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The Home Inspector

Like boot camp for homeowners.

Minnesota training event with Allison A. Bailes III, PhD.

I'm delighted to announce an upcoming Minnesota home inspector training event with Allison A. Bailes III, PhD. He's the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog, a blog that I've linked to numerous times over the years, and that I read religiously. He's opinionated about energy, and he writes about a lot of interesting stuff. For this upcoming seminar, I've asked him to put together a specific list of speaking topics; mostly stuff that he has already written about, and stuff that I think Minnesota home inspectors would be interested in hearing more about.

Allison Bailes

Just go through this list of topics and try to tell me you're not interested, even if you're not a home inspector:


  • 61 things we should ban to improve homes
  • Why did painters refuse to paint insulated houses in the 1930s?
  • Tuning your home inspector goggles with building science

The Building Enclosure

  • The building enclosure is the bathtub
  • Air leakage – the oft-ignored problem
  • An air barrier is not a product
  • Don’t caulk the windows, and other winterizing myths
  • A quick look at insulation types
  • The importance of installation quality of insulation
  • A grading system for insulation installation quality
  • A fiberglass insulation manufacturer gets serious about installation
  • Is compressed insulation really so bad?
  • Understanding R-value – and the many ways it can be calculated
  • Flat or lumpy – does it matter with insulation?
  • The diminishing returns of adding more insulation
  • Four pitfalls of spray foam insulation
  • Does spray foam need a thermal or ignition barrier? And what’s the difference between them?

Heating and Cooling

  • The heating & cooling systems are the faucet
  • An overview of heating & cooling – equipment plus distribution
  • The fundamentals of good HVAC design
  • When is a high-efficiency furnace not?
  • What does a heat pump frost over?
  • Does a gas furnace dry out the air?
  • How do air conditioners and heat pumps work?
  • Heat pumps in Minnesota? Sure!
  • How NOT to use your heat pump thermostat
  • Don’t set your air conditioner’s thermostat like this
  • Do programmable thermostats save energy?
  • Does the Nest learning thermostat save energy?
  • Will shading an air conditioner save money?
  • The duct that wasn’t, and other common problems in forced air duct systems
  • Door undercuts, jumper ducts, and other ways of returning air to the system
  • Does closing vents in unused rooms save money?


  • A house doesn’t need to breathe – People do!
  • The 3 whole-house ventilation strategies
  • Do you really need to run the bath fan in winter?
  • Common problems with ventilating a house in cold weather
  • Don’t let that attic suck – the problem with powered attic ventilators

Event Details

This training event is taking place on Saturday, May 12th, from 8 am - 5 pm at the U of M Continuing Education Building, located at 1890 Buford Avenue, Saint Paul. This event is being hosted by the Heartland Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), as well as the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI). Yes, that's right, we work together. We have a common interest; excellent education for our members. Members of either organization get heavily discounted pricing for this event.

For anyone else, the cost to attend this all-day seminar, which includes breakfast, snacks, and a catered lunch, is only $100 (one hundred) dollars. No, I didn't miss a zero. Anyone is welcome to attend this seminar. It doesn't matter if you're a home inspector, home energy professional, home builder, or just a passionate homeowner, you're welcome to attend this training event to learn more about houses, building science, and energy-related questions that keep you up at night.

If you'd like to come, please save yourself a seat by registering here: We'd love to see you there. Seating is limited to the first 120 registrants, so please register early if you're planning to attend.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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Ten years of blogging

With this blog post, I have officially been blogging about home inspections for over ten years. Today I will share my history of blogging and thank a few people for their sage advice.

It started with SEO

Beginning in 2007, I started participating in online discussion forums for home inspectors. Mostly the internal discussion board for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). One of the members on there was a home inspection software genius named Dominic Maricic. He started a home inspection software company named Home Inspector Pro. He gave a lot of great advice on the forum, mostly about how to make our websites more visible to Google. I followed most of his recommendations, but not the part about blogging.

Dominic told us that one of the best ways to be found on Google was to start a blog. I trusted him on that point, but I had a static website with almost no understanding of how to make changes to it. Starting a blog sounded scary and impossible. It wasn't a reality, so I did nothing with that advice... at least for a few months.

But I knew blogging was a good thing to do because Dominic said so. Thank you for the advice, Dominic.

Then it fell into my lap

At the beginning of 2008, a local Realtor® by the name of Sharlene Hensrud asked me to be a guest blogger on her website, I knew blogging was a good thing, but I was still a bit hesitant because I had no idea what I'd write about. Sharlene gave me a few ideas, so I reluctantly agreed. I wrote my first blog post on March 31st, 2008. The topic was Home Inspections for Home Sellers.

I committed to blogging weekly on Sharlene's site, and that's surely what made me keep at it. If I hadn't made that commitment to someone else, it would have been easy to let blogging fall by the wayside. Thanks to this commitment, I've kept at it every week, with a new blog post every Tuesday for the last ten years. There may have been a few weeks where I missed a post, but there were also several weeks where I had more than one.

I still blog on her website every week. Thank you for getting me started, Sharlene.

Wordpress, ActiveRain, and Star Tribune

After blogging on Sharlene's website for many months, I started thinking that I should start blogging on my own site too. Duh! Another home inspector in Chicago, Kurt Mitenbuler, recommended blogging on Wordpress. I took his advice and managed to somehow get Wordpress installed on the Structure Tech website, mostly through brute-force and a lot of mistakes. It was a lot of trial and error to get this working, and it looked horrible. But still, it worked. People could subscribe to the blog and leave comments.

I also blogged on ActiveRain for a few years while blogging on my website and HomesMSP.

During that time, a writer friend of mine, Peter Schilling, suggested I try blogging here for the Star Tribune. I had to bug the folks over here for a while, but they eventually caved in back in 2011. Thank you for giving me the confidence to pursue a larger audience, Peter.


Today, I still blog every week. My blog posts go up on the Structure Tech website, then get posted on and here on the Star Tribune the following week. I typically have my blog posts scheduled one to four weeks in advance. This gives me time to think over my topics, sleep on them, and conduct research if needed.

My original goal of blogging was to get my website to rank for the #1 slot when people search for Minneapolis Home Inspector. That happened in a very short period of time, and then my purpose for blogging changed. Now I use my blog to educate people. Education is without a doubt one of our most important core values here at Structure Tech.

My main audience is homeowners; I try to take the mystery out of homes and keep things simple. I also write blog posts for other home inspectors to help improve our profession. I think I could write a million posts for other home inspectors. Another intended audience is potential home buyers; I want to help them make educated buying decisions. Finally, I sometimes write blog posts for real estate agents.

Oh, and every once in a while, I just write a bloggy-blog post like this one, sharing information about myself or the company.

Finally, thank YOU for reading.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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