Deciphering the VA Lender’s Handbook Chapter 12 Part 4
This article will cover the rest of the Basic MPRs as listed in Chapter 12 of the VA Lender’s Handbook. Specifically, we’ll be talking about heating systems, water supply, sanitary facilities, roof covering, crawl spaces, ventilation, and electricity. If you’re looking for introductory information on the VA’s MPRs, you should start with Chapter 12 Part 1.
The first MPR in regards to heating is very simple: it must be adequate for healthful and comfortable living conditions. Homes with wood burning stoves as their primary heating source can fulfill the MPRs as long as there is also a conventional heating system installed that maintains a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit in areas with plumbing. This is because wood burning stoves aren’t the best for spreading heat throughout an entire house, especially areas where plumbing might run, and the risk of winter freezes needs to be taken care of in some way so that it doesn’t cause constant trouble for the veteran. Solar heating systems are perfectly acceptable, as long as they meet the following two requirements:
- meet standards in HUD Handbook 4930.2, Solar Heating and Domestic Hot Water Heating Systems, and
- be backed-up 100 percent with a conventional thermal energy subsystem or another backup system which will provide the same degree of reliability and performance as a conventional system.
Note that in some areas, the VA may have a variation that states that climatic conditions do not require a mechanical heating system.
The VA requires that every unit on the property has its own hot water, and a continuing supply of safe and potable water for drinking and other household uses. The VA also requires that there be sanitary facilities and a safe method of disposing of sewage. There are further details on the VA’s requirements for water supplies and sanitary facilities, but we’ll cover those in more depth in a later article. Generally speaking, as long as the water system provides what we mentioned above and is in good repair, it will pass the VA’s MPRs.
The VA’s MPRs about the roof are pretty simple: it can’t leak and it should be able to last for the foreseeable future. The Handbook says that the roof must “prevent entrance of moisture and provide reasonable future utility, durability, and economy of maintenance.” The Handbook also states that when a defective roof with three or more layers of shingles is being replaced, all of the old shingles first need to be taken off before the new shingles can be put on. This will not be surprising nor onerous for experienced roofers. In addition to the roof covering, the MPRs also address the crawl space and attic. The MPRs state that the crawl space needs to have adequate access, be clear of all debris, and be properly vented. Also, “the floor joists must be sufficiently above the highest level of the ground to provide access for maintenance and repair of ductwork and plumbing.” Any standing water or dampness in the crawl space needs to be corrected for the home to pass the appraisal.
The VA requires adequate ventilation in the attic and crawl space in order to prevent excessive decay and deterioration of the structure. The MPRs state that ‘natural’ ventilation of those spaces is required, which means that ventilation will occur even if the power is shut off to the home. Lastly for the basic MPRs, the VA stipulates that each living unit must have electricity for lighting and necessary equipment. I know, that last one is a shocker. No pun intended. The basic MPRs are all aptly named: basic. You’ll find that nearly all of the MPRs are along the same vein as these basic ones, in that they are things that nearly every informed buyer would want to make sure the home they’re buying has. While some of the items we’ll talk about aren’t going to be as obvious as others (like the roof not leaking), nearly all of them are things that just about everyone is going to want their home to have.