VA Mortgage Loan Program and Water Testing Requirements

Brian Oram, Licensed Professional Geologist

The VA Mortgage Loan Program originated in 1944 when the United States Congress passed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. This program was amended in 1970, and in 1978 the Veterans Housing Benefit Improvement Act increased the scope and benefits to American veterans. In 1992, the program was further expanded to include individuals that served as Reservists or National Guard for six years.   

Therefore, the VA Mortgage Loan Program is available to Veterans, Military service members, and qualifying spouses. 

Unlike the FHA loan program, the VA loan program does not have specific home inspections but requires a VA Appraisal. The main purpose of the appraisal is to determine the home's fair market value and to determine if the property meets the Minimum Property Requirements.  

The primary concern is that this level of review only attempts to determine, based on observation, if the home is safe, structurally sound, and sanitary. It does not identify hidden problems that may require improvements and significant reports. Therefore, it is wise to have a series of home inspections completed. 

When a home is serviced by an individual, private, community, or regulated drinking well, the VA does have some basic water testing requirements. Generally, the water source must meet requirements established by the local health authority. 

Well for regulated water supplies or public systems, such as community water supply systems and non-community non-transient systems, these systems are regulated by the EPA and state and in general the water provided to these home must meet the EPA and State drinking water standards and these sources of water are regularly tested by certified laboratories. 

In the case of an individual system with a private well, there is very little to no regulatory oversight by the local agency, homeowners association, or state. In these situations, the program has a VA loan water test requirement (VA Loan Program Requirements). 

General Requirements

a. A disinterested third party must perform all testing. Testing includes collecting and transporting the water sample collected at the water supply source. The sample may be collected and tested by the local health authority, a commercial testing laboratory, a licensed sanitary engineer, or another party that is acceptable to the local health authority. At no time will the Veteran or other interested party collect or transport the sample.

b. For VA purposes, the test is valid for 90 days from the date certified by the local health authority. After 90 days, another sample must be taken and testing completed.

c. The water supply must meet the requirements established by the local health authority. If the local health authority has not set specific requirements, then requirements established by the State health authority will be used. If there are no state requirements, then requirements established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be used.

Note: In many cases, the VA loan requirements may include only Total Coliform, Bacteria, Nitrates and Nitrites, Turbidity, and Lead.

KnowYou H20 Guidance

For individuals looking into the VA loan program, we strongly recommend that the individual hire a licensed home inspector and conduct some basic water screening tests. Testing applies to both private water sources and public water sources. A house connected to a public water source or city water can have problems with bacterial contamination, copper, lead, disinfection by-products, and other contaminants.

The KnowYourH20 Team recommends the following:

1. Meet with a home inspector and determine the appropriate inspection for your area (Radon, mold, standard inspection, Lead, Asbestos, plumbing, well yield testing, etc.). 

2. Review any disclosure documents with the professional you hire, especially the age of the home, reported repairs, reported events, and use of petrochemicals.

3. Order a Neighborhood Environmental Hazard Report for the home.

4. When you visit the home, spend some time determining if the home has a water treatment system and look at the piping and toilet tanks. Get a glass and fill it with the drinking water and take a taste, take a look and take a smell. Did you see any problems or issues? Do this to both the hot and cold water – Also, what is the water pressure?  

We recommend our Drinking Water Self-Diagnostic Tool.

5. Get the drinking water tested. If there is a water treatment system, get the "Raw Water" and the "Treated Water" tested and get the necessary testing done that is specific to the water treatment system – Again, we recommend using a professional.

6. When you collect the water sample, it would be wise to field test for pH, conductivity, temperature, Total Dissolved Solids, ORP, and in the case of city water–Chlorine

Get Tested

Laboratory - National Testing Laboratory

Well Water Systems

For private wells or well water systems, we would recommend as the minimum standard the NTL Quick FHA/VA Kit or the Quick Water Check Basic.

Quick FHA / VA Kit (Bacteria, Total Coliform, E. Coli, Iron, Manganese, Lead, Nitrate, pH, and Turbidity).

The Quick FHA/VA testing package is designed for FHA/VA required testing when there are no specific local or state testing requirements. You should always check with your local health department prior to testing.

Order Test Kit 

Quick Water Check Basic - Bacteria, Total Coliform and E. Coli, 22 heavy metals & minerals, 7 inorganic chemicals and 5 physical factors. The kit includes all the testing of the FHA/VA package but covers more heavy metals, minerals, and inorganic parameters. 

Note: You should always check with your local health department before testing.

Order Test Kit

City Water Systems

For city water users, we recommend the Quick FHA / VA Kit AND a CITY Water Check Standard as the minimum standard.

Quick FHA / VA Kit (Bacteria, Total Coliform, E. Coli, Iron, Manganese, Lead, Nitrate, pH, and Turbidity).

The Quick FHA/VA testing package is designed for FHA/VA required testing when there are no specific local or state testing requirements. You should always check with your local health department prior to testing.

Order Test Kit 

City Water Check Standard - 20 metals/minerals, 7 inorganic compounds, 4 physical characteristics, 16 disinfectants and Disinfection By-products, 47 volatile organic compounds

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Laboratory - Tap Score

Certified Home Loan Water Test - Total Coliform, E. Coli, Nitrate and Nitrite, Arsenic, and Lead (Standard)

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Certified Home Loan Water Test - Total Coliform, E. Coli, Nitrate and Nitrite, Arsenic, and Lead (Rushed)

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Upgraded Home Loan Water Test - Over 51 parameters, which include Alkalinity, Conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids, 23 metals, 13 inorganic non-metals, Nitrate and Nitrite, Total Hardness, and some water indices.

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Field Screening Tools

Hanna Instruments Temperature Meter
Order Temperature Meter

Hanna Instruments Combination Temperature Tester
Order Temperature Tester

References

Drinking Water Guide for Well Water and City Water

Private Drinking Water Well Programs in Your State

CDC Private Well Testing - Common Parameters – CDC Recommends – Total Coliform, E. Coli, pH, Nitrate, Total Dissolved Solids, VOCs ((BTEX - Benzene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Toluene, Trichloroethylene) and Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)).