Robin Jade Conde

PODCAST: A tribute to our mentors

In this conversation, Reuben and Tessa discuss their professional mentors and influencers. Reuben talks about his dad, who taught him construction and home inspections, and Dwayne Erickson, a colleague who taught him to be curious and observant. Tessa mentions Pat Hellman, a building science expert who taught her about risk assessment and influenced her approach to thinking through problems. They also mention Jack Pixley, a chimney professional who taught them the importance of improving the industry as a whole. They express gratitude for their mentors’ knowledge and support. In this conversation, Tessa and Reuben discuss the mentors and influencers who have had a significant impact on their professional lives. They share stories of individuals who have taught them valuable skills, provided guidance, and inspired them to excel in their respective fields. From experienced home inspectors to building science experts, these mentors have shaped their knowledge and expertise. The conversation highlights the importance of mentorship and the role it plays in personal and professional growth.


Having mentors and influencers in your professional life can greatly impact your growth and success.
Mentors can teach you technical skills as well as important qualities like curiosity and communication.
Improving the industry as a whole benefits everyone and fosters a sense of collaboration and support.
Expressing gratitude and acknowledging the influence of mentors is important for personal and professional development. Mentors and influencers play a crucial role in shaping our professional lives and helping us grow.
Having mentors who are experienced and knowledgeable in our field can provide valuable guidance and teach us important skills.
Mentorship can come from various sources, including colleagues, industry experts, and even online communities.
Mentors can inspire us to excel and push us to reach our full potential.
Expressing gratitude and acknowledging the impact of our mentors is important.
Mentorship is a two-way street, and it’s important to give back and mentor others as well.



The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.


Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk podcast, a production of Structure Tech Home Inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman, I’m your host alongside, building science geek, Tessa Murry. We help home inspectors up their game through education and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019 and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom. Welcome back to the show. Tessa, great to see you. What’s new in your world?


Tessa Murry: Hey. Hey, Reuben. It’s good to see you too. Well, there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on in my world, both personally and professionally. It’s keeping me pretty busy, but I can’t complain. How about you?


RS: I’ve had a full calendar lately. I feel like I am just backlogged on a lot of stuff. I ended up…


TM: Same.


RS: I ended up teaching in Seattle for this home inspector group there. I did my first… It was my first time teaching for six hours. I’ve always said…


TM: Wow! What?


RS: If I’m gonna teach somewhere, no more than four hours. That’s my limit, four hours and I’m done. But, I was the only speaker for this one, so I agreed to do six hours and that was a marathon. It was long.


TM: Doesn’t it give you that much more respect for people in the industry that can literally present for six hours straight or eight hours, or do a two-day conference or something like that? It takes a ton of energy to do that.


RS: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know how they do that, it is a lot.


TM: I don’t either.


RS: And not only that, but just my voice, like my throat starts to hurt after talking for that long.


TM: It gets dry.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Yeah, for sure. Well, how did it go? What did you… What were the topics that you were teaching about?


RS: I talked on old houses for the first four hours and it’s… I’ve got a class that’s either two hours or four hours and after doing that four-hour version, I realized I’m never gonna teach on that for two hours again. There’s just way too much that I have to rush through when I’m doing two hours. There’s way too many concepts that I just end up having to gloss over, so I’m not doing it again. I’m just… That’s on my list of things to do is I need to remove that from the website. I’m not willing to do a two-hour version of that class.


TM: What about for real estate agents? Would you teach a two-hour class on old houses to realtors?


RS: Yeah. I think we’ve got a three-hour class on old houses for them.


TM: Okay.


RS: And I had originally paired it down to a two-hour class for home inspectors because that’s what the ASHI InspectionWorld slots were for speakers. They always wanted two-hour slots, so I made it a two-hour class but I won’t do it again. [chuckle]


TM: Well, and that class is just so… There’s so much rich content in it. You talk about everything from like knob-and-tube wiring to fuses to old chimney, stucco-covered chimneys and everything in between and I think it’s just… It’s a great class. So, if you are someone who’s interested in learning about all these old house things, how can they get ahold of this class or get ahold of you, Reuben?


RS: Well, you know what, if you email our podcast email that we always give out, that will go to me. It’s and I’ll teach anywhere. It’s a… I got a good hourly rate that I charge and travel expenses of course, whatever it costs, takes me to get there. That’s the fee. But, I love teaching and I always take one of my kids with me when I go, so I brought my son to Seattle and there was a bunch that we did…


TM: Aww, fun.


RS: To see all the stuff that they’ve got to see down there. It was a good time.


TM: That’s pretty cool. Yeah. That’s cool. Well, and for a while there during COVID I know you weren’t doing any… We weren’t doing any traveling for teaching, but now it sounds like these ASHI chapters are kind of back up and running and having you teach in person again. So, that’s fun.


RS: Yeah, exactly. And this wasn’t an ASHI chapter, this was just another home inspector chapter. I think they used to be ASHI when you went down there and you taught, but they’ve separated now and they’re just kind of an independent chapter.


TM: True. Yes. Yeah. Just to clarify if you’re listening, you don’t have to be a member of ASHI to have Reuben come out and speak.


RS: [laughter] That’s right.


TM: Like he said, he’ll do it for a fee.


RS: Yeah. What about you, Tess? Are you still willing to come speak for a fee?


TM: I am actually, I am. I haven’t had any time to create new content. Well, I guess that’s not true. I have put together a new class that I taught for Rethos, a local nonprofit about preservation in older houses and how to upgrade them in terms of building performance and energy efficiency without creating any unintended consequences. So, that was a fun class. But, that was more geared towards, I think, homeowners and real estate agents and contractors. But, yeah, I love teaching as well and I’m hoping I can do more of that this year. So, first things first…


RS: I bet you’ll be doing a ton.


TM: Yeah, I was gonna say, first things first, there’s one class left of the Building Science class I’m teaching at the University of Minnesota this semester. And then after that, I’ll have a little bit more free time, I think.


RS: Okay. How’s that been going?


TM: A bit more bandwidth. It’s been going well. It’s a full circle moment being back at the university and sitting in a class I took years ago, and this time I’m kind of… I’m helping teach it and I am constantly humbled by the knowledge of Pat Huelman [laughter] and always learning new things. So, I’m just… I’m grateful for the opportunity.


RS: Well, you bring up Pat Huelman and that’s a nice segue into what we’re gonna be talking about today. This is your brainchild today. Why don’t you explain what we’re gonna be sharing today, Tess?


TM: Well, I thought it might be fun for us to share some of our… The people who have influenced us are some of our mentors professionally, both you and I, and discuss that a little bit today.


RS: Okay. Yeah. A little homage to our…


TM: What do you think? Yeah.


RS: To the people who came before us?


TM: Yes. Yeah. How we got to where we are today and the people who have helped us get here, so yeah.


RS: Okay. Sweet. All right. Well, you brought this up to me and I got a list. I got a list. I don’t know how much I’m gonna get through this, but…


TM: How long is your list?


RS: But, I think I wrote down like 10 or 11 people. I’m not gonna dig… We’re not gonna do any deep dives into all these, but there’s a number of people I wanna give some shout-outs to, definitely.


TM: Well, I’m interested. I am very curious to hear your list, Reuben. Yeah, my list is not quite that long. I had kind of a tough time as I was thinking about this topic today. I have had so many people in my life that have influenced me and helped me become the person that I am, but I decided to kind of rein it in ’cause we… The show, we’re gonna try and keep it short. Like you said, I’m not gonna go deep on all these people, and so I wanted to just kind of focus on some of the… Kind of my main mentors throughout my professional life. So, my list is a little bit shorter. I’ve got about five people.


RS: Why don’t you kick it off? Let’s hear.


TM: Should we kick it off?


RS: I bet I could guess one of them.




TM: You’re right. You’re right. So, let’s start with him. Let’s start with Pat Huelman. So, everybody knows we’ve had Pat on the show. If you weren’t listening to the podcast episode with Pat Huelman, I would strongly suggest you go back and listen to it. He is a nationally known…


RS: Wait, Tess, before you go any farther, just spell his name for us ’cause I wanna type in Huelman and that’s not how you spell it if you’re searching for it.


TM: Patrick Huelman. Yeah. It’s H-U-E-L-M-A-N.


RS: Thank you. Okay.


TM: Pat Huelman. Yes. And he’s been a professor at the University of Minnesota for decades, I think since the ’80s or ’90s. He was part of the Cold Climate Housing Division and he’s done a bunch of research, Department of Energy research in various other things. He’s kind of one of the original… The way that I look at the original godfathers of building science, of what we know of building science today in the US. And so, he kind of got into it. He has an engineering background and he kind of fell into this back in the ’70s during the energy crisis and as we were making our houses better insulated and more airtight, then we started having all these moisture problems. And so, he was there at the very beginning of that trend trying to figure out what was going on and how to fix it.


TM: And so, he is a brilliant mind and he is always kind of thinking about if this, then that. And his brain is just… It’s fun to watch him think through something. You’ll never get a black or white answer from him. [laughter]


RS: That’s where you get it.


TM: And he’s taught me… Yeah, I was gonna say. Obviously, we’re talking about our influencers today. Building science is really understanding all the different variables and how they play together and how one thing influences another and it’s risk assessment, and he is the best at that. And so anyways, I’ve learned a lot of just building science but not only building science, just kind of the way to think through things too from Pat. So, I wanna take a moment here and just say thank you Pat and I appreciate all that he’s done for this industry and all the people that he’s influenced and taught. And he’s been a great support too even beyond my days at the university, he’s connected me with so many people professionally too. He’s just a wealth of information and contact. So, great, great person.


RS: Yeah. Yeah. Really knowledgeable guy. Yep.


TM: Very knowledgeable. Yep. Yeah.


RS: Excellent. Who’s next?


TM: Okay. Yeah. Well, how about you? Let’s throw it over to you, Reuben.


RS: All right. Well, I bet you could guess one of mine.




TM: Give me a hint.


RS: I’ve known him for a really, really long time.


TM: Since you were born?


RS: Pretty much. Yeah. Yeah.


TM: Is this your dad?


RS: That’d be my pops, yes. Absolutely.


TM: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great.


RS: Yeah. I learned construction growing up with my dad. I’d be on job sites, I was homeschooled and he was a carpenter, so I’d take time off of school all the time to come help him, learning power tools, construction, all that fun stuff. And then once he got into home inspections, that’s where I learned home inspections from. I mean, spent tons and tons of time going on so many inspections with him just learning how to do this and be diligent and got so much great advice from him my whole life, but especially when it comes to the professional career, that’s really what formed my base knowledge of how to be a home inspector was going around with him, no doubt about it.


TM: Wow.


RS: Yep.


TM: Wow. Thank you, Neil.


RS: Yeah. I appreciate it, pops. Yep.


TM: You know, he’s actually on my list too, Reuben.


RS: Okay. Let’s hear.


TM: So, I actually… So, you and your dad are on my list. I was gonna go chronologically, but I am just going with the flow here and I also wanna pay tribute to Neil and to you because I did not grow up with a dad or anyone in the construction industry or home inspection and I was brand new to the home inspection world in 2016 when our paths crossed. And you asked if I ever thought about becoming a home inspector [laughter] and I said no. But, you and your dad both have really influenced me professionally and I have learned so much from both of you and like you said, not only the technical stuff which is just invaluable, and you’ve taught me so many things technically that I couldn’t have got from a book or… You’re such a great teacher. But, also just the other skills too that go along with being a successful home inspector and a successful person just in running a business, the way that you treat people and the way that you communicate and your priorities are something that’s definitely influenced me as well too and I know that…


RS: Well, thank you.


TM: You and your dad are similar in that way. So, I… One of the quotes that you always say, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and that’s how you… We’ve talked about that before in the podcast, but you really give back to this industry as much as you can because you want to help improve the entire industry and share your knowledge. And it’s abundance mindset and I really respect that. But, you’re also putting out really good quality content and information that’s accurate and a lot of times it’s kind of a newer perspective on things as well. Like even your class about how to identify water intrusion from the exterior, I mean, it seems like it’s such a basic concept, right?


RS: Yeah.


TM: But, I haven’t come across anyone else that’s teaching people how to think that way or how to look at a house that way. And it’s so critical, it’s one of the most foundational things, I think, when you’re assessing a house and its potential failure points or building performance issues or durability problems. It’s looking at a house like that through that lens and so I… That’s just one example, but both you and your dad have just been really influential in my life.


RS: Aww, thanks Tess. Appreciate it. Well, you bring up the part about rising tide lifts all boats and I’ll go a little bit out of order here too. There’s a guy who I feel like I’ve really modeled a lot of my drive to educate the profession around the late Jack Pixley. This guy was a chimney professional, he was a chimney contractor and an educator and a chimney inspector. And this guy would go all over the country teaching chimney contractors all about chimney inspections and how to do a better job and he wrote articles that were published on a national scale, and he was a local guy here in the Twin Cities. And I’m glad I had the opportunity to sit through a number of his classes that he taught here locally before he passed away which was… I mean, now it’s gotta be 10, 15 years ago. It’s been a while.


TM: Wow.


RS: But, I remember picking that just really gravitating or grabbing on to that idea that a rising tide lifts all boats. You make the industry better and everybody does better. It’s not like you’re improving your competition, you’re making things better for yourself too. So, I gotta give a shout-out to him when you mention that. But…


TM: That’s great.


RS: Yeah, yeah. But going back, couple of other people that I’ve learned a lot from, another just OG in the home inspection field here would be Duane Erickson and…


TM: Yes. Oh, yes. Yeah, Duane.


RS: Yeah. He was with Structure Tech since my dad bought the company in ’97. He had started a year prior to my dad buying the business. So, he was with Structure Tech forever and I learned a ton from him. I went on more inspections with my pops than I did Duane, but I still went on a ton of inspections with Duane. I learned a lot from him about just poking and prodding and being curious and finding water problems and just never stopped being curious.


TM: Talk about spidey senses. He had the best spidey senses, didn’t he?


RS: Yeah. Yeah, he absolutely did. It’s like he just knew where to look. He was really good and he’s the guy who would always wear… He’d always wear overalls to home inspections.


TM: [0:17:57.0] ____ overalls. Yeah.


RS: Yeah, yeah.


TM: I never saw him wear anything other than that. [laughter]


RS: Pretty sure that’s all he ever wears. I mean, you go to his church, I’m sure he is standing there in church with his big overalls for sure.


TM: Oh, man. It’s funny that you say that. I remember I walked into a house with him one time and it was kind of a uniquely constructed house in St. Paul and we were standing on the second level and it was this big open room, and he had his… He always walked around with like a clipboard and he would take notes, and then he’d pull out his digital camera and snap a picture, but then he’d always write things down by hand. He was old school and he was carrying the clipboard, I remember watching him walking to the center of this room and he stood there for a second. I was kind of just watching him and I was still really green, and then I saw him look around and then jump into the air.


TM: And I never saw Duane jump, that was the first time I saw him jump. And I was like, what the? And then when he landed, the whole floor just shook and things moved and was like, oh my gosh. Okay. And we went back down on the first floor and you could see that the construction of… The way that it was finished is you could actually see the structural beams of the house. It wasn’t like your typical floor joists that were covered up with Sheetrock. You could see the the beams. It was like a 1970s build and they were way overspanned and undersized.


RS: Oh my.


TM: And I hadn’t paid attention to it, but he was suspicious and he clearly proved his point when we were on that second level. But I remember he did that jump and then I was like, holy cow and then I just saw him go, mm-hmm. And then he took out his clipboard and took some notes.


RS: He started making notes.




TM: Yeah.


RS: Yeah, that’s great. He would always take his notes. And back in the day, he used to take field notes and then I would have to type up his reports, and it was chicken scratch. Oh, my goodness.


TM: Oh, no.


RS: And I remember so many times, he’d come back to the office later and I’m stumped like I have no idea what he wrote and I’d say, Duane, what does this say? And then he’d take it and then he’d hold it far away from his face and then he’d kind of squint. He’d lift up his bifocals, he’d squint and then he’d give it back to me and go, “I don’t know what it says.” [laughter] What am I supposed to do? You wrote it. Yeah.


TM: Bad writing, but usually I can tell what I’ve written. That’s hilarious.


RS: Yeah, yeah. Same here. Well, all right.


TM: Oh, my gosh. While we’re on this point of talking about people that have influenced us with inspections, I just wanna give a quick shout-out to everybody on the Structure Tech team and some of the OGs that took me under their wing when I started. I learned a lot from you guys as well, Milind and George. I mean, the list goes on and on. But yeah, everybody on the team has really taught me a lot.


RS: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you. Well, all right. I’ll share another one…


TM: Okay, who’s next?


RS: ‘Cause I know I got a longer list than you.


TM: Yeah. Yeah, you do.


RS: Another one…


TM: Your turn.


RS: Would be Mike Moser and he’s a guy who did… He was like the Truth in Housing king, in my mind, that’s this single item inspection… Not single, it’s these required city inspections that you gotta do in Minneapolis and St. Paul and a bunch of other cities before you can list a house for sale, and it’s kinda like a miniature home inspection. They take about an hour to conduct. You gotta be licensed in the city that you’re gonna be doing it in. And I remember when I was studying to get licensed in St. Paul, my dad had never been licensed in St. Paul. So, we never did Truth in Housing evaluations there and I needed somebody to kind of help me with a lot of this stuff ’cause we had never done it and Mike Moser was just Johnny-on-the-spot.


RS: He’s like, “You can come along on inspections with me. Any questions you have about the exam, blah, blah, blah. Here’s a bunch of information about it.” He was just so helpful knowing that I was going to be a competitor of his and he’s like, “You’re not gonna be a competitor. You’re gonna be a colleague. We’re gonna be working in the same field together.” And he had the same idea like you make your competitor better, you’re making the industry better. So, gotta have a shout-out to him. He was extremely helpful when I was first getting licensed to do those in St. Paul. A lot of credit to him for being a much better Truth in Housing evaluator, definitely.


TM: True. Is he still doing that? Do you know?


RS: As far as I know, I’m sure he still is and I gotta tell you, he used to have this setup. He’s probably moved on to doing everything digitally, but this is before we all had internet access everywhere and he would bring around his computer and he had this setup. He had this little van and he had a laptop that he had this wheeling chair. He had a chair in the back of his van and he’d sit there at his desk and he had all these batteries in it. His old van was powered up. He had 120 volt outlets all over the place. And so, he’d sit there like an office and he had a printer set up and I don’t remember what else, but it was like he had the coolest mobile office for doing home inspections. And so, he’d just go back to his van, spend 10 minutes there, type up everything and then he’d print out the report and hand somebody a printed report. It was like, wow.


TM: Wow.


RS: This guy…


TM: That’s impressive.


RS: This guy’s advanced. Yeah. Yeah. Now, it’s all emailed to people. I’m sure he doesn’t have half that stuff anymore, but he was way ahead of his time.


TM: Yeah. You wonder what his setup is now, I’m sure it’s an iPad and yeah…


RS: Yeah, yeah.


TM: Email.


RS: Yeah, a lot closer to what we’re all using today. I bet.


TM: Uh-huh. That’s pretty cool. That’s a great story. Oh, man.


RS: Who’s next on your list, Tess?


TM: Okay. I just have a couple people left. So, this is going way, way back, baby Tessa, 18 years old just graduated high school and I joined AmeriCorps. I know I’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but I was working for a Habitat for Humanity that was down in Louisiana, Bayou Area Habitat for Humanity in Houma and Thibodaux, Louisiana which is like an hour kind of southwest of New Orleans and it was 2006, so it was right after Katrina hit and I got thrown into that. I had no clue what to expect. And it’s a good thing I didn’t ’cause if I did, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But being naive helped me out in this case. And I’m glad I did it because it ultimately is kind of what led me to where I’m today.


TM: But going back to influencers, I basically I showed up on this site right when they were kind of in the middle of just chaos of trying to build a hundred houses going from building one house a year to a hundred houses that year and they didn’t have the leadership, they didn’t have the organization, they didn’t have the people to make it happen and it was extremely chaotic. And I was supposed to be a construction crew leader, I was supposed to be responsible for taking the volunteers that would show up and I never knew who was showing up, when they were showing up how many people we would have. And I never knew ultimately like when materials were coming in or anything like that. So, it was extremely stressful not to mention I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.


TM: I had never built a house before and I had no training at all. No training. And I remember someone from AmeriCorps, National AmeriCorps came and there was myself and a few other people who were in the same boat as I and they said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, you’ll get training and don’t worry about that.” And so to this day, I’m still waiting on that training. But anyways, luckily, luckily there were volunteers, long-term volunteers that basically was made up of a bunch of people that had retired and they owned RVs and would travel around from different habitat to habitat volunteering their time and living on site or near site and working every day. And two of those long-term volunteers were on the site long enough and came several times while I was there over the course of that year.


TM: And they took me under their wing and they taught me everything. So, this is… I’m talking about Bob and Doris Meyer and they’re from Tampa, Florida. Yep, and they’re from Tampa, Florida and they are just amazing people. They are just… They’re some of the most hardworking, honest people I’ve ever met. They have the biggest heart, but do not mess with them. [laughter] No bullshit with them. I mean, we would start the workday promptly at whatever time it was… At 7:00 AM it seemed like every morning and we would work hard all day, we’d take break for lunch. But, they taught me everything from literally framing up a house, squaring it up, trusses, sheathing, siding, windows, doors, finished carpentry, all of that was from them. And because of their patience with me and their generosity, then I was able to do what I was hired to do which was be a construction crew leader.


TM: So luckily, they came in early enough and I was a fast enough learner that after they left the site, I was able to take groups of volunteers and other AmeriCorps that came and show them what we had to do and how to do it and do it to the best of my ability. So, I really appreciate who they are as people and how generous they are. And they did this all without pay, they were just volunteers. I can’t tell you how many… I have no idea how many houses they have helped build, but it’s in the hundreds. And I know they’ve worked with probably thousands of volunteers, and they still do it to this day. They still volunteer like that. They cannot sit still. I think they’re in their early 70s and they’re the people that before COVID, we were getting together like every January in Florida and doing a habitat build reunion with a bunch of friends. So, I still keep in touch with them and they have a special place in my heart and yeah, they definitely help chart my course to where I am today.


RS: Well, thank you Bob and Doris. Awesome.


TM: Thank you, Bob and Doris. Yeah, yeah.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Yeah. Inspirational people for sure. I wanna be like them when I grow up. I don’t have their energy though, their stamina. I can’t keep up with them even when I was 18.


RS: You have to ask them what their secret is.


TM: Oh my god. Some people are just born with that, you know?


RS: I agree. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.


TM: Yeah. You and your dad included, Reuben. You guys are like that.


RS: Yeah. I try to keep up with my dad. Yeah. He’s got a motor for sure.


TM: Yes, he does. Yes, he does.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Yep. Yep. Okay. So, how about you, Reuben? Who’s next on your list?


RS: All right. Well, back when I first started getting into doing home inspections on my own probably around… It’s about 20 years ago now, I started spending a lot of time on the ASHI forums, these online discussion groups and a couple of people who really influenced me. I just learned a ton not by even really chatting with them so much. I mean, we did and they’d answer a lot of rookie questions that I would have, but just reading everything they wrote to everybody on every possible question. One of them was a podcast guest we had on recently, James Katen or Jim Katen out of Portland. Super knowledgeable guy. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from him. When it comes to language and being able to phrase something eloquently, he’s my hero. He has got such a way with words, such a smart guy.


RS: And another one who I learned a ton from was a guy by the name of Kurt Mitenbuler, and this guy’s out of Chicago. And I’ve never met him in person, I’ve never even seen a picture of him. I wouldn’t recognize him if I did meet him. But, I ranked him right up there with James. I learned so much from him and he doesn’t participate in any of the online discussion forums, he doesn’t have a blog, he doesn’t do any of that stuff. So, it’s not like most home inspectors would even know who he is today but super, super smart guy that I learned a ton from back in the day. And yet, yet another one who I learned a lot from those forums, he didn’t participate as much but anytime there was any kind of electrical stuff, he’d always be Johnny-on-the-spot with the answer and he’d be an authority. Once he said it, there’s no questioning. Like, okay, Douglas has spoken.


TM: Douglas Hansen?


RS: Douglas Hansen, yes.


TM: Yeah.


RS: I think he’s the primary author of the Code Check series and these Code Check books, I don’t know if they’re still there, but I remember if you went to a Home Depot or any home improvement store, they’d always have a tiny little literature section and you’d find the Code Check books there. And in my mind, it’s the best resource possible to understanding what the building codes are trying to say. The building codes are not written to educate people, the building codes are there to tell you what the code is to help code enforcement officials have an authoritative reference. But, Code Check books are there to help you understand what the code means and just so, so helpful. And I’ll tell you, if you’re a home inspector and you don’t own the Code Check books, you need to get the Code Check books. You just Google Code Check, you will find them. The latest one, I’m gonna reach back on my desk here is, Code Check, Complete Third Edition. And this is a spiral bound book, so you can easily flip through pages and this thing, it covers, building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical. Super, super fantastic book. And he is not the only one. Another couple other authors, Redwood Kardon, Skip Walker…


TM: Skip Walker.


RS: Who we also had on our podcast, so…


TM: Shout-out to Skip.


RS: Learn a ton to through those guys. Yeah. Shout-out to Skip.


TM: Yeah.


RS: And you know what? On that topic, just one more in that same vein would be somebody else whom I started to know. Once I started blogging, I started sharing a lot of my blogs on this site called the ActiveRain which was really more for real estate agents. And I got to know a number of other home inspectors who were blogging and one of the most prolific bloggers out there back in the day, he doesn’t do as much anymore, it would be Charles Buell. You know Charles, right?


TM: Yeah. I’m glad you brought up Charles.


RS: Yeah. We haven’t had him on the podcast, have we?


TM: No, I don’t think we have.


RS: We need to get that fixed. We need to get Charles on the podcast.


TM: What’s wrong with us?


RS: What is wrong with us?


TM: We do.


RS: Yeah. Yeah. Charles is also a super knowledgeable guy, very well spoken and I just had breakfast with him when I was out in Seattle. That’s where he is.


TM: Did you?


RS: Yeah. Yeah. It was great.


TM: Aww.


RS: We got to catch up. Such a sweet guy. Such a sweet guy.


TM: Yeah. Such a nice guy and he’s got… He was teaching a class recently on energy efficient homes that he’s built throughout his career. It’s a passion of his and he’s…


RS: Yes.


TM: Kind of done some alternative building methods that are very affordable, but extremely efficient and perform well. And so, that was… Yeah, he’s just a really interesting guy. Nice guy.


RS: He is, yeah. And he was doing it way before it was cool. I mean, he’s got these black and white photos he took from homes he was building in the ’70s, like he’s been at this for a long time. Yeah.


TM: Yeah. He knows what he’s talking about. Yep.


RS: Yep.


TM: Yeah, I’m glad you…


RS: All right. Well, Tess, I’ll throw it back to you.


TM: I’m glad you brought up those people.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Okay. So, I’ll make this one brief. Kind of during my college days and pre home inspector profession, I spent some time in the weatherization world and that really taught me a lot about kind of the practical application of building science, thinking about the different systems and how they are all integrated and function together. And so, I was doing a lot of kind of testing for the first time of looking at different ventilation appliances and how ventilation might impact combustion safety and doing worst case depressurization testing on water heaters and furnaces and making sure there wasn’t carbon monoxide coming back into homes once ventilation was added and making houses more energy efficient and airtight and better insulated. And a big part of that too was learning how to do blower door testing and infrared imaging. And so, there’s people from that time in my life that really taught me a lot and couple people, Bruce Stahlberg, we’ve had him on the podcast.


RS: Yep.


TM: Extremely knowledgeable, he’s been doing blower doors and IRs and weatherization stuff for a really long time. And he knows so much about mechanical systems and everything too, so I really learned a lot from him. And then some other people when I worked at Sustainable Resources Center as well, Jake McAlpine, Sadie, the list goes on and on. I’m just very thankful for the training that I received from all those people in the weatherization world and the tools that they taught me to use and how to actually interpret real live data on building air tightness and pressures and mechanical systems and all of that.


RS: Yeah. Awesome.


TM: Yeah.


RS: Awesome.


TM: Okay. How about you, Reuben?


RS: All right. Well, winding down the list, two, I’ll just kind of put them together. Back when I first… Again, when I first started getting into doing home inspections 2004, I started taking a ton of building inspection technology classes through North Hennepin Technical College, North Hennepin Community Technical College, I can’t remember the exact name of it, but they had this really cool program. It was a two-year program on being a building inspector, not a home inspector but working for a city. And today they’ve stripped it down to just about… Well actually, I haven’t even looked recently. I don’t know what’s available, but the last time I checked they had stripped it down to basically four classes kind of teaching you how to read a code book. But back in the day, they had classes on like how to read a code book, they had the intro, they had commercial, they had legal aspects of code administration, they had electrical, they had plumbing, they had mechanical, they had air, all these different things where each one was a semester long college class on how to inspect this.


TM: Wow.


RS: And it’s unfortunate they don’t have this program anymore ’cause it was fantastic. There was some really good stuff. And a couple of the instructors that I ended up taking a lot of classes with and just learning a ton about houses and code administration was Roger Axel whom I think we’ve had on the podcast. If we haven’t, we ought to.


TM: I don’t think we have.


RS: Well, all right, I need to reach out to him.


TM: I’ll have to go back and check.


RS: Just a fantastic instructor. And another one, a name that you’d probably know is Don Sivigny, you recognize that name?


TM: Yes.


RS: Yeah.


RS: Yes, I do. I just saw him at a CE event back in December for Scherer Brothers.


RS: Did you? Okay. Yeah. I can’t remember…


TM: He spoke there. Yeah.


RS: He’s so good about everything. I mean, he just fantastic instructor and I can’t remember his title but the best that I can remember, he’s a big wig with the state.


TM: Yes, he is.


RS: That’s he best way to put it. He is very heavily involved in overseeing all aspects of code administration at the state of Minnesota. Tessa, you got that look in your eye. You’re looking him up, aren’t you?


TM: I am. Supervisor of Education, Code Development, Code Adoption and Grants Programs at the State of Minnesota. I think what he has on LinkedIn.


RS: Yes, a big wig works, huh?


TM: I don’t know how Up to date LinkedIn is for what his current status is but yes, he’s at the top of the food chain for sure.


RS: Yeah, yeah. Super smart guy. I’d love to get him on here too.


TM: Yeah. Yes, yeah.


RS: And then, I’ll just finish with my last one. Back in 2014 when we purchased Private Eye, it was another home inspection company and moisture testing company, the owner there, Barry Eliason, I consider kind of the godfather of intrusive moisture testing here in Minnesota. He kind of kicked it all off back in the very late ’90s ’cause he knew that there was problems with all these stucco houses. So, he went out and got the training and kind of developed his own method for doing intrusive moisture testing. I mean, he was a self-taught guy. And now, anybody who’s doing moisture testing in Minnesota as far as I know, they’re following his methods. And I learned a ton about stucco and water intrusion on all types of houses, not just stucco, and a lot of super cool tricks that I now teach in my water intrusion class. That was the other two-hour class that I taught when I was in Seattle.


TM: Okay. Yeah.


RS: Love teaching all these tricks and I owe a ton of it to Barry Eliason, so gotta give a shout-out to him for being a great teacher too.


TM: Very cool.


RS: That rounds up my list.


TM: Yeah. Okay. Okay. Well, perfect. I just have one more person on my list.


RS: Let’s hear it.


TM: So, Tom Schirber and Tom… This is a… I’m a little bit emotional about this ’cause he actually just passed away like a month ago…


RS: Oh, no.


TM: Unexpectedly. Yep. He passed away in his sleep visiting his family out in California.


RS: Oh.


TM: He… Yeah, so I was just at his celebration of life last week. But, he is definitely someone who’s influenced me and helped me get to where I am today. And I worked with Tom back at the University of Minnesota after I graduated doing research for Department of Energy, the Building America Program. But, it’s hard to encapsulate who Tom was because he was so many things and he was… He had so many skills and talents but at the heart of it, he was a good human being that was trying to help other people. And he had a passion for affordable housing and he worked with Minneapolis. He was always trying to improve the housing market and deal with policy and then he was also boots on the ground volunteering and helping at homeless shelters.


TM: But he was also… He was a contractor and he was an entrepreneur and he was… It’s fun. So, my time working with him at the University of Minnesota, I was working with him and Pat and I would say they were… They complimented each other nicely. Pat was the academic building scientist as I mentioned before, always kind of seeing the pros and the cons and the gray area and never having a black and white answer. And Tom was the yang to his yang. They were complete opposites. Tom was like, “Okay, Pat, that’s great in theory, but what about the real world? That’s not gonna work.” And he just had this ability to kind of know what to do, how to fix problems. He was very practical, very hands-on and always helping people with their projects too. He flipped and built and reconstructed a lot of houses in his lifetime and helped his kids with that and friends, and he was a scholar but he was also kind of a jack of all trades. And so, very talented person but he will be missed. And actually, today is his birthday.


RS: Aww, wow.


TM: Yeah. Yeah. I think he would’ve been, I think, 73, 72 or 73 today. So, thinking about him today and I’m glad that we had this opportunity to kind of talk about people who have mentored us and influenced us but Tom Schirber was definitely someone who helped me look at building science in a practical way. So, I really appreciate the impact he’s had on my life.


RS: Well, appreciate you sharing that Tess.


TM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We could keep going, I think, couldn’t we? I think we’ve got…


RS: So many. Yeah.


TM: So many people. Yeah. And I’m sure I’ll think of more people after we finish recording. But yeah, I am grateful to have so many wonderful mentors in my life.


RS: Yep. Yep. Well, for anybody listening take a minute to thank your mentors. This is… Yeah, we all learn from those before us and nobody is an island in this business. You gotta rely on other people.


TM: So true. Yeah. So true.


RS: All right. Well, Tess…


TM: Well, thanks.


RS: I said this is gonna be a short one, this is gonna be like a quick 20-minute episode. Here we are at like 45 minutes in. It always happens, right?


TM: Once again. Yeah. Once again.


RS: Yep.


TM: Yep.


RS: All right.


TM: Well, so how do people reach us, Reuben? You wanna…


RS: Again, you can email us, we read all of them, it’s I’m Reuben Saltzman for Tessa Murry. Thanks for listening. Take care.