Mortgages & Home Loans Financing Your Home Purchase How to Get an FHA Limited 203(k) Loan for Home Repair By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on March 31, 2022 Reviewed by Julius Mansa Reviewed by Julius Mansa Julius Mansa is a CFO consultant, finance and accounting professor, investor, and U.S. Department of State Fulbright research awardee in the field of financial technology. He educates business students on topics in accounting and corporate finance. Outside of academia, Julius is a CFO consultant and financial business partner for companies that need strategic and senior-level advisory services that help grow their companies and become more profitable. learn about our financial review board Photo: Inti St. Clair/Digital Vision/Getty Images If you've been passing up buying homes that require cosmetic repairs because you lack the funds to fix them up, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has a program that can benefit you. Not to be confused with FHA's much more complicated 203(k) program, a Limited 203(k) loan eliminates a lot of the paperwork involved and simplifies the process to obtain rehab funds. Homebuyers—especially first-timers—are often turned off by the thought of having to make substantial home improvements. For those willing to take on the work, a Limited 203(k) loan might be the best place to start. Key Takeaways When buying a fixer-upper, you can apply for an FHA Limited 203K loan to fix up any house needing repairs.Homebuyers can take advantage of the Limited 203(k) program and finance up to $35,000 into their mortgage to make an upgrade, improvement, or repair.There are special conditions and requirements, including what types of repairs or improvements are covered in the program. How a Limited 203(k) Loans Works Before Limited 203(k) loans, when someone bought a home, they applied for a mortgage and a separate home equity loan to fix it up, resulting in two loans. However, many lenders won't rehab loans, and some won't fund equity loans at closing, especially if there is no equity. A Limited 203(k) loan is figured into the original loan balance, resulting in one loan. Homebuyers can take advantage of the Limited 203(k) program and finance up to $35,000 into their mortgage to make an upgrade, improvement, or repair. It can be an adjustable-rate or fixed-rate mortgage, and the balance can exceed the purchase price of the property. Luckily, borrowers are not required to hire professional consultants, licensed engineers, or architects. Your home inspector can put together a list of recommended repairs and improvements, and you can be cost-effective and decide what projects to do yourself. Eligible Repairs and Improvements The Limited 203(k) loan allows for simple repairs that can be easily estimated and completed. Many are considered light cosmetic repairs, but some will require hiring a licensed contractor if it falls out of the borrower's area of expertise. Here is an approved list of repairs and improvements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Roofs, gutters, and downspoutsHVAC systemsPlumbing and electricalMinor kitchen and bath remodelingFlooring: carpet, tile, wood, etc.Interior and exterior paintingNew windows and doorsWeather-stripping and insulationImprovements for persons with disabilitiesEnergy efficient improvementsStabilizing or removing lead-based paintDecks, patios, porchesBasement completion and waterproofingSeptic or well systemsPurchase of new kitchen appliances or washer/dryerRepair or remove an in-ground swimming pool Note The list is subject to frequent change, so double-check with your preferred lender. Repairs Not Permitted The following is a list of repairs that are not eligible: Landscaping or yard workMajor remodelingMoving a load-bearing wallRoom additions or add-ons to the homeFixing structural damageNew swimming poolsAn exterior hot tub, spa, whirlpool bath, or saunaBarbecue pits, outdoor fireplaces or hearthsBathhousesTennis courtsSatellite dishesTree surgery (except when eliminating an endangerment to existing improvements)Photo muralsGazebos Special Conditions and Terms There are special conditions involved with the program to limit abuse. To begin, borrowers must occupy the property, and it cannot be vacant for more than 15 days. If the job requires a permit, borrowers must get a permit and a sign-off before beginning, but the work must commence within 30 days from closing and be completed within six months. All improvements to existing structures must comply with HUD's Minimum Property Standards (MPS) and meet local building codes. Requirements to Perform the Work Borrowers can select among licensed contractors to perform the work, but the lender may review the contractor's experience, background, and referrals. They will also want a copy of the contractor's estimate and the agreement between them and the borrower. Borrowers can also arrange to do some or all of the work under a self-help arrangement. Do-it-yourself projects may require providing the lender with documentation supporting the borrower's knowledge, experience, and ability to perform the necessary work. Disbursement of Payments There is a maximum of two payments to each contractor, including the borrower, providing the borrower works under a self-help plan, and no more than a 50% advance is allowed. Do-it-yourself allowances do not include labor, only materials costs. Final payment is paid after submission of evidence of payment to sub-contractors, suppliers, or other possible lien claimants. Loans Below $15,000 If you apply for a loan less than $15,000, the lender is not required to inspect the completed work or authorize a third party to inspect the completed work. A letter from the borrower or copies of contractor receipts will suffice as a notice of completion, providing the lender has no reason to determine a third-party inspection is necessary. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. HUD. "203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Insurance." HUD. "HUD - Fixing Up Your Home and How to Finance It." HUD. "Supplementing Model Building Codes."