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When HRVs suck on both sides, it’s a safety hazard

I recently stumbled upon a fairly odd safety hazard with newer homes, and I want to make other folks aware of this issue.  While inspecting a home in Burnsville last year, I found that both the intake and the exhaust terminals for the heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, were dirty.  It's typical to…

HRVs, Part 3 of 3: Installation Defects

For the last two weeks I've blogged about HRVs. In part one, I covered what HRVs are for and how they operate. For part two, I covered HRV maintenance and operation. Today I'll discuss installation defects. The most common defect I find with HRVs is that they were never balanced.…

HRV, Part 2 of 3: Maintenance & Operation

Last week I blogged about why houses need HRVs.  This week I'll write about maintenance and operation of HRVs; I'll try to cover the stuff you should know if you own one.  The information in this post is generic - every manufacturer will have their own set of instructions and their own…

HRVs, Part 1 of 3: Why Houses Need Them & What They Do

On any new home built in Minnesota today, there needs to be a means of mechanical ventilation provided.  The more expensive, but far more efficient way of doing this is to install a heat recovery ventilator, or HRV.  I'm posting a three part series on HRVs - today I'll share…

PODCAST: Look out for these red flags Part 2

Today's show is part two of red flags that buyers should look out for to avoid big and expensive issues when checking out properties. Windows is one to look at first, especially the type of windows that potentially are going to rot. Tessa advises giving windows a gentle push or…

PODCAST: Energy Efficiency Comes Last

Today, the three-legged stool breaks down and digests the recent podcast about insulation with Patrick Huelman.  Tessa starts the discussion by talking about Patrick's applied research and development in residential houses with the Building America Program that is led by the Department of Energy. This program focuses on energy efficiency…

Photos from new construction inspections, 2022

New does not mean perfect. We do a ton of new construction home inspections, and our clients never regret hiring us for the home inspection. I could wax on and on about the importance of getting a home inspection on a new construction home, but I'd prefer to let our…

PODCAST: The Importance of Context in Communication

Today we're going to talk about giving context and putting things into perspective for buyers and homeowners.  Reuben and Tessa talk about the factors needed to be considered when reporting about different kinds of houses: the age and condition of the house and the unique or typical defects. Tessa shares…

PODCAST: Where to find mold, Part 2

Today's episode is part 2 about mold conversation. Vickie Swenson shares the top 10 areas where mold usually hides.  According to Vickie, molds mostly grow in the base basement carpet, rim joist insulation, air exchanger intake ducts, attics, cement walls and basements, leaks under sinks, dark crawl spaces, insulation in…

PODCAST: Winter prep, do we follow our own advice

Today, Reuben, Bill, and Tessa go over a checklist for the winter. How well are you prepared for the winter? Reuben shares his recommendations for the use and disposal of batteries. They talk about preparing salt in the garage,  disconnecting and draining hoses, daylight savings, and batteries for smoke alarms.…

PODCAST: Why is my house crying

Today's show is about mysterious siding stains and air exchangers. Bill raises his concerns and clarifications about air quality as it is one thing that homeowners must start working with starting the fall season. Reuben names and distinguishes the three types of mechanical ventilation: positive ventilation strategy, exhaust-only or point-source…

Fall Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners 2021

It's time to get your house ready for winter. Do it now while it's still pleasant outside. To help you remember everything you’re supposed to do as a Minnesota homeowner, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of fall maintenance items. I'm also including a new podcast episode that we recorded last…

PODCAST: Fall Maintenance

Today's show is about household maintenance that needs to be done before a long winter. Bill, Tessa, and Reuben talk about what to check and clean. They highlight the under-maintained areas of a house. They start by discussing the water system from sprinklers or lawn irrigation systems; how to properly…

PODCAST: Home Inspection Process Part 2

Today's episode is a continuation of Structure Tech's home inspection process. Bill opens the show by asking about getting permission from the homeowners to open attics. He also touches on the topic of having minors in the house during the inspection. Reuben highlights that the real estate contract in Minnesota…

PODCAST: Is this a problem?

For today’s episode, the gang will talk about the checklist one should consider when moving into a new house; what is important and what should be fixed? The show starts off with Tessa sharing her experience when she went under inspector duty to assist her parents when they moved into…

Kura Home Maintenance (with Daniel Felt)

Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance, joins the show for the second time. He catches up with Bill, Tessa, and Reuben about the secrets to the thriving success of their business. He shares about providing the various needs of their clients as they are expanding in promising states nationwide.…

How To Inspect Your Own House, Part 4: The Rest of the Exterior

In last week’s blog post I gave advice about homeowner siding inspections, based on the most popular types of siding in the Twin Cities. For this week's post, I'll cover the things a homeowner can do to inspect the rest of the exterior of their home. This will cover such items as foundation…

Frost in attics: why it’s there and how to fix it

If you have a problem with frost in your attic, you're not alone. With the last few weeks of very cold weather here in Minnesota, we've been seeing tons of frost-covered attics. Now with the forecasted warm-up this week, I expect to start hearing from homeowners all over Minnesota with…

What is included in Home Inspection Services

HOME INSPECTION: WHAT'S INCLUDED What’s Included All of our home inspectors are proud members of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. As such, we abide by the ASHI Code of Ethics, as well as the ASHI Standards of Practice, which sets forth the minimum requirements for a home inspection. The list below incorporates…

Buyers Home Inspections

Buyer's Home Inspections A typical home inspection will take typically 4 hours to conduct, depending on the size and condition of the home, and how many questions our clients have. For first-time buyers, our home inspections provide an excellent education on ownership and maintenance of the house. What’s Included All…

Annual Property Reviews

Annual Property Reviews Structure Tech offers Annual Property Reviews (APR) to homeowners in the Twin Cities, starting at only $250. This service is offered during the months of November, December, and January. An APR includes: The exterior of the home, including examining the siding, windows, and doors. We inspect for signs of water…

Podcast: Home Maintenance with Daniel Felt from Kura

For this episode, we interview Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance.  We talk about some of the most important home maintenance things that are neglected by homeowners and talk about some of our least-favorite chores. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is…

Animals, skeletons, and creepy home inspection stuff 2020

There is zero educational content in this post. It’s all gross or creepy stuff we’ve seen over the past year as home inspectors. Enjoy! This is the remains of a bat, found in a furnace return plenum. We have plenty of photos of bats at soffits and in attics, but…

Fall maintenance checklist for Minnesota homeowners

Fall is here and the weather is beautiful in Minnesota, but we all know what’s coming next. Yes, there’s snow in the forecast. If you haven't finished your fall maintenance list, get on it now. To help you remember everything you’re supposed to do as a Minnesota homeowner, we’ve compiled…

PODCAST: Easter Eggs, Part II

The gang discusses hard-to-find home inspection discoveries, which they call Easter Eggs. Reuben talks about a recent inspection that he did, and shares some of the finds from that inspection. One of those was a blocked toe-kick register below the kitchen sink, pictured below. Reuben also discusses finding a hot…

PODCAST: Ceiling fans don’t cool rooms

Do ceiling fans actually cool down rooms? No! They only cool people. Reuben and Tessa explain how this works, while Bill grumbles about how he still likes running fans all over his house while he's not home. In the sustainable urban core. The gang also discusses the misconceptions that more…

PODCAST: Ceiling fans don’t cool rooms

Do ceiling fans actually cool down rooms? No! They only cool people. Reuben and Tessa explain how this works, while Bill grumbles about how he still likes running fans all over his house while he's not home. In the sustainable urban core. The gang also discusses the misconceptions that more…

Podcast: Air Quality with Ross Anderson, Part 1

We interview Ross Anderson, president of the Minnesota Building Performance Association. We discuss energy score ratings for homes, managing indoor moisture levels and indoor air quality, and challenges faced by Minnesota homes. We also discuss the perfect setting for an air exchanger in a home, along with the ideal humidity…

Podcast: Air Quality with Ross Anderson, Part 1

We interview Ross Anderson, president of the Minnesota Building Performance Association. We discuss energy score ratings for homes, managing indoor moisture levels and indoor air quality, and challenges faced by Minnesota homes. We also discuss the perfect setting for an air exchanger in a home, along with the ideal humidity…

Podcast: Home Maintenance with Daniel Felt from Kura

For this episode, we interview Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance.  We talk about some of the most important home maintenance things that are neglected by homeowners and talk about some of our least-favorite chores. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is…

Podcast: All about Radon

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss all things radon. They cover radon conspiracy theories, health effects, test methods, mitigation systems, licensing in Minnesota, and a whole bunch of myths regarding radon. Related Links: DIY test kits for $9.95 New licensing for radon in Minnesota Minnesota Radon Awareness Act Also, please enjoy…

Podcast: All about Radon

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss all things radon. They cover radon conspiracy theories, health effects, test methods, mitigation systems, licensing in Minnesota, and a whole bunch of myths regarding radon. Related Links: DIY test kits for $9.95 New licensing for radon in Minnesota Minnesota Radon Awareness Act Also, please enjoy…

Fall maintenance checklist for Minnesota homeowners 2019

Fall is officially here and we've already had snow. Yay... If you haven't finished your fall maintenance list, get on it. This is a comprehensive list of fall maintenance items for Minnesota homeowners. We post this same fall maintenance list every year, and we modify it just a bit every…

Podcast: Fall Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners

Reuben and Tessa talk about several of the required fall maintenance chores that Minnesota homeowners need to take care of. Bill laments about how difficult it is to be a homeowner, and how he'd rather be watching football ;-). TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription…

Podcast: Fall Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners

Reuben and Tessa talk about several of the required fall maintenance chores that Minnesota homeowners need to take care of. Bill laments about how difficult it is to be a homeowner, and how he'd rather be watching football ;-). TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription…

Podcast: Fixing Ice Dams the Right Way

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss repair methods for ice dams on Minnesota homes. Before starting with Structure Tech, Tessa used to spec out insulation and air sealing work for houses with ice dam issues. The team discusses the cause of ice dams, how to fix them the right way, and…

Podcast: Fixing Ice Dams the Right Way

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss repair methods for ice dams on Minnesota homes. Before starting with Structure Tech, Tessa used to spec out insulation and air sealing work for houses with ice dam issues. The team discusses the cause of ice dams, how to fix them the right way, and…

Introducing the Structure Talk podcast

It's official, we're doing a home inspection podcast. Structure Talk is a podcast about houses, home maintenance, homeownership, buying and selling houses, and of course, home inspections. This podcast is hosted by me, Tessa Murry, and Bill Oelrich. For our pilot episode, the focus is home inspection Easter eggs. These are…

Introducing the Structure Talk podcast

It's official, we're doing a home inspection podcast. Structure Talk is a podcast about houses, home maintenance, homeownership, buying and selling houses, and of course, home inspections. This podcast is hosted by me, Tessa Murry, and Bill Oelrich. For our pilot episode, the focus is home inspection Easter eggs. These are…

Q&A: should the air exchanger be on or off during a radon test?

When conducting a short-term radon test, should the air exchanger be running or not? Great question. I've heard it argued both ways. If a home is designed to have an air exchanger running, I say it ought to run during the radon test. Here's my video discussion on the topic:…

New construction inspection: trust, but verify.

Should you get a home inspection on a new construction home? When a home is new, everything should be perfect, right? The builder will follow all of the manufacturer's instructions, right? All of the construction workers will do things properly, they won't take shortcuts, and the city inspectors will double-check…

Introducing the Sense Home Energy Monitor

The Sense home energy monitor is possibly the coolest tool ever invented to track home energy usage. One of the inspectors in my company, Joe, told me about this device a few months ago. He installed one of these monitors in his home last year, and he has turned into…

Kura: helping you win at homeownership

Your home inspector probably gave you a big list of things to maintain when you bought your home. Have you stayed on top of it? All of it? When stuff gets neglected, stuff breaks or stops working. In the past, when I'd go over home maintenance requirements with home buyers, they'd get glossy…

Controlling Window Condensation

This is a re-blog by guest author Ryan Carey, of My 3 Quotes. Condensation can turn wood windows black and make a mess of window sills. It's a very common occurrence here in Minnesota. The typical homeowner goes online to read numerous articles about how they must be doing something…

How to Inspect Your Own Home

You're a diligent homeowner and you put in the hours to have a well-maintained home. You're a firm believer in home maintenance and you regularly inspect your own home. Right? We're here help you with all that. I put together a 9-part series on inspections for homeowners many years ago,…

Animals, skeletons, and creepy home inspection stuff, part 3

Unlike most blog posts that you’ll find here, this one has no educational value at all. If you follow our Facebook page, you’ve probably already seen a lot of these photos, but not all of them. These are our favorites finds from 2018. Warning: Several of these photos are gross. Enjoy! This…

Fall maintenance checklist for Minnesota homeowners 2018

Fall is officially here and we've already had snow. If you're not yet done with your fall maintenance list, get on it. We post this same fall maintenance list every year, and we modify it just a bit every year with new and updated information. This year, I created three new…

Plumbing Traps

A plumbing trap prevents sewer gas from entering your home. At least, that's what it's supposed to do. Every plumbing fixture needs to be equipped with a trap, which is basically a dip in a pipe that stays filled with water. Here's a video explaining this whole blog post: https://youtu.be/yB3OiEkCOXg The…

Negotiations after the inspection

Negotiations often take place after a home inspection, and the home inspector frequently gets put in the middle of it. The role of a home inspector is never to decide what should or shouldn't be negotiated as part of a home purchase, assuming anything gets negotiated. That's a job for the…

Unintended consequences of attic improvements

This is a guest blog post. Scroll to the bottom for more details.  Air sealing and adding insulation to an existing house could have negative impacts on both the occupants and the house. Wait…adding insulation is supposed to be a good thing, right? If done properly, yes. Houses are complex…

Fall maintenance checklist for Minnesota homeowners 2017

Fall is officially here, and that means it's time to get started on your fall maintenance list. It's much easier to get this stuff done while it's still pleasant outside, so don't put these projects off until we have more snow in the weather forecast. This fall maintenance list was…

Photos from new construction inspections, part VI

It’s once again time for my annual blog post that stresses the importance of new construction inspections. Specifically, home inspections. I still talk to home buyers, home owners, and real estate agents who have never even considered the idea of getting a home inspection on a brand new home. I…

Fall maintenance checklist for Minnesota homeowners 2016

Fall is officially here, and that means it's time to get started on your fall maintenance list. It's much easier to get this stuff done while it's still pleasant outside, so don't put these projects off until we have more snow in the weather forecast. This fall maintenance list was…

Negotiations after the inspection, part 3: Reasonable negotiation items

In this three-part series on negotiations after the home inspection, I discussed the options that a home buyer has after getting a home inspection in part 1, and gave a list of what I consider to be unreasonable negotiation items in part 2.  For this post, I'm going to cover some…

Photos from New Construction Home Inspections, Part V

I've compiled new-construction defect photos from the past six years into this one gigantic blog post.  If you're in the market for a new home and you're not sure if a home inspection is worth doing, please look through these photos.  If you're a real estate agent who isn't sold on the…

Fall Maintenance Checklist for Minnesota Homeowners 2015

Fall is officially here, and that means it's time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It's much easier to get this stuff done while it's still pleasant outside, so don't put these projects off until we have snow in the forecast. This list was originally compiled by our…

Who to trust: your home inspector or the seller

I don't get involved in real estate negotiations a whole lot; it's not my job, it's none of my business, and I'm not qualified to do so.  As a home inspector, my job is to inspect the home, report on its condition, and make recommendations.  Nevertheless, I try to provide the…

Controlling Window Condensation

This is a guest blog post by Ryan Carey, of My 3 Quotes. Condensation can turn wood windows black and make a mess of window sills.  It's a very common occurrence here in Minnesota.  The typical homeowner goes on-line to read numerous articles about how they must be doing something…

Photos from New Construction Home Inspections, Part IV

It's been one day short of a year since my last post on new construction home inspections, so it's time for another.  My message is pretty simple: new homes should be inspected by private home inspectors.  Home inspections aren't just for old houses or used houses. One of the newest inspectors on…

Q&A – Siding Stains: Why Do Houses Cry?

I recently had a reader email this question, and thought it would make for a good blog post: We get brown water stains on our siding over the winter, but they mostly go away over the summer. Will you perform an inspection for those stains only (not a whole-house inspection)? While…

Fall Maintenance Checklist for Minnesota Homeowners 2014

Fall is officially here.  It's time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It's much easier to get this stuff done while it's still pleasant outside, so don't put these projects off until we have snow in the forecast. This list was originally compiled by Structure Tech Home Inspector Duane…

Frost in Attics /attic-frost/

With the recent cold snap, I've seen a rash of frost covered attics.  I also received an email this week that inspired me to blog about this: A couple of years ago my husband and I contacted you about frost accumulating in our attic. My husband filled in all the…

Photos from New Construction Home Inspections, Part III

“You'd be wasting your money if you hired a home inspector.  This is a brand new house that has been inspected dozens of times by the city of Perfectville, and they're especially picky.  If there was anything wrong, they would have already caught it." Sound familiar? This is the same…

Patent Troll Tactics Target Infrared Camera Use of Home Inspectors

This week I'm sharing a link to a blog post discussing patent trolls, home inspectors, and infrared cameras.  This was originally posted on September 2nd, 2013 at Energy Vanguard. A year or two ago, I remember getting trapped in my car one evening listening to Ira Glass's show This American Life.…

Combustion Air Ducts, Part II: Problems and Solutions

Last week I wrote about what combustion air ducts are and why houses need them. This week I'm going to follow up with some of the most common problems and solutions related to combustion air duct installation and maintenance. By far, the most common problem that occurs with combustion air…

Fall Maintenance Checklist for Minnesota Homeowners 2012

Fall is officially here.  It's time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It's much easier working on these projects while it's still pleasant outside, so don't put these projects off until the first snow. This list was compiled by Structure Tech Home Inspector Duane Erickson. Water Disconnect any garden hoses.…

Plumbing Traps

Have you noticed any foul odors in your basement that you just can't get to the bottom of?  It might be sewer gases coming in to your home.  Every plumbing fixture needs to be equipped with a trap, which is basically a dip in a pipe that water fills up.…

Home Inspections on Townhouses

There's a prevailing myth in the real estate industry that a townhouse inspection is far easier than a single family home, takes less time, and uncovers fewer defects.  False, false, and false.  When we quote a price for a townhouse inspection, we always quote the inspection fee exactly as we…

Water Stains on Windows

Water stains on window sills can be a source of anxiety for home buyers, and it's the home inspector's job to help determine if the stains are the sign of a major problem or not. There are three common causes of water stains on windows: 1. Leaving the windows open.…

Why Is There Frost In My Attic? /attic-frost/

At the last four home inspections that I've done, every home had frost problems in the attic. Have you checked for frost in your attic yet this year?  If you live in Minnesota or a similarly cool climate, now is a good time to check your attic for frost. Temperatures in Minnesota…

Photos From New Construction Inspections

If you're buying a new construction home, get it inspected by a private home inspector. I could wax on and on about how important home inspections are for new construction, especially if the builder tells you that a private home inspection isn't necessary, but I've found that photos are far more convincing…

Could My Radon Monitor Be Broken?

One of the more awkward conversations that I had with a home seller this year dealt with a high radon test at his home in Minnesota.  We performed a radon test for the buyer, and the test came up high (over 4.0 pCi/L), so the buyer asked the seller to…

Fall Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners 2010

While it's still officially summer for another week, it's a good time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It's much easier working on these projects while it's still pleasant outside; don't put these projects off until the first snow. This list was compiled by Delano Home Inspector Duane Erickson,…

Forget Code, Bathrooms Need Fans.

For the last 800 years, building codes have allowed bathrooms to be built without exhaust fans. Exhaust fans aren't even a requirement here in Minnesota.  This is a great example of how building codes are only minimum standards.  I thought about this while doing a home inspection at a rental home…

MAC Houses Are ‘Green’ Houses

If you hear about a house getting MAC’d, it usually means that some high-quality “Green” improvements have been done to a house near the MSP airport.  The purpose is to minimize noise issues with houses, and that’s great, but I think some of the best benefits of the MAC program…

New High Efficiency Furnace, New Moisture Problem

Nelly has lived in the same split entry house since it was built in 1980, and has never had any moisture problems with his home until recently.  Shortly after replacing his old mid-efficiency natural draft furnace with a high-efficiency furnace, Nelly started noticing a host of moisture problems with his…

New Construction Inspections

One of the most common myths related to new home construction is that new homes don’t need to be inspected.  I personally know several people that have purchased new homes and didn’t have them inspected because they were ‘new’.   I’ve seen far too many problems on new construction homes…