SPECIFIC INFORMATION: MINNEAPOLIS
If you’re buying a home in Minneapolis, here’s some helpful information specific to Minneapolis. How do we know? Because we inspect a TON of houses in Minneapolis, and we make it our business to know about the houses we inspect. Nearly 50% of the houses that we inspect are in Minneapolis; that doesn’t mean ‘greater Minneapolis’ either, but Minneapolis proper.
Check out the TISH
Minneapolis requires any single-family home, duplex, or townhome listed for sale to have a current Truth-In-Sale of Housing (TISH) evaluation report. They also require a TISH evaluation on first-time condo conversions, but not on new or existing condos. A TISH evaluation is kind of like a mini home inspection, but the list of items that are looked at and the comments that are made on the report are regulated by the city of Minneapolis, so this is absolutely NOT a substitute for a home inspection. Nevertheless, looking over this report is helpful to get a snapshot of the overall condition of the home.
Minneapolis TISH evaluation reports can be viewed online at their web site. Follow the instructions to get the report:
- To look up property info, enter an address in search box below, but do not include city, state, or zip code. It’s already assume that the property is located in Minneapolis.
- Once you’ve found the property info on the Minneapolis web site, click on the “Truth in Sale of Housing” link to see the most current TISH information.
If there is no current TISH report, then the property isn’t being offered for sale… or at least it probably shouldn’t be. If there is an active report, there will be a hyperlink to the report. If required repair (RR) items were identified during the TISH evaluation, they’ll be listed on this page. If no repair items were identified, or if all repair items have been completed, a Certificate Of Approval, or “COA” will be issued by the city.
If you see a bunch of required repairs listed, don’t freak out. Most required TISH repairs aren’t that big of a deal. We’ve compiled a list of the most common Minneapolis TISH repairs and put them into a nice one-page pdf summary for clients.
COMMON REQUIRED REPAIRS FOR MINNEAPOLIS TRUTH-IN-SALE OF HOUSING EVALUATIONS
General: Items that cannot be inspected are typically listed as repair items needing a re-inspection. This includes:
- Water, electricity, or gas turned off
- Garage locked
- Attic access blocked by stored items
Carbon Monoxide Alarms: A functional CO alarm is required within ten feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. One-and-one-half story homes will always require a CO alarm in the upper level – the sleeping room starts at the top of the stairway, not the bottom.
Smoke Alarms: One smoke alarm is required on every level of the home in a common area. Every smoke alarm that is present must be functional and properly located.
Gas Appliance Venting (furnaces, boilers, water heaters, space heaters, etc.)
- The venting must have proper clearance to combustibles. Drywall is considered combustible. For single wall vents, 6” is required. For double wall (B-vents), 1” is required.
- Backpitched venting, rust holes, or backdrafting at the appliance requires repair.
- Must have a proper backflow prevention device.
- Gaps in the outer jacket, exhaust gas leaks, or worn-out seals require a safety check.
- Pressure relief valve discharge pipes must be made of metal, full-sized, not threaded at the end, and must terminate within 18” of the floor.
Furnaces with excessive rust or scorching require a safety check.
Hot Water Heaters
- Temperature and pressure relief valve discharge pipes must be made of metal, full sized, not threaded at the end, and must terminate within 18” of the floor.
- Installations less than three years old must be completely ‘up to code’. See common water heater installation defects.
- Every gas appliance must have a gas valve.
- Improper appliance connectors must be replaced.
- Open / uncapped gas lines require repair.
- Dishwasher drains must have a visible high loop.
- Abandoned fixtures must be made operational or removed.
- Leaking drains, clogged drains, holes in drains, holes in vents, and any gaps that could allow sewer gas into the home must be repaired.
- Floor drains must have a proper cleanout plug present, and must be operational.
- Toilet fill valves must be an anti-siphon type, and must be properly installed.
- Laundry faucets and exterior faucets (sillcocks) must be provided with a vacuum breaker if a garden hose can be attached.
- Faucet openings located below the spill line of the fixture will typically require repair.
- A proper ground jumper wire must always be present at the water meter.
- GFCI outlets that do not lose power when the test button is pushed.
- Missing circuit breakers or fuses at panelboards.
- Spliced wires without a junction box.
- Uncapped and untaped wires that protrude from electrical boxes, creating an immediate shock hazard.
- Broken lights, outlets, or switches that create an immediate shock hazard.
- Evidence of tampering or oversized fuses/circuit breakers requires an electrical safety check by an electrician. Many 60-amp electric services require safety checks.
Clothes Dryers with disconnected dryer ducts, dryer ducts with holes, or dryer ducts with bypasses that re-direct the exhaust back into the home require repair.
Check out the permit history
To see the history of building permits for a home in Minneapolis, use the same lookup above, but click on “Inspection Permits”. You’ll see the history of building permits for the property going back to 1999, and sometimes further back but with limited details. Minneapolis began using state electrical inspectors beginning around 2006, so don’t bother looking for electrical permits.
Other Minneapolis-specific information
Water Piping: Galvanized steel or lead water supply pipes were installed throughout the city up until 1928. Between 1928 and 1932, Minneapolis started switching water supply pipes to copper, and copper was used exclusively after that. If you’re buying a home built before 1932, find out what the water supply piping for your home is. If it’s not copper all the way out to the street, you might have a problem. More on that topic here: http://www.structuretech1.com/2014/05/galvanized-steel-water-pipes/
Drinking Water: A+. Minneapolis has fantastic water. Minneapolis residents don’t need water softeners. The chemistry of water in Minneapolis also seems to help water heaters last a lot longer; while we typically say that water heaters have a life expectancy of about 10 – 15 years, it seems to be significantly longer in Minneapolis.
Abandoned Fuel Oil Tanks: Minneapolis requires the removal of any abandoned fuel oil tanks, buried or not.
Rental Program: If you’re planning to use a home for rental purposes in Minneapolis, be aware that Minneapolis has a rental inspection program.
Housing Maintenance Code: Minneapolis has a housing maintenance code, which they can use to enforce proper maintenance of properties.
Homes near the airport have gone through a soundproofing program put on by the Metropolitan Airport Council. We say these houses have been “MAC’d”. They did high-quality work. More on that topic here: MAC houses are greenhouses.
Energy Audit: Before you sell a home that was built before 1980, the City typically performs an energy audit. During the energy audit, an inspector:
- Drills a two-inch hole in an exterior facing wall, typically in a closet.
- Finds out how much insulation is in the walls.
- Seals the hole with a plastic cap after finishing the inspection.