The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures loans made by FHA-approved lenders. As part of the underwriting process, properties must meet FHA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) to qualify for FHA financing. Flooring is one aspect of the property that FHA appraisers inspect closely.
Flooring that is damaged, deteriorated, or missing altogether can cause issues during the FHA appraisal. As a result, buyers often have questions about FHA flooring requirements and what options they have for minimizing costs. This article provides an overview of FHA loan flooring standards and guidelines for both site-built homes and manufactured housing.
FHA Loan Flooring Requirements for Site-Built Homes
For site-built homes purchased with FHA financing, flooring requirements mainly relate to safety and durability. FHA appraisers inspect flooring for damage that could pose a tripping hazard or allow moisture issues. Some key guidelines include:
Floor Structure: Floor joists and trusses must be solid without sagging, cracks, or deterioration. Structural floor problems need to be repaired.
Subflooring: Areas with exposed plywood or plank subflooring are not acceptable, except in basement rooms not intended as living areas. All living areas must have finished flooring.
Carpet: Worn, damaged, or missing carpet needs replacement or repair. Stains or odors from pets or smoke may also require new carpet.
Hardwood: Severely worn, warped, or damaged hardwood needs repair or replacement. Cupping, loose boards, and uneven surfaces pose safety issues.
Laminate: Laminate floors with chips, gaps between boards, missing sections, or moisture damage need repair. Peeling laminate is unacceptable.
Tile: Cracked, broken, or missing tile needs replacement. Loose or uneven tile can be a tripping hazard. Grout should be free of deterioration.
Other Flooring: Vinyl, cork, and other flooring types should be in good condition without damage, gouges, bubbling, or lift points.
Bottom line – FHA flooring should be in serviceable condition without posing safety issues or hazards.
Correcting FHA Flooring Issues
If an FHA appraiser notes flooring deficiencies, there are two main options:
- Request the seller make repairs prior to closing as a condition of sale. This avoids out-of-pocket costs for the buyer.
- Complete a post-closing escrow repair agreement. The lender holds back funds at closing to cover flooring costs. Repairs must be made within a specified timeframe.
Cash-strapped sellers or foreclosed properties often mean the buyer has to pay flooring costs. Shopping around for the lowest quote can help minimize expenses. Basic flooring options to correct FHA deficiencies include:
- Low-cost carpet and pad – A budget carpet/pad combination runs $1-3 per square foot installed.
- Vinyl sheet or plank flooring – Sheet vinyl starts around $2 per square foot. Vinyl plank options range from $3-8 installed.
- Laminate – Basic laminate runs $2-4 per square foot installed but provides a nicer look than vinyl.
- Tile – Ceramic tile can cost $5-15 per square foot installed, depending on the tile quality.
- Refinish existing floors – Sanding and refinishing hardwood or tile costs less than full replacement.
Buyers should get multiple quotes and compare payment options, like using a credit card with promotional financing. Reviewing flooring samples at home improvement stores can give buyers a preview of costs.
FHA Manufactured Housing Flooring Standards
For manufactured homes, FHA guidelines prohibit exposed plywood floors. All areas must have “permanently affixed” finished flooring. FHA 4000.1 states:
“Flooring in living areas where finished flooring is required must be permanently affixed to the floor structure. ‘Permanent’ means that the flooring cannot be removed without damage to itself or to the structure.”
This prohibits “floating” type floors that snap together and could later be removed. Common manufactured housing flooring options per FHA guidelines include:
- Glued down vinyl, linoleum, or carpet
- Ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile with mortar bedding
- Hardwood, laminate, or engineered wood floors nailed or glued to the subfloor
Floating wood or laminate floors do not meet the “permanently affixed” rule. Peel-and-stick vinyl tiles are also prohibited since they can be easily removed. Proper installation is key with any manufactured home flooring to meet FHA requirements.
The Bottom Line
FHA flooring requirements mainly relate to safety, durability, and being structurally sound. Flooring cannot have trip hazards, allow moisture penetration, or show signs of damage that impact livability.
While FHA appraisers look closely at flooring conditions, lenders want to mitigate risk and avoid taking back damaged properties. As a result, they work with buyers and sellers to remedy any deficiencies.
For buyers financing home purchases with an FHA loan, it pays to understand FHA guidelines for flooring and how to cost-effectively address any needed repairs. Shopping around for quotes, utilizing promotional financing, and requesting seller repairs can help buyers stay on budget.
With some planning and research up front, buyers can meet FHA property standards while still moving forward with their home purchase and FHA mortgage approval.
FAQs on FHA Flooring Requirements
Some frequently asked questions related to FHA flooring standards include:
Can unfinished concrete floors pass FHA appraisal?
No. Exposed concrete floors do not meet FHA floor finish requirements in living areas. Concrete must be painted, stained, or covered with finished flooring.
What about missing carpet on part of a floor?
One room is missing carpet, while others are carpeted, which is acceptable. But large areas of missing carpet exceeding 100 square feet will likely require repair.
Can sellers simply put down cheap remnants in place of missing carpet?
Temporary remnants are not acceptable. Flooring must meet normal FHA durability standards and be properly installed, not just laid over subflooring.
What if sellers won’t replace damaged floors noted by the appraiser?
If sellers refuse to make repairs, buyers can complete a post-closing escrow holdback agreement if allowed by their lender. This draws on sales proceeds to cover buyer-paid flooring costs after closing.
Can buyers choose more expensive flooring upgrades?
Yes, buyers can opt for more expensive materials or wider wood plank flooring, for example. They pay the difference in cost beyond the basic FHA-required repair.
How long do buyers have to complete repairs?
The typical timeframe is 30-90 days after closing, but may vary by lender. Extensions can be requested for delays like contractor scheduling issues.
Can appraisers make exceptions for minor floor flaws?
Minor scratches or chips on wood floors may be acceptable if they do not pose a tripping hazard. But appraisers don’t have latitude with structural or moisture-related floor defects or missing flooring.
What happens if flooring fails re-inspection after repairs?
Buyers may need to replace flooring if the initial repair proves substandard. They risk losing escrow funds set aside for the work if it is not completed properly by the deadline.
Do sellers or home flippers ever try to hide floor damage?
Unfortunately, yes, which is why buyers should carefully inspect properties themselves prior to purchase. New carpet can conceal structural problems or water damage, for example.
In another related article, Understanding Home Appraisals: A Comprehensive Guide