Sheetrock Cracks from Water Invasion

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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.

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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

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condominium

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?

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team-on-site

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

www.cbsmn.com

 

Looking to Avoid a Construction Defect Lawsuit?

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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

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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!

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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

kickout-flashing

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

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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