Architects and Engineers Working Together

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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

6 Signs of an Unsafe Deck

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Unsafe Deck

1) Motion

loose

This is an obvious sign that your deck may need some attention. If you are under capacity, there should be NO movement when you are using your deck. Be sure to know what the maximum deck load is. Decks Go has a great tool for helping to determine this. http://build.decksgo.com/calculators/deck-load-calculator.php

2) Ledger Board

The correctness of the ledger board is very important. Not only is it weight-bearing, but it actually connects your deck and home together. Be sure that it is fastened with ½” galvanized lag bolts, instead of nails. Many times, the ledger boards on older decks used nails. This is dangerous because nails have a tendency to pop out of place. The ledger board should sit up against the home. A gap between your home and ledger is unsafe. The bolts may need tightening or attention in some other form.

3) Loose or corroded Fasteners

Loose or corroded Fasteners

Over time fasteners may become weakened or corroded. If you notice any of the following symptoms you might have a problem.

A) Loose Railings

Wobbly railings are a sign that fasteners are loose and/or corroded. This is a big safety hazard. Also check the height of the railing? Is it at least 3’ high? If not, they might not meet local code criteria.

B) Wobbly Stairs

Do you feel movement when walking on your stairs? Have any of the floor boards popped up? Both of these circumstances are indicative of loose or corroded fasteners.

C) Gap between ledger and house

As we stated above, if you notice the ledger board pulling away from your home, screws may need to be tightened.

4) Difficulty Opening Deck Door

Trouble opening your deck door might indicate movement within the deck structure. It could be that the ledger board is pulling away from the home or that structural elements have become compromised.

5) Missing Joist Hangers

lack of joist hanger

Older decks may not have joist hangers. This can be dangerous over time, and is not built to code.

6) Premature Rot

Premature Rot

Industry standards and building codes deliver building practices that will keep your deck healthy for up to 20 years. If your deck is rotting before 20 years, it may not have been built properly. A common mistake is a failure to install flashing around the ledger board to prevent moisture from being held within the wood. If the flashing was not installed properly or left out of the design completely, often times, you will notice wood rot.

Contractors and Engineers Working Together

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Contractors and EngineersOn a daily basis homeowners & property management companies call our firm to obtain city approval for remodels/additions, fix ice dams, find leaks, write scopes/procure bids, create reports detailing their home’s construction defects, etc.

However, what many people do not know is that contractors can and do use our services regularly. Contractors are finding that it is incredibly helpful to have an engineer on hand. Investing a few extra dollars to ensure their company is protected is more than worth it.

Below are a few of the areas contractors hire us for:

-Structural issues

If a contractor is working on a home, often times, the city will require an engineer’s letter verifying that the span and load calculations are correct. Other times, contractors are not required, but choose to obtain an engineer’s opinion before proceeding with difficult work.

-Structural design

If a homeowner is requiring a difficult addition, contractors request engineer designs from our firm before beginning the work.

Structural Design and Plans

-City approval

Most cities are requiring an engineer’s letter to acquire a permit and to perform certain aspects of a project.

-Project oversight

Many contractors are hiring us to perform project oversight. This is just another area of protection for them. Large projects can be chaotic because of the magnitude and variety of subcontractors and specialties on site. Having an engineering firm present allows the General Contractor to prioritize their time with the assurance that their employees & subcontractors are producing correct and efficient work. This is beneficial for both the homeowner and the contractor. The homeowner is happy because their home was built to last and perform and the contractor can sleep easily knowing there are no problems to be foreseen in the future.

Hiring CBS can be looked at as an investment that pays off. Law suits are timely, expensive, and exhausting for all parties involved.  As any contractor knows, it is not a matter of if you get dragged into a lawsuit, but when. Your insurance might cover some of your expenses (no guarantee), but only after countless hours of litigation with your valuable time. Doesn’t it make sense to protect your assets and hire a firm whose sole focus is oversight? We are here to help make you money, build your reputation, and keep you out of court.

For more information, contact us TODAY (612) 868-2922

WATER in my BASEMENT! What should I do?

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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

 

 

Storm Damage

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The storm Tuesday night was one of the worst wind storms we have had in a while. Did anyone else feel like the wind was going to tear through their walls and bring their home crumbling down? I know I did. Weather Underground reported the wind gusts to be up to 60 mph in the surrounding Twin Cities area. It made for a very interesting drive to work on Wednesday morning.  Here are some of the photos I saw on social media newsfeeds alone.

tree on house

barn

home dmage

According to the Minnesota Commerce Department, if you have noticed shingles that have blown off your roof or trees that have fallen and caused damage, give your insurance company a call. “Minnesotans who suffered property damage from recent storms should contact their insurer as soon as possible.” Read the full article here to get some great tips regarding insurance and storm damage claims.

As your local engineering and consulting firm, we recommend that you attain a proper assessment. This step is crucial if you are thinking about filing a claim. Complete Building Solutions will provide you a written statement depicting the standard level of home product performance, the visible and underlying damages incurred, and any future problems that may develop. This statement will help you maximize your claim benefit to ensure a lasting home.

Give us a call today (763) 544-3355!

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What is Wrong with my Windows?

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rotted window

Proper window installation is crucial to having a lasting home. The process should be thoughtfully planned out from start to finish because there are multiple steps that can leave your home vulnerable to degradation if they are not done properly.

Good windows are designed to last 30-50 years. However, a typical warranty provides coverage for only 10 years on average. One of the biggest reasons for this is that window manufacturers know how frequently improper home building practices actually occur. So, as a homeowner or management company how can you tell if your windows have been correctly installed?

Here are some signs that your windows were either installed improperly or are faulty:

-Moisture Intrusion

If you notice leaking from your windows, there is definitely a problem. This could be an array of construction defects including flashing or installation issues. Immediate action should be taken to avoid permanent water damage to your home.

-Drafty windows especially during winter months

Drafty windows are a sure sign that your windows are not insulated properly. This is concerning because around 10-25% of a home’s heat is lost through the windows. You are losing heat and paying big $$ for it.

-Difficulties opening, closing, or locking the window

If you are unable to open, close, or lock your new windows, it is likely it was installed improperly.

 -Fog or condensation has developed inside the window unit

Certain windows, such as double and triple-paned assemblies, are filled with safe gasses that aid in the energy efficiency of your home. When this gas becomes depleted, either naturally over time or because of improper installation, the pane will appear cloudy and/or have condensation. Be sure to clean the exterior of the window to verify that the moisture is within the pane.

-Frost on the inside of windows

Frost on the inside of windows is most likely from poor insulation or a bad seal. It presents a danger to your home because, upon melting, it transfers moisture to anything nearby causing cracked paint, discoloration of materials, and can even migrate to your home’s walls and cause water damage.

All of the above issues are indicative of poorly installed or faulty windows. It is important to have those checked by a professional to prevent any further damage that could be occurring within the home and/or energy loss. Complete Building Solutions, an engineering & consulting firm based out of the Twin Cities of Minnesota, specializes in home performance and has combined knowledge extending over 80 years. We would be happy to do an inspection for you. Check out our Facebook page and give us a call today!

(612) 868-2922

https://www.facebook.com/completebuildingsolutionsmn/

Remodeling dilemma’s

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home remodel

 

So you want to remodel, but you have questions!  So many times homeowners want to remodel their homes but don’t know if they can.  They ask themselves; 1) can I remove that wall to open up more space? 2) will the deck be able to be converted into a three season porch?  3) can I put in a header to support a load bearing wall? 4) can the attic be converted into living space? 5) how big of a footing do I need in order to support the remodeling I want to accomplish?

Complete Building Solutions, a structural engineering consultancy & engineering firm based out of Minnesota, can help with your dilemma!  We have assisted many customers with answering these type of questions. Our staff and engineers can help determine the proper construction detail you will need. We will work with you to develop a potential budget for your specific remodeling plan, and can recommend several contractors to bid your work.

Keep in mind that many cities in the Minneapolis metro are calling for engineered plans before they will issue a permit.  We can provide you with the consultation and plans required for project advancement. CBS will also explain if your plans just won’t work or are not cost beneficial. So when you are ready to remodel and you have your very own dilemma, please consider CBS to assist you in answering your questions.

Boulder Retaining Wall and Related Drainage Issues

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Boulder retaining wall

The above picture demonstrates how a boulder retaining wall has moved along side the foundation of a home since its initial construction.  Boulder retaining walls are a common landscaping and erosion control method used in many homes.  If a foundation wall is over 48 inches, it needs to be designed by an engineer and requires plans for ordinance and structural review by the local governing body.

There are many elements that can encourage boulder wall movement, but here are

the three main causes:

1.) Often, the wall has been built on unsuitable soils that lacked compaction and ultimately could not support the weight of the wall. Contributing further to this problem, is the added pressure from the soil and related area behind the wall.

2.) Secondly, sometimes retaining walls are built with improper drainage behind it, including no installation of drain tile, drainage material behind the rocks and/or fabric to hold that material in place.

3.) Thirdly, the poor drainage of rain water behind the wall causes erosion to take place and further soil settlement under the boulder wall itself.  This water often comes from a roof or rain gutter that empties behind the wall.

In this case, as the picture depicts, some of those elements were present. This wall had movement subsequent to its initial construction.  This resulted in damage to the outside parge coat on the foundation wall of the home and a leak developed in the basement adjacent to this boulder wall.

Here are some of the things to consider when constructing a boulder retaining wall:

  1. How high is the rock wall going to be? Will it need to be engineered?
  2. Location of the rock wall, asking is it on stable slopes, consisting of firm, undisturbed soil?
  3. The ground surface above the Boulder Wall. How much water will come through this area?
  4. The proper angle of the rockery face of the Boulder Retaining Wall.
  5. The proper rock size should be used to construct the wall.
  6. Rock placement including the rocks to be embedded into the soil at the base to provide maximum stability.
  7. The drainage must be provided behind the wall to assure that water will not erode the soil behind or underneath he boulders. This includes the use of a drain tile system, erosion fabric, and drainage material such as gravel behind the boulder wall itself.

As a homeowner, before taking on construction of a boulder wall, you may want to check with experts in this area.

 

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Thank You Mill City Credit Union for Helping us Give Back

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rob mill city award@2x

Complete Building Solutions foundation is built on giving back and helping those in need.  As one of the winners of the Mill City Credit Union “Making the Greater Good Even Greater” Campaign, we are proud to donate our award to the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).  The WWP helps emotionally and physically wounded soldiers embark upon a healthy new beginning and recovery. This organization goes above and beyond to support the men and women who sacrificed enormously by wearing the uniform.

The number of injured soldiers is disconcertingly high.

 

Over 50,000 servicemen and women have been injured in the recent military conflicts.  This number does not include the veterans who have experienced invisible injuries such as PSTD, major depression, or combat related stress.

We are proud to support the Wounded Warrior Project. Our hearts extend to ALL soldiers and their families dealing with wounds of any kind, and we are hopeful that our donation will inspire others to do the same.

We ask you to engage.

 

Please share this program information on your social media so more people are involved with this important cause!

Reduce Your Energy Bill – Energy Savings Testimonial!

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eneryg light

As an engineering consulting firm overseeing projects, Complete Building Solutions has been serving Minnesota homeowners with home performance issues for years, and we provide solutions that last!  CBS will typically test for heat loss using a thermal camera before and after improvements and then, at times, will test even a year later.

Over the weekend we received an email from an ecstatic client stating that their energy bills had dropped by over 35%! This is the kind of thing that drives us to continue doing what we do best, advocating for the consumer by ensuring long lasting homes.

This particular project consisted of 53 Minneapolis townhome units that needed serious work done. The attic systems were lacking sufficient ventilation and insulation resulting in a large temperature difference from the inside of the attic to outside. This led to heat loss, condensation, and non-adherance to fire codes. In short, the attics were “rotting” from the inside out, and the energy bills were high.

Here’s the proof. This client’s energy bill decreased by 35% after an attic inspection and the necessary improvements.

 


“Immediately after the roofing project, we noticed things like the furnace running less often, the thermostat not needing to be kept as high, the upstairs room feeling evenly heated compared to downstairs, etc.  We continue to be very thankful for these improvements following our roofing project.”

 

 Old monthly bill versus new monthly bill 

Snip It Energy Bill

This particular bill is based on Xcel Energy’s Averaged Monthly Payment Service which looks at the past 12 months worth of billing data and calculates an averaged amount to pay the next 12 months. You can see the significant drop in charges from the previous years average which was set before the attic improvements had been made.

To read more about this same clients Energy Savings click here !

 

 

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