As with most government home loans, the mortgages guaranteed by the FHA have minimum property standards which must be met before the FHA will approve the loan. But taken at face value, that statement would lead some to believe the FHA maintains a set of building codes that a home must meet above and beyond (or at least separate from) state and local codes.
That was true once upon a time–until the mid 1980s, the FHA did have its own codes for different types of buildings. The program was changed, and in the words of the FHA official site, since that time, HUD has accepted the model building codes, including over 250 referenced standards, and local building codes, in lieu of separate and prescriptive HUD standards.”
That basically means FHA-guaranteed loans must be up to code and be able to pass any state or local inspection for code compliance.
But the FHA still maintains it’s own standards and requirements in a few important areas where durability is concerned. Model codes may not provide enough (or any) guidance for durability standards in key areas such as windows, doors, carpeting, exterior features like gutters, even painting. The FHA has specific requirements in order to insure the value of a property bought with an FHA loan does not decline in value for the simple lack of durability in these areas.
If state and local codes are the standard for areas apart from the durability requirements set down by the FHA, what is the standard in areas where there are no state or local building codes?
According to the FHA, a comparable nationwide building code will be applied as a standard in the absence of a state/local equivalent. Applying these standards is the responsibility of the “appropriate FHA field office”.