Deciphering the VA Lender’s Handbook Chapter 14 Part 4
VA construction inspections are broken up into three pieces, usually referred to as ‘stages’. The first stage inspection takes place either right before the foundation is laid, or right after, and examines the soil, the excavation, and the foundation (if it has been poured). It also makes sure that the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements have been met up to that point and that the construction is adhering to the construction exhibits that were submitted to the appraiser. The second inspection takes place later in the construction process and covers more items. We’ll cover the second inspection thoroughly in this article, and get going on the third inspection in the next article.
What is included in the second inspection actually depends a bit on whether the first inspection was conducted before or after the foundation was laid. The foundation needs to be inspected no matter what, so if the first inspection took place before the foundation could be inspected, then the inspector needs to look at the foundation during the second inspection. “All construction below the superstructure not installed or which was installed but not inspected or reported upon at the first inspection stage, including footings, foundations, piers, columns, waterproofing and drainage provisions”. The inspector’s goal is to make sure that the foundation was built correctly and soundly, and that the construction exhibits were followed in the construction.
The inspector will also look at the construction of the superstructure during this inspection. He or she will observe the quality of the materials and workmanship, the details of construction, and the suitability of the arrangement of all items for installing equipment later on and of all the interior and exterior finishing materials. “Superstructure” is defined as any part of the house built onto the foundation. While “inspecting the superstructure” may sound very broad, the inspector will know what to look for and will usually be fairly detailed in examining the workmanship and materials being used in construction. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure that the workmanship and materials are both high-quality, and to make sure that the home is being constructed according to the construction exhibits that were provided to the appraiser.
The inspector needs to observe the plan of the dwelling, including the arrangement of partitions and the sizes and placement of all openings. This part might take a few minutes for the inspector to make sure that all the openings are large enough and that the exhibits are being followed. The inspector makes sure that the plan is up to local code. In my area, that means things like every bedroom must have a window, and all bedroom and bathroom doors must be wide enough for a wheelchair. Each area will have different code requirements, and the inspector will be familiar with these.
, including the plumbing, HVAC, and electric installations. Granted, most of this work will be in-progress at this point, but the mechanical work should at least be roughed-in, and the inspector needs to examine the work in regards to making sure that the fixtures, equipment, and accessories are installed correctly, the installations do not impair the strength of any structural members, and that the installation allows for proper operation of the completed system. The second inspection is not the last inspection, so these things will be evaluated when the home is near-completion or has been completed, but it’s important that they are evaluated before they are finished in case there is something unacceptable in the way the basic components are being installed.
Important note for those buying a manufactured home and putting it on an empty lot – the first inspection (foundation) will need to take place, but the second inspection does not need to be conducted for manufactured homes. This is because the home is built in a factory and must be inspected to be in compliance with state standards in order for the company to legally sell the home. Unless you are getting a manufactured home, however, an inspector will need to conduct a second-stage inspection on the construction of the home.