Tired of your asphalt buckling?


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Now that the snow and ice have melted off your driveway, you will probably be surprised by the damage that was not there last fall. If your driveway could talk, it would say that it needs some repairs as well as regular care and maintenance.

In these northern states, buckling can be caused by frost heave in the spring or even from driving very heavy vehicles or machinery on the driveway repeatedly. CBS visits many sites where the asphalt has buckled as much as eight inches between winter freeze and spring time.

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Many times upon excavation of the driveways, we find that not only is the soil comprised of organic clay, but many times, eluvial clay is also present. These two soils should always be removed prior to laying asphalt atop, as they will never dry out, and the freeze cycle will turn the wet clay into a larger ice cube.

The other issue that we find every day, is the installation of an insulation board under the soil, between the block foundation and the wet soils. This insulation board not only traps water at the block foundation, it also creates absolutely no thermal break, as many contractors believe it does.

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As you can see in the pics, the trapped water eats away at the block and helps the wet clay to retain more liquid, exacerbating the freeze/thaw cycle. When builders/developers put in driveways and sidewalks, there should always be a soil correction of poor soils, and the sub rate beneath the asphalt topping should be no less than “cobit” that will compact to a density of 95 percent to ensure the asphalt will retain its elevation.

If you see your concrete or asphalt toppings move at your home, winter to spring…call CBS for an evaluation!

Water in my Basement! What Should I Do?


water in basement

During the summer months, when heavy downpours from thunderstorms occur, you may experience water in your basement.  You ask yourself, “what can I do to prevent this from happening?”  The following are items you can review at your home to help determine the causes for this basement water.

  • Does the grade around your home’s foundation have a slope of 6 inches within the first ten feet of soil/landscape?
  • Do you have gutters on your house? Maybe you need gutters to collect the rain runoff from your roof?
  • If you have gutters are they:
    • Clean and not plugged? (They need to be checked several times during the year.)
    • Extensions on your downspouts of a minimum of five feet away from your foundation?
    • Gutters that are sized appropriately for the amount of water runoff created from the area of your roof?
    • Are there enough downspouts to empty the gutter fast enough?
  • Is the sump pump operational? Do you have a battery backup system if you lose power? Do you need a second pump in case of failure?
  • Do you have a wet basement often? You might need a collection system installed in the basement.

guttersmeasuring slope around foundation

These are some of the basic questions that may point you in the right direction when solving your wet basement problem. Feel free to email, comment, message, or call Complete Building Solutions with your questions. We offer moisture intrusion solutions and help prevent flooded basements throughout Minnesota.

(612) 868-2922

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To READ UP on WATER MANAGEMENT check out Complete Building Solution’s latest guest column with the Golden Valley Sunpost  HERE


Read the Fine Print


Many of the large insurance companies can make it very difficult for home and building owners to receive the maximum insurance funds in a catastrophe. Additionally, they will constantly move the goal post, re-writing their policy language. After you file a claim, insurance companies send out their inspection adjusters and you are notified of your final claim dollars. Often times building owners are in a situation where they need to negotiate with insurance companies and show evidence to get their full coverage on severely damaged exterior building products. I know this first hand.

Over the decades, after overseeing the completion of more than 50,000 roofs, I have seen insurance companies continually change claim coverage on crucial exterior building components. About 15 years ago my own home was hit by a horrific hail storm leaving nearly two inches of shingle granules in my gutters. Shingle granules are vital in preserving the lifetime of the roof by protecting the underlying asphalt from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This impact to my new 40 year shingles cut their life in half. I assumed my insurance company would cover such loss but they had discontinued granular loss coverage for some reason from hail damage. The news was quite a blow knowing that without granules the shingles will not last…period.

Through 40 years of field and personal experience dealing with hail and insurance companies, I have compiled a team to bridge the gap between building owners and the insurance companies. As a local engineering consulting firm it is our goal to help you in these situations and be your consumer advocate!

Storm damage is covered on your policy. It is my fear that all damaged pertinent materials should be replaced in order to protect your home long term and many times it’s not. Contact us, we want to make sure your home performs and is sheltered from the storm AND fine print.

Sheetrock Cracks from Water Invasion


With 2016 being one of the wettest years in Minnesota on record, you may be experiencing things in your home this winter you haven’t in past years. Heavy fall rains and the quick freeze may have negatively impacted your home. Water expands as it freezes, affecting building components such as shingles, siding, windows, doors, framing members, drywall, flatwork and foundation walls. Movement from frost expansion can cause degradation to building components and often, complete failure.

Water follows the path of least resistance so homeowners need to ensure they are not inviting water into their building envelope and particularly into the foundation. Poorly installed or under maintained components such as flashings, roofing, siding and exterior  grade will invite water into unwanted areas. Common identifiers are cracks in walls and ceilings and heaving of driveway aprons and sidewalks. Unusual sounds in your home during extreme cold may also be observed. Doors and windows may become difficult to operate. Gaps in wood trim may appear.

Another commonly overlooked area is your attic. Look in there on a cold day. If you see frost on the underside of the roof, you are experiencing heat loss and likely inadequate or faulty ventilation. The frost you see can lead to mildew and eventually, wood rot. Controlling the temperature of the attic is a key part of preventing water intrusion. Figure 1 below is a great depiction of how the combination of heat loss and cold weather can damage your home.











If you are experiening any of these issues this winter, you need to contact Complete Building Solutions. We can assess your home for possible problem areas and provide a corrective course of action. Don’t let Old Man Winter destroy your home!

Reserve Studies




Developments that have defined shared property/common areas and improvements have agreements including restrictions on the deed for the use of the property.  This includes its repair, maintenance and replacement of these common areas. The association is responsible for these decisions and for the funds required to accomplish those responsibilities.

A reserve study provides an estimate of the costs of repairing and replacing major common area components (roofs, asphalt, siding, concrete, decks, etc.) over the long term. Ideally, all major repair and replacement costs will be covered by funds identified by the association as reserves.  This then results in the funds being available when the replacement is necessary. A good reserve study examines the obligations of the association including the following items:

  1. Examination of the associations repair and replacement obligations;
  2. Determination of costs and the anticipated timing of replacement; and
  3. Determination of the necessary reserves (cash) for the related expense.

Usually the Association Board has a fiduciary responsibility to manage the funds and property. The reserve study is a vital management tool for the association as it balances and optimizes the long-term values and costs for the membership. Astute potential buyers will examine an association’s reserves and whether a reserve study has been performed. For association members, reserve planning assures property values by protecting against declining property values due to deferred maintenance and the lack of reserves to pay for the aging components.

Your association needs a reserve study and as a member of the association, you want the most value for your dollar to protect your asset.  Many associations think they can perform this task on their own but this puts the Board Members at an undue risk to make these decisions.  This is where Complete Building Solutions, LLC (“CBS”) can make a difference for your association.

CBS is an engineering and consulting firm located in the Twin Cities and has years of experience working with associations like yours. Our staff of experts includes experienced engineering, construction, financial and real estate experts to assist your association in closely examining the components listed above.   We have a proven track record including uncovering every detail of your specific associations components and their related life expectancy.  This determination can then be evaluated for expected replacement costs and necessary reserves needed.  We have performed considerable construction defect work, solutions and cost analysis which gives us a real understanding of the issues at hand.

If your association needs a thorough and in-depth reserve study, please give CBS an opportunity to work for you.  We recognize that your ownership within the association may be one of the largest assets you possess. Let CBS work with you to protect it.  You can feel assured that we understand the dynamics of cost effective measures to keep your association fees in line with your budget.

Has your Home Inspection Left you Requiring an Engineer?




Home sales today often require the issuance of a Home Inspection. A home inspector’s report may cite issues and problems within homes that sometimes need an engineer/consultant to review. These may include foundation issues such as cracks in basement walls, moisture intrusion, bowed walls, alterations to foundations, ice dams, etc. Sometimes they include structural questions regarding load bearing capacity, structural changes made to existing walls, trusses or other structural members. These questions and issues are included in the inspector’s report in order to determine that the home is safe,  structurally sound, and that any modifications have been made appropriately.

Complete Building Solutions has been called on to provide both Sellers and Buyers with solutions to these Home Inspection questions.  If you find yourself needing a resolution to an issue discovered during a Home Inspection, please call Complete Building Solutions, LLC.  We will promptly assist you in resolving your question.

(612) 868-2922



Looking to Avoid a Construction Defect Lawsuit?



Construction defect is any contractor’s worst nightmare. Often times, thousands of dollars will be spent on lawyer fees and repairs while company hours are spent working on the case instead of current projects & sales. It can also mean endless headaches, stress, and sometimes even bankruptcy. This is why Complete Building Solutions, LLC is here. We provide support to contactors through the highest form of project management available.

Our expertise lies in building performance. We know how to make buildings last and perform according to state and international codes. Because of this, we often pair up with contractors to act as their overseer to ensure projects are constructed correctly. This brings satisfaction to both the contractor and client. We are a smart investment that is beneficial to all parties involved. Contractors save money in the long run by avoiding a potential lawsuits and clients feel at peace knowing an experienced consultancy has been on site.

Garage Apron Failure


Garage Apron Failure

Most garages have a section of asphalt or concrete that extends 2-4 feet outside of your garage door. This is called a garage apron. It acts as a transition between your garage and your driveway and helps to direct water away from your home. This area is very susceptible to failing or damage if it has not been constructed correctly or does not seal properly between the transition of the apron to garage or apron to driveway. Have you noticed cracks, gaps, erosion, sink holes, or heaving around this area? If so, you may want to consider repair options before the issue progresses any further.

Why should I replace or repair?   

If moisture is getting under your garage apron, the integrity of your garage’s foundation is at risk. If water is not deterred from this area, the severity of the visible issues will progress. The issues you cannot see, such as degradation to your foundation, will also advance.
These common garage apron defects are typically due to settlement (ground movement). Settlement can occur for many reasons: inconsistent soil compaction, the wrong soil selection, tree root invasion, or water erosion. When you live in areas with drastic temperature changes, such as Minnesota, these problems become more prominent because of the frost heave cycle. If you are planning to sell your home and you have any of these conditions present, it is likely they will be addressed in an inspection report.
Failures in driveway and garage
The picture above depicts a transition between a garage floor and driveway that has failed. Water has been able to enter this transition and settlement has occurred causing a significant hole. This can lead to additional failures in the driveway and garage if this defect is not addressed.

What to do?
Depending upon the type of issue and progression, different solutions are available. It could be that the soil compaction was not consistent. In this case, the soil would need to be dug up and replaced. If sink holes are present, the entire apron may need to be removed, foundation filled, and base material raised. To determine the severity of your problem and a lasting and cost effective solution, call CBS today.

(612 ) 868-2922

Kickout Flashing…It’s Important!



Did you know that one small piece of metal could be the difference between a healthy home and a home with serious moisture intrusion problems?

This piece of metal is called KICKOUT FLASHING.


Kick out flashing can be found on roof to siding junctions where the wall extends out past the roof line. Rain is meant to run alongside of the wall and move into a gutter. However, it needs to be directed into a gutter by means of kickout flashing. Without this small detail, the water can migrate behind the siding and end up seeping into the wall. Remember, water seeks the path of least resistance. Leaks and serious damage occur this way.

Below is a picture of kick out flashing properly doing its job.

kick out Flashing

Photo credit: homearchitects.com


When kick out flashing is missing, moisture will indefinitely infiltrate the home. Often times damage is occurring without the homeowner realizing. Some side effects are mold, mildew, rot, and an overall breakdown of building materials.

Below is a photo depicting missing kickout flashing. Notice the water staining and mildew on the sheathing (due to lack of kickout combined with improperly installed WRB).

Missing kick out flashing

Call Today to have your roof inspected.

(612) 868-2922

Architects and Engineers Working Together


Architects and Engineers Working Together

“Architects put the dream on paper, but it is the engineers who help make that dream a physical performing reality.”

Architect. The artist, the creator, the theoretical thinker. The contributions these individuals make to building form, space, & aesthetics is paramount. They are trained to be adaptive which enables them to develop original solutions to intricate design problems within homes.

Engineer. The mathematician, the implementer, the system builder. Left brained engineers assure building performance through their structural and code knowledge. Safety and functionality of the building design is their main priority.

The mindset from which engineers and architects approach projects is very different. Because of this, collaboration between the two can make for an outstanding final project.

Our engineering firm, Complete Building Solutions, has hired architectural firms to help implement new designs within condo/townhome complexes throughout the Twin Cities. One project we collaborated on required us to convert an attic with a sprinkler system into an attic with draft stops. This sort of project is very intricate, and the input from our architect was very beneficial.

Architects hire Complete Building Solutions regularly to ensure that their plans are structurally sound. I had the opportunity to interview a phenomenal architect in the twin cities, Rick Storlien, to ask him what he most regularly hires engineering firms for. Rick’s firm, RDS Architects, deals with anything from room remodels to luxury home design.  He explained that in the past he rarely required engineering services because certain codes were not enforced. However, this past year has marked changed times and he now hires engineering firms on almost 50% of his projects to satisfy specific code requirements.  Typically, these projects consist of load bearing structures like beams, headers, & lateral bracing. It is the engineer’s duty to verify that these structures are safe & compliant with code through calculations and other measures. Complete Building Solutions does this sort of work all the time.

If you are an architect looking for engineering assistance, do not hesitate to call Complete Building Solutions today. We love collaborating to ensure that homeowners are delivered the highest caliber projects on the market. (612) 868-2922

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