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VA Minimum Property Requirements for Electrical Systems

If you're interested in buying a particular home with your VA loan benefit, that property must meet the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements, or MPRs for short.

The Department of Veterans Affairs outlines the MPRs each property must meet before a VA loan can be approved. The VA uses these guidelines to help borrowers avoid buying properties that are not safe, sound or sanitary.

As part of the MPRs, a property's electrical system must be examined to ensure that it’s safe. The electrical system in the home is a significant factor in the VA appraisal, so let’s look at some of the requirements.

What VA Appraisers Will Look For in the Electrical System

During the VA appraisal, two things must be closely examined: The general safety of the system and whether it abides by local building codes. Generally speaking, if the system is safe enough for the local building authority, the VA will deem it as acceptable.

Appraisers will look at the following elements of an electrical system during the VA electrical requirements inspection:

  • GFCI outlets: GFCI outlets must have “test” and “reset” buttons. Some areas require these outlets be installed near a water source, for example in the kitchen.
  • Fuse boxes: The VA doesn’t require homes to upgrade from an old fuse box to a circuit-breaker box unless the fuse box is in violation of the local building code.
  • Circuits and outlets: Appraisers will look for improper fuses, circuits and outlets to see if they’re faulty or overloaded. The appraiser may request a repair or ask for an electrician’s assessment.

As appraisers are not electricians, they may ask for additional help in determining whether an outlet or fuse box is safe.

Potential VA Electrical Problems

During the appraisal, some issues may come up that must be repaired before the loan can close. Common issues include flickering lights, which could signify a poor connection, dead outlets, frequently tripping breakers, short circuits and overuse of extension cords.

When the appraiser comes across these issues, they may request a more thorough evaluation or request repairs are made. These matters could lead to dangerous results, such as overheating or fires, and must be resolved before anyone moves into the home.

Does the VA Approve Knob and Tube Wiring?

The VA states that if knob and tube wiring is acceptable to the local authority then it’s acceptable to the VA. The appraiser will check for any obvious safety hazards, but ultimately defers to the local building codes.

Does the VA Allow Fuse Boxes?

The VA does allow fuse boxes unless there is an obvious safety concern. Then they may ask for the fuse box to be upgraded to a circuit-breaker system instead. Again, the VA is happy to defer to the local building regulations. If the local building code deems it acceptable, then the appraiser will too.

The Importance of a Home Inspection for Electrical Systems

Home inspections and VA appraisals can be a nerve-wracking part of buying a home, but they are necessary for the buyer’s safety. The last thing anyone wants is to buy a property with an unsafe electrical system.

A VA appraisal is just part of the overall process and is not the same as a general home inspection. To get a full picture of the property’s condition, it’s worth getting a home inspection in addition to the appraisal. While it’s not required by the VA, it can let you know of potential future issues.