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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: New Construction Techniques (with Andy Schreder)

Andy Schreder, Chief Building Officer of Rum River Construction Consultants joins today’s session to talk about ‘’Structural Insulated Panels’’ or SIPs. These are insulated foam cores with an OSB or plywood glued on each face; it acts as a structural component as an exterior wall assembly. Currently, their company is…

Free one-hour class on New Construction Home Inspections

I’m SO excited to announce the launch of a new learning platform for licensed real estate agents in Minnesota. Up until this year, we’ve been teaching free continuing education classes at real estate offices throughout the Twin Cities in-person. Once Covid hit, we quickly switched our classes to webinar style.…

New Construction Home Inspections

New Construction Home Inspections If you’re buying a new home, you should have it inspected. We’ve heard every possible argument against hiring a private home inspector, and none of them are valid. We find numerous issues at nearly every new-construction inspection that we do, and the best home builders appreciate…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

New Construction Tip: Have Your Builder Plan for Water Management

Water management at the exterior of homes is critical.  Most people know this and I probably sound like a blow-hard when I keep repeating the same message... but too bad.  The message bears repeating over and over. My latest beef with home builders is poor water management at the exterior…

Photos from New Construction Home Inspections, Part II

"New construction homes get inspected dozens of times by municipal inspectors as part of the permit process, so there is no need to hire a private home inspector if you're buying a new home." I hear that a lot.  I do my best to convince home buyers otherwise, but when…

A New Attic Problem with New Construction Homes

For about the last twenty years or so in Minnesota, it's been standard practice to seal up attic bypassses; little passageways for conditioned household air to leak in to the attic.  Attic bypasses are also known as attic air leaks.  It's important to seal all of the bypasses in an attic,…

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…

Attic Problems On A New Construction Home

We recently inspected a new construction, custom built home in Edina.  We did a team inspection at this property, where Neil, Duane, and I all inspected the house at the same time.  We really went over this house with a fine tooth comb, but we didn’t come up with much that…

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…

PODCAST: New Garages (with Rob Thomas)

Bill sits with Rob Thomas of Sussel Garages to talk about garage works. They discuss replacing and rebuilding garages, ideal sizes for multiple cars, trusses, heating, and cooling. They also discuss installing solar panels in garages and building accessory dwelling units. Rob mentions that they build around 150-200 garages in…

Podcast: New houses vs old houses, Part Two

For part 2, the gang starts out discussing the operation of gravity furnaces, and then discuss forced air heat vs gravity heat. They also discuss ductwork design and the design of heating and cooling systems. Next, the gang discusses changing out the air in a home, stack effect, and how…

Podcast: New houses vs old houses, Part Two

For part 2, the gang starts out discussing the operation of gravity furnaces, and then discuss forced air heat vs gravity heat. They also discuss ductwork design and the design of heating and cooling systems. Next, the gang discusses changing out the air in a home, stack effect, and how…

Podcast: Old houses vs new houses, part 1

Today the gang digs into the pros and cons of old houses vs new houses. We all know that we don't build them like we used to, but is that a bad thing? New houses are more energy-efficient, but they're also less durable. This the result of less drying potential,…

Podcast: Old houses vs new houses, part 1

Today the gang digs into the pros and cons of old houses vs new houses. We all know that we don't build them like we used to, but is that a bad thing? New houses are more energy-efficient, but they're also less durable. This the result of less drying potential,…

New building code rules for decks in Minnesota

As I mentioned in a blog post at the beginning of this year, Minnesota adopted a new building code on January 24th.  I covered a few of the most significant changes, but one of the bigger changes that I never talked about is the addition of a whole section on…

Buying a new model home? Find out when your warranty begins.

This is a guest blog post by Kurt M. Mitchell, Attorney at Law with Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC.  I asked Kurt to write this guest post as a heads-up for anyone buying a new construction model home, and for those who already own a model home.  The topic came up after…

Radon in New Minnesota Homes

Starting in 2009, the Minnesota State Building Code adopted Appendix F of the International Residential Code. Since then, all new homes built to the standards of the Minnesota State Building Code have been built with at least a passive radon mitigation system, or in some cases, an active system. This was…

New Windows Are Nice… But You’ll Never Get Your Money Back.

I've heard some pretty outrageous claims from window replacement companies.  The most common 'hook' for selling replacement windows is that you'll get a Return On Investment  (ROI) because of all the money you'll save on your heating bills.  In the real world, the idea that you could ever come close to breaking even…

Radon Resistant Construction Is Now Required In Minnesota

It's estimated that one out of three homes in Minnesota has elevated levels of radon gas.  Because of these high numbers, the Minnesota State Building Code has adopted Apendix F of the International Residential Code, Radon Control Methods.  This means that all new homes in Minnesota must now be built with a…

PODCAST: Tessa and Reuben get serious about attic access panels

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben start the show off by talking about the new standards for life at home, working with family, and trying to broadcast to large audiences while not having spouses carry on loud phone conversations in the same room. Reuben discusses how COVID-19 has changed the face of…

Water heater replacement: pros and cons of powervent water heaters

Powervent water heaters have become the standard for new construction homes here in Minnesota, but are they really that great? As I mentioned in my last blog post about natural draft water heaters, a powervent water heater is equipped with a built-in fan that pushes the exhaust gas out of…

Who Inspected Your Attic?

Who inspects the attic insulation in new construction homes?  Probably just the person that put it in.  Nobody else. When new houses are built in Minnesota, the municipal inspection departments typically never even stick their head up in to the attic after the insulation gets blown in.  I know this…

Poorly insulated attic access panels

For at least the last twenty years or so, the most common way of insulating attics in Minnesota is to use loose-fill insulation - either cellulose or fiberglass.  This is a huge improvement over fiberglass batts, because batts are nearly impossible to install in attics and they cost more money.…

Reuben’s Quick Tip: Caulk Doesn’t Belong Here, Part II

Last week I blogged about not caulking at the base of storm windows, which is a simple no-brainer. Another place that should never be caulked is the space between the siding and the flashing above a window; this piece of flashing is often referred to as drip flashing, drip cap,…

The Challenges of Sealed Attic Access Panels

Sealed attic access panels are a bane to home inspectors. Nothing about home inspections causes more consternation than 'sealed' attic access panels; not just for the home inspector, but also for the buyer, the seller, and the real estate agents involved in the sale. Here at Structure Tech, we've worked…

PODCAST: Mold and health scares

In this episode of the Structure Talk podcast, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Eric Larson and Jaden Ghylin to discuss the impact of mold on homeowners. Jaden shares his personal experience of discovering mold in his newly built home and the health issues it caused for him…

PODCAST: Spring Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners

In this episode, Reuben and Tessa discuss spring maintenance for homeowners. They cover topics such as gutter maintenance, gutter guards, downspout extensions, and sump pump discharge. They emphasize the importance of keeping gutters clean and ensuring that water is directed away from the house to prevent water damage and basement…

PODCAST: Spray Foam Insulation Part 3 (with Tom Harris)

In this episode, our hosts are joined by Tom Harris, a spray foam insulation expert, who discusses the topic of hot roofs and the proper installation of spray foam insulation. He explains the concept of hot roofs, where the thermal boundary is moved to the roof deck, and the different…

PODCAST: Spray Foam Insulation Part 2 (with Tom Harris)

In this episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa are joined by Tom Harris, who discusses the importance of a clean surface before spraying spray foam and compares it to preparing a surface for house paint. He also explains the need for adhesion testing and the different surface preparation requirements for various materials.…

PODCAST: Spray Foam Insulation Part 1 (with Tom Harris)

In this episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Tom Harris, an expert in spray foam insulation. They discuss the challenges and complexities of spray foam application, the common applications of spray foam, and the training and certification required for spray foam installers. They also explore the qualifications…

How to test a sump pump

Failed sump pumps lead to flooded basements. While it's important to have a backup plan in place for a failed sump pump, it's also a good idea to test your sump pump in the spring. Today I'll show you how.  You need access Most sump baskets have a plastic…

Top 20 Home Inspection Photos from 2023

It's the hap, happiest season of all! It's time to share our top 20 home inspection photos from the past year. If you like this kind of thing, please check out our  Facebook and Instagram pages. We share these all year round.  Crazy wiring Backward splash block If you love something, let…

PODCAST: Improving Indoor Air Quality (with Jeff May)

In this episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa interview Jeff May, an expert in indoor air quality and mold. They discuss various topics related to indoor air quality, including whole-house humidifiers, furnace filters, UV filters, standalone air purifiers, heat recovery ventilators, mini-split systems, and carpet cleaning. Jeff provides valuable insights and…

PODCAST: Garage door opener inspections

In today’s episode, Reuben and Tessa discuss garage door opener safety and inspection practices. They emphasize key aspects like the proper height of the wall button to prevent children from operating the door, ensuring the electrical connection is directly plugged into an outlet, and inspecting the auto-reverse sensors within six…

PODCAST: Home Owner Association Problems (with Kyle Miller)

In this podcast, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry host Kyle Miller from All Around, exploring the nuances of home inspections within Homeowners Associations (HOAs). Kyle emphasizes the critical importance of understanding the division of responsibilities between homeowners and the association, shedding light on financial obligations, liabilities, and the prevalence of…

PODCAST: Regional Inspection Differences (with Paul Staron)

In this episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry delve into the unique challenges of home inspection in Arizona with Home Inspector Paul Staron. Their exploration encompasses the distinct nuances of newer constructions, the prevalence of unvented attics, and the transitioning trend towards electric heat pumps within the region. They emphasize…

PODCAST: Regional Inspection Differences (with Chad Fabry)

In today’s episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Chad Fabry from StructureSmart. The discussion focuses on the unique challenges and characteristics of home inspections in Western New York, particularly in areas with historic homes dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. Chad Fabry shares his expertise in…

PODCAST: Regional Inspection Differences (with Jon Bolton)

In this podcast episode, Reuben Saltzman of the Structure Talk podcast is joined by Jon Bolton from Inspectagator, a Florida-based home inspection company. They delve into various aspects of home inspections in Florida's unique climate and construction landscape. Florida's hot and humid climate presents distinct challenges, from stucco problems to moisture management. They…

PODCAST: Regional Inspection Differences (with Jim Katen)

In this episode, Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry interview Jim Katen, a seasoned home inspector from the marine climate zone in Portland, Oregon. Jim offers valuable insights into the region's unique housing characteristics and challenges. Notably, he highlights the relatively young housing stock in Oregon, with few homes predating 1890, and…

PODCAST: Regional Inspection Differences (with Dusty Jameson)

In this episode of the Structure Talk podcast, hosts Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Dusty Jameson, a seasoned home inspector of Inspector Cluseau which is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Together, they delve into the unique challenges posed by the mixed humid climate in their region. Dusty sheds…

PODCAST: Advanced furnace and airflow testing (with Bruce Stahlberg)

In this podcast, Bruce Stahlberg, an expert in HVAC systems and energy efficiency, highlighted the paramount importance of accurate testing and diagnostics for HVAC performance. He emphasized the significance of static pressure testing over temperature rise testing in assessing furnace performance. Reuben, Tessa and Bruce discussed challenges like sheetrock dust…

PODCAST: Rules for house/garage common walls (with Adam Barthel)

In this episode of Structure Talk, hosts Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Adam Barthel from Rum River Construction Consultants. They explore fire separation standards for homes and townhouses, focusing on the wall between the house and garage. The conversation covers crucial details such as material requirements, gap…

Using an infrared camera to find an overloaded circuit

We include infrared inspections along with our home inspection. We stopped charging extra for this service many years ago and simply incorporated it into our standard inspections because we find so much value in this inspection. One of the things we do with our infrared cameras is to scan the…

PODCAST: 2023 NEC Updates (with John Williamson)

In today’s podcast, Reuben and Tessa are joined by John Williamson, a retired Chief Electrical Inspector and electrical expert from Minnesota. The main topic of discussion revolves around the adoption of the 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) in Minnesota and its impact on residential properties and its date of effectivity.…

PODCAST: Inspecting Permanent Wood Foundations (with George Ury)

One of Structure Tech's most experienced instructors, George Ury, joins the show to talk about wood foundations.  Geoge discusses the preservatives used in wood foundations-these are an integral part of the wood foundation that needs to be protected.  He shares his experiences in inspecting wood foundations. They discuss the common…

PODCAST: Gas Fireplace Hazards

It has been a long hiatus! We're back to talk about the importance of gas fireplace safety.  Reuben shares that he has been too casual about child safety with fireplaces. They talk about how the fireplace glass surface can get very hot and potentially melt skin very quickly. Would you…

PODCAST: Hollow wall anchors and combustion air

Today we discuss direct and power vents and combustion air. Reuben and Tessa discuss an inquiry about a contractor's advice to install a direct vent for their water heater replacement. Reuben explains that this was extremely unusual. He defines a power vent and a direct vent. Tessa inquires about changes…

PODCAST: CE class offerings, failed electrical experiments

Reuben talks about his electrical experiments. They discuss how much current it takes to overload a circuit and the effect of the panel's loose connections in circuits. Tessa mentions that the common melted wires are made of aluminum conductors. Reuben talks about the renewal of real estate agents' licenses and…

PODCAST: Electric service size vs panel size

Today Reuben and Tessa talk about how to determine the electrical service size at a home, mostly related to inspecting the main panel. Reuben explains that new construction homes use 150 to 200 amps service size panels, and which service sizes are no longer acceptable today. Tessa highlights the different…

PODCAST: Radon facts and myths

Today, Reuben and Tessa touch on some key points about radon.  Reuben discusses what radon is, and addresses the biggest arguments about testing, and myths about it. He mentions that health authorities have claimed that radon is a silent killer that causes lung cancer.  They talk about the statistics of…

PODCAST: Window Replacements Part 4 (with Ryan Carey)

Today is part 4 of the Window Replacement series. Today we're gonna talk about the big three window manufacturers. Ryan Carey first talks about a Minnesota company, Andersen, which is a more popular brand. He discusses the type of windows that Anderson makes: the 400 and 100 series, the regular,…

PODCAST: Window Replacements Part 3 (with Ryan Carey)

Another week with Ryan Carey ! In today's show, we're going to talk everything about window replacement. Ryan discusses the two main types and the difference in window replacements: the insert or retrofit window and the full frame. He also explains the window replacement process and which type is best…

Window Replacement Part 3: Marvin, Andersen, Pella

This is a guest blog post by Ryan Carey, of My 3 Quotes. How important is a well-known name brand for you? That is a big question, and the answer greatly affects our buying decisions. For example, when several in-home window presentations by high-pressure salespeople are giving you a headache,…

PODCAST: How to prevent ice dams

Snow was heavy in Minnesota last week. Today, we will talk about what causes ice dams, and how to prevent and fix them.    Tessa explains what an ice dam is and how they are formed. She shares that most houses can fix this through proper air sealing and insulating…

Ice Dams: how to prevent and how to remove

Ice dams are literally dams of ice that form on roofs and cause water to back up. Ice dams form when the snow that touches the roof melts, and then that water freezes again before running off the roof. This usually happens at the edges of roofs, but not always.…

PODCAST: Smart homes are hard to inspect (with Dr. Ben Franske)

Dr. Ben Franske joins the show to speak about the internet of things and technology around your house.    Ben discusses home automation and the software that helps him control various disparate devices such as HVAC control and thermostats, security and alarms, and door locks, among others. He also talks…

Home Inspection Secret Shop on an 11-month warranty inspection

It's important to have new construction homes inspected; not just used houses. And these houses should be inspected by private home inspectors, not just the municipal inspector.* Home inspectors have the luxury of time, and we find a ton of stuff during our new-construction inspections. Unfortunately, many homebuyers don't get…

Home Inspector Tool List

This is a tool list for home inspectors at Structure Tech. I put this together many years ago, but tools come and go over the years, and it's time for an updated list. For the record, this isn't a must-have tool list for all home inspectors. There's a lot of…

PODCAST: Home Inspection Mistakes, part 1 (with Neil Saltzman)

Structure Tech is reaching its 25-year milestone! Today we're joined by Neil Saltzman and reminisce about great stories and learning experiences from Home inspection flubs.  Neil shares about inspecting bad electric panels and furnaces. He talks about a poor judgment call in entering a house with a gas leak and…

Agents

We help homebuyers purchase with confidence Structure Tech provides the most thorough home inspections in Minnesota. Get Our Agent Toolkit ✓ Easy Inspection Process ✓ Build Trust and Rapport ✓ Close With Confidence Your buyers shouldn’t worry when it’s time to close on their dream home. We know that you…

Window replacements: it’s not just about the windows

This is a guest blog post by Matt Roach with Barrier Construction. If you’re in the market for new windows, you’ll probably get a handful of quotes from different window replacement contractors before you make a choice. While there are varying levels of window quality to choose from that will…

PODCAST: Handyman Woes (with Daniel Felt)

Today's show is about handyman services and its business difficulties.  Daniel Felt of Kura Home shares that they ventured into providing handyman services for more than a year. While it was booming it also encountered manpower and financial challenges. He mentioned that one of their major challenges is managing expectations…

PODCAST: Sewer Inspections (with Istvan Zsako)

Founder of Zsako Home Inspections Inc., Istvan Zsako joins today's show to talk about sewer inspections.  Istvan is a fellow home inspector and entrepreneur from New Mexico, with over 22 years of experience in Home Building, Remodeling, and Home Maintenance. He shares how he got into sewer camera inspection and…

PODCAST: Look out for these red flags

Today's show is about red flags buyers should look out for when buying a property.  Reuben and Tessa run through tips and recommendations when checking a house. Tessa shares where and how to look at the roof for any defects, damages, or irregularities. Reuben adds that there's a lot that…

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…

PODCAST: Fire codes are written in blood

Brock Verville shares his unique perspective as a home inspector and a firefighter for the City of Albertville and talks about fire safety and fire codes. Brock quotes that fire codes are written in blood. He explains that the purpose of codes is to correct something that caused injury or…

PODCAST: Changes to Appraisals

Owner of Inspection WerXs and Appraisal WerX, Lanny Freng joins the show to talk about the property appraisal industry.  Lanny talks about the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) and the Appraisal Management Company (AMC) and how it changed the industry and the appraiser's relationship with mortgage companies since 2008.…

PODCAST: Energy efficiency should never come first (with Patrick Huelman)

Reuben and Tessa are joined by Patrick Huelman, an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, to talk about insulation.  Patrick Huelman shares his extensive background in architecture and building science. He talks about their recent experimental work with the Department of Energy through Pacific Northwest National Laboratories to investigate…

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: How to win your home purchase agreement (with Rhonda Wilson)

A senior realtor in the Minneapolis market, Rhonda Wilson, joins the show to talk about real estate in 2022 and strategies for clients to win negotiations.  Rhonda explains that it's difficult for buyers to get units; clients need to be prepared and have a good downpayment. She also shares some…

PODCAST: Code Officials vs Home Inspectors (with Douglas Hansen)

The principal author of Code Check and Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings, Douglas Hansen joins the show to talk about building codes and home inspections. Douglas started in the industry as a carpenter in the 1960s, and he was also a teacher and a home inspector. He was tapped by…

FREE CE class for Minnesota Real Estate Agents

We're an education company disguised as a home inspection company. We love teaching, that's our jam. For a limited time, we're offering one of our most popular Continuing Education classes for FREE to licensed Minnesota Real Estate Agents. This is a one-hour class on New Construction Home Inspections. We've lowered…

Adding attic insulation? Read this first.

If you're thinking about adding attic insulation to your home this year, please read this first. Many homeowners go about re-insulating their attics all wrong. What's far more important than simply adding attic insulation is to have air-sealing performed first. This is the labor-intensive part of an attic insulation job…

PODCAST: Urinals, spray foam, and tiled showers

In today's show, Reuben, Bill, and Tessa talk about urinals, spray form, and tiled showers.  Bill shares that his cabin is in the phase where they are finishing the bathrooms. Reuben remembers that the urinal (http://www.structuretech1.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Urinal.jpg) he installed in the basement of his last home helped sell the house. They…

Top 20 Home Inspection Photos from 2021

Today marks the 10th anniversary of our Top 20 Home Inspection photos post! We did our first Top 20 compilation back in 2011. These are all photos we've taken at home inspections that made us laugh, cry, or gasp. We share these photos on our Facebook page throughout the year,…

PODCAST: Where to find mold, Part 1

Minnesota is a moldy state and there are around 59 places where mold can hide! Today, Vickie Swenson from Minnesota Mold Inspections, LCC and Neil Saltzman from Inspection Services, help us unpack some questions about mold.  They talk about how to find mold, how it develops, and how to prevent…

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…

Three-months wait for furnace parts (Kevin Strandberg)

Kevin Strandberg, one of the owners of BWS Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning joins today's show to talk about the industry supply chain. He discusses the shocking price increase as well as the difficulty in sourcing some parts and products. Reuben notes that there is around a 47% increase in…

PODCAST: Vinyl windows are better than wood

Ryan Carey from My3quotes.com joins the show to talk about different window types and manufacturers. His company provides customers with an unbiased review of different products from different stores and contractors. Reuben recalls one of the most popular blogs by Ryan about Andersen vs Pella Vs Marvin. Then, Ryan talks…

Smoke alarms, deadly differences

There’s a very good chance that the smoke alarms in your home won’t save your life in the case of a house fire. Nearly 3,000 people die every year in house fires, but approximately 2/3 of those deaths could be prevented simply by having the right type of smoke alarms.…

Improper shingle nailing

One of the most common defects we find with asphalt shingles is improper nailing. Manufacturers of asphalt shingles give specific instructions on how to fasten shingles, and they're all about the same. Unfortunately, following those instructions seems to be a difficult thing to do. The two most common nailing defects…

PODCAST: Gas log fireplaces

Fireplaces are decorative and give beautiful ambiance, but what are the safety issues? How do we address and prevent them? How do we inspect fireplaces? Reuben mentions that gas log fireplaces are the closest to the real thing. However, he doesn't recommend this kind of fireplace. He discusses the differences…

PODCAST: Home Inspection Process Part 3

It's the final stretch for the talk about Structure Tech's home inspection process series. Tessa, Reuben, and Bill start by talking about the top 5 things that they specifically look for when walking inside a house. They follow a step-by-step flow process that they stick to, in order to avoid…

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: Radon, Radon, and Radon (with Josh Kerber)

Today, Josh Kerber from the Minnesota Department of Health will talk about radon gas. He is a research scientist who does applied research in building construction, specifically with indoor air.     Tessa checks the statistics of existing vs newly constructed homes that have radon. Reuben clarifies the action level to…

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…

PODCAST: Water Damage (with 24-Restore)

Reuben shares a recent water disaster with his kitchen water heater. He tapped 24Restore, a service company that specializes in emergency damage caused by water, fire, biohazards, and storms. He then shares the process and his full experience with the dispatch team of Jesse and David.  Jesse Jackman shares that…

PODCAST: Deck Safety

May is the National Deck Safety Month. In Today's podcast, Reuben shares his experiences in building decks and home inspections. He explains the attachment methods, how to prevent deck failures, maintenance and deterioration, and safety.  While decks are good D-I-Y projects to add living space, some components must work together…

Are we in a housing bubble? (with Dan Sibinski)

Dan Sibinski with Keller Williams Classic Realty joins the show to discuss whether or not we’re in a housing bubble. Dan discusses the housing market trends in Minnesota, with a deep dive into inventory, interest rates, and how those affect the market. There are a lot of numbers and trends discussed…

Why you shouldn’t buy a house today (with Michael Bartus)

When we talk about real estate real agents, usually they would convince people to buy the property because of this and that. May it be in the seller’s market or buyer’s market, we never heard of them telling anyone anything other than “Why now is the good time to buy!”…

How to Inspect Your Own House, Part 6: Plumbing

If it's leaking, fix it. The end. But seriously, today I’ll share some home inspection tips and tricks that homeowners can use to identify plumbing problems. You'll want to use a good flashlight for your plumbing inspection, as a lot of this work involves looking underneath sinks and tub drains.…

An inside look at chimney inspections (with Steve Trumble)

Steve Trumble, the owner of Chimney Doctors in the Twin Cities, joins the show to talk about all things related to chimneys. The show starts off with Steve introducing himself and his company. He also discusses a metal fabrication company which he owns. Then, Steve, having  a massive amount of…

The Future of Energy Efficiency (with Peter Troast)

The show starts off with Peter Troast, the founder and CEO of Energy Circle, sharing a little bit about himself and his company. He joins the show to talk about the concept of healthy homes and indoor air quality and some of the changes that people are starting to think…

How to Inspect Your Own House, Part 3: Siding

This is part three in a multi-part series of How to Inspect Your Own House.  In part one, I covered how to inspect your own roof and chimney.  In part two, I covered the inspection of the exterior water management, which is one of the most critical parts of preventing…

Buying homes without inspections (with Jim Starr)

Today’s episode starts off by digging into the local real estate market with our guest, a Realtor® extraordinaire at RE/MAX Advantage Plus, Jim Starr. He shares what the real estate market’s like in the Twin cities in the last week of February. He shares a couple of listings they had,…

How to Inspect Your Own House, Part 2: Exterior Water Management

In last weeks blog post, I gave advice on how homeowners can inspect their own roof and chimney. For this week's post, we’ll dig into exterior water management. Roof Water Management Roof water management is HUGE. Experienced home inspectors can drive up to a house and instantly know where there…

Sewer Inspection Horrors (with Joseph Whitters)

Joseph Whitters, a second-generation sewer guy and the owner of Drain Busters joins the show to talk about the importance of maintaining sewer systems for homes. Sometimes, trouble with a sewer system can turn into a major problem that may show itself quickly and can be due to a damaged…

Frozen Faucets

Today’s episode is a very timely topic that is related to the very cold weather that we are experiencing right now. The gang will be talking about frozen faucets and some of the plumbing that runs through the exteriors of houses. The gang will also be sharing “what to do”…

Beam Fill and Rotted Rim Joists

Reuben has been meaning to blog about the subject of this episode since 2014. He was finally able to create and post it when it was brought up by an internal team question. Today, the gang will be talking about the issues of rotted rim joists, beam fill, and floor…

Building Science Fight Club (with Christine Williamson)

Christine Williamson, building scientist and the person behind Building Science Fight Club, joins the show to talk about the different ways to integrate new knowledge into building durable and efficient structures and designs with the help of building science. She also discusses how this is a tool to solve specific…

Home Inspection Checklist – Exterior

If you’re a home buyer or real estate agent and you’d like to conduct your own cursory home inspection, look no further. I’ve assembled a list of the largest items to look out for while house-shopping. This covers many of the largest problems that come up during home inspections. Of course,…

Buying a house that’s covered with snow (with Michael Bartus)

This podcast was recorded in the studio in mid-February of 2020, pre-covid. We brought on a special guest for this episode, residential Realtor® Michael Bartus of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty. The topic was buying a house in the winter, and how to deal with a roof that’s covered in snow,…

Real Estate Education

Real Estate Education Reuben and Tessa teach FREE continuing education classes to real estate agents and currently have five different courses that have been approved by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Due to COVID-19, we are currently teaching our 1-hour and 2-hour CE classes live, online. Click on any of…

Infrared Inspections

INSPECT WITH THERMAL VISION INCLUDED WITH STANDARD HOME INSPECTIONS Infrared cameras show surface temperature differences, which can give clues to a host of different problems with houses. We offer infrared inspections as part of our standard home inspection, as well as for single-item troubleshooting inspections. We do not offer stand-alone…

Home Inspections Backup 1

Home Inspections Home Inspections for Any Situation A typical home inspection will take 2-4 hours to conduct, depending on the size and condition of the home, and how many questions our clients have — we love questions. For first time buyers, our home inspections provide an excellent education on ownership…

Electrical Updates for 2020 with John Williamson, Part 2

For today’s episode, we have John Williamson, Operations Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, join Structure Talk for a second podcast on electrical updates. The show starts off with John talking about the recent adoption process for the 2020 National Electrical Code. The following topics are covered,…

Education

EDUCATION Real Estate Education Home Inspector CE Class Home Inspection Training Real Estate Education Bryan Scholtes teaches FREE continuing education classes to real estate agents and we currently have eight different courses that have been approved by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Email us at education@structuretech.com to set up classes…

Radon

Radon Testing If you’re buying a home in Minnesota, get it tested for radon. Our radon testing services are designed for real estate transactions: we give a quick turnaround with 48-hour testing. We use continuous electronic monitors that give an hour-by-hour breakdown of the test results and our radon technicians…

Home Inspections

Home Inspections HOME INSPECTIONS FOR ANY SITUATION At Structure Tech, we specialize in providing comprehensive home inspections to assist you in various scenarios, including property transactions, home maintenance, pre-sale, new construction, 11-month warranty, and more. Importantly, our goal is to empower you with the knowledge and confidence to make informed…

Minneapolis vs Saint Paul water (with Brady Androff)

The third-generation owner of Northland Water, Brady Androff, joins the show to talk Minneapolis vs. Saint Paul water and to discuss commonly asked questions about water conditioning. The show starts off with Brady explaining about his company and its background. He then answers some specific questions: Why do we use…

Electrical Updates for 2020 (with John Williamson)

John Williamson, Operations Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, joins Structure Talk to do a deep dive in electricity. The gang covers the following topics, among other things: Is it legal for home inspectors to remove electrical panel covers? What would be the best course of action…

A case for private city inspections with Andy Schreder

To follow up on our podcast from several weeks about building permits, we invited building official Andy Schreder with Rum River Construction Consultants onto the show to discuss everything we may have been wrong about in our previous episode. Either we got most of it right or Andy was really…

How to sell your home with fewer problems: a case for pre-listing inspections

Twenty-five-year real estate veteran Rhonda Wilson joins the show a second time to discuss pre-listing inspections. Rhonda has been encouraging her sellers to get pre-listing inspections for the past decade, and she has become quite accustomed to having her listings sell faster and with far fewer hassles than most other real estate…

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: Air conditioners and myths about R-22 refrigerant

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss how air conditioners function, why it's extremely unusual to have an undersized air conditioner and the end of R-22 refrigerant. Older air conditioners that contain R-22 refrigerant are typically going to be cost-prohibitive to service, but it's not illegal to do so. We also mention…

PODCAST: Air conditioners and myths about R-22 refrigerant

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss how air conditioners function, why it's extremely unusual to have an undersized air conditioner and the end of R-22 refrigerant. Older air conditioners that contain R-22 refrigerant are typically going to be cost-prohibitive to service, but it's not illegal to do so. We also mention…

PODCAST: Patrick Huelman, Tessa’s professor

The gang is super-excited to finally get Patrick Heulman, a leading building science expert, on the show! We've talked about having him as a guest for a long time and now that we're temporarily recording our podcasts from our homes, we were able to get Pat on the show. He's an…

PODCAST: Patrick Huelman, Tessa’s professor

The gang is super-excited to finally get Patrick Heulman, a leading building science expert, on the show! We've talked about having him as a guest for a long time and now that we're temporarily recording our podcasts from our homes, we were able to get Pat on the show. He's an…

PODCAST: Tessa and Reuben get serious about attic access panels

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben start the show off by talking about the new standards for life at home, working with family, and trying to broadcast to large audiences while not having spouses carry on loud phone conversations in the same room. Reuben discusses how COVID-19 has changed the face of…

PODCAST: COVID-19 Discussion

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben do their first-ever remote podcast, where everyone on the team broadcasts from home. The gang discusses changes that COVID-19 has brought to the home inspection world, which includes things such as restricting buyer and seller attendance at the inspection, wiping down surfaces, and even wearing a…

PODCAST: COVID-19 Discussion

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben do their first-ever remote podcast, where everyone on the team broadcasts from home. The gang discusses changes that COVID-19 has brought to the home inspection world, which includes things such as restricting buyer and seller attendance at the inspection, wiping down surfaces, and even wearing a…

Podcast: Don’t call them smoke detectors!

For this episode, the gang digs into the details of smoke alarm safety, starting with a discussion between the differences between smoke alarms and smoke detectors. That turns into a discussion of exactly which smoke alarm everyone should have, and why most smoke alarms in people's homes will probably not…

Podcast: Don’t call them smoke detectors!

For this episode, the gang digs into the details of smoke alarm safety, starting with a discussion between the differences between smoke alarms and smoke detectors. That turns into a discussion of exactly which smoke alarm everyone should have, and why most smoke alarms in people's homes will probably not…

Podcast: Roof Vents with Ross Anderson, Part 2

We complete our two-part interview with Ross Anderson, president of the Minnesota Building Performance Association. We discuss the myth that ventilation is a cure-all for roof and attic and ice dam issues, and discuss the real reason for these problems, which is attic air leaks (aka attic bypasses). The gang…

Podcast: Roof Vents with Ross Anderson, Part 2

We complete our two-part interview with Ross Anderson, president of the Minnesota Building Performance Association. We discuss the myth that ventilation is a cure-all for roof and attic and ice dam issues, and discuss the real reason for these problems, which is attic air leaks (aka attic bypasses). The gang…

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: George’s Pet Peeves

We had our very own George Ury on the podcast a few weeks ago to discuss the new Minneapolis energy stuff, and he was such a peach that we decided to have him on for another episode. This time, we just let him rant about all of his pet peeves.…

Podcast: George’s Pet Peeves

We had our very own George Ury on the podcast a few weeks ago to discuss the new Minneapolis energy stuff, and he was such a peach that we decided to have him on for another episode. This time, we just let him rant about all of his pet peeves.…

Podcast: When the seller attends the home inspection

Tessa starts off the podcast by talking about a recent "memorable" home inspection. A less-than-helpful seller decided to stay home for the inspection because nobody told her that she was supposed to leave, and the situation got extremely awkward. To make things much worse, the seller's agent showed up to…

Podcast: When the seller attends the home inspection

Tessa starts off the podcast by talking about a recent "memorable" home inspection. A less-than-helpful seller decided to stay home for the inspection because nobody told her that she was supposed to leave, and the situation got extremely awkward. To make things much worse, the seller's agent showed up to…

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…

Podcast: Stucco Failures and Home Inspections

In this episode, the gang discusses stucco failure on newer Minnesota homes, as well as failures with stone veneer siding. We also discuss what can be done from a home inspection perspective. Related links: City of Woodbury Position Paper on Stucco in New Residential Construction Stucco Woes - The Perfect…

Podcast: Stucco Failures and Home Inspections

In this episode, the gang discusses stucco failure on newer Minnesota homes, as well as failures with stone veneer siding. We also discuss what can be done from a home inspection perspective. Related links: https://structuretech.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/StuccoPositionPaper.pdf Stucco Woes - The Perfect Storm Moisture testing stucco (the Structure Tech process) Stone veneer…

Podcast: A Home Inspector’s Perfect House

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss what would make for a perfect Minnesota house. They talk about rooflines, water management, siding, basements, heating, and cooling systems. They also talk about an old blog post of Reuben's, titled Boilers vs. Furnaces. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although…

Podcast: A Home Inspector’s Perfect House

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss what would make for a perfect Minnesota house. They talk about rooflines, water management, siding, basements, heating, and cooling systems. They also talk about an old blog post of Reuben's, titled Boilers vs. Furnaces. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although…

Home inspection fail files: wrong house

How could a home inspector inspect the wrong house? It's not as tough as it sounds. I've done it twice myself, and at least one other person on my team did it recently. Possibly several inspectors on my team, but only one that I know about ;-). Wrong Home Inspection…

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…

Pre-drywall inspections

If you're having a new home built, when should you have the home inspection? What type of home inspections should be done? We get asked these questions a lot. There are three types of inspections associated with new-construction homes: pre-drywall, final, and one-year warranty. Today I'll discuss all three. Pre-drywall…

Nine ways for water to enter your basement or crawl space

This is a guest blog post by Silas Murphy-Ellis, owner of Murphy Home Inspection in Portland Oregon. Water in the crawlspace is an issue we see in homes all too often.    To the home buyer, it can be quite alarming to find water in the basement or crawlspace. Water…

Carbon monoxide alarm requirements for Minnesota

Carbon monoxide alarms are required for most dwellings in Minnesota. I get a lot of questions about the little details, and today I'm going to cover them all. General Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements: To start with, CO alarms are required both by statute and by rule. Here's the exact wording for…

Are re-inspections necessary?

When a home buyer asks a seller to make repairs to a property after a home inspection, how do the repairs get verified? Do they get verified? Do they need to be verified? I discussed this during last week's blog post, and I had another home inspector ask why we even do re-inspections.…

Cold hard kitchen water

Here in the Twin Cities metro area, it's standard procedure to run a separate water line for un-softened cold water to the kitchen. I don't like it, and I think this trend ought to change. When I used to live in Minneapolis, this was a non-issue. Minneapolis has great water,…

Q&A: “Will you be checking for moisture during the home inspection?”

"Will you be checking for moisture during the home inspection?" Yep, that's a common question asked by home buyers during the scheduling process. The correct answer is Heck Yes. If I were limited to only doing one single thing during a home inspection, nothing else, it would be checking for…

Attic Insulation Methods

What's the best way to insulate your attic? I started out last week's blog post with that question and never got around to the answer. By the time I was finished with that post, I realized that I had two different topics to cover; insulation types and insulation methods. Last…

Adding attic insulation? Read this first.

If you've considered adding attic insulation to your home this year, please read this first. Most homeowners go about re-insulating their attics all wrong. What's far more important than simply adding attic insulation is to have air-sealing performed first. This is the labor-intensive part of an attic insulation job that unscrupulous…

Minnesota permit requirements for radon mitigation systems

If you want to have a radon mitigation system installed in your home, you might need a permit. As I've shown in past blog posts about hot roofs and Diamond Piers, requirements and interpretations of the building code can vary from city to city. While attending a recent meeting of…

Q&A: Are anti-tip brackets required on ranges?

This week's question comes from another home inspector: "Where can I find the requirement for an anti-tip bracket on a range?" Before I answer that question, I better explain what an anti-tip bracket is. In short, it's an aptly-named device that keeps a range from tipping over. It's about what…

Tool list for home inspectors (2017)

I've put together a tool list for my inspectors. I've shared this tool list on home inspection discussion forums so many times that I decided I should put it on my website in the form of a blog post. This is definitely not a must-have tool list for all home…

Infrared cameras, home inspections

It's been about seven years since my company purchased our first infrared camera. Since then, we've amassed quite a collection of infrared images. We used to have one infrared camera that was shared by me and Milind, but it got too difficult to juggle one camera, so we bought a…

Ice dams: prevention and removal /ice-dams-3/

With all of the recent snowfall here in the Twin Cities, it's a good time to talk about ice dams. I'm re-posting my last blog post on this topic from February of 2014. How To Prevent Ice Dams (the right way) Ice dams form when snow is melted on the…

Minnesota Radon Licensing Act update, plus my two cents

Radon licensing is coming to Minnesota. I first shared news of the Minnesota Radon Licensing Act on my blog over a year ago, but a fair amount has changed since then. First and foremost, I'd like to thank Mike Hogenson of Standard Water Control Systems for investing his time working…

Do condos need home inspections?

Buying a condo? Get a home inspection, also known as a condo inspection. Even though there is typically less maintenance and responsibility of the individual owners, condos can still experience a lot of the same issues that single family homes experience. Instead of waxing on about the importance of having…

Sediment traps: what and why

Have you ever noticed that extra little leg of gas piping running to your furnace or water heater and wondered what the heck happened? They're sediment traps. Sediment traps are intentionally installed to help prevent sediment in the gas piping from getting into the gas valve or burner area of an appliance…

Attic access hatches must now be weatherstripped, not sealed

There is a change to the Minnesota Energy Code that took effect over a year ago, which now requires attic access hatches to be weather-stripped. I think that's just peachy. I've never liked how attic access hatches are sealed on new construction homes, because it's usually a piece of drywall…

Flood testing tiled showers

This is a guest blog post by our very own Milind Angolkar. UPDATE 8/23/17: We will no longer be flood testing tiled showers. We have had to deal with too many contentious situations to justify this practice. Our new standard for testing tiled showers is to run cold water in the…

Attic inspections: opening sealed panels

Should home inspectors open up "sealed" attic access panels?  Heck yes.  Every time, unless the owner or buyer specifically says not to.  That's my story, always has been, and I'm sticking to it. Post edit 3/6/18: I've changed my stance. We will open the attic provided the seller gives permission.…

Problems with LP SmartSide® installations

LP SmartSide® is the new high-end siding of choice here in Minnesota.  It used to be stucco, but moisture intrusion problems with stucco siding made many high-end home builders start using James Hardie siding.  In the last few years, this his changed.  Today, I rarely see James Hardie siding used…

Free Continuing Ed for Minnesota Real Estate Agents – 2.5 Hours

I've been teaching a 2.5 hour continuing ed class to real estate agents for the past two years, and I'm offering the same class again this year. The focus of this class is on some of the most mis-understood home inspection topics.  I cover a lot of common home inspection…

Upcoming Changes to the Minnesota State Building Code

Minnesota will be adopting the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) on January 24th, 2015.  With this adoption will come a lot of changes to the existing building code, which was last updated in 2007 when we adopted the 2006 IRC.  I’ve put together a list of the things that I…

Radon Testing Clowns

The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act went into effect on January 1st of 2014. This required home sellers to provide a lot of information about radon and radon testing to potential home buyers, making it basically impossible to buy a home in Minnesota without being told that it’s important to test for…

Attention Minnesota Home Inspectors: ASHI Heartland Chapter is Back

The local chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), called the Heartland Chapter, has been largely defunct for the last couple of years.  I've been a member of ASHI for a little over ten years now, and I'm looking to get the local ASHI chapter back up and…

Bath Fan Terminal Inspections

It’s common to find stained ceilings around bathroom exhaust fans in Minnesota, as well as stains in the attic around where the bathroom exhaust fan terminates at the roof.  Home inspectors find these things all the time. While the knee-jerk reaction that most homeowners have is to call a roofer when…

The Real Story About Residential Fire Sprinklers in Minnesota

Yesterday's April Fools Day blog post got a lot of folks whipped up about residential sprinkler systems.  Just in case you missed it, here it is: April Fools Day Blog Post. It contained several "tells", such as a quote from local firehouse Captain Charles “Chuck” DeFries saying "I'm lovin' it", as…

Window Replacement Part 3: Marvin, Andersen, Pella

This is a guest blog post by Ryan Carey, of My 3 Quotes. How important is a well-known name brand for you? That is a big question and the answer greatly affects our buying decisions. For example, when several in-home window presentations by high-pressure salespeople are giving you a headache,…

Ice Dams /ice-dams-3/

I've been seeing ice dams all over the Twin Cities, and I've heard from a number of homeowners who are having problems with ice dams right now.  I've written about ice dams extensively on this blog, so I'm putting together links to my three main blog posts on ice dams…

Top 10 Home Inspection Myths

I hear a lot of the same home inspection myths repeated over and over.  I've blogged about most of these, but there are a few topics here that I haven't blogged about yet. 10. The seller needs to fix this. The seller doesn't need to fix squat. Home buyers can ask…

Home Inspections and Infrared Cameras

Last week I shared a blog post by Allison Bailes that discussed patent trolls, infrared cameras, and home inspectors. Today, I'd like to share why I care about this topic. My infrared camera is definitely the coolest home inspection toy tool that I own. I can bust my dog for…

Don’t connect downspouts directly to yard drains

One of the main jobs of gutters is to direct water away from the building, which helps to prevent wet basements and foundation problems.  When downspouts drain right next to the building, water gets concentrated to one location, which is usually worse than no gutters at all.  I've said it before…

Observe and Report? That’s for Mall Cops, not Home Inspectors

While reading a blog post from Jay Markanich, a home inspector I've gotten to know and respect over the years, I discovered an interesting difference between home inspection Standards of Practice (SOP) - specifically, between the ASHI and InterNACHI SOP. Jay was writing about finding what appeared to be mold…

Insulating A Rim Space

Have you ever noticed how snow will melt around the foundation on older houses?  This will happen at any house with unheated foundation walls, and it's a great visual indication of how the house is losing heat.   When there's no melted snow up against the house, we can rely…

Are Re-Inspections Necessary? 2011

When a home buyer asks a seller to make repairs to a property after a home inspection, how do the repairs get verified?  Do they get verified?  Do they need to be verified?  I recently blogged about a hack chimney repair that I found at a re-inspection, and several people…

Vacant Houses Don’t Have More Radon

As a Minnesota home inspector who does a lot of radon testing, I hear the same myths about radon repeated over and over again.  I've actually heard other home inspectors perpetuate a few of these radon myths as well. Myth: vacant houses have high levels of radon. The idea behind…

Why Test For Radon?

If you're buying a home in Minnesota, get it tested for radon.  There are two reasons I give for having radon tested; lung cancer and money. A few quick facts about radon Radon is a gas formed by the breakdown of uranium and radium, both of which are found in…

The Best Way To Insulate An Attic

Unfortunately, the easiest way to add insulation to just about any place in your home is to install fiberglass batts.  Fiberglass batts are typically the worst insulation for any job, as I complained about in a recent blog.  I mentioned at that time that I would follow up with a blog about…

Cheap Vacuum Breakers Don’t Meet Code 2010

Vacuum breakers (aka - backflow preventers) have always been one of those pesky Truth-In-Housing repairs for homeowners in Minneapolis and Bloomington, but those aren't the only cities where they're required.  They're actually a requirement of the Minnesota State Plumbing Code, section 4715.2100 (D). Cheap Vacuum Breakers Don't Meet Code Part of…

Don’t Caulk Here – Bath Tubs

This is another blog post by Charles Buell, a Seattle, WA, Home Inspector. Let’s play “Myth Busters.” Everyone knows that it is important to keep the connections between tubs and its shower surround well caulked. I often find these areas recently caulked in an attempt to “spiff things up” for…

Nine Common Myths About The Minnesota State Building Code

Myth: The owner occupant doesn’t need to pull permits – permits are only for contractors. Truth: If you’re the owner occupant, you have the...ahem,  privilege of pulling a permit without having to be a licensed contractor.  It doesn’t mean you can skip pulling a permit. Myth: Kitchen remodels don’t need permits…

“…But The City Approved It!”

It happens to me several times each year; I inspect a home for a buyer, I point out a construction defect, then I get a call from an angry seller or seller's agent, accusing me of being wrong. If someone challenges my call, I'm always happy to provide an authoritative reference…

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…

The End Of Plastic Outlet Plugs

You know those little plastic plugs that go in outlets to keep kids from sticking stuff in and getting a shock?  I can’t stand ‘em.  No home inspector can because they make it a big hassle to test outlets.  I did a quick poll (two people), and as it turns…

PEX Is Better Than Sliced Bread

Cross Linked Polyethylene water tubing, or PEX, is a relatively new product which was first introduced in North America in 1984.  PEX has been primarily used for radiant floor heating, and more recently water distribution systems.  If you look at any new construction houses, this is probably what you'll find supplying water…

Why Don’t Home Inspectors Mention Code?

Home inspections are not ‘code’ inspections, and a lot of home inspectors treat the word ‘code’ as taboo.  They call it the ‘C-word’.  I even had one home inspector tell me he’s not allowed to use that word in Kentucky.  This is such a taboo word that I don't use it much…

Hot Roofs: A Misnomer /hot-roofs-minnesota/

While most attic spaces in Minnesota are insulated with fiberglass or cellulose insulation, there is a relatively new product that provides superior performance:  spray foam.  Spray foam is the best way to insulate homes, especially old one-and-a-half story homes, and I'm such a firm believer in this that I had…

Robbinsdale Truth in Housing / Point of Sale Program

Robbinsdale TISH Evaluations are no longer required as of 2/6/24. The City of Robbinsdale has implemented a new Truth in Housing program which becomes mandatory May 1st.Robbinsdale will call this a Point of Sale program.The Robbinsdale Point of Sale program will be almost identical to the Hopkins Truth in Housing…

I Didn’t Kill The Deal, The House Did

I received a phone call from a home seller last summer complaining I killed the deal on his house. I inspected his home for the new buyers, and they decided not to buy it after I inspected it because there were so many issues identified at the inspection.  The owner called…

How Much Radon Does Your Home Have?

Every home in Minnesota should be tested for Radon, and if you haven't had your home tested, have it done.  Radon is a gas formed by the breakdown of uranium and radium, both of which are found in high levels in Minnesota.  Radon gas is the number one cause of…

How to inspect your own deck

May is Deck Safety Month, so it's a good time to discuss deck inspections. The best way to know if your deck is safe is to have it professionally inspected. If you're not keen on hiring a home inspector or carpenter to inspect your deck professionally, you can still inspect…

PODCAST: Home Fire Safety (with Sue Gardner)

In this episode, Reuben and Tessa are joined by Sue Gardner, a retired firefighter, to discuss fire safety. They cover topics such as the causes of house fires, the difference in fire behavior in old and new houses, the importance of smoke alarms and fire escape plans, and the use…

PODCAST: Home Inspection Terms Explained

In this insightful podcast episode, Reuben and Tessa delve into an array of technical terms crucial in the realm of home inspection. They elucidate terms such as GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), AFCI (Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter), mold, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), crawl space, R-value, efflorescence, and flashing, providing…

PODCAST: Water Heater Woes

In this episode of the Structure Talk Podcast, Reuben Saltzman shares a recent experience with a water heater and the importance of installing a leak detection system to prevent potential damage. He recounts a previous incident where a water heater leak caused significant harm to his house, underscoring the necessity…

PODCAST: Why do some home inspections take so much time

In this episode, Reuben and Tessa discuss the factors that can affect the duration of a home inspection. Tessa mentions how complicated houses with multiple additions, large square footage, and older construction can significantly extend the time it takes to complete an inspection. They also talk about the challenges of…

PODCAST: Interview with a Past Client

Today we reconnect with a client to talk about their first home inspection experience and their path to becoming a diligent homeowner. Alex bought his house 10 months ago and has learned so much since. Alex shares about having zero knowledge about home maintenance and discovering Structure Tech. He also…

PODCAST: Advanced Radon Mitigation Systems (with Jessie Green)

Jessie Green, former president of the North Star Chaper of American Association of Radon Scientist and Technologists (AARST), and present owner of American Radon Mitigation joins today's session to discuss radon systems.  Jessie mentions that there is radon in every house, but the levels vary. Tessa highlights that high levels…

PODCAST: Central Vs Dedicated Return Ducts (with Dr Allison Bailes)

Dr. Allison Bailes, author of the Energy Vanguard blog joins the show to talk about air return ducts. They talk about heating and air conditioning systems. Allison discusses that the most affected are the bedroom and it's important to have a return air pathway to help with better airflow. He then talks…

PODCAST: Real Estate Market Updates (with Joe Schwartzbauer)

Realtor Joe Schwartzbauer from the Grey Duck Properties team joins the show to talk about real estate market updates. Joe mentions that the market is starting to get back to normal from the limitations of the pandemic. He talks about the rising interest rates and possible rate-lock, the seller's behavior…

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: Insulating a 1.5-story home

Today we will talk about ways to improve home performance by installing proper insulation. Tessa shares that there are more ways to insulate a house and discusses how to better insulate and improve home performance. She defines pressure boundaries and thermal boundaries. Bill shares that ''project overcoat'' adds years of…

PODCAST: Before you skip the home inspection

Today's topic is about the trends in the market and the importance of getting a home inspection for buyers and sellers.  Reuben reads an email from real estate agent Sharlene Hensrud, about a buyer who brought up concerns about a house after closing the deal. This incident was a learning…

PODCAST: Roof Problems and Finger-pointing (with Kyle Miller)

Kyle Miller from an exterior general contractor called All Around, joins today's show to talk about roof problems. Bill opens the discussion by describing their neighbor's roof damages and inquires about the responsibilities of homeowners and contractors in fixing the damages. Kyle shares that most damages are caused by installation…

PODCAST: Hazardous Locations for Glass

In today's show, Tessa, Bill, and Reuben talk about the hazardous locations for glass windows.  Reuben shares the hazardous places to install glass and discusses the use of tempered glass and safety film for glass. Bill confirms that using safety films is more cost-effective than replacing broken windows and sash.…

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…

Can I glue ABS to PVC?

It's possible to join ABS to PVC, but it's only supposed to be done with a mechanical coupling, not glued. If you just came here for the answer, you can stop reading... but I think you want the whole story. Here goes.  Today, there are two commonly used plastics…

PODCAST: Electrical Horrors Stories (with Jason Brozen)

Today, Jason Brozen from Electrical Power Safety Company (EPSCO) joins the show to talk about electrical safety. He shares his experience of surviving an arc flash accident. Check out live footage from his accident at https://youtu.be/oFhssQtv0tY. Jason starts by narrating what transpired during the incident and describes the injuries he…

Bonding CSST

Today I'll cover the rules for CSST bonding. Nobody cares about any of this stuff until it concerns a house you own or you're buying, and then it's really important. If you came here looking for some easy and helpful tips for handy homeowners, please try again next week. I'll…

PODCAST: James Hardie vs LP Smartside (with Ryan Carey)

Today Ryan Carey, the owner of My 3 Quotes, joins the show to talk about getting the best provider for your building needs.  Ryan shares how he provides customers an unbiased review of different products with 3 quotes from 3 different contractors. They fill the space between a homeowner and…

PODCAST: Major siding failures (with Mark Parlee)

Today Mark Parlee, The Building Consultant, joins the show to talk about cladding- what works and what doesn't. Cladding is an exterior siding of a building. It can be stone, brick, steel, vinyl, or an Exterior Insulating Finishing System (EIFS). And it’s definitely pronounced “EEFS”, not “EEFUS”. According to Mark,…

PODCAST: Remembering Rick Norling

Today we are joined by the friends and colleagues of Rick Norling to honor and remember him. Rick Norling was one of the original founders of Structure Tech, back in 1987. Before he passed away, he was a full-time radon technician. He also founded Operation HighGround, an organization that identifies and…

PODCAST: Why Tessa hates T&G

Bill is thinking about installing a tongue & groove ceiling at his cabin, but Tessa and Reuben give his idea no love. Tessa shares that air leakage and moisture getting into the attic can be prevented in multiple ways. However, the climate zone, amount of air leakage, humidity levels in…

PODCAST: Crazy Lumber Prices

Building and renovating houses is getting expensive! In today's podcast, Bill shares that the cost of materials has been rising. Capacity, logistics, and tariffs issues contribute to the increase in prices. Reuben shares about the current prices of lumber in the market. The use of structural insulated panels, even a…

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.…

The National Home Inspector Exam (with Brendan Ryan)

Brendan Ryan, the president of the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) joins the show to talk about the National Home Inspection Exam (NHIE). Brendan explains the complexity and importance of taking a psychometric exam for a home inspection license.  Passing the high-stakes examination is an advantage in the…

Service Providers

Service Providers This is a list of professional service providers that is maintained by Structure Tech. Everyone on this list has been added because of personal experiences that we’ve had with these service providers. We do not accept requests from service providers to be added to this list. Appliance Repair…

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…

Solar Tubes: Good or Evil?

For this episode, we will be learning different ways to add value to our homes with home improvement tips from the gang through some of the projects that they’ve been working on. The show starts off with Bill sharing his experience on how he tried to fix his house on…

Naomi in Roseville, MN

“I want to let you and Structure Tech’s management team know what an outstanding job George has done for my husband and me! On the first inspection, his careful work and attention to detail kept us from making a very costly mistake in purchasing a house that had some serious…

The Future Of Home Inspections (Michael Conrad II)

Michael Conrad II, the CEO of Diligent, a Home Inspection and Environmental Testing company in Nashville, joins the show to talk about how home inspections have evolved over the years. The show starts off with Michael explaining how the company began, and how it grew into a trifecta of home inspections,…

There’s no such thing as a settlement crack (with Rob Vassallo)

The owner and founder of Complete Building Solutions, Robert Vassallo, joins the show to talk about his expertise as a structural engineering consultant. The show starts off with Rob explaining about his company and what they do to find problems and how to solve them. He then answers some specific…

Stucco Testing

Stucco and Moisture Testing NEWER STUCCO HOMES IN MINNESOTA HAVE HAD A NASTY HISTORY OF FAILURE. SPECIFICALLY, HOMES BUILT SINCE THE 1980S ON UP TO TODAY. While any type of exterior wall cladding can experience water intrusion, the failures that happen with stucco are far more expensive and usually far…

Employment

STRUCTURE TECH CAREER OPPORTUNITIES Apply Now - All Positions We’re always looking to meet and hire highly talented, awesome people. As of Spring 2024, we are not hiring for any open positions. Click this link to see the Home Inspector Job Description. WHAT SETS US APART The most highly rated…

The 2020 National Electrical Code has been adopted in Minnesota

The 2020 version of the National Electrical Code was officially adopted in Minnesota on November 17, 2020. Unlike the International Residential Code, Minnesota doesn’t have their own flavor of this national code; we swallow the pill whole. Whatever it says in that book is the rule here in Minnesota. This…

Home Inspection Job Opportunities

HOME INSPECTION JOB OPPORTUNITIES Apply Now (Home Inspector) Yes, we’re hiring. Always. Our largest need is for home inspectors, but we’re always looking to meet highly talented, awesome people. Click this link to see the Home Inspector Job Description. WHAT SETS US APART The most highly rated home inspection company…

Client Testimonials

Client Testimonials “I want to let you and Structure Tech’s management team know what an outstanding job George has done for my husband and me!  On the first inspection, his careful work and attention to detail kept us from making a very costly mistake in purchasing a house that had…

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Our most frequently asked questions We hope you find this list helpful. EVERYTHING IS COVERED IN SNOW. CAN YOU STILL INSPECT THE HOUSE? Yes, we can still inspect the house, but there will obviously be a few limitations, the largest being the roof covering. When roof coverings…

Podcast: Projects we’re working on

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss projects they're working on at their own houses. Reuben talks about buckthorn removal and a point-of-use water heater, Bill discusses his canned ham, and Tessa talks about remodeling a condo. Note: Reuben used the Minnesota-made Root Talon for buckthorn with less than a 1" diameter.…

Improper Stone Installation

A special guest, Yvonne, joins the show to talk about her experience with failed stone veneer siding throughout a townhome development in the Twin Cities metro area. These are some real concerns that are going to cost people a lot of money. Yvonne talks about how she started suspecting that…

Building Science 101

Tessa explains the basics of building science, touching on many components that overlap with home inspections. These topics include: Airflow and the H.A.M. sandwich (heat, airflow, and moisture) Occupant loads and the effect on buildings Blower door testing Old house vs. new house performance (energy vs durability) The importance of…

Home inspector training advice

Today I’ll share my advice on how to become a home inspector. I blogged on this topic back in 2011, and again in 2016, but things change and it’s time for another update. I’m writing this because I get a ton of phone calls and emails from people who want…

“Your insurance company isn’t dumb” (with Steve Kuhl)

Steve Kuhl with Kuhl's Contracting returns to the show to share some insider dirt on insurance restoration, insurance claims, which insurance companies "pay out" and which ones don't, and gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the world of insurance fraud. Steve is passionate and opinionated about all of this stuff,…

Buying a stucco home? Heads up.

It’s no secret that stucco homes have had a ton of water problems during the last few decades. This all started here in Minnesota at the end of the 1980s, but it’s not just a Minnesota thing. Newer stucco homes have had catastrophic failures all over the country, and we’re…

PODCAST: Everyone loves Milind

Milind Angolkar was the first home inspector to join the Structure Tech team after Reuben, and we love him. In fact, everyone loves Milind because he's a good, kind person. We start the show by discussing Milind's history with the company, and Milind shares some crazy home inspection fail stories.…

PODCAST: Everyone loves Milind

Milind Angolkar was the first home inspector to join the Structure Tech team after Reuben, and we love him. In fact, everyone loves Milind because he's a good, kind person. We start the show by discussing Milind's history with the company, and Milind shares some crazy home inspection fail stories.…

PODCAST: Reuben’s flooded house and other homeowner flubs

The gang starts off the show by talking about their lives spent working from home, and they quickly move on to projects happening around the house. Bill discusses the time that he ended up with a frozen outdoor faucet because he forgot to remove his garden hose. Reuben talks about…

PODCAST: Reuben’s flooded house and other homeowner flubs

The gang starts off the show by talking about their lives spent working from home, and they quickly move on to projects happening around the house. Bill discusses the time that he ended up with a frozen outdoor faucet because he forgot to remove his garden hose. Reuben talks about…

Podcast: Best advice ever with Neil Saltzman

We interview Reuben's dad, Neil Saltzman, on this episode. Neil talks about doing home inspections in a suit and tie, and Reuben and Neil talk about the early history of home inspections. Reuben also shares the best advice that Neil ever gave him related to doing a good home inspection.…

Podcast: Best advice ever with Neil Saltzman

We interview Reuben's dad, Neil Saltzman, on this episode. Neil talks about doing home inspections in a suit and tie, and Reuben and Neil talk about the early history of home inspections. Reuben also shares the best advice that Neil ever gave him related to doing a good home inspection.…

Podcast: Interview with Minneapolis TISH program supervisor Breanna Patsch

We interview Minneapolis Truth-In-Sale of Housing  (TISH) program supervisor Breanna Patsch during this podcast. We discuss the purpose of the Minneapolis TISH program and how the program has 'teeth'. We also sidetrack into the licensing requirements for TISH evaluators and discuss how difficult the licensing exam is, making the National…

Podcast: Interview with Minneapolis TISH program supervisor Breanna Patsch

We interview Minneapolis Truth-In-Sale of Housing  (TISH) program supervisor Breanna Patsch during this podcast. We discuss the purpose of the Minneapolis TISH program and how the program has 'teeth'. We also sidetrack into the licensing requirements for TISH evaluators and discuss how difficult the licensing exam is, making the National…

Facebook Live Q&A Session #2

For this episode, we answer your questions about houses and home inspections. These include the following: Should home inspectors open Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels? How to deal with ice dams if you don't want to pay a professional to remove them How to best find a drain leak with…

Facebook Live Q&A Session #2

For this episode, we answer your questions about houses and home inspections. These include the following: Should home inspectors open Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels? How to deal with ice dams if you don't want to pay a professional to remove them How to best find a drain leak with…

Podcast: Why some homes qualify for hail damage but others don’t

Today, we interview Charles Thayer from All Around. If you listen to the radio here in the Twin Cities, you've surely heard his company's rock-anthem slogan: "We get it done and we do it right! Chya!" Charles explains that while his company is an exterior contractor, he himself is probably…

Podcast: Why some homes qualify for hail damage but others don’t

Today, we interview Charles Thayer from All Around. If you listen to the radio here in the Twin Cities, you've surely heard his company's rock-anthem slogan: "We get it done and we do it right! Chya!" Charles explains that while his company is an exterior contractor, he himself is probably…

The top five places to find mold in your home

We recently did a couple of home inspection podcasts with local mold expert Vickie Swenson, and we asked her about the top five places to find mold in the home. Before giving her a chance to answer this question, we also told her this would turn into a blog post…

Podcast: Projects we’re working on

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss projects they're working on at their own houses. Reuben talks about buckthorn removal and a point-of-use water heater, Bill discusses his canned ham, and Tessa talks about remodeling a condo. Note: Reuben used the Minnesota-made Root Talon for buckthorn with less than a 1" diameter.…

Should you install heat cables to prevent ice dams?

This is a guest blog post by Steve Kuhl of Radiant Solutions Company. Heat cable has a dubious reputation in the ice dam prevention world. It’s a topic few understand in-depth, both in terms of what it is and how to install it properly. In this three-part series, I will…

Frost-free faucets are now required in Minnesota

You read that right. Frost-free faucets are now required by the Minnesota State Plumbing Code. During one of my team's regular online discussions of building code requirements, plumber Joe discovered this little-known nugget in the 'new' Minnesota plumbing code. I say 'new' because this code has been around since 2015,…

Podcast: Asbestos, Home Inspections, and Vermiculite

Asbestos, Home Inspections, and Vermiculite: Today the gang discusses asbestos. While home inspection standards of practice don't require home inspectors to report on environmental hazards such as asbestos, most home inspectors still point this stuff out if they believe it's a problem. The most common locations for hazardous asbestos are…

Podcast: Asbestos, Home Inspections, and Vermiculite

Asbestos, Home Inspections, and Vermiculite: Today the gang discusses asbestos. While home inspection standards of practice don't require home inspectors to report on environmental hazards such as asbestos, most home inspectors still point this stuff out if they believe it's a problem. The most common locations for hazardous asbestos are…

Podcast: Home Inspector Training

We discuss home inspection schools, licensing for Minnesota home inspectors, and training requirements, along with the training process at Structure Tech. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due…

Podcast: Home Inspector Training

We discuss home inspection schools, licensing for Minnesota home inspectors, and training requirements, along with the training process at Structure Tech. TRANSCRIPTION The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due…

Podcast: Sewers and Floor Drains

We discuss all things related to wastewater leaving Minnesota houses, and how this relates to home inspections. We discuss the importance of sewer inspections on all houses, not just old houses, and discuss what it takes to fix these issues when they occur. We discuss the mystery of floor drains…

Podcast: Sewers and Floor Drains

We discuss all things related to wastewater leaving Minnesota houses, and how this relates to home inspections. We discuss the importance of sewer inspections on all houses, not just old houses, and discuss what it takes to fix these issues when they occur. We discuss the mystery of floor drains…

Decks attached through brick veneer

When a deck is attached to brick veneer, something probably went wrong. Not necessarily, not 100% of the time, but probably. As home inspectors, this is definitely something that we at Structure Tech call attention to while inspecting decks. Most of the time, we recommend repair when we find this.…

Which smoke alarm to buy

Shopping for a new smoke alarm? Stop. Don't even go to the store until you know exactly which smoke alarm you want. I know the ins and outs of smoke and CO alarms, and I'm still overwhelmed by the selection at home improvement stores. If you prefer this advice in…

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…

Should home inspectors trample insulation? No.

Should home inspectors walk through insulated attics to fully inspect the attic spaces? I say no. This topic was recently discussed in an online forum for home inspectors, and I was surprised by the number of chest-pounding home inspectors who are willing to trample through the insulation in an attic…

Fire separation between the garage and house; don’t say firewall

The separation between a garage and a house is commonly referred to as a firewall, but that's not accurate. I hear the term firewall thrown around a lot, and it's always used incorrectly when it comes to residential construction. If you turn to the Uniform Building Code, you can find the…

The Structure Tech training process

I get a lot of training questions from aspiring home inspectors about how to get into this business and how to get trained. I have some advice for people who don't get hired by a company with an established training process, but first, I'd like to share our internal process…

Attic insulation types

What's the best attic insulation? That depends on your definition of "best". What's going to perform the best is definitely not the most cost-effective way to insulate an attic. But surely, you already knew that. And I didn't call you Shirley. First, let's discuss the most common types of insulation…

Can I join ABS to PVC? – 2017

It's possible to join ABS to PVC, but it's only supposed to be done with a mechanical coupling, not glued. If you just came here for the answer, you can stop reading... but I think you want the whole story. Here goes. Today, there are two commonly used plastics for…

Dryer Duct Safety

I constantly see the rules about dryer duct safety and dryer transition ducts being brought into question, mostly on home inspector forums. If it's tough for home inspectors to keep this stuff straight, it's gotta be really tough for average homeowners. Products and rules are always changing, so if you read…

Q&A: Are Minnesota home inspectors allowed to open electrical panels?

I received the following email last week from another home inspector here in Minnesota regarding the inspection of electrical panels: Today I received a call from a local electrical contractor in <omitted>, MN.  He decided he needed to call me and tell me that "I'm not a licensed electrician and…

State of the Union, 2017

For my first blog post of the year, I'm going to discuss where we've been and where we're going. This is going to be a tradition, and it's probably the "bloggiest" blog post that I write each year. 2016 Website stuff We switched web hosts last year and our website…

CSST bonding requirements (another update) 2016

CodeNotes_2015IFGC I hate to beat a dead horse, so I won't. I do feel the need to bring up the subject of CSST bonding once again, however, because there are a few details that I haven't covered in the past. Instead of just blogging about those details, I'm re-writing my…

Updated home inspector training advice 2016

Many years ago I wrote a blog post giving home inspector training advice to future Minnesota home inspectors. The purpose of that post was to give a thought-out response to people who emailed or called asking for advice on how to become a home inspector. At that time, I'd receive…

A breakdown of energy ratings for Minnesota homes

This is a guest blog post by Ross Anderson at the Neighborhood Energy Connection. Green building energy ratings and energy efficiency certifications are becoming increasingly popular—for good reason. Not only are energy efficient homes more comfortable, durable and less expensive to operate, but they’ve been proven to resell for a…

Did your house leak during the storm yesterday?

[caption id="attachment_26512" align="alignright" width="225"] Oh snap[/caption] Last night my kids and I watched one of the worst thunderstorms I've ever seen make short work of my neighborhood. My dog shook in terror in the basement while trees were uprooted or snapped off, and fences were demolished. It wasn't quite tornado…

Repairing a window with fogged glass

In last week's blog post, I showed some examples of insulated glass units with failed seals and explained the difference between a failed seal and fogged glass. In short, a failed seal eventually leads to fogged glass, but will not be immediately noticeable. As I mentioned last week, I had…

Furnace disconnect requirements

While doing a new-construction home inspection recently, I came across a furnace with no disconnect / service switch in the same room.  Usually, it's just a light switch that controls power to the furnace, and it's either mounted on the side of the furnace or on a nearby wall.  Instead,…

CSST Bonding Update 2015

Post Edit: Check out my latest post on this topic from 11/22/16: http://structuretech1.com/csst-bonding-requirements-final-update/ I last blogged about CSST bonding nearly three years ago.  There have been a few changes to CSST bonding rules since then, and there is still a lot of bad information circulating about CSST bonding and safety requirements, so it's…

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…

Top “Feel-Good” Home Inspection Pics from 2014

At the end of each year, I post our Top 20 Home Inspection Photos.  These photos are usually of some of the most egregious, hilariously wrong conditions that we've found during home inspections, and they all come from photos that we've shared throughout the year on our Facebook page.  …

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…

Star Tribune Article from 6/18/2000 featuring Barry Eliason

  Published: June 18, 2000 Section: NEWS Page#: 01A Owners of newer homes face water damage risk By Donna Halvorsen; Karen Youso; Jim Buchta; Staff Writers A Star Tribune special report . No one could tell that David and Renee Saunders' stately Woodbury home was rotting away - not even…

Why Home Inspectors Should Know Building Codes

In last week's blog post I mentioned that there is an upcoming seminar for Minnesota home inspectors, being taught by building code guru Douglas Hansen of Code Check.  Minnesota currently uses the 2006 International Building Code (IRC), but we'll soon be adopting the 2012 IRC, and with that will come…

How to Prevent Basement Water Intrusion

After all of the rain we've had this weekend and with more rain coming today and tomorrow, there are going to be a lot of houses throughout the Twin Cities with wet basements.  The most common question we get when it comes to wet basements is "how can I fix…

Minnesota Stucco Repairs: Case Study #3, Full-Tear Off and Redo

In the first two blog posts of this three-part series on stucco repairs, I covered a home that had minimal stucco repairs performed for the most cost effective solution. In part two, I covered a home that had a partial stucco tear off and redo, often referred to as a…

Minnesota Stucco Repairs: Case Study #2, Moderate Repairs

In last weeks blog post, I discussed a retrofit stucco repair performed by Sunset Construction Group (SunsetCG).  This week I’ll be taking a closer look at a combination retrofit / tear off redo performed by SunsetCG. The photos below show a house that had missing kickout flashing at a roof…

Minnesota Stucco Repairs: Case Study #1, Minimal Repairs

Moisture testing on relatively newer stucco houses (mid 1980s – late 2000s) has become standard practice when buying a home in Minnesota, and a lot of those tests reveal problems with moisture intrusion. Water intrusion is never good news, but it is important to know there are options to consider…

Minnesota Radon Awareness Act

As of January 1st of 2014, there are new requirements for home sellers in Minnesota regarding radon disclosure.  The old disclosure form that home sellers would fill out just asked if there were any environmental concerns with radon, and the sellers would check yes or no.  It couldn't get any…

A Better Tape Measure

  One of my favorite home inspection tools is a tape measure with a magnetic tip. It has all of the standard features of a good tape measure, but the magnetic tip is what makes it a great tool. The short video clip below shows me gushing about this tape…

Home Inspection Checklist – Exterior 2013

For home buyers interested in conducting their own home inspection, here's a list of larger items to look out for while viewing houses.  This is a cursory overview of some of the larger problems that are frequently identified during home inspections.  Of course, this is no substitute for a professional…

Unintended Consequences of Adding Insulation 2013

This is a guest blog post by Steve Schirber, of Cocoon. Re-insulating an existing home properly is a complicated task.  A house is a system; a bunch of smaller parts that make up systems, that make up larger systems.  The tighter the house, the more a house tends to behave like…

How To Prevent Ice Dams (the right way) /ice-dams-3/

Minnesota got dumped on this weekend with nearly fifteen inches of snow in some areas.  With hardly any snow last winter, we almost forgot what a real snow storm looked like.   I haven't heard about any concerns over ice dams yet, but I suspect they'll be coming very soon.…

Are ‘Hot Roofs’ allowed in Minnesota?

While most attic spaces in Minnesota are insulated with fiberglass or cellulose insulation, there is a relatively new product that provides superior performance:  spray foam.  On old one-and-one-half story houses, foam insulation can be an especially nice way to cut down on heat loss, air leakage, ice dams, yet maintain nearly the…

Bonding CSST: Forget Code, Do It For Safety 2012

If you own a newer home or you've recently had gas lines added to your home, there's a good possibility that Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing, or CSST, was used.  This is a relatively new material that is approved for the distribution of natural gas inside of homes.  The best analogy…

Deck Guardrail Inspections

The CPSC estimates that between 2003 and 2007, there have been over eleven thousand injuries caused by structural failure or collapse of guardrails at outdoor decks.  It's not tough to understand why - when people have parties in the summer, everyone hangs out on the deck.  Throw in a keg of Busch Light, a…

Holmes Inspections: Any Reality?

There's a show on HGTV called Holmes Inspection, which exposes problems with houses that were allegedly missed by other home inspectors.  Here's the basic formula: John and Jane buy a house, have it inspected, no major problems.  Time passes, problems show up, Mike Holmes gets called in.  Mike inspects the house,…

Problems With Flipped Houses

Home flippers buy dilapidated houses, fix them up, then sell them again as quickly as possible with the intention of making a tidy profit.  Flipped houses look shiny and new inside, but what's going on underneath all the new drywall, carpet, and paint?  Very few home buyers seem to trust…

Training Advice For Future Minnesota Home Inspectors 2012

Post Update 9/6/2016: Please read my updated blog post on this topic, at Updated home inspector training advice. About two to three times a month, I get a call or email from someone who is interested in becoming a home inspector. "What kind of training is required to be a…

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…

Why municipal inspectors wear blinders

I've taken many building code classes that were taught by the Building Official for the City of New Hope, Roger Axel. He's a fantastic teacher. In his classes, I remember him repeatedly telling us to take off the blinders; what he meant by this was to not miss the forest…

Stucco: Invasive Testing vs IR Scanning

I've heard of home inspectors in Minnesota offering infrared scans on stucco homes as an attractive non-invasive alternative to standard invasive moisture testing.  Here at Structure Tech, we recently started offering infrared inspections, but stucco scans are something we will never offer. First, some info on stucco. Stucco homes in Minnesota built since…

How To Prevent Ice Dams /ice-dams-3/

We've received over 34" of snow in Minnesota in the last 25 days, which makes this the snowiest December on record.  While the snow turns our state in to a beautiful white winter wonderland, it also causes nasty ice dams that wreak havoc on homes like never before. The heavy…

The 500 Pound Requirement For Guardrails /deck-guardrail-inspections/

The Minnesota State Building Code requires deck guardrails to be present when the deck surface is more than 30" above the ground.  Guardrails must be at least 36" high, and must be designed in such a manner as to prevent 4" sphere from passing through.  This is all pretty easy to…