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50 minutes | 5 days ago
Are we in a housing bullb? (with Dan Sibinski)
Dan Sibinski with Keller Williams Classic Realty joins the show to discuss whether or not we’re in a housing bubble. Dan discusses the housing market trends in Minnesota, with a deep-dive into inventory, interest rates, and how those affect the market. There are a lot of numbers and trends discussed 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/.
36 minutes | 12 days ago
Kura Home Maintenance (with Daniel Felt)
Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance, joins the show for the second time. He catches up with Bill, Tessa, and Reuben about the secrets to the thriving success of their business. He shares about providing the various needs of their clients as they are expanding in promising states nationwide. He also highlights the importance of having a customer-focused team and how this culture has helped them increase their clientele.
25 minutes | 19 days ago
The National Home Inspector Exam (with Brendan Ryan)
Brendan Ryan, the president of the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) joins the show to talk about the National Home Inspection Exam (NHIE). Brendan explains the complexity and importance of taking a psychometric exam for a home inspection license. Passing the high-stakes examination is an advantage in the 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.
30 minutes | a month ago
Why you shouldn't buy a house today (with Michael Bartus)
When we talk about real estate real agents, usually they would convince people to buy the property because of this and that. May it be in the seller’s market or buyer’s market, we never heard of them telling anyone anything other than “Why now is the good time to buy!” 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.
38 minutes | a month ago
How to be a good business competitor (with Dirk van Reenen)
34 minutes | a month ago
An inside look at chimney inspections (with Steve Trumble)
17 minutes | 2 months ago
Mandated Energy Audit (with George Ury)
38 minutes | 2 months ago
The Future of Energy Efficiency (with Peter Troast)
The show starts off with Peter Troast, the founder and CEO of Energy Circle, sharing a little bit about himself and his company. He joins the show to talk about the concept of healthy homes and indoor air quality and some of the changes that people are starting to think 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?
41 minutes | 2 months ago
Spectora, Software, and Company Culture (with Kevin Wagstaff)
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.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
Buying homes without inspections (with Jim Starr)
Today’s episode talks about the risks of not getting a home inspection when buying a house, whether it’s new or not. Buyers should always consider home inspection as a tool that might possibly uncover certain issues and eliminate complications or impairment. It is also advisable to have the property checked before occupying the house because there’s so much at stake. In addition, in terms of leverage as a buyer, the amount of power that the buyer holds in a negotiation is very limited and more information can increase that leverage. Hence, this will have a direct effect on the pricing and terms of a purchase contract. That is why here in Structure Tech, we are responding to that need by offering a new product which will be unveiled at the end of this podcast. The show starts off by digging into the local real estate market through 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’t 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 inspection? 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 like that, 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.
44 minutes | 3 months ago
Sewer Inspection Horrors (with Joseph Whitters)
Joseph Whitters, a second-generation sewer guy and the owner of Drain Busters joins the show to talk about the importance of maintaining sewer systems for homes. Sometimes, trouble with a sewer system can turn into a major problem that may show itself quickly and can be due to a damaged 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?
30 minutes | 3 months ago
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
32 minutes | 3 months ago
Beam Fill and Rotted Rim Joists
Reuben has been meaning to blog about the subject of this episode since 2014. He was finally able to create and post it when it was brought up by an internal team question. Today, the gang will be talking about the issues of rotted rim joists, beam fill, and floor 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
33 minutes | 3 months ago
Things Home Inspectors Should Never Say
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?
55 minutes | 3 months ago
Building Science Fight Club (Christine Williamson)
S2E26 Building Science Fight Club (Christine Williamson) Christine Williamson, building scientist and the person behind Building Science Fight Club, joins the show to talk about the different ways to integrate new knowledge into building durable and efficient structures and designs with the help of building science. She also discusses how this is a tool to solve specific 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.
43 minutes | 4 months ago
Home Improvement Projects
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.
45 minutes | 4 months ago
The Future Of Home Inspections (Michael Conrad)
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.
21 minutes | 4 months ago
Buying a house that's covered with snow (with Michael Bartus)
This podcast was recorded in the studio in mid-February of 2020, pre-covid. We brought on a special guest for this episode, residential Realtor® Michael Bartus of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty. The topic was buying a house in the winter, and how to deal with a roof that’s covered in snow, 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.
36 minutes | 4 months ago
2020 In Review
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 started 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. They also mentioned all the changes that took place in the company.
40 minutes | 5 months ago
There's no such thing as a settlement crack (with Rob Vassallo)
The owner and founder of Complete Building Solutions, Robert Vassallo, joins the show to talk about his expertise as a structural engineering consultant. The show starts off with Rob explaining about his company and what they do to find problems and how to solve them. He then answers some specific 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?
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