5 common questions about roofs and FHA loans

Do you want to play a little game called “FHA Roof Trivia”? Nah, I didn’t think so. Me neither. Let’s take a look at some common questions though pertaining to roofs and FHA minimum property standards. I hope this is helpful to answer some questions you might have as a buyer, seller or real estate agent.

Q: How many layers on a roof will FHA accept?
A: “FHA will accept a maximum of 3 layers of existing roofing. If more than 2 layers exist and repair is necessary, then all old roofing must be removed as part of the re-roofing. (4905.1 REV-1, 2-12)”

Q: How much life does a roof need to have left?
A: The roof should have at least two years of physical life left. If the roof does not have two years or looks like it is in really bad shape, the appraiser should call for a roof inspection. This means the roof will have to be certified by a professional to have at least two years of physical life left. If the roof has less than two years of life, then it must be repaired or replaced.

Q: Is it a problem for an FHA loan if the roof is flat?
A: As long as there are no issues pointing toward potential roof problems (such as stains on the ceiling or badly rotted eaves), there is no reason to be alarmed. Straight from HUD, “FHA no longer mandates automatic inspection of flat and/or unobservable roofs. The appraiser must note in the appraisal that he/she could not adequately observe the entire roof area and state which area(s) were unobservable. As with any other type of roof the appraiser is to look for signs that would indicate a possible roof problem. Based on the information reported, either the appraiser or underwriter may call for a roofing inspection.”

Q: Do appraisers have to inspect the attic for an FHA loan?
A: Yes. The appraiser must do a “head and shoulders” inspection of the attic. FHA states the home owner is responsible for making sure the appraiser has clear access. What are appraisers looking for in the attic? Read a previous post HERE. By the way, I’m curious if you find most appraisers to be actually inspecting the attic. I heard from a Sacramento home inspector recently that he has never seen an appraiser with a ladder at an inspection. Hmm…

Q: Are gutters required for the roof?
A: No, they are not. However, as the HUD Handbook 4150.2 tells appraisers: “Check for readily observable evidence of grading and drainage problems. Proper drainage control measures may include gutters and downspouts or appropriate grading or landscaping to divert the flow of water away from the foundation. If the grading does not provide positive drainage from the improvements, make a repair requirement. Note any readily observable evidence of standing water near the property that indicates improper drainage.” In short, gutters are not required, but on the other hand one of the potential repairs to solve a drainage problem could be gutters.

I hope you feel like you know a bit more about the way FHA views a roof now.

If you have any questions or Sacramento area real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs, contact me by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.


  1. says

    Hello Ryan

    We conduct home inspections in the SF Bay Area and we are also a FHA Compliant Inspector – We can help and conduct FHA Final Inspections after the underwriter ask items to get fixed.

    • says

      I imagine some contractors stray away from FHA issues, but it sure is good to know. It’s probably a pain to keep track of certain regulations. A local contractor in the Sacramento area I know has actually gone out to become an official HUD consultant so they can really be an asset for their clients. He saw a niche market with the relevance of FHA and made a tremendously good business decision. It’s always good to see people thinking out of the box to stay relevant.

  2. Jeanne Ruggiero says

    Ryan, Thank you for posting this information. I found the answer to how much life does a roof need to have very helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *