What do buying cigarettes, joining the military and crawl space height for FHA loans have in common? The number 18. If you’ve ever wondered what the minimum requirement for crawl space height is according to FHA standards, it’s 18 inches. Well, technically our FHA Home Ownership Center (Santa Ana) says that 18 inches is considered a reasonable level or starting place, so there is room for interpretation on height to a certain extent. Basically though, the point is that there needs to be enough room to access the entire crawl space (not just part of it). This means if a property has 8, 10, 12, or 14 inches, it’s pretty hard to access a space that tight. That’s why 18 is a good number in the eyes of FHA.
Not Enough Space = Problem: If you didn’t know, FHA appraisers do a “head and shoulders” inspection of the crawl space to look around, so that’s how these issues are discovered. Appraisers are not required to look through the entire crawl space, but it’s easy to get the gist of what’s happening under the house by using a flashlight. Recently I was in the middle of an FHA appraisal inspection and noticed the crawl space was really uneven throughout. Some portions of the crawl space were 18 inches, but quite a bit of the crawl space was 12 inches or less (due to crazy additions, but that’s another story). I decided to contact my client to let them know what was going on because the expense for digging out the crawl space was most definitely not on the radar of the buyer. Sure enough, the buyer ended up backing out of the deal and the owner has decided to market the property to conventional buyers instead of FHA buyers.
Don’t Worry: Most houses do not have this issue, so if you’re a buyer or agent, this isn’t something to worry about. However, it’s simply something to keep in the back of your mind. If you see a crawl space, give a quick peek because it might help you determine if the house is eligible for an FHA loan in the first place. Lastly, the rules for crawl space height may be different in other parts of the country, so refer to your respective FHA Homeownership Resource Center.
I hope this was helpful to answer some of your questions. You can check out other FHA appraisal articles I’ve written, and definitely comment below if you’d like. Email or call with any questions.
If you have any questions or Sacramento area real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs, contact me by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email or “like” my page on Facebook