the specific information contained in that underlying policy document.
This kind of language should be added to your FHA reports. The Scope of Work you performed needs to be explained.
You should always include your own multiple photos of the ‘attics’ and crawl spaces in the report.
NOTE: If the ‘attic’ or crawl space accesses are not readily accessible, you should take photos showing what you observed relative to where those are located, and also include an explanation of why a required inspection of an inaccessible space was not done. That is acceptable to FHA. You are not required to move anything (other than the simple covers), open walls, use dynamite, etc., to access these areas.