Housing and communitydevelopment department




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CITY OF HOUSTON

HOUSING AND COMMUNITYDEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

MINIMUM PROPERTY STANDARDS

NEW CONSTRUCTION



The standards contained in this document establish the Minimum Property Standards (MPS) for single family residential home inspections for housing programs that receive federal assistance through the Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD).


  • The MPS require compliance with the International Residential Code (IRC) 2000 adopted by the City of Houston or the latest edition of the IRC and any applicable code required by the pertaining Municipality.




  • The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2006 adopted by the City of Houston or the

latest edition of the IECC and any applicable code required by the pertaining Municipality.


  • The requirements from other governing entities such as Homeowners Associations and Local and Federal regulations pertaining to zoning, traffic, drainage, flood plains and fire.



1.0 Site
1.1 Minimum Site Standards
A. The lot or defined site must be free of debris; garbage or other accumulations of site stored items that create possibilities of infestations. The site should be generally level, well drained, and accessible.
1.2 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions
A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:
1. Rodents, insects, or other infestations and accumulated debris, waste, or garbage either in enclosed areas such as storage buildings or in yard areas, except for where garbage is stored;
2. Deteriorated and/or irreparable outbuildings, sheds, wells, privies, or other structures that are no longer in use or are made unusable by their condition;
3. Holes, ditches, exposed meter boxes, exposed pipes, railings or other conditions that create a tripping hazard, excluding drainage ditches, retention and/or detention ponds that are part of a designed drainage system;
4. Standing water or depressions that hold water during wet weather, leaking water

supply, percolating or leaking sewage;
5. Damaged, missing or deteriorated walkways, steps and decks that create tripping hazards or are otherwise unsafe;
6. Stairways or steps with two steps or more and without a functional handrail.

2.0 Space and Use
2.1 Minimum Space Standards for Ceilings

A. Habitable rooms, hallways, corridors, toilet rooms, laundry rooms and basements shall have a ceiling height of not less than seven (7) feet. The required height shall be measured from the finished floor to the lowest projection from the ceiling.
Exception:
Not more than fifty (50) percent of the required floor area of a room or space is permitted to have a sloped ceiling less than seven (7) feet in height with no portion of the required floor area less than five (5) feet in height.



      1. Minimum Space Standards for Rooms




  1. All rooms, except kitchens and/or kitchenettes and baths, hallways, storage rooms and

porches must have a minimum width of seven (7) feet.
2.3 Minimum Space Standards for Kitchens (excluding Single Room Occupancy)


  1. All kitchens must have adequate food storage facilities including at least three linear feet

of counter area for food preparation and adequate cabinet space in good repair.
B. All kitchens must have a working refrigerator, cook-top and oven (unless required to be

furnished by homeowner).
2.4 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions


  1. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life. health and or

safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:


  1. Lack of adequate food storage, food preparation area, refrigeration or cooking

facilities.


  1. Spaces that are so small as to be unusable or inadequate for their intended purpose.



  1. Any other condition not mentioned that meets the definition of a hazardous or

substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
3.0 Foundations
3.1 Minimum Foundation Standards


  1. Pier placements will have allowable spans between piers or posts for a 4"x4" sill 6' on

center or for a 4"x6" sill 8' on center.
B. Joists shall match existing size and shall not be spliced.
C. Stabilization of foundation must be done in a manner to establish long term stability, eliminate movement and sponginess of flooring.
D. All piers should be designed in accordance with the local code.
E. Leveling must be done in such a manner to establish long term stability and must be completed before other work begins.
F. New posts must be concrete or concrete-block piers or-treated wood posts, of a species that has a natural resistance to decay.
G. Cedar posts and shims must be treated to prevent rot and deterioration and shall be no more than two (2) inches thick.
H. When leveling, grades must be established from existing concrete porches, fireplaces and chimneys.
I. When leveling is complete, doors, windows, and openings must be reasonably plumbed, level, and fully operational.
J Correct over spans by installing stringers and/or floor joists. Stringers are to be placed on

concrete pads arid piers.
K. All sills must have twelve (12) inches minimum clearance above the ground when leveling is to be done unless otherwise specified.
L. All newly installed concrete slab foundations should be designed in accordance with local

code.
M. All concrete slabs except for foundations (see above) must be poured monolithically and is a minimum of four (4) inches thick. Reinforcing must be, at a minimum, 6"x6" Number 6

welded wire fabric unless otherwise specified. The top of a foundation slab poured on existing grade must be a minimum of eight (8) inches above surrounding soil level.
N. Skirting must extend 4" below and at least 18" above grade and be lapped and fastened under siding on the same horizontal line of the entire wall or "side" of building.
O. Skirting must have ventilation openings a minimum of 4' from each corner, and no less than every eight (8) feet. Vent openings should be covered by louvered screened vents, and should be a minimum of fifty (50) square inches.
P. Creep-hole door must be hinged and constructed of such insect and decay resistant material to conform to foundation skirt, and must be of adequate size for entrance into crawl space (minimum of 18" x 24").
3.2 Hazards and Substandard Conditions
A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:
1. Termite or other wood destroying insect damage to structural members;
2. Water damage or dry rot to structural members;
3. Broken, fire damaged or otherwise coMPSomised beams, joist or sills;
4. Unsupported beams, sills or joists in same that have no support; inadequate support;
5. Water draining and/or pooling under foundation area;
6. Lack of underpinning, skirting, or other insulating feature to exposed plumbing.
7. Existing skirting or underpinning that is cracked, damaged or not properly vented.
8. Ground contact of untreated wooden structure;
9. Severe slab cracks that create or threaten structural or other systems such as

plumbing;
B. Any other condition not mentioned that meets the definition of a hazardous or substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
4.0 Floors
4.1 Minimum Floor System Standards
A. All sub-floors should be a minimum of three-fourth (3/4) inches thick, solid and continuous, without liberal movement or bounce, free from rot and deterioration.
B. All floor covering must be a minimum of 3/32" thick, free from tripping hazards with a

minimum of seams spaced at logical locations such as doorways and matched to the existing floor.
C. All flooring must be sealed and/or tight at the edges.
D. Install new 3/8" exterior grade plywood underlayment (AC or BC smooth on one side) over entire floor area or match existing.
4.2 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions
A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not limited to:
1. Damaged, rotted or deteriorated sub-floor surfaces;
2. Torn, missing, worn, burned or otherwise damaged floor coverings that create a

tripping hazard or unsanitary condition;

3. Missing base board, shoe mold or sealant that creates an unsanitary condition;
B. Any other condition not mentioned which meets the definition of a hazardous or

substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
5.0 Walls
5.1 Minimum Wall System Standards
A. Exterior siding should be smooth and free from gaps, cracks, rot, termite damage, holes and other areas of damage. All gaps seams and laps should be sealed. All rotted wood, fire damaged or termite-damaged wood should be removed and replaced.
B. Interior walls should be smooth wood, plywood or sheetrock/drywall.
1. All sheetrock/drywall, repaired or replaced, must be taped, floated, sanded, textured and painted.
2. All interior walls, ceilings and trim must be painted.
C. Any other condition not mentioned which meets the definition of a hazardous or substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
5.2 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions

A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any. condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:
1. Termite or other wood destroying insect damage to siding, trim and/or structural

members;
2. Water damage or dry rot of siding, trim and/or structural members;
3. Broken, fire damaged or otherwise coMPSomised siding, trim and/or structural

members;
4. Exposed nails popped seams or other defects not representative of normal wear and tear;
5. Cracked, peeling, or chipped paint. Exposed unpainted or untreated wood, drywall or other wall surface;

B. Any other condition not mentioned which meets the definition of a hazardous or substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
6.0 Roofs
6.1 Minimum Roof System Standards
A. Roof surfaces should be smooth and free from defects. No indication of excessive wear or potential failure will be acceptable.


B. All roof decking shall be ½ inch OSB or CDX plywood and must be installed using H clips.
C. Roofing materials should be applied in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions as well as local codes.
D. New applications on roofs between 4:12 and 20:12 pitch must include at a minimum, the

application of 15 lb. felt, 20 yr. asphalt composition shingles or fiber glass, with one and one-fourth (1 ¼ ) inches galvanized roofing nails and trimmed with 1"x2" shingle mould and galvanized drip edge. Other roofing types such as built up, modified, metal roofing and any other type must be installed according to the manufacturer's instruction and local code.
E. All rotted or damaged wood decking must be removed and replaced. Where it is exposed it should be primed and painted.
F. If rainwater is drained by existing seamless metal gutters and downspouts, they must be accompanied by splash blocks from the roof so as not to cause dampness/damage to walls, ceilings, or floors of any room within the unit. All draining devices shall be kept in a state of maintenance and repair.
6.2 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions
A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:
1. Water damage caused by water leaking through the roofing materials;
2. Missing, worn or upturned shingles or other visible wear on the exterior of the roof envelope;
3. Damaged or rusting roof jacks, leads, flashings drip edges, or other component;
4. Structural damage evidenced by buckling, sagging, or broken members;
5. De-lamination of materials, uplifted edges, or other failure of materials or

application;
6. Any condition, including normal wear which, in the best judgment of the inspector, and would lead to the failure of the roof envelope within five years;
B. Any other condition not mentioned which meets the definition of a hazardous or substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
7.0 Windows and Doors
7.1 Minimum Window and Door Standards

A. All exterior doors to the outside or to a common public hall must be solid core one and three-fourth (1 ¾ ) inches thick attached to frame/jam with three (3) butt hinges and be equipped with adequate security locks including at least one single deadbolt/lock, with one inch (1") throw bolt. Each door must be not less than 2'4" in width and not less than 6' -6" in height, except where larger doors and doorways are required to accommodate accessibility. In existing structures, if replacement to meet these requirements would be impossible or cost-prohibitive said requirements may be waived, in writing, by the building inspection department.
B. All windows accessible from ground level without the aid of mechanical devices must have a security device/lock.
C. Every window sash must be in good condition, fit tightly within its frame and:
1. Fully equipped with glass windowpanes which are without cracks or holes, and all panes must be secured.
2. Other than a fixed window, must be capable of being easily opened, shut and locked and must be held in position by window hardware, not broom handles, sticks, or other such items;
D. Every exterior and interior door, when closed, must fit well within its frame and:
1. Door hinge, door latch and/or lock must be maintained in good working condition;
E. Every window, door and frame must be constructed and maintained in such relation to the adjacent wall construction, so as to exclude rain as completely as possible and to subsequently exclude wind from entering the dwelling or structure, i.e., it -must have adequate weather-stripping.
F. Every window, exterior door, basement or cellar hatchway must be constructed and maintained as to prevent the entrance of rodents, snakes, rain and surface drainage water into the dwelling or structure.
H. Window wells at escape or rescue windows shall comply with the following:
1. The clear horizontal dimensions shall allow the window to be fully opened and

provide minimum accessible net clear opening of nine (9) square feet, with a

minimum dimension of thirty-six (36) inches.
2. Window wells with a vertical depth of more than forty-four (44) inches shall be

equipped with an approved permanently affixed ladder or stairs that are accessible with the window in the fully open position. The ladder or stairs shall not encroach into the required dimensions of the window well by more than 6 inches.
I. The total window area that can be opened in every habitable room must be equal to at least 50% of the minimum window area size. The window should be a viable means of egress and therefore accessible and adequately sized to provide this function.

Every habitable room must have at least one window or skylight which can easily be opened, or other such device as will adequately ventilate the room.
K. Every bathroom, toilet room, kitchen, and other similar room must have a window area of not less than 4 square feet. No window must be required in adequately ventilated bathrooms, toilet rooms or kitchens equipped with a ventilation system which will completely change the air every 7 minutes and which is kept in continuous operation when occupied.
L. Every window or other opening to outdoor space which is used or intended to be used for

ventilation must likewise be supplied with screens covering all of the window areas required for ventilation. The material used for all such screens (doors & windows) must be not less than 16 mesh per inch and must be properly installed, maintained and repaired to prevent the entrance of flies, mosquitoes or other insects. Half screens on windows may be allowed, provided, they are properly installed and are bug and insect tight.
7.2 Hazardous and Substandard Conditions
A. Hazardous conditions must include any condition that threatens the life, health and or safety of the occupants. Substandard conditions include any condition that threatens, defeats or will lead to the lack of functional viability of a single feature of a home. These conditions must include but not be limited to:
1. Broken, missing or cracked panes;


2. Sealed or blocked windows including windows which have been painted shut,

windows which are not operational or windows which will not function as a viable

fire exit such as windows with burglar bars which cannot be opened readily from the inside;
3. Windows that do not lock or locks that do not function with ease;
4. Any door that is broken, deteriorated, or otherwise damaged so that it does not

provide a sealed entry. Any door which does not shut neatly in order to provide a seal with the passage set or lock set fitting neatly within the strike plates;
5. Any exterior door which is not solid core, sealed or painted, and which does not have a functioning lockable dead-bolt;
6. Rotted, deteriorated, or broken thresholds, jambs, frames, trim or other functioning or passive pieces to the door system warrant replacement;
7. For new construction including reconstruction, windows and/or doors that fail to meet the requirements of state and/or local energy code, as applicable.
B. Any other condition not mentioned which meets the definition of a hazardous or substandard condition should be repaired and/or rehabilitated to meet industry standards.
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