new construction

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Handrails & Certificate of Occupancy

Dear Henry,

I am appraising a home that is yet to be completely finished. The subject is a new construction property, and the owners are looking for permanent financing. One staircase is missing a handrail; however, a door at the top has been blocked-off in order to prevent anyone from using the stairs. (I know in the past handrails were required on anything over three steps, but is that still the case?) Also, the balcony railing has yet to be installed, but a temporary railing has been securely attached to the balcony; is this acceptable per Fannie Mae guidelines? Barricading the door and the temporary balcony rail do meet our local codes.

Mark Faldetta

Dear Mark,

In general, Fannie Mae requires that the house be complete prior to finalizing longterm financing. You should describe any items that you observe that are not complete. You should emphasize any unfinished items that present a safety hazard. If required by your scope of work agreement with the lender/client, you should provide an estimate of what it will cost to complete the house. If you are in an area where a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the local building authority, you should report on whether one has been issued, and if it contains any conditions regarding what must still be completed.