HOMEfires - Vol. 3 No. 1, January 2001

Q: What are written rehabilitation standards and what is their function in the HOME Program? How do they differ from property standards?

A: Property Standards are the housing quality standards used to determine whether a housing unit is decent, safe and sanitary. They are the standards against which the actual physical condition of a property are judged in the inspection process. Using the property standard as a baseline, a housing inspector determines the scope of rehabilitation necessary to address the physical deficiencies of a unit. The HOME final rule (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/aprqtr/24cfr92.251.htm) 92.251(a)(1)) requires that every unit being rehabilitated with HOME funds meet one of the following standards:

  • Local housing code; or

  • The articles on property or sanitary standards in one of three model codes (Uniform Building Code (ICBO), the National Building Code (BOCA), or the
  • Standard (Southern) Building Code (SBCCI)), or

  • The Council of American Building Officials (CABO) one or two family code; or

  • The Minimum Property Standards (MPS) in 24 CFR 200.925 or 200.926.

Written Rehabilitation Standards establish the standards for the rehabilitation work that will bring substandard housing into compliance with the property standard. The written rehabilitation standard prescribes the methods and materials to be used in rehabilitation. The written rehabilitation standards are sometimes referred to as "specs", or specifications, and include details such as the grade of lumber to be used, the number of nails per square foot, the type of material that can or cannot be used for doors serving as fire exits, the distribution pattern and material of roofing tiles, etc.

The written rehabilitation standard provides a common basis for contractor bids. This is particularly important because, by ensuring that all contractors are bidding work using identical methods and materials, it enables the HOME participating jurisdiction (PJ) to make an accurate determination of the cost reasonableness of bids. By holding all contractors to a single rehabilitation standard, consistent, high quality rehabilitation work is assured. The HOME final rule requires each PJ to adopt written rehabilitation standards for rehabilitation work assisted with HOME funds.

Building codes are the legal regulations that each city and state enacts and enforces for all new and old buildings, including homes. Building codes often include property standards, new construction specifications, and rehabilitation standards. The "rehabilitation" of "existing building" chapters of local building codes indicate which parts of the rest of the code (the new construction specifications) you must follow in order to meet the "property standards." Most model building codes already include some rehabilitation codes (sometimes called "existing building" codes). If your local code does not have "rehabilitation" or "existing building" chapters, the three model building codes as well as HUD's Nationally Applicable Recommended Rehabilitation Provision (NARRP) are helpful guides.

Content Archived: May 19, 2011