Structure Talk

By Reuben Saltzman

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Description

Home inspections, home maintenance, repairs, upgrades, safety, real estate, energy, performance, and durability.

Episode Date
Top 5 Home Inspection Finds
1544

Today’s show is about the top inspection defects that could make buyers think twice before sealing the deal.

Reuben and Tessa discuss various foundation problems which can be caused by failed water management systems. This led them to talk about soil conditions in the Minneapolis area. They tackle their inspection experiences with hidden fire or smoke damage, electrical wiring, stucco siding, roof or shingle problems, and sewer issues.

Bill shares that these defects can be inspected, found, and fixed.

Send your questions to podcast@structuretech.com.

Aug 15, 2022
Hazardous locations for appliances
1942

People want to maximize space in the house, the bedroom included. What are the allowed appliances in the bedroom?

The trio talks about having a gas fireplace, natural gas furnaces, room and water heaters, decorative appliances, and others. Reuben establishes that gas appliances are not allowed in sleeping rooms and bathrooms unless specific requirements are met. He highlights the need for a direct vent two-pipe system.

Reuben talks about compliance with the Fuel Gas Code. They discuss the code exceptions as well as the qualifications of appliances for them to be allowed or disallowed in the sleeping rooms. For more on this topic, check out Reuben’s latest blog post on the topic, Are furnaces allowed in bedrooms?

Send your comments, corrections, and questions to podcast@structuretech.com

Aug 08, 2022
What makes a bedroom legal?
1537

A quality bedroom makes a house more marketable. This episode talks about qualifications, the technical and practical aspects of a bedroom.

Reuben defines what a bedroom is. Tessa talks about the qualified dimensions, floor area, ceiling height, and headroom. They also talk about the practical and technical requirements such as the heat source, safety requirements such as emergency exits, alarms, and detectors.

Bill asks about the requirements for bedrooms in the basement, the main floor, and attics. They discuss if a closet is required to have a closet.

Learn more about the required bedroom dimensions here: https://structuretech.com/floor-and-ceiling-requirements-1-5-story-homes/.

Continue to send your questions to podcast@structuretech.com.

Aug 01, 2022
Surge protection, AFCI and GFCI nuisance tripping, and more discussion of bad panels (with Mike Twitty)
2649

Mike Twitty joins the show to talk about electrical questions that were accumulated from listener emails.

Reuben asks about surge protection devices. He mentions that Structure Tech doesn't add information in reports about surge protectors. Mike explains the types of surge protection devices, what they do, where they are installed, and which appliance or equipment they're used with. He also shares when and how surges occur in houses.

They also talk about GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers, as well as nuisance tripping.

Reuben also revisits the issue with Challenger panels. They also talk about the Bulldog, ITE, and split bus panels. They discuss why and when panels should be replaced. Mike highlights that there is a big difference between repairing and replacing panels.

Learn from Mike Twitty's blog: https://www.iaei.org/page/2020-07-surge-protection-for-smart-homes

Continue to send questions to podcast@structuretech.com.

Jul 25, 2022
Three simple AC maintenance items
1798

Today, Reuben talks about simple air conditioning maintenance items for indoor air quality and air comfort.

Reuben shares three maintenance tips. He first discusses the importance of changing furnace filters and how it can lead to restricted or reduced airflow. He and Tessa then talk about how an oversized AC system and unchanged filters can also negatively affect the health of the house.

The second tip is to keep the condensing coil clean. Reuben mentions that the condenser machine is commonly impacted by cottonwood seeds, grass clippings, dirt, dust, and debris. Bill clarifies that rotting of the surface area can impact the cooling capacity of units. Tessa asks for tips on how homeowners can clean condensers.

The last one is about the condensate line where moisture drains down as condensate. He talks about the approved materials for the line and then highlights paying attention to where it is and where it's going. They also talk about condensation problems from AC being installed in the attic. Rueben ends by sharing a tip on how to fix a clogged condensate drain line.

Send questions via email at podcast@structuretech.com.

Jul 18, 2022
Handyman Woes (with Daniel Felt)
2592

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 with their clients. He talks about the miscommunications they had with clients and the creative ways of addressing them.

Reuben sought advice for homeowners who are looking to hire a handyman. Tessa inquires about the hourly rates of handymen and the charge for materials. Bill asks about how Daniel drew franchise agreements with local companies.

Daniel also updates about the five ancillary services in addition to Kura Homes' routine maintenance package.

Reuben and Daniel are sponsors of a radio program The All-Around Home Improvement Hour on Talk Radio AM 1130 every Saturday at noon.

Jul 11, 2022
Real Estate Market Updates (with Joe Schwartzbauer)
2720

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 and mentality, and home inspection strategies. He mentions that 42% of the latest accepted offers waived the right to have a home inspection which hinders coming up with an informed decision.

They talk about transaction coordinating companies that provide information to buyers, inspection guarantees, home warranties, and insurance claims. Joe also shares that client-facing and being with customers gives their business a boost. He highlights that getting a home inspection steers clear from expensive repairs and gives sellers and buyers peace of mind.

Get in touch with Joe via joe@greyduckproperties.com, their social media accounts, or visit greyduckhomes.com.

Jul 04, 2022
Structure Tech accepts the Challenger (panel)
2234

Today's podcast covers bad electric panels, as well as panels with bad reputations that really aren't bad.

This includes a discussion of Challenger panels, Bulldog/pushmatic panels, FPE Stab-Lok Panels, and Zinsco/Sylvania panels.

E-mail podcast@structuretech.com for your questions, comments or other correspondence.

Jun 27, 2022
Sewer Inspections (with Istvan Zsako)
2197

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 the training he underwent as well as the licensing requirements for home inspections. He highlights the necessary training required to effectively and efficiently inspect sewers.

Reuben asks about the worst stuff found during the sewer inspection. Istvan discusses the Orangeburg pipe and the use of wood pulp and tar that absorbs moisture and becomes distorted under pressure. He talks about the type of sewer pipes used in old and new homes and the common problems they see in the sewer lines. He discusses the right tools used in inspecting sewers such as the kind of camera and the length of cables. They also discuss pulling out and installing toilets when needed, changing gaskets, and caulking and sealing the toilet.

Tessa inquires about the credentials that consumers have to look for when choosing a sewer inspector. Istvan shares that certification and mentorship with people who have the knowledge and experience is an advantage.

Istvan also talks about his book The Victory Mindset. He shares that he loves inspiring other people to develop their passion and drive to go after their dreams and live the lives they always wanted to live. To join Istvan's sewer training, visit sewertraining.com.

Send your questions and podcast topic request to podcast@structuretech.com.

Jun 20, 2022
Look out for these red flags Part 2
2627

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 touch to see if they are solid or rotted. She highlights that replacing windows can be a huge expense for home buyers. Reuben shares about looking out for aluminum-clad wood windows that were installed in the 90s or early 2000s.

Another on the list is the deck. Reuben discusses how to check the deck and ensure that everything is plumb and level. He also talks about the materials used in the deck and their life span and painted decks. Tessa highlights that it's very important to check the entire structure and ensure proper attachments. She adds checking for deterioration, loose guardrails, flashing at the ledger board, and visible signs of rot in wood, joists, beams, and deck boards.

Next is the structure of the house and the foundation. Reuben discusses stacked stone foundations, foundation cracks, and the typical areas where foundation problems can be seen. While not common in Minnesota, he also talks about wood foundations. Tessa talks about finished basements but there's so much that can't be seen and can go wrong—including the foundation, plumbing, and electrical. They also discuss in-slab ductwork and the potential moisture that is building up in the slab.

Another is plumbing and sewer lines. While a lot of problems with plumbing are more present in older houses, the thing to really look out for is galvanized water distribution pipes and galvanized drains. Reuben shares how to do a simple little test to check the water flow.

They also talked about appliances such as the water heater, the furnace, and the air conditioner and the importance of knowing their ages. Then they talked about electrical concerns such as bad panels and aluminum wiring. Reuben discusses the Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) or Stab-Lok, Zinsco or Sylannia, or fuse panels that need to be replaced. Tessa shares that the knob and tube wiring is not designed to handle the current household load. These are red flags for fire hazards and concerns insurance companies.

Visit StructureTechCE.com  to join the full 1.25 hour  class with all photos and a polished video presentation about these red flags.

E-mail your questions and podcast topics to podcast@structuretech.com.

Jun 13, 2022
Look out for these red flags
2379

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 can be seen from the ground to alert buyers of a bad roof. He highlights that it's important to know the age of the roof and shares about obvious roof defects in old and new constructions. They talk about shingles, sagging ridgelines and edges, discoloration, heat loss, ice dams, and insurance claims.

They talk about issues and irregularities with chimneys such as cracks, gaps, patchings, and rebuilt chimneys. Tessa mentions that it's difficult to determine the true condition of the bricks by a visual analysis from the outside or with a level two chimney inspection. Then they discuss water management- where the water goes and where it's concentrated. Reuben shares his focus on the front door, rotted windows, rotted sidings, the basement as well as the areas outside the house. They discuss the use of stucco and vinyl as sidings and share building practice failures in the previous decades.

Before looking at houses, Reuben shares that it's important to have the right tools such as a quality flashlight and good winter boots. He also highlights that they have a class about all things showing red flags for real estate agents. The 1.25-hour Continuous Education class is accessible at StructureTechCE.com .

Send your questions and comments to podcast@structuretech.com.

Jun 06, 2022
Energy Efficiency Comes Last
1822

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 and building performance issues, (durability, quality, affordability, comfortability, and indoor air issues) by upgrading the insulation in exterior walls. She shares the nationwide data about homes that could benefit from this project and the type of homes this can be applied to. They also talk about insulation R-values.

Reuben highlights that identifying the best method to retrofit an uninsulated wall depends on the type of the house, the design, materials, climate, and water management strategy, among others. He discusses the drill-and-fill method which he thinks is the best method. He also discusses other methods and the possible return on investment on energy costs. Bill asks why the concept of the perfect wall is not a priority among homeowners. He also asks about the best value-for-money method.

As a takeaway from the session, Tessa shares that the order of changes and improvements in the house matters. She adds that before focusing on energy efficiency, interior issues should be addressed.

For comments and questions, send an email at podcast@structuretech.com or visit structuretalk.com

May 30, 2022
Fire codes are written in blood
2994

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 death in the past and they are driven out of tragedies or avoidable things that had occurred. They talk about the importance of smoke alarms, the type of alarms, their battery life, and the failure rate of old alarms. Brock highlights that the number one reason for fire deaths is non-operable or non-existing smoke alarms. Reuben shares about his smoke alarm set up at home, then Brock shares his two cents on it. Brock mentions how sprinkler systems are remarkably effective.

They also talk about lightweight building materials and composite materials, window ventilation, and how they affect fire progression. According to Brock, most fires start in the kitchen, most also start with electrical fires. He talks about the fire tetrahedron where a sustained chemical chain reaction is required for fire to occur. He discusses the transitional and defensive attacks in putting out a fire and shares how to limit ventilation during a fire and what to do when trapped in rooms. He gives a summary of what happens when the fire department arrives on the scene. He highlights that the number one cause of firefighter death is heart attack and cancer because they're exposed to so many chemicals that leach to their skin.

Brock explains that his report as a home inspector during fire inspection is to highlight the intent of the codes. Then he shares examples of the intent of certain codes such as the sprinkler systems in commercial areas. He then shares reminders and best practices to prevent fire and be safe at home.

May 23, 2022
Changes to Appraisals
2406

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. While appraisers continue to carry through, Lanny explains that appraisers need to transact with AMCs and can no longer directly connect with banks. He also talks about the guidelines being used in the property comparable and appraisal reports format.

They also discuss the technology and modern tools that appraisers use and an appraisal database. Lanny highlights that property appraisals are based on historical data and that the lender is their client and that they are the intended user of the appraisal. He explains how they make time adjustments with their appraisals in accordance with the market. He also talks about Reconsideration of Value (ROV).

Reuben asks how home inspections affect the property appraisal and vice versa. Lanny shares about the changes in the appraisal industry. He talks about the differences between Fannie Mae's products such as Hybrid appraisal and Desktop appraisal. Lanny mentions that there are price ceilings, especially with townhouses. He explains how costs do not equate to value.

Contact Lanny Freng by calling 612-386-2660 or visiting appraisalwerx.com.

May 16, 2022
Energy efficiency should never come first (with Patrick Huelman)
3084

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 thermal wall systems by in-situ energy and moisture modeling. Patrick then discusses the controls that a high-performing building enclosure needs: insulation, air control,  water control, and vapor control. He shares that the layers have to be done in the right order and that this is the challenge in existing homes.

Reuben asks about the approaches to retrofitting a house, the common mistakes, and the better way to do it. Tessa asks about recommendations based on the 14 different wall set-ups from the experiment and which is the most cost-effective. Patrick shares his ideas and the results of their study. He mentions that it will take a while until the panel-like wall system is accepted in residential constructions and for the industry to start catching up with this science.

Patrick highlights that getting home inspectors and building science professionals is essential for risk assessment and management.

May 09, 2022
The Importance of Context in Communication
1410

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 that being a home inspector is a difficult job and it's more than just the technical side of looking at defects and finding problems. It's looking at the house, understanding clients and their concerns, and being able to communicate effectively and potentially address concerns that are outside the scope of the home inspection. She adds that it's important that clients have a good understanding of what they are buying.

Tessa discusses the steps in inspecting, reporting, taking the inspection one step further, and collating important information for the client. They talk about categorizing the critical items in home inspections: health and safety, expensive or big repairs, and building performance. She highlights that effective communication is as important as doing a good technical inspection: it's about what to say and how to say it. Reuben shares examples where proper context is necessary for discussing safety hazards.

May 02, 2022
Home Inspections Vs Healthy Homes
1482

Today we're going to deconstruct critical items of a home inspection and how the home inspection is integrated and overlaps with building science.

Tessa shares that home inspectors look at specific separate systems and structural things and then identify potential defects. While the industry is chopped into specialized systems, Tessa highlights that home inspectors are positioned with a unique opportunity to assess a house holistically. She explains that homeowners expect a lot from their house: they want it to be safe, healthy to live in, comfortable, and energy-efficient.

Reuben mentions that the industry holds on to the standards and there are risks and potential liabilities if inspectors go outside the standard practice. He also mentions that some home inspection companies in the country do healthy home assessments by troubleshooting pain points that people have. Bill clarifies if these  companies are observing the ASHI standards of practice. Bill also asks if this can be a different product and if this service has a market.

They talk about indoor air quality, comfort, performance, durability, and installation. Tessa and Reuben talk about how they integrate some building science with home inspections and how Structure Tech trains inspectors to widen their perspectives and effectively communicate to the client. Tessa mentions that some comments in the home inspection reports are above and beyond the SOP; these are concerns for comfort and building performance. She adds that mentioning these to the client will impact the quality of their day-to-day life. Reuben also shares his experiences with clients who he gave additional information to ahead of time.

Apr 25, 2022
Hazards with lead water lines
1656

Bill starts the show by talking about the City of St Paul’s decision to get rid of lead supply lines. Reuben shares that around 28% of the city or over 26,000 properties are using lead supply lines. Also, the city will be funding the 10-year program and will be spending $250M. He then explains what lead supply lines are and highlights that it’s a health hazard.

Tessa shares that lead supply lines have been buried for 100 years now. She explains how to identify lead and what to do when it’s present in the water piping. Reuben describes what a galvanized pipe looks like.

Reuben highlights that the standard of practice in home inspections exclude reporting about lead, and doesn’t record the kind of water supply a house has. However, inspections describe the type of water distribution piping in the house and reports if the material is copper or plastic. He explains how lead gets into drinking water.

Read more about lead water supplies here https://structuretech.com/lead-water/

Apr 18, 2022
All about soft water and Kinetico (with Travis McKenzie)
3385

Travis McKenzie, Sales Director of Aquarius Homes Services joins today's show to talk about Soft Water and the Kinetico Water System.

Aquarius Homes Services, formerly Aquarius Water Conditioning, specializes in heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, and water treatment. They provide a water treatment and conditioning system and offer free consultation and baseline testing for homeowners and buyers. Travis mentions that they encounter common customer concerns such as iron or hard water, staining, and build-up. These things affect home appliances and fixtures.

Travis talks about water quality and safety as well as various sources of water and the use of chemicals for treatment. He identifies the substances that are present in water and their potential hazards. He discusses the cons of using chlorine such as its byproduct and trihalomethanes, which are known to be cancer-causing. Bill mentions that there is a low water quality in the Minneapolis area and water conditioning is something that homeowners need to consider.

Travis explains how the Kinetico Water System works and how it provides unlimited conditioned water. He discusses degeneration, the use of salt in the water softening, the levels of water treatment to meet the conditioned quality, and how the system cleans with its own water. Also, he talks  about the investment cost and the longevity of the American-built system. He highlights that this machine will prevent damages and clogging of plumbing, fixtures, and appliances.

Learn more about Kinetico Water System and Aquarius Home Services, visit aquariushs.com.

Apr 11, 2022
Insulating a 1.5-story home
2646

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 life expectancy to a 1.5-story house. He explains that having a perfect thermal barrier on the roof and everything below that is conditioned space which will create a very comfortable environment.

Reuben talks about another way to improve insulation, by installing it from the inside of the house; it will create a hot roof where there is no ventilation between the shingles and everything else. He also shares that the color of roof shingles has more effect on the temperature of the roof than ventilation does. Tessa agrees that this is a good method; however, homeowners will lose headspace due to lower ceilings. She also talks about another method to address the insulation by attacking the areas that are physically accessible. Bill shares that the best method is addressing it from the outside.

They talk about the holistic approach and look at a building as an entire system. Tessa highlights that the building performance depends on the design, the materials that are used, how materials are put together, and occupant behavior. She further mentions that the simpler the design is, the better and easier it is to have a high-performing house.

Learn more about Project Overcoat. Visit this link https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/56145.pdf.

Apr 04, 2022
Before you skip the home inspection
1639

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 experience for the seller, saying they will never accept another offer without a home inspection.

Tessa brings up how tough it is to buy a house in the current market state. She shares statistics on listings, pending sales, and inventory. Reuben mentions that many homeowners are still getting home inspections, however some are skipping it.

They share a list of strategies and tactics that real estate agents and home buyers are practicing today to buy a house and still get a home inspection. The list includes getting an inspection before submitting an offer, giving a one-day inspection window, or to submit an offer that's contingent upon an inspection and otherwise. Buyers may also avail a 30-minute walk-through consultation.

In celebration of Women's Month, Tessa also shares exciting news about new female inspectors on the Structure Tech team.

Related link: Before you skip the home inspection… (this link will be live on 3/29/22)

Mar 28, 2022
Home Inspection Reports, Clicking vs Clumping
1601

Bill talks about Open Access, a new project, and a training program where they learn more about houses. Open Access is a venue where inspectors answer questions from real estate agents. He mentions the session is appropriate for real estate agents with the same climate zone.

Tessa explains the training process design and highlights that they break down a house into different systems and discuss them. She shares that they handle overwhelming details and data points about plumbing, electrical, structure, framing, roofing, windows, water management, heating, and more. Further, they conduct a mock inspection flow and practice the use of inspection report software.

Reuben compares clicking where canned comments are available in their software and clumping where custom comments are written in reports. The latter is more advanced report writing and does not rely on the generic comments in the inspection software. Tessa shares that they provide the inspectors with the tools and shape them to think critically and be curious.

Rueben recollects learning from Patrick Lencioni's book, The Ideal Team Player. Tessa shares about the importance of hiring the right person and the qualities of a new home inspector.

Join Open Access every Tuesday, 1 PM to 2 PM. Call us at 952-915-6466 or send an email at info@structuretech.com.

Mar 14, 2022
Introducing Inspection Services
1335

Today, the three-legged stool talks about Reuben's new project and side hustle.

Inspection Services is a one-stop-shop solution to the service needs of home inspectors in the Twin Cities area.

Reuben shares that they can do radon, sewer inspections, level 2 chimney inspections, stucco testing, and mold testing. They also plan to offer pool inspections and engineering services in the near future.

They also talk about the importance of getting inspections aside from home inspections. Reuben also highlights that their inspectors are certified, licensed, and follow various standards and codes. He mentions that that goal is to inform the homeowners what to do next.

To learn more, visit inspectionservicesmn.com.

Mar 07, 2022
Appliance Repairs and Maintenance (with Phil Whiteford)
2934

Phil Whiteford, the owner of Omega Force Appliance Repairs, attends the show to talk about the proper use of appliances and their company's warranty program.

They go over the common issues with refrigerators, front-load washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, clothes dryers, and dryer exhausts. They also discuss how to test and inspect appliances. Reuben talks about the confusion he experienced from reading manufacturer recommendations, installation instructions, and manuals when it comes to flexible dryer transition ducts..

Phil discusses their products, offerings, and service guidelines. Omega offers free video diagnostic calls and an appliance protection plan that covers eight appliances for $30 a month.

To know more about their product offerings, visit omegaforceappliancerepair.com or call them at 763-390-6267.

Feb 28, 2022
How to win your home purchase agreement (with Rhonda Wilson)
2078

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 statistics from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). She discusses how real estate agents get more inventory in the market as well as supply and demand issues. They also talk about seller tactics that are drawing interest from buyers.

Reuben mentions that many homeowners skipped home inspections in the past year. While Rhonda needed to convince sellers and buyers to get an inspection and not to buy a house that is not inspected, she highlights that it's more time and cost effective. Further, she explains why getting a home inspection is a win for both buyers and sellers. Rhonda proceeds to discuss the things she does and recommendations she gives for sellers in getting the best appraisal and buyers to win the bid.

Contact Rhonda Wilson at 612-860-0189 or visit Coldwell Banker Realty at cbrealty.com.

Feb 21, 2022
Code Officials vs Home Inspectors (with Douglas Hansen)
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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 Code Check founder Redwood Kardon to co-author the book. He describes the book as cliff notes and like a comic book for building codes. According to Douglas, codes are the language and vocabulary in the construction standards. Reuben mentions that they use the Code Check illustrations, which are available for sale online, in their home inspection reports.

Douglas discusses the various ranks of inspectors: code enforcement officers who have police functions and write citations, municipal building inspectors who pass or fail something then write a correction notice, and home inspectors who recommend and refer areas for investigation by specialists. He highlights that while these inspectors have different jurisdictions, they have to work together.

Reuben promotes Code Check as required reading and a tool for Home Inspectors. It has different sections: building,  plumbing, mechanical, and electrical. He shares that it's a consolidated booklet that gives you all the most important information that you need to know. They also talk about how useful ''Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings'' is for home inspectors. Douglas mentions that the electric code is different from all other codes because it has the largest participation of people and code-making panels.

Join Douglas Hansen's 2-hour training seminar on February 21, 2022: https://heartland.chapteroffice.com/calendar/. Members of the ASHI Heartland Chapter may attend for free, and others may attend for a $25 fee, which will go towards Feed My Starving Children.

Feb 14, 2022
Solar roof panels (with Jeremiah Broz)
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In today's show, Jeremiah Broz of Energy Advantage Roof and Solar joins to talk about solar roof panels.

Jeremiah starts by talking about the incentives and rebates that solar power owners can get from the federal level, state level, energy companies, and manufacturers. They talk about the size and number of solar panels, as well as the wattage required to power a household. According to Jeremiah, there is high production in the western and eastern states, especially during the summer. He highlights that their products last for 25 years.

They further talk about the cost savings vs the periodic household maintenance such as in the roof and shingles. Also, they discussed the installation process, ventilation, and roofing requirements. Tessa asks about the average cost for a household to purchase and install a solar panel system, the damage heavy storms may cause, and the roof and attic structure for the panel weight. Jeremiah also shares about the energy reduction system.

Visit Energy Advantage Roofing and Solar: Home (yourenergyadvantage.com) for more information.

Feb 07, 2022
Vaccine Mandate Update + Job Interview No-No's
2099

Today, Leonard Segal joins the show to talk about tactics, questions, do's, and don'ts in hiring employees.

Leonard starts by discussing the three federal vaccine mandates: employer vaccine mandate, contract or sub-contractor mandate, and healthcare worker mandate. He mentions that only the latter is in effect. He further discusses private companies having their own vaccination policies and other Covid-10 regulations.

Reuben asks about the differences between the Covid-19 guidelines of the Minnesota Health Department and the CDC. Bill asks if employees can file legal actions for improper termination and labor malpractice in relation to the Covid-19 guidelines. Tessa asks about a return-to-work policy for sick employees.

They also talk about meaningful but legal ways to ask questions during the hiring process. Leonard mentions that Minnesota is a pro-employee state and has many anti-discrimination laws. He highlights that being consistent in the line of questioning across applicants is very important. They also talk about the use of social media in background checking.

Visit schindelsegal.com or reach Leonard Segal (952) 358-7408 or lsegal@schindelsegal.com.

Jan 31, 2022
Roof Problems and Finger-pointing (with Kyle Miller)
2226

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 problems. He mentions that the contractor and homeowners are both responsible for the issue. While it's very uncommon, Kyle mentions that damages can also be caused by material defects. Then they talk about product warranties. Tessa asks about water intrusion damages. Reuben discusses improper shingle nailing.

Kyle also shares about the changes in the general contractor industry in the past two years. He mentions that one of the biggest challenges the industry is facing is setting realistic expectations, lead time, and price increase. Aside from that, they also keep up with the new products and trends, technology, marketing, and branding. He discusses the current situation in the supply chain and product availability.

They talk about snowmobiles and finding hobbies during the winter months. Tessa shares about a BBC show called Restoration Home.

Jan 24, 2022
Hazardous Locations for Glass
1345

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 glasses. Bill confirms that using safety films is more cost-effective than replacing broken windows and sash. Tessa agrees that commercial establishments and other high-traffic areas should use tempered and safety glass.

Reuben talks about the 4 criteria that must be observed in the installation. He mentions Chapter 3, section 8 (1-4), of the International Residential Code includes the locations where safety glazing is necessary. They also talk about using glass windows on walk-in surfaces, stairwells, patio doors, showers, and bathtub areas,

Tessa shares that home inspectors are not code officials. They highlight that recommendations in inspection reports are not defects but optional safety upgrades.

Jan 17, 2022
Urinals, spray foam, and tiled showers
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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 discuss using a waterproof foam board and a cement board behind the surrounding tiles and how they can potentially be damaged. Also, Reuben mentions that there are changes in the building and  plumbing code.

They also talk about exterior walls and exterior finishes in Bill's cabin and the materials they are using. Reuben discusses the importance of staining all six sides of every board to stay flat. He also talks about ''nogging'' to prevent the wall from bowing and the studs from moving in the interior load-bearing walls.

Tessa shares about the permeability and water resistance of spray foams and how to seal out moisture and soil gases. Reuben mentions a vlog by Matt Risinger titled Water Testing Spray Foam Insulation (https://youtu.be/H6jiGKOSABo). They also give recommendations on how to vapor-seal the bedrock that the cabin is built on.

They share the construction challenges of their relatives and neighbors. Reuben expresses that it's difficult to draw the line when visiting a friend's house, noticing alarming parts of the house, and not reacting. Then he and Tessa share their experiences.

Jan 10, 2022
CO Safety and getting thrown under the bus
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Today's show is about carbon monoxide (CO). Improperly ventilated appliances in enclosed spaces may allow CO to accumulate to dangerous levels.

Reuben shares that Appendix D of the International Residential Code (IRC) stipulates the standards in testing fuel gas-fired appliances for safety. Tessa mentions that there are various methods and variables in testing appliances, however, home inspectors are not required to do a back-drafting test or a combustion gas analysis on appliances. They also talk about back-drafting signs and factors, how long appliances establish proper draft, as well as other testing standards and practices. Reuben highlights why testing is not encouraged for home inspectors and why it should be.

Tessa mentions that gas ranges potentially are the biggest source of carbon monoxide because they are designed to vent combustion gases into the house. She highlights the need for proper exhaust while using gas ranges. Bill asks about the difference in the CO hazard of high-efficiency furnaces.

Recently, a family in Minnesota died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Reuben highlights that CO alarms are lifesavers.

Useful links:

Appendix D, Minnesota Gas Code: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/MNMFGC2020P1/appendix-d-ifgs-recommended-procedure-for-safety-inspection-of-an-existing-appliance-installation

Gas-fired Kitchen Ranges: https://appliancegenie.ca/blog/news/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-gas-fired-kitchen-ranges-be-alarmed/

Carbon Monoxide Levels Chart: https://gaslab.com/blogs/articles/carbon-monoxide-levels-chart

CO poisoning accident: https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/police-several-people-found-dead-moorehead-home/89-bac05f98-050d-48fd-ba62-e24f750a4a33

Jan 03, 2022
Reuben's tech tips
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Happy Holidays!

In today's show, Reuben shares his toptech tips and hacks that help improve productivity and security in everyday life.

Reuben has always been tech-savvy with influence from James Bond and Back to the Future films. He shares that he spends the entire day on the computer and enjoys a high-resolution monitor. He also uses a screen clipper and a split keyboard. He uses chrome plug-ins like Video Speed Controller and password managers such as Lastpass, Dashlane, or Roboform that store passwords for the user's future reference. Tessa and Bill ask about how to use these technologies and share their concerns about managing passwords.

One hack that Reuben used since his kitchen disaster is a Guardian Leak Detection System. Then he discusses how the system works. They also talk about Google Photos that recognize faces and objects. Tessa mentions that iPhones have the same feature and highlights the quality of photos that new phones capture. Bill also shares about a car rental sharing mobile application that works very conveniently.

They talk about a very useful home internet security and family-friendly browsing which is the OpenDNS Family Shield, it's accessible through https://www.opendns.com/setupguide/#familyshield. Reuben shares that he is using two routers that allow him to shut down the internet connection at night. Reuben also uses magnetic charging cables that are available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LD8TWYS. Another tip is using Adobe PDF viewers that allow you to sign and fill in documents without needing to print them.

Access more tips and hacks at Home Inspection Blog - Structure Tech Home Inspections.

Dec 27, 2021
Where to find mold, Part 2
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Today's episode is part 2 about mold conversation. Vickie Swenson shares the top 10 areas where mold usually hides.

According to Vickie, molds mostly grow in the base basement carpet, rim joist insulation, air exchanger intake ducts, attics, cement walls and basements, leaks under sinks, dark crawl spaces, insulation in newer homes, in-slab ductwork, and many splits in window air conditioners. She shares whether condensation and humidity or plumbing leaks cause more molds. Neil Saltzman also shares that mold grows in the dust. They also talk about how soil (moisture) affects the growth of mold in the basement and PVC being prone to mold.

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill ask about the sources of mold in the top areas, how to test them, and how to keep mold under control. Vickie highlights that mold control is about controlling moisture. Tessa also explains how ductwork in the attic grows mold due to standing water. She also asks about how mold spores in the air are filtered by the furnace. They also discuss how air purifiers help ensure the quality of air inside the house and the importance of cleaning air conditioners.

Reach Vickie Swenson through 612-508-2742 and mnmold.com.

Dec 20, 2021
Where to find mold, Part 1
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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 it. Vicky mentions that molds usually grow within 72 hours. Then she discusses the standards in inspecting and testing it. She highlights that the most common places where mold can hide is behind the bathtub, rim joist installations, and basement carpet.

Reuben also shares why he thinks warm water may develop mold faster. Tessa shares that molds can be present in both old and newly constructed houses. Bill asks about surface molds. They also discuss other kinds of molds and how much they can grow.

Neil highlights that humidity plays a big role in the development of molds. Vicky mentions the allergic reactions she's developed due to exposure to molds.

Dec 13, 2021
Winter prep, do we follow our own advice
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Today, Reuben, Bill, and Tessa go over a checklist for the winter. How well are you prepared for the winter?

Reuben shares his recommendations for the use and disposal of batteries. They talk about preparing salt in the garage,  disconnecting and draining hoses, daylight savings, and batteries for smoke alarms.  They also talk about clearing the gutters and the lawn.

Bill and Reuben discuss different snow blowers and lawn mowers. Tessa shares about maintaining the ARVs and HRVs. Reuben also shares about his new snowmobile.

Dec 06, 2021
Why is my house crying
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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 strategy, and balanced ventilation strategy. Tessa then adds the differences between these strategies, how they work and where they are most beneficial. She also discusses the multiple variables that affect the results when testing pressure and condensation inside the house. Bill and Reuben then share about interstitial condensation.

They talk about recommendations on how to manage and test mechanical systems such as ducts, ERVs, and HRVs. They also discuss the right settings for machines and systems.

Nov 29, 2021
Electrical Horrors Stories (with Jason Brozen)
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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 sustained. He compares his experience to possible electrocution accidents in residences which are more fatal. Then, he further discusses the horrors of shock and electrocution injuries.

Reuben asks about the basic safety measures for homeowners and home inspectors, the dangers of hand-to-hand electrical contact, and improper screws that may cause injury or fire. Tessa inquires about what to look for and where to get PPEs such as recommended boots and gloves for professionals. Bill highlights that DIYers must do their research.

Get hold of Jason Brozen at jason.brozen@epsco.co or jasonbrozen@gmail.com.

Nov 15, 2021
Three-months wait for furnace parts (with Kevin Strandberg)
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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 prices over one year. Bill and Tessa ask about the common parts with sourcing issues, their order lead time, and the organic cause of the price increase.

Kevin talks about furnace efficiency, maintenance, and control as well as different kinds of air conditioners such as split air and a high-velocity system,  Kevin also highlights that hydronic heat is the most efficient way to heat a house and they give homeowners the most comfort. They give homeowners some advice and preparation tips for home equipment at this time of the year.

Tessa takes interest in the qualifications and job security in the industry. Bill asks about BWS's work arrangements and service applications. Kevin shares the technological advancement of their company.

Contact BWS at 952-681-2615 or schedule service through their website at bwsheatingandair.com.

Nov 08, 2021
Vaccine mandate (with Leonard Segal)
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Today, Leonard Segal joins the show to talk about Covid-19 vaccine mandates. How will this affect the home inspection industry? Is vaccination required among inspectors? Can clients deny services from non-vaccinated providers?

Reuben highlights that vaccination against Covid-19 is a common subject among small business owners and employees. Leonard shares that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing and reviewing the mandate to require vaccination of employees.

Leonard shares that it's important to get legal advice about the vaccination mandate for specific situations; what is applicable today may not be accurate in the future. Reuben asks about possible exemptions for religious beliefs or medical conditions and possible HIPAA violations.  Bill asks advice about how companies can manage the rolling-out of this mandate without harassing employees to get it.

Leonard explains how to probe and manage the vaccination status and interest of employees as well as drawing the line between being casual and harassment. He also discusses the legislative jurisdiction of mandates and the possible non-acceptance of sizable states.

Leonard Segal champions employment and labor laws. Reach him at (952) 358-7408 or lsegal@schindelsegal.com.

Nov 01, 2021
Vinyl windows are better than wood
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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 about the pros and cons of their window products. He also discusses his preferred materials and the differences between vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. Moreover, he highlights the cost and price difference between these brands and materials.

Tessa and Bill share tips on how to reduce moisture and condensation inside the house, ventilation strategies, and window maintenance. Ryan also talks about foam and metal spacers, window U-factors, deterioration, and warranties.

Visit Ryan Carey and his team at www.getmy3quotes.com.

Oct 25, 2021
Fall maintenance
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Today's show is about household maintenance that needs to be done before a long winter. Bill, Tessa, and Reuben talk about what to check and clean. They highlight the under-maintained areas of a house.

They start by discussing the water system from sprinklers or lawn irrigation systems; how to properly disconnect garden hoses, sump pumps, drain exterior faucets, drain traps; and how to avoid sewer gas leaks. Reuben shares his experience about what can happen when you forget to disconnect the corrugated sump pump discharge tube before winter.

Reuben also talks about maintaining the heating equipment, air exchange equipment, dryer ducks, dampers, smoke alarms, and thermostats. Tessa shares about water-stained ceiling, vents, and cleaning air exchangers like the heat recovery ventilator (HRV) and energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Bill asks about roof maintenance and AC refrigerant lines.

Also, they discuss preparing furnaces and recommend that some inspection and cleaning should be done professionally especially in fall.

Oct 18, 2021
Big and unusual home inspection finds
2043

Today's show talks about how home inspectors go beyond the call of duty and help homeowners more than expected.

Reuben explains wood foundations and moisture testing, polybutylene plumbing  and leaking. Tessa talks about health and safety issues such as drafting at combustion appliances, microbial growth in houses and elevated levels of moisture. Bill shares his experience with carbon monoxide during inspections. They also discuss aluminum wiring  as the worst and most expensive electrical problem that they may encounter during an inspection.


Bill asks about the quality of asphalt and organic shingles, and vermiculite insulation in attics. Reuben mentions that asbestos in this insulation causes health hazards. They also talk about balloon framing and molds in the attic.

Watch Reuben's class on water intrusion here:
Home inspector training: how to find water problems at walls - YouTube.

Oct 11, 2021
Photoelectric smoke alarms: you're not a conspiracy theorist if there's really a conspiracy (with Skip Walker)
2525

It's Fire Prevention Week!

Skip Walker, the owner of Walker Property Evaluation Services from San Bruno, California, joins today's show to talk about fire safety. He is one of the authors of the Code Check series and is well-rounded about home inspections and building codes, and is multi-awarded by ASHI.

Skip mentions that there are roughly 3,000 fire-related deaths in US homes. He discusses the types of smoke alarms such as ionization and photoelectric alarms. These have different purposes, criteria and performance standards, and testing standards. He highlights the failure rates of one product that cause mortality and the success rate of the other.

​Reuben shares an investigative report about challenging the government standards in fire alarm technology. Skip mentions that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) who oversees these are aware of the failure rates but are inefficient in communicating and addressing these concerns. He points out that it's not a smoke alarm problem but a systematic one.

They also talk about how to identify the type of alarms, their technology development, the stand of firefighters in the fire alarm products, and other smoke detection products. They share their preferred alarm, why it's economically convenient and safer.

Oct 04, 2021
James Hardie vs LP Smartside (with Ryan Carey)
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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 a contractor by guiding them to have an informed decision. Moreover, they discuss the differences not only in the costing but as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the building methods and practices.

Reuben remembers the blog post by Ryan regarding James Hardie vs LP Smartside. Ryan discusses the difference between Hardie and LP products as well as their warranty provisions. Tessa asks about the life expectancy for Hardie and LP products. Then, Bill clarifies the provisions in lifetime warranties.

Visit Ryan Carrey and their team at www.getmy3quotes.com.

Sep 27, 2021
Major siding failures (with Mark Parlee)
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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, the best cladding that will give the least potential for failure depends totally on how it’s installed; and there are specific instructions for each type of material. However, water problems are caused by simple details that are overlooked during installation.

Reuben asks for advice on how to deal with houses which lack a water resistive barrier behind the siding. Bill asks about the quality of cladding materials for a house during particular decades. Tessa asks about recommended materials for house cladding and the common mistakes by builders today. They also talk about weather-resistant barriers, sealant joints, and stains.

Mark discusses the responsibilities of building contractors. He also shares his experiences in consulting, attending to contractor building fails, and construction litigation.

Reach Mark Parlee through thebuildingconsultant.com.

Sep 20, 2021
The dark side of pest control (with Scott Dorn)
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The northern part of the USA has a different situation in terms of pests. Scott Dorn, the owner of BOGO (Buy One Give One), Pest Control , joins the show to talk about managing pests.

Scott talks about the history and foundation of their company. He hates using poison, and suggests going over a checklist of all the different things that you have tried before resorting to poison. Reuben also shares how their partnership with BOGO started, which inspired them to participate in philanthropic work.

BOGO takes care of insects and rodents. Scott shares that the problem with mice is a consistent and common issue in the northland because of extreme weather; different insects also come out from varying temperature conditions. He discusses the entry points, trails, and management of mice, bats, spiders, etc. However, their company refers the management of some rodents and wildlife to a more specialized organization.

Also, BOGO is dedicated to supporting Feed My Starving Children- an organization that coordinates the packaging and distribution of food to people in developing nations.

Sep 13, 2021
Remembering Rick Norling
2429

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 implements strategies to help Veterans with housing, employment, education, and transportation.

Sep 06, 2021
Why Tessa hates T&G
2248

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 the house, size of the attic space, and the volume of air in the attic are major factors in how the ceiling will perform.. One way to test the efficiency is by de-pressurizing the house and using an infrared camera to trace the air pathways back to the gaps. While Reuben shares that condensation issues are common among tongue and groove ceiling installations.

Reuben talks about some challenges in the use of fiberglass insulation and suggests the use of drywall for a consistent air barrier. They also talk about the use of spray foam, polyethylene sheeting, rockwool insulation, and guardrails.

Aug 30, 2021
Should Home Inspectors Test for Carbon Monoxide?
1818

Carbon monoxide (CO) leaking inside the house is a serious concern. How are they tested? What harm will it cause? How do you properly manage a furnace?

According to Reuben, experts in the field conflict with each other on how to properly test CO on furnaces. While it is not required in the standard inspection process, he shares the common and right way to do it. Tessa discusses the types of furnaces, how they work, as well as how to test them. They also talk about the proper equipment to use and its calibration.

Reuben also shares the downside of shutting off a furnace and their threshold for the servicing needs. On the other hand, one type is never tested because it always yields an erroneous result.

Aug 23, 2021
Gas log fireplaces
2299

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 between gas fireplaces, going over the key differences in such items as a gas log, log igniter, gas insert, and gas fireplace.Tessa highlights potential safety issues, especially with carbon monoxide inside the house.

They also talk about testing fireplaces for gas leakage and bad gas pressure regulators. Bill asks about the difference between a gas log fireplace and a gas range and their flames. Because gas log fireplaces are either unsafe or lead to energy loss, Reuben recommends using a gas insert fireplace instead.

Aug 16, 2021
Window problems and solutions
2484

Today's episode is about windows. How easy is it to identify window problems? What causes these problems? How are they inspected? Do you need new windows?

Reuben and Tessa discuss their observations about the kinds of windows that are usually damaged due to poor moisture control, condensation, and temperature or weather conditions. Reuben also shares his experience with his failed windows which were degraded by humidifiers.

Reuben and Tessa notice that the common damages are rotted sashes, failed seals, and collapsed glass. Moreover, they share their views on window materials such as wood, aluminum-clad wood, fiberglass, and vinyl. They also share the use of an infrared camera and suction cups during home inspections.

Related Link: https://structuretech.com/repairing-a-rotted-window-sash/

Aug 09, 2021
Home Inspection Process Part 3
2278

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 being distracted and missing things.

Tessa talks about checking outlets, windows, and bedrooms, which are the easiest part of the inspection. She highlights that they also take time to check the bathroom water system, kitchen appliances, plumbing, and to note cracks on the floors and walls. Wood or gas-burning fireplaces are also required to run for a specific amount of time before performing any type of combustion testing. The basement is inspected for water intrusion, signs of moisture, environmental problems, floor drains, and potential foundation issues.

Tessa shares that the nose is one of the more powerful assets as a home inspector as it will cue inspectors to many potential problems during the inspection process. Reuben shares that infrared and time-stamped images have helped them address complaints. He adds that their thorough process, record keeping, and data availability also support their consistency with every inspection.

Aug 02, 2021
Home Inspection Process Part 2
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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 defines intrusive inspections as when the property has changed.

Reuben talks about the entry to the attic access panel, electrical panel, checking the utilities such as the water and gas. Tessa also shares a story about getting locked out of a garage.

The show also touches on the physically challenging processes and tips on how to effectively inspect and test. Recording and handling defects and putting things into context for clients. Reuben and Tessa share their takeaways from their fun-fail stories.

Jul 26, 2021
Home Inspection Process Part 1
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Today's episode is part one of Structure Tech's home inspection flow process and why we do things this way. The standard process has been developed and enhanced since the start of the company.  Tessa shares the process flow which starts from a pre-inspection call.

Tessa continues to share that from a quick walk outside the house, the team will proceed to wake up the house and use infrared cameras to take photos. Reuben highlights their learning experiences from failed and winning inspection steps. He discusses that the best way to inspect a house is through the top-down concept.

More about the inspection process will be discussed in next week's episode. For your questions, continue to write to podcast@structuretech.com.

Jul 19, 2021
Radon, Radon, and Radon (with Josh Kerber)
2966

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 which one is encouraged to do something to fix it. While Bill confirms the licensure requirement for proper radon testing and installment of mitigation systems. Josh shares that 45% of Minnesota homes will have elevated levels of radon and the various safe levels that are identified by WHO, USA, and Canada. Further, he shares about the Radon Awareness Act. They also discuss the common defects in the installed radon mitigation systems and the alarm system that is required in the state.

Reuben shares a technical question about where to terminate the radon height and the need to have radon fans installed outside of the house. Josh shares the historical background where radon came to fruition.

Reuben extends appreciation for the feedback raised, especially from homeowners. He assures them that the podcast format will be retained. However, there will be episodes that are home inspector-focused.

Jul 12, 2021
Blogging and Social Media (Reuben is a guest)
2389

Reuben Saltzman joins Waypoint Real Talk as a guest. He talks about how Structure Tech started and how its online presence since 2008 has helped the company grow. He shares that blogging on the company website allowed them to reach their market as well as other home inspectors. He also allows guest-blogging by inviting trade professionals to co-author. He highlights keeping content up-to-date by being consistent, committed, and upholding accountability with your partners.

Reuben shares how he learned that blogging must focus on a specific topic and the people who want to learn about it. Aaron Shishilla mentions that interesting blogs are first-hand and unique experiences. He shares that Reuben has influenced him and many readers, especially with his viewpoints and home inspection topics. Also, Austin Hintze asks for recommendations on how to start blogging, hiring writers, and finding time to blog.

Reuben also talks about their podcast, Structure Talk, as a new way to reach people. Also, their Facebook page is one of the popular home inspection pages where they post consistent content. Their YouTube channel also started by taking private home inspection videos for their clients. This paved the way to educate viewers about home inspection topics. Reuben highlights that these platforms direct the viewer traffic to their website.

Podcast Link :

https://waypointinspection.com/how-to-grow-your-business-online-w-reuben-saltzman/

Jul 05, 2021
Kickbacks, software, and home inspections as loss leaders (with Kevin Wagstaff)
2349

Welcome to Structure Talk episode 100!

Kevin Wagstaff, one of the founders of Spectora, joins today's show to talk about their company. Spectora is the fastest, easiest, and advanced home inspection software that is currently assisting around 5,000 home inspectors in the US. He shares that their focus is making reliable, understandable, and useful information for inspectors and homeowners.

Reuben discusses the concept that in the future, home inspections might be a loss-leader. The real money might be in managing services and information, being a conduit for the services that people need. Kevin and Reuben also discuss kickbacks from these kinds of business relationships and being a preferred partner by other vendors.

Bill shares that the presence of Spectora as a trusted third-party provider, a communicator between homeowners and inspectors, will influence the home inspection industry. Then, Tessa realizes there are many opportunities in the industry that have yet to be explored, especially on the technology and marketing side.

Jun 28, 2021
Variety Pack (Majordomo, testing GFCIs, Reuben's book summaries, new show focus)
2101

Today’s session revisits the purpose of the show and discusses the plan to realign its focus to more specific and technical topics. Reuben shares that the show was originally designed for diligent homeowners who want to learn more about their house, real estate agents, and home inspectors. We're considering a new target audience of just home inspectors, but we'd like to hear your input. Please email us at podcast@structuretech.com to let us know what you think.

Reuben also shares that StructureTech will be partnering with Majordomo. This is a third-party vendor who will be an additional option for homeowners to contact and request a repair estimate. Bill also highlights that this partnership will be a great help for homeowners to arrive at an informed decision.

The gang discusses the finer points of testing GFCI devices, and then Reuben shares his book summaries, which he just made public last week. To find these book summaries, visit https://structuretech.com/reubens-corner/.

Jun 21, 2021
New Construction Techniques
2219

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 raising funds to erect SIPs buildings in Haiti.

Andy shares that SIPs are becoming more prevalent in the modern building infrastructure because of the energy efficiency; the way SIPs seal the buildings tighter to meet the present energy cope. He also discusses the peculiarities of the SIP building designs and their advantages.

Related Link

https://www.gofundme.com/f/mango-community-family-farm?member=9634004&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

Jun 14, 2021
Is this a problem?
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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 a house that was built in 2006. In 15 years, some mechanical equipment must be replaced such as the furnace, water softener, etc. Going through her parents’ punch list, they discovered serious concerns such as debris, dead bugs, wasps, and ants!

Then Reuben shares about carpenter ants as a red flag as they are a sign that you have a water problem and a rotting wood problem. He also shares a cost-efficient tip when he worked on replacing his HVAC. He shares how he processed the electrical permit and did a very small amount of electrical work.

Jun 07, 2021
Water Damage (with 24-Restore)
2227

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 their company's primary goal is to help, to secure the property and belongings, and ensure team and customer safety. They assess and recommend what to do, then restore and reconstruct the affected area. 24 Restore also works with insurance companies which makes claims run as smoothly as possible.

May 31, 2021
Deck Safety
2314

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 and some building codes must be followed.

Related link https://structuretech.com/minnesota-deck-inspections

May 24, 2021
Lumber Prices
1048

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 100-year old iron bathtub may aid the expenses. However, Tessa shares that passive houses may do more because of their standard in energy efficiency in buildings.

May 17, 2021
Grounding, Bonding, Shocks, and Electrocution
1964

Today’s episode digs into the topic of electricity. Tessa leads the technical talk about the difference between grounding and bonding: “why we have it,” “what it means, ” and “what it does.”

At the same time, Reuben explains the distinction between being electrocuted from being shocked. He also explains the difference between Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are important to reduce the risk of electrocution and to keep a safe home.

May 10, 2021
Are we in a housing bubble? (with Dan Sibinski)
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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 during this podcast, and it will greatly help to follow along with the graphs and charts posted on the podcast section on our website at https://structuretech.com/podcast-structure-talk/housing-bubble/.

May 03, 2021
Kura Home Maintenance (with Daniel Felt)
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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. He also highlights the importance of having a customer-focused team and how this culture has helped them increase their clientele.

Apr 26, 2021
The National Home Inspector Exam (with Brendan Ryan)
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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 market as well as a requirement in various associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors. He then shares how the exams were written and how often they are updated.

Apr 19, 2021
Why you shouldn't buy a house today (with Michael Bartus)
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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!”  But today, we will hear a different story that will knock us off our feet.

Michael Bartus, residential Realtor® extraordinaire of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, joins the show to explain why this might not be a good time for some to buy. The show starts off by digging into the conversations about reasons and some useful information for not buying a house today. Thus, Michael is very eager to impart his knowledge and experiences with his buyers to us.

Apr 12, 2021
How to be a good business competitor (with Dirk van Reenen)
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Dirk van Reenen, the co-founder and owner of Inspector Empire Builder (IEB) joins the show to talk about the business of home inspections. The show starts off with Dirk introducing himself and his company. He shares how they work with other companies by opening up the lanes of growth in structure and the people in the organization, which opens up the scalability, growth, profitability, and time freedom of companies. He also points out that if you want to have a great business, you have to have great people.

Dirk also discusses the size and growth of IEB, where entrepreneurship flaws happen, and etiquette for hiring competitors from competitors.

Apr 05, 2021
An inside look at chimney inspections (with Steve Trumble)
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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 knowledge about this topic, answers the following questions:

  • How can there be such discrepancies in most chimney inspections? Is there some type of standard that just makes it black and white?
  • What are the three most often things you see when you're looking at the chimney?
  • What percentage of chimneys would you say are built improperly from the get-go?
  • What are some of the most common repairs that you make on chimneys?
  • How do you get up in chimneys and do the work with the damper in place?
  • How much do liners and smoke chamber repairs cost?
  • What type of license do you need to work on a chimney? Is there any special training?
  • What are these metal caps that your company, Sota Metal Fabrication, is making? What is it going to protect?
  • What do you think is the average cost to replace a traditional concrete form?
Mar 28, 2021
Mandated Energy Audit (with George Ury)
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Today’s episode features George Ury, a licensed Truth in Sale of Housing evaluator and one of the finest home inspectors at Structure Tech. Today’s focus is on Minneapolis Truth-in-Housing Evaluations, and the whole new energy component that was added last year. George discusses how the new TISH evaluations are going and shares some of the inspections he has participated in. He also shares how this is related to the company’s new service, the walk-through consultations.

Reuben then shares the feedback he is getting from the Walk-through Consultations. He shares how thrilled clients are with this new service and mentions some of the questions asked.

Related topic:

https://www.structuretech.com/podcast-structure-talk/podcast-minneapolis-energy-disclosure

Mar 21, 2021
The Future of Energy Efficiency (with Peter Troast)
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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 about in terms of their homes and the actual health of the indoor air they're breathing in on a day-to-day basis. He  then answers the following questions:

  • What’s the rank order of remodeling priorities in homes?
  • What is your definition of a High-Performance House?
  • Why would you want an all-electric home?
  • From a retrofit perspective, are you always doing air-to-air exchanges in these retrofitted houses that are now becoming tighter, or is there some interim or band-aid to exchanging air that you can put in these older retrofit houses?
  • What can you say about eliminating exhaust systems in houses, getting rid of bath, kitchen, and hood fans, and switching from vented clothes dryers to the type that are condensing?
Mar 14, 2021
Spectora, Software, and Company Culture (with Kevin Wagstaff)
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Kevin Wagstaff, the co-CEO of Spectora, joins the show to talk about home inspection software, the home inspection industry, and company culture. The show starts off with Kevin introducing himself and how he decided to get into the home inspection industry from a technology perspective. He  then answers the following questions:

  • How much competition is there in the home inspection software field? When you're building this technology, how much did that affect the touch and the feel, and what your technology looked like once you delivered it to the home inspection industry?
  • When did you have your first customer?
  • How many customers do you have now?
  • When you were looking at February of 2021, how many people as clients did you set a goal at?
  • What's next? How much could you envision getting out of this market?

Reuben then brings up how intrigued he was with the tech support at Spectora. He shares how responsive, quick, motivated, and fantastic the entire team at Spectora is, and Kevin shares what has driven his company to deliver in this manner.

Mar 07, 2021
Buying homes without inspections (with Jim Starr)
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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, some overlapping showings they did, and how chaotic they were. Also, he shares an experience he had where the buyer didn’t do an inspection and ended up with some issues and concluded that having a home inspection is indeed important. He  then answers the following questions:

  • Do you recommend a home inspection to potential buyers?
  • Is there anything in the code of ethics for Realtors® to talk about home inspections? Can you recommend against them? What's the actual language when it comes to this thing?
  • Why do you think some people are afraid to forgo inspections?
  • Why do you think deals which are in a seller’s market still blow up? What are the steps to prevent it from happening?
  • If somebody gets a pre-listing inspection and something turns up, say there's an issue, but we're in this crazy market, what does the seller do at that point?
  • Should sellers disclose issues that turn up during a pre-listing inspection?
  • If there is a material defect found with the property, should the owner of that property have to fix it?
  • How much will it cost if the buyer will forgo or fly-buy an inspection?

Reuben then brings up the new service that the company is rolling out which is called a Walk-Through Consultation. He shares how the company came up with the idea, how it works, and how they are trying to open up schedules as much as possible to help people in these situations.

Feb 28, 2021
Sewer Inspection Horrors (with Joseph Whitters)
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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 pipe or some other issues. Thus, it is indeed important to make sure that there are no potential issues present in the sewer system.

The show starts off with Joe introducing himself and his company. He shares that his company specializes in drain cleaning and inspection services. He also shares that they don’t just inspect, but also educate clients about their pipe, what material it is made of, what the current condition is, when and how to maintain it, and tips and tricks to get people to move forward with a reliable sewer system. He also shares how long he and his company have been working side by side with Structure Tech.

Joe then begins to share some of the crazy sewer inspections he’s had and answers the following questions:

  • What percentage of drain lines out of houses in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, that you personally encountered, are in good shape?
  • What is the estimated cost for sewer lines that need repair?
  • What are some of the things you've found in newer homes, like less than 10 years old? What tends to go wrong?
  • After laying the pipe in the ground on properties that have heavy soil (like the subdivisions), is there shifting and moving around, or does it tend to be pretty stable?
  • What is a sand rock sewer system?
  • What's your take on “flushable” wipes?
  • Which pipes are best according to the materials they are made from?
Feb 21, 2021
Frozen Faucets
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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” when the water flow is shut off so that homeowners won’t end up with a problem later.

The show starts off with Reuben defining an outside faucet. He mentions several terms such as an outside hose bib, a spigot, a hose valve, and a sillcock (used in the Minnesota State Plumbing Code). He makes a point that faucet maintenance is one of the most important things to do in the fall winterization checklist. He also gives a piece of advice to home inspectors: “do not miss testing every single faucet without fail, regardless of whether it’s summer or winter.”

Bill shares how he once forgot to winterize his outside faucet. He forgot to disconnect the hose on his frost-free faucet which caused it to back up and break the pipe between the actual shut-off and the hose connection. He also shares how much it cost him to replace it, not to mention the plumber he hired since he is not a handyman sort.

Tessa relives her story; a mistake she made when she was taking out screws from a bathtub access panel to check the overflow for leaks. She shares how water started spraying out right after putting the screw back in the exact same hole through the sheetrock. She also shares the difference between having insulation at the rim joist and not.

Lastly, the gang finishes by sharing some of the home inspections from the past and answering the following questions:

  • Is it allowed to run plumbing pipes in an exterior wall even if the pipe is right next to the drywall?
  • How should the outside valve be drained?
  • What to do in case you forget to winterize an outside faucet?
  • What will happen if there is no insulation at the rim joist?

Related link: https://www.structuretech.com/blog/how-to-replace-a-shutoff-valve-the-easy-way-use-a-sharkbite

Feb 14, 2021
Beam Fill and Rotted Rim Joists
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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 structure problems that tend to come up in old houses. The gang answers the questions “why it happens,” “when it happens,” “what are the signs that one should look for," and “ when does it need further evaluation.”

The show starts off with Reuben sharing what prompted him to write this post. He shares an inspection he participated in with Duane Erickson, now a retired home inspector, from whom he got the term “beam fill.” He also shares an inspection from the past in a house that had rotted rim  joists behind beam fill, and how much it cost to be fixed.

Then, Tessa explains how fiberglass insulation at a rim joist adds only a little bit of an R-value and how it is actually a bad thing when it comes to building science regarding heat, airflow, and moisture movement. She shares how a homeowner can still have airflow getting through the insulation when fiberglass is used at a rim joist and how it isolates it from the heat and the airflow in the basement.

Bill then asks the following questions:

  • How much money does it actually save me in the long run in terms of heating cost or cooling cost to spray a rim joist?
  • What are the risks of creating some sort of rot or mold?
  • How often do you think this is a concern in older houses?
  • In making some improvements to one’s house, can durability and comfort be achieved, or is it a sliding scale, where you give up one to accomplish the other?
  • Do stucco houses have this problem more frequently than wood-sided houses?
  • Will water vapor cause rot?

Related link: https://www.structuretech.com/blog/beam-fill

Feb 08, 2021
Things Home Inspectors Should Never Say
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For today’s episode, the gang talks from their own experiences about the things a professional home inspector should and shouldn’t say when dealing with clients. They discuss some of the language that should be avoided along with legal details and technicalities. Choosing an experienced home inspector can help guarantee not just their qualifications, but their experiential knowledge and expertise as well.

The show starts off with Reuben sharing the most cringe-worthy comment he heard while conducting a home inspection and his own biggest faux pas that he said during his home inspection training. He also mentions not to get involved in negotiations and that home inspectors shouldn’t be the ones to say who should do what. “As a home inspector, it is none of our business, and we should stay in our lane.” Home inspectors should only talk about the house they are inspecting.

Tessa explains why it is helpful not to be involved in negotiations and that you should always be cautious about what you say. She says that it is very important to not divulge unnecessary information during conversations, to not have phone calls with listing agents, and to always stay professional. She emphasizes that when a home inspector does an inspection, he should just report on the condition, defects, safety upgrades, and maintenance items. And just as Reuben said earlier, saying “who should do what”, “when it should be done,” “they should have been doing this,” or “they haven’t been doing this,” are opinion areas that inspectors should stay from.

Bill then asks the following issues:

  • What happens when there's something just off the property that is glaringly obvious? Should an inspector comment on it in terms of things that aren't actually part of this property but anybody with eyes can see? Should the inspector bring this up in conversation, either in the report or just verbally with the client?
  • Should an inspector comment about the personal possessions or the cosmetic things in the house being inspected?
  • Is it true that we shouldn’t say whether or not a house is family-friendly?
Feb 01, 2021
Building Science Fight Club (Christine Williamson)
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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 problems and what those problems are.

The show starts off with Christine explaining what Building Science is and how it is a little bit more complicated than other sciences. She explains how it specializes in the layers that separate the inside from the outside, and how those layers ought to be arranged to get the best out of any buildings built. She also shares how she got into this and how her father, Joseph Lstiburek, taught and mentored her throughout her career.

Tessa shares how her interest in houses led her into building science as well. She explains how her thought of becoming an architect accidentally fell into becoming a building scientist. She shares how she re-evaluated her decision and how her mind was opened into the fascinating world of science that looks at the systems of buildings and designs so that there will be no failures, to have more energy efficiency, durability, and occupant’s health, safety, and comfort.

Reuben asks Christine about the name “ Building Science Fight Club.” He also introduces Christine as a member and former chair of the ASHRAE Technical Committee on Moisture Management in Buildings, and asks the following questions:

  • What types of houses would you never buy?
  • Why would you prefer buying an old house?
  • Why do we build some of the buildings the way that we do?
  • Why design a roof that funnels water to the front door? Or up against a wall or a window?
  • What percentage of houses are actually designed by an architect?

Lastly, Bill explains the role of home inspectors. He says that they are to give the buyers the tools that they need to make an intelligent decision and not to tell them to buy it, He says that these tools will make them decide what’s good for them just like a framework to think through.

Jan 25, 2021
Solar Tubes: Good or Evil?
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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 his own in the past and how he shifted from fixing it by himself to letting the experts do it. Tessa then talks about how important it is to do things right so that you don’t make your house worse.

Then, Reuben describes what a solar tube is and how he installed it in one of the darkest rooms in his house. Tessa then states the PROs of having solar tubes in one’s house and the CONs or potential problems if it is not installed properly. Reuben also shares his experience in replacing his old water heater with a power vent water heater.

Tessa then shares different air sealing options for attic trusses and how to properly control the air layers and prevent leakage. Also, she shares her knowledge on how to prevent thermal bridging by putting a little sleeper in-between the foam layer and the roof deck. She mentions Pat Huelman’s research entitled “Project Overcoat: An Exploration of Exterior Insulation Strategies For One-and-a-half Story Roof Applications in Cold Climates” which she considers as a robust system. She discusses a little bit about this program which is called “Building America” which is funded by the US Department of Energy, researchers working towards improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock.

Jan 18, 2021
The Future Of Home Inspections (Michael Conrad II)
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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, energy auditing, and environmental testing. He shares about leadership development, the common care for employees, creating stability, and giving people the life that they want. He talks about his purpose which is to educate and help as many people that touch his sphere. He loves learning and helping people learn about how the business works. He also shares how the business is doing, especially during the pandemic, and digs into things he is working on for 2021.

Tessa shares a tool called the ACUMAX, by BERGflow, which offers some great training on how to build a business, hire, and how to onboard. She also discusses how ACUMAX is helping Structure Tech.

Reuben discusses hiring the right person, and how this is such a huge thing for the growth of a company. He also shares how he wanted to gush with everyone and tell them about the training he and Tessa went through this year with Pivot-Ready Teams.

Jan 11, 2021
Buying a house that's covered with snow (with Michael Bartus)
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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, because of course, it can’t be inspected. The weather warmed up before we had a chance to post this podcast, so we’ve kept it on ice until now.

Now that the Minnesota winter snow is likely here to stay for a few months, it’s a good time to tackle this topic. The show starts off with Michael sharing a little bit about himself, and Michael shares all of his industry tips and tricks for negotiating a purchase of a home when the roof can’t be inspected.

Michael digs into the seller’s disclosure, inspection permits, and receipts from contractors. Michael also digs into some other tips and tricks that he uses to help his clients get exactly what they’re looking for when they’re buying a home during the winter. Michael explains how he has learned a lot over the years from his mistakes, and the rest of the gang relates.

Reuben also discusses what steps home inspectors can take, even when a roof is completely snow-covered, to help try to sniff out potential problems.

Jan 04, 2021
2020 In Review
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Since we are nearing the end of the year, today’s episode is a little bit of a recap about what the year was like here at Structure Tech.

The show starts off with the gang expressing their appreciation and gratefulness that in spite of how challenging the year was, the business is still running and everyone is busy. Then, they bring up all the changes that took place in the company.

Dec 28, 2020
There's no such thing as a settlement crack (with Rob Vassallo)
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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 questions:

  • What’s the most common problem in attics that leads to ice dams?
  • How was sealing an attic bypass required?
  • What do you do for ventilation in the attic?
  • What’s a dead vent?
  • When would you recommend turbine vents?
  • What kind of expense are you adding to the job cost when you design a project through your engineering company and pass it through the contractors? How about doing the engineering and setting it up so the contractors know the scope of work?
  • Why does it take nine months to build a normal home?
  • Why is taking the moisture out of the lumber inside a newly built home before it’s closed up so important?
  • How would you describe settlement cracks?
  • Would you recommend a vapor barrier paint in a humid climate?
  • What’s the average cost when you’re going out to a house to check out a problem for a homeowner?
Dec 20, 2020
Electrical Updates for 2020 with John Williamson, Part 2
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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, among other things:

  • How NFPA matters to the NEC?
  • Why does the code about GFCI protection not include outdoor lights?
  • Who are these people submitting proposals or public inputs to have the code changed?
  • Are we making things safer or more dangerous with these code updates?
  • How big of a deal is it buying a house that has a live knob-and-tube wiring in it?
Dec 06, 2020
Pay to Play
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In this episode, the team talks about home inspection ethics. This was brought up because Bill got a call from somebody in the company who had a question about doing business with a real estate agent who was hoping that we would support their business with monthly financial contributions. And that raised the question, “Is that ethical?”

The show starts with Reuben saying that inspectors should avoid conflicts of interests or activities that compromise or appear to compromise professional independence, objectivity, or inspection integrity. He also shared his thoughts when somebody says, “we’d like to pay to play.” Then the team talks about the codes of ethics as an ASHI member and answers some questions:

Does getting referrals from an office or a real estate agent because of supporting them on a monthly basis compromise professional independence?

What can you say about inspectors building relationships with real estate agents by bringing some food, doughnuts, or providing lunch for them?

Is there an ethical question when we recommend to a client to do another test or service that also benefits our business, and we’re referring them to use us?

Is it ethical to self-refer your company’s services?

Who looks out for the customer when they’re unknowledgeable to the inner workings of a service that they are purchasing?

Nov 29, 2020
VOCs and EMFs (with Shaylee Oleson)
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The owner of Eco Shaylee, Shaylee Oleson, joins the show to talk about how important environmental testing is. She talks about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs), and anything that would make a person sick in their homes, workplace, and even in commercial buildings.

The show starts off with Shaylee explaining about her company and its background. She then answers some specific questions:

          What is Building Biology?

          Where do we get Certification Courses for Building Biology in the US? Who does the certification?

          What is VOC? What is EMF? How do these affect us?

          What is low VOC insulation?

          How do you feel about electric blankets and grounded sheets?

          How often do you do EMF testing?

          Should we be concerned about overhead power lines, too?

          What is the Blue smoke theory?

Nov 22, 2020
Chimney and Fireplace Safety
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In this episode, the team talks about how important it is to maintain a wood-burning fireplace. This topic was brought up because Bill’s neighbor is dealing with a $20k chimney rebuild.

The show starts with Reuben explaining the structure of chimneys. He then answers some questions:

                    What involves a fireplace from the place you put the logs all the way up to where the smoke leaves the top of the chimney? 

                    What are the pieces that make it all up? Where would you often find the biggest problems with this whole system?

                    What’s the lifespan of a concrete cap?

                    How to know whether you have a mortar cap or a concrete cap?

                    Which of these masonry chimneys have the most problems?

                    What is NFPA 211 and why do we use their guidelines?

                    How much can someone expect to spend on Level 2 chimney inspection?

                    What is the level of safety we need in chimney inspections?

                    What is the challenge with the stainless steel liner that allows us to burn woods?

                    How often should you get a flue cleaned?

                    Which wood to burn inside a fireplace?

Nov 15, 2020
Improper Stone Installation
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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 there was a problem in their townhome. A problem that started from one of the units’ conditions that might be replicated across other units. She then found out the improperly installed masonry stone veneer in their unit has been a problematic material all over the country, and most people aren’t aware of this.

She then concludes with how important it is to consider having moisture intrusion testing on products like stone veneers done by an experienced home inspector.

Reuben then talks about the industry-standard all across the country on how to do testing on walls, how water-resistant barriers work, and its proper installation.

Nov 08, 2020
Real Estate Negotiations (with Michael Bartus)
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A residential Realtor® at Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, Michael Bartus joins the show to talk about negotiations after the inspection and how to negotiate other real estate transactions. The focus of this show was to pick up on where last week’s show left off, talking about a document that Reuben put together titled Negotiations After The Inspection.

The show starts with Michael sharing his negotiating experiences and answers some questions:

What should a home inspector say to a client, when they look at them and ask, “Is that something we should negotiate?”

How recently have you heard of schools telling Realtors® they are not to attend the inspection?

Does the industry do good in teaching agents the skills to negotiate?

Pros and cons with home warranties, as well as

What triggers an agent to ask a seller to kick in a warranty? Are warranties any good? Who orders them? What do they cost?

What’s your process for having the furnace and the cooling system inspected by a specialist at the same time as the inspection?

What do you have to say about those known conditions, like peeling paint, holes in walls, etc., which shouldn’t be negotiated as a home inspection thing but should be something that is to be addressed ahead of time?

Reuben also tells the story of a not-too-old water heater with a draining schedule affixed to it, which was ready for replacement.

Nov 01, 2020
The C-Word
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Structure Talk talks about the dreaded C-Word, Code. Should home inspectors even mention code? The gang also discusses some specific questions:

          How do you feel about code as it relates to buying a house?

          Why should home inspectors be very familiar with building codes?

          ASHI says that home inspectors should report on significantly deficient stuff, how would you define that?

          Are there any negotiations made after an inspection?

          Does the inspector inspect the garage when the garage doesn’t open?

          Could that 90s’ lap siding be a negotiable item?

          What does GFCI stand for? What are its innards? Why does it work?

          How do arc-fault devices and AFCI work? Are these devices needed to meet “code”?

Oct 25, 2020
New home inspection software and new attendance policies (with Eric Houseman)
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One of Structure Tech’s very own inspectors, Eric Houseman, joins the show to talk about the major changes the company has made since Covid-19 took effect back in March.

The show starts off doing a deep dive into where the company came from, then covers the following topics:

Process:

  • Why Structure Tech started out as a be-with-us-every-minute-of-the-way inspection company.
  • What happened in March of 2020.
  • What changes have occurred with inspections this year.
  • What was done to keep the inspectors, agents, and clients safe during the inspections.
  • How the new implementation has been going.

Software:

  • Why did Structure Tech abandon the existing home inspection report-writing software in favor of a new one?
  • How did the new software help the company grow and become more scalable and efficient?
  • How does everybody feel about where we're at right now?
  • How did the software change happen?

To see a home inspection report written with Structure Tech’s new software, please see our sample home inspection report.

Oct 19, 2020
Minneapolis vs Saint Paul water (with Brady Androff)
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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 salt and other things to treat water? What does a water softener do?
  • A water softener removes minerals present in the water, but why do you want to take those out when our body needs them to function?
  • Why does every house built with a water softener have another unsoftened line? When you drink softened water, do you end up with a lot of sodium intake?
  • Why does the water feel slimy when it’s really soft?
  • What's better, pellets or crystals?
  • Which system is better, the two-tank type, or the self-contained unit?
  • How much can someone expect to spend on these systems? What about the labor,
  • what does that take for labor? Do you need permits to put these systems in?
  • Why do you need this electrical wire connecting the copper water lines going into and
  • out of a water softener?
  • Why is there a funky smell to shallow wells?
  • What can you do about stinky water?
Oct 12, 2020
Electrical Updates for 2020 (with John Williamson)
2805

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 if I opened a Federal Pacific electric panel and then I got a handful of circuit breakers fallout from the panel?
  • Is it a bad idea for refrigerators to be plugged into GFCI-protected receptacles?
  • What are some changes in the 2020 code?
  • Bumped up GFCI protection up to 250volts which means electric dryers and ranges and all finished or unfinished basements are required GFCI protection
  • Receptacle outlets for islands and peninsula countertops have gone now to square footage calculation basis
  • Extend a neutral conductor to every switch box where there is an overhead box. The code wants a ceiling fan rated box at every location where a fan could be installed.
  • Surge protective devices required for dwelling units with one, two, or even multi-family.
  • Emergency Disconnects
  • Why do we still have problems with unwanted tripping at AFCI devices and what will it take to fix it?
Oct 05, 2020
Building Science 101
1306

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 different trades communicating with each other
  • Water management
  • The myth that it's possible to build houses too tight
Sep 28, 2020
Live Building Code Q&A (with Andy Schreder)
2091

Building official Andy Schreder with Rum River Construction Consultants joins the show for a live Q&A session via Facebook Live. There's some great discussion of commonly asked questions, along with some very interesting insight from Andy about why building officials don't always enforce code requirements. The topics include:

  • Permits required for kitchen remodels. Electrical? Plumbing?
  • Dishwasher air gaps, and how they're going away (YAY!)
  • Reuben's soap dispenser hack
  • Fire separation between garages, and a distinction between building code setbacks and zoning setbacks
  • AFCI and GFCI requirements
  • The myth that bedrooms need closets and where it came from
  • Why building officials don't enforce the requirement for attics to be accessible
Sep 21, 2020
"Your insurance company isn't dumb" (with Steve Kuhl)
2446

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, and it's a treat to listen to all of his insider information. We've been attending classes, conferences, schools, and all of that other fun stuff for a long time, but we never get to hear stuff presented quite the way Steve presents it. 

Special note for this episode: the views and opinions expressed by Steve (and he has a lot) do not necessarily reflect those of Bill, Tessa, Reuben, or Structure Tech.  

Sep 07, 2020
Is your roof over 15 years old? Here's why you should care.
1339

Special guest Tim Molgren with The Woodlands Financial Group joins the show to share some fresh insights into the world of homeowners insurance, hail damage, and insurance claims.

Homeowners insurance costs have risen at an unprecendented rate here in the Midwest, and garbage hail-damage claims are at the root of this problem. Insurance companies are beginning to fight back against this, and they’ve drawn a line in the sand at the 15-year mark for the age of roof coverings. Not only does this affect existing homeowners, but it makes it much more difficult to purchase a home with a roof that’s more than 15 years old.

We’ll definitely have Tim join the show again, as he shared some fascinating information.

Aug 31, 2020
The evolution of home inspection scheduling with Lisa Ferrario
1282

Our very own Lisa Ferrario joins the show to discuss the evolution of home inspections, scheduling, and all things related.

Aug 24, 2020
A case for private city inspections with Andy Schreder
1898

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 nice because we didn’t discuss much from the previous episode.

Andy did offer some very interesting insight into the whole building inspections program, however, and even made a good case for cities to use private building officials, rather than running their own programs in-house.

Andy also discusses some of the most common items that building officials require, but have no legal right to require. What a treat it was to have Andy on the show. He’ll surely become a regular guest.

Aug 17, 2020
How to sell your home with fewer problems
1476

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 agents are accustomed to.

She explains how frustrating it is to have a home get put into “pending” status, wait to get the home inspection, have a bunch of surprises come up, and then potentially have the home go back onto the market because of a bunch of unknown issues.

Rhonda addresses all of the arguments that people make against pre-listing inspections, and the gang leaves the show convinced that they should all have pre-listing inspections on their own houses, even though they’re not listing ;-).

The show closes with Rhonda sharing a success story where a pre-inspection and listing photos were used to help her buyers buy a home contingent upon the sale of their home, despite the strong seller’s market that we’re experiencing right now.

Aug 10, 2020
Goodbye master bedroom, hello primary bedroom
1473

Experienced real estate agent Rhona Wilson joins the show to help the gang have a good conversation about allowable real estate terms. The idea for the show came up while having an internal company conversation about the term “master bedroom”, and whether or not that term should be abandoned in favor of a more PC term.

Rhonda talks about fair housing law, explaining a lot of terms and photos that cannot be used in real estate listings. The gang also talks about the importance of maintaining complete professionalism with all language at all times, and how this can come back to bite you if you don’t.

Reuben also explains why at Structure Tech, we never, ever, ever say that a roof is “shot” anymore.

Aug 03, 2020
Building Permits: value add or necessary evil?
1415

Reuben begins the show talking about how Structure Tech has started a TikTok account, and nearly puts Bill to sleep. At the time, we hadn’t yet made a TikTok, but we’ve made one since. 

The conversation quickly turns to the main topic of the show, and the gang spends the rest of the show discussing all things related to building permits. Are they worth it? Do we all pull permits at our own houses? Does pulling permits add to the value of a home? What about work that hasn’t been permitted: do home inspectors freak out about that stuff? Should they freak out about that stuff? Can the city shut you down for having unpermitted work at your own home?

It’s a good discussion, but there will definitely be a follow-up podcast that will involve a building official who will surely set the record straight for us. Enjoy!

Jul 27, 2020
Running your home like a business
1554

Bill, Tessa, and a Reuben are back together in the studio to discuss what successful homeowner looks like. It’s all about running your household like a business. Everything shares how they budget for major items in their home, and what types of items should be budgeted for on a regular basis.

Reuben waxes on the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and explains how he and his wife have furthered that method by setting up several personal bank account that are dedicated to saving for specific things. Reuben also goes on a small tangent about guards vs guardrails, mostly because his deck guard is about to collapse.

Reuben discusses the term “winning a new roof” because of hail damage, and gets whipped up about how everyone replaces their roofs because of hail, only because this is what insurance companies are willing to pay for.

The gang also discusses the value in HomeBinder, a digital home management app and website that the folks at Structure Tech are so in love with that they’ve started including free to all of their clients with every home inspection. Reuben also shares his personal experience in selling a home with a HomeBinder that was completed and ready to go for the next homeowners.

Jul 20, 2020
PODCAST: James Thomas, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors
2296

James Thomas joins the show to talk about all things related to home inspections. The show starts off with James touching on the origins of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and how he ended up in his current position. The conversation shifts to education and training for home inspectors, and James talks about some recent changes to The ASHI School.

James also talks about increasing diversity amongst home inspectors, as well as the future of home inspections in the next 5-7 years.

Jul 13, 2020
PODCAST: Nasty Issues In Houses
1420

For this episode, the gang gets down and dirty discussing disgusting doozies discovered during home inspections. Most of the grossest stuff is related to people and animals, but that's not all. Don't listen to this episode while eating.

Jul 06, 2020
Easter Eggs, Part II
1685

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 here.

Reuben also discusses finding a hot dimmer switch that controlled a 900-watt chandelier. The conversation turns to furnace fan settings for summertime conditions, and then the gang has a good discussion about exactly how much water damage should be disclosed by a seller.

Jun 29, 2020
House Timeline For Issues
1643

The gang discusses a timeline of home inspection defects or issues that might come up, based on when the home was built. Reuben shared this timeline on the Structure Tech blog and on the Structure Tech YouTube channel, but we thought it would be fun to discuss these issues during a podcast to help explain some of them a little bit more in-depth.

Jun 22, 2020
Fires, home inspections, and insurance
1366

Bill opens the podcast talking about a terrifying fire that happened across the hallway in his mother-in-law's condo high-rise building, and about the damage caused by smoke and water.

The gang discusses the possibility of an FPE Stab-Lok panel causing the fire, and Reuben goes on to discuss the disproportionate number of condo buildings with FPE panels when compared to single-family homes.

The conversation then turns to a 3-alarm house fire that happened during a Structure Tech home inspection back in 2019, where things turned very serious very quickly. Because of legal and insurance concerns, this is the first time the gang has mentioned this fire, but it's quite a story to share.

Jun 15, 2020
Air conditioning follow-up, COVID-19 protocols for home inspectors
1249

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben start the show discussing a few minor corrections to the podcast from two weeks ago on air conditioners. Next, they discuss the new standards for home inspection attendance and safety for home inspections. Reuben also mentions a facemask that most Structure Tech home inspectors are wearing, which can currently be found here.

Jun 08, 2020
George Floyd, commentary from Dr. Stephen Crawford
955

For this podcast episode, Reuben does a one-on-one interview with Structure Tech's business coach, Dr. Stephen Crawford. Dr. Crawford has been conducting weekly team huddles for his coaching clients every Friday morning, and he conducted a special meeting on May 29th to focus on George Floyd, protests, riots, racism, and advice to business owners.

Dr. Crawford shares his insight for this podcast episode. We'll return to our regular home inspection topics next week.

About:

Dr. Stephen Crawford with Experience Leadership is a founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. For the last fifteen years, he has been developing and training thousands of leaders seeking to improve their leadership skills and increase their impact on the world.

May 29, 2020
Air conditioners and the end of R-22 refrigerant
1649

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 a video compilation we assembled showing 60 home inspection defects in 3 minutes. One of those was an iced-up evaporator coil melting all over the place while the furnace ran.

May 25, 2020
Patrick Huelman, Tessa's professor
2577

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 Associate Extension Professor with the University of Minnesota and works on several other projects as well.

The show starts out digging into Pat's background and then moves onto the importance of considering a house as a system. Pat talks about how air exchangers first began making their appearance in Minnesota in the early 90s, and Pat also talks about "The Cliff", the benefits of insulation at the exterior of homes, and perfect wall systems for homes.

The show ends with Tessa sneaking in a question about one-and-one-half-story homes.

May 18, 2020
PODCAST: Everyone loves Milind
2096

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.

May 11, 2020
Mean feedback, leaky hose spigots, and wet sub-slab ducts
1925

Bill starts off the conversation talking to Reuben and Tessa about life, spring maintenance, and business in general. Reuben and Tessa go on a tangent talking about mean feedback given during free continuing education classes, which leads to Tessa discussing her current project of creating a home inspector training curriculum.

Bill brings up leaking faucets, and that leads into leaking backflow preventers, how to remove them, and what happens when a hack tries to take them off with a pipe wrench. Next, the gang discusses sub-slab ductwork, commonly referred to as transite ductwork.

Related links:

May 04, 2020
Reuben's flooded house and other homeowner flubs
1744

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 the time that his entire 1.5-story home flooded because of a plumbing leak on the second floor. Tessa reminds us of the importance of knowing where the main water valve is. Tessa also talks about some flubs at her own home and shares the story of the first time she cut a hole in an exterior wall for a dryer duct.

Apr 27, 2020
PODCAST: Tessa and Reuben get serious about attic access panels
1593

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 home inspections at Structure Tech, and has the potential to change home inspections forever.

Tessa talks about all of the new continuing education classes that are being taught to real estate agents, and that segues into the topic of accessing "sealed" attics in new construction homes. That gets both Reuben and Tessa whipped up, and they go on a 20-minute jag about attics, attic access panels, building code changes, and refusal to change.

Related Links:

Apr 20, 2020
COVID-19 and Home Inspections discussion
1215

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 mask during the inspection. They also discuss the importance of having a support network to get industry news during this time, and what the team at Structure Tech is doing to help the real estate community during this time.

Note: the mask featured  on the cover for this podcast can be found here: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTTK4BA/ . We think it's much more official-looking than the handmade cloth masks that everyone is wearing.

This podcast was recorded on Friday, 4/10/20. For the next remote podcast, Reuben will get himself a new microphone.

Apr 13, 2020
Ceiling fans don't cool rooms
1431

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

The gang also discusses the misconceptions that more insulation is always better, high-efficiency furnaces are always better, and new windows are a smart investment.

Apr 06, 2020
Real estate talk with Dan Sibinski, part 2
1576

We have Dan on for a second podcast because there was just too much content to cover in one episode. We continue on with the discussion of pocket listings, and Dan discusses the pulse of real estate in the Twin Cities market. This episode was recorded earlier in March before our entire world turned into the twilight zone, but there is still a lot of excellent information in this podcast about listing a home during the spring market in Minnesota. Bill also talks about the importance of home inspectors remaining unbiased and neutral with their findings, and Reuben discusses market penetration and tracking sales.

Mar 30, 2020
Pocket listings with Dan Sibinski
1518

For this episode, we sit down with Minnesota Realtor® Dan Sibinski to talk about the ins and outs of pocket listings. Tessa also shares a frustrating personal story related to pocket listings.

Mar 23, 2020
Best advice ever with Neil Saltzman
1493

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.

Mar 16, 2020
Interview with Minneapolis TISH program supervisor Breanna Patsch
1545

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 Home Inspector Exam seem like a cakewalk. We also discuss the purpose of the new Energy Disclosure requirements and talk about some specifics of that program.

At the end of the podcast, we discuss the most common repair items related to Minneapolis TISH evaluations, and Reuben mentions a one-page pdf that gets sent to all Structure Tech clients at the time they book a Minneapolis TISH evaluation. Here's that pdf: https://structuretech1.com/common-tish-repairs-minneapolis.pdf

Related links:

Mar 09, 2020
Facebook Live Q&A Session #2
1905

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 an infrared camera
  • Should people be allowed to do work without a license?
  • Sagging beam, repair desired; how big of a deal is this?

We also did a video recording for this episode, which can be found here: https://business.facebook.com/MinnesotaHomeInspections/videos/566990100563454/

Mar 02, 2020
Old houses vs new houses, Part 2
1509

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 discuss changing out the air in a home, and how older heating systems used to unintentionally change out the air, and what an 80% efficient furnace means, vs a 97% efficient furnace. That brings up the topic of combustion safety, combustion air, and makeup air. That discussion naturally transitions into combustion testing of gas appliances, as well as draft testing at natural-draft water heaters.

Feb 23, 2020
Old houses vs new houses, part 1
1453

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, different building materials, and different building methods. The gang also discusses moisture management, building science, and vapor drive. Tessa also discusses a new "perfect wall" system.

This excellent video on basement insulation methods is also mentioned in the podcast: https://youtu.be/kwn0Vjw_ji0

Here's some information on the Perfect Wall system that Tessa mentions:

Feb 17, 2020
Why some homes qualify for hail damage insurance restoration but others don't
1826

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 last person you'd want working on your home. He's in the relationship business, and he hires people to do the work on homes.

Charles also discusses the background of his weekly radio show, the All Around Home Improvement Hour. For the final segment of the show, Charles gets into the nitty-gritty details of storm chasing, insurance claims, and we end the show with Charles explaining why two different insurance adjusters might come up with completely different results when looking at the exact same roof that has potential hail damage.

To those in the insurance and storm damage restoration business, this might be old news, but to us home inspectors, we were quite surprised to hear how the process actually works. Charles shared some fantastic insight with us in this episode.

Feb 10, 2020
Don't call them smoke detectors!
1548

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 protect them in a fire. 

Related links:

Feb 03, 2020
Podcast: Roof Vents with Ross Anderson, Part 2
1477

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 also discusses turbine vents, turtle vents, and ridge vents.

The gang also works in a jab at Bill's beloved 1.5-story homes, and Ross explains what it takes to cure ice dams on those homes for good.

You can get in touch with Ross through his company website, The Energy Network Worldwide.

Related link: Roof Vents: Problems and Solutions

Jan 27, 2020
Air Quality with Ross Anderson, Part 1
1473

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 level for a home.

You can get in touch with Ross through his company website, The Energy Network Worldwide.

Jan 20, 2020
What should be negotiated after the home inspection?
1494

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss negotiations after the home inspection. Some home buyers turn to the home inspector for advice on how to negotiate with sellers after the home inspection, but this is something that we also lean on the real estate agent for. This is their realm.

Nevertheless, we at Structure Tech do have a list of things that make for reasonable and unreasonable negotiation requests, and the gang discusses those items in this podcast.

Also, here's a document we put together that summarizes all of this: Negotiations After the Inspection

Jan 13, 2020
Podcast: George's Pet Peeves
1688

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. And he has a lot of them.

We had some fun with this one, but we really went off the rails. We'll return to our regular podcast format next week.

Jan 06, 2020
The most common place to find mold in homes: mold talk with Vickie Swenson, Part II
1755

One podcast just wasn't enough. For part II, we open the show with Reuben discussing whether or not it's possible to identify mold in attics just by looking at it. We also discuss mold remediation strategies for attics. Tessa asks about the Top 5 places to find mold in homes, then we discuss mold testing procedures, along with conditions in a home that might prevent mold from being found even by someone like Vickie.

Dec 30, 2019
Mold talk with Vickie Swenson
1489

We sit down with Vickie Swenson of Minnesota Mold Inspection to discuss mold testing in Minnesota. We discuss Vickie's background, the lack of official standards for mold testing, the health effects of mold, contractors diagnosing mold types by sight, and the #1 location to find mold in Minnesota homes.

Dec 23, 2019
Our thoughts on the new Minneapolis Energy Disclosure program, taking effect 1/15/20
1430

It's official, Minneapolis is implementing a Time of Sale Energy Disclosure program, which takes effect on January 15, 2020. For today's episode, we invited Structure Tech home inspector and Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator George Ury onto the show to help discuss this new program. We explain why the program is happening, the nuances of the program, the stuff we don't yet know, and how this will affect people selling their homes in Minneapolis.

Dec 16, 2019
When the seller attends the home inspection
1484

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 the inspection and tried to get in the middle of the whole process.

Next, we talk about what can be done to help prevent these types of situations, giving advice to home sellers, buyers, and real estate agents. We also talk about different variables that will affect the length of the inspection, and ways for homebuyers to get the most out of their home inspection by showing up at the right time.

Reuben also tells a story about how he almost ran a dishwasher with the seller's laptops hidden inside of it, and they discuss whether or not real estate agents should attend the home inspection.

The podcast ends discussing Continuing Education classes offered by Structure Tech to real estate agents.

Dec 09, 2019
Smart Home Improvements
1350

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss several 'smart home' improvements they've either made or have considered making to their own houses.

Reuben also mentions how his Arlo camera caught some kids stealing his pumpkins and his kid's scooter from his front door: Thieves stealing pumpkins and scooter.

Dec 02, 2019
Facebook Live Q&A Session
2054

For this podcast episode, we did a live Q&A session through Facebook Live, while also recording the podcast. We covered a lot of listener questions and didn't have time to get through all of the questions that were asked. We'll do another one of these live episodes sometime soon.

For a video recording of this podcast, check out https://youtu.be/LmygdXyjffI.

Nov 25, 2019
Home Maintenance with Kura
1370

For this episode, we interview Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance.  We talk about some of the most important home maintenance things that are neglected by homeowners and talk about some of our least-favorite chores.

Nov 18, 2019
Projects we're working on
1392

Bill, Tessa, and Reuben discuss projects they're working on at their own houses.

Nov 11, 2019
Chimney and Fireplace Safety
1286

This episode is all about chimney inspections, chimney safety, and we discuss some of our craziest interactions with so-called chimney experts.

Nov 04, 2019
Roof de-icing cables with Steve Kuhl
1842

We have a special guest on this episode, Steve Kuhl. Steve owns a bunch of companies, but for this podcast, he's representing his heat tape company, Radiant Solutions Company.

What we didn't know about heat cables before talking with Steve could fill a warehouse. This man knows more about heat cables than anyone we've ever talked to. To top it all off, he's entertaining to listen to. We need to have Steve on as a guest more often. We talked about including some pictures of the different products after doing this podcast, but we're actually going to a lot more than that. This podcast episode will turn into a three-part guest blog series by Steve Kuhl. This podcast sets the stage for that.

Oct 28, 2019
All about Radon
1567

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:

Also, please enjoy these old photos from 1997, featuring Reuben and Rick wearing lab coats, testing for radon. Good. Times.

Oct 21, 2019
Fall maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners
1297

Reuben and Tessa talk about several of the required fall maintenance chores that Minnesota homeowners need to take care of. Bill laments about how difficult it is to be a homeowner, and how he'd rather be watching football ;-). 

Oct 14, 2019
Asbestos, Home Inspections, and Vermiculite
1442

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 will still point this stuff out if they believe that it presents a problem.  The most common locations for hazardous asbestos are discussed, along with what can be done when asbestos is found.

Related Links: 


Oct 07, 2019
Stucco Failures
1252
Sep 30, 2019
Home Inspection Mistakes
1349

Everyone makes mistakes. In this episode, we share some of our worst home inspection mistakes. We're also joined by Structure Tech home inspector Jim Tobias. Reuben has already blogged about several of these mistakes recently, which you can find here: 

Sep 23, 2019
Home inspector training
1060

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss home inspection schools, certifications, licensing, and training requirements, along with the training process at Structure Tech.

Sep 16, 2019
A home inspector's perfect house
1325

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss what would make for a perfect house. They talk about roof lines, water management, siding, basements, heating, and cooling systems. They also talk about an old blog post of Reuben's, titled Boilers vs. Furnaces.

Sep 09, 2019
Ice dams: how a professional fixes them the right way
1216

Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss repair methods for ice dams. Before starting with Structure Tech, Tessa used to spec out insulation and air sealing work for houses with ice dam issues. The team discusses the cause of ice dams, how to fix them the right way, and things to look for when hiring an insulation contractor.
Also mentioned in this episode is Project Overcoat, which Tessa was involved in.

Sep 02, 2019
Problems with Story-and-a-Half Houses
1259

Reuben and Tessa gang up on Bill, complaining about the shortcomings of story-and-a-half houses. The discussion is focused on insulation, ventilation, heating, cooling, and ice dams.

Reuben blogged about this topic back in 2011: My beef with 1.5-story houses

Aug 26, 2019
Sewers and floor drains
1014

 Sewers and floor drains: In Episode 3 of our podcast, Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss all things related to wastewater leaving houses. They 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. They also discuss the mystery of floor drains backing up, the importance of floor drain cleanout plugs plugs, and how floor drains work. 

Aug 19, 2019
Basement Water
1021

 In Episode 2 of our podcast, Reuben, Tessa, and Bill discuss ways of keeping water out of basements. It all starts with exterior water management; roof lines, gutters, downspouts, downspout extensions, and drainage and grading. When everything has been done at the outside of the home but there are still problems, drain tile and a sump system can be added. We discuss how these systems can work, and what typically goes wrong with them. We also discuss recommended backup options, which was blogged about here: Backup Sump Pumps.

Tessa also mentions one of the most disturbing things that she has found in a sump basket, which was a doll floating face-down, covered in bugs.

Aug 12, 2019
Pilot Episode: Home Inspection Easter Eggs
1343

This is our very first podcast episode, hosted by Reuben Saltzman, Tessa Murry, and Bill Oelrich. The focus of this podcast is crazy stuff that we've found inspecting, and finds that we're especially proud of.

Aug 02, 2019