barn quilt panorama

Other Issues

Appraisers are expected to report safety, structural,  environmental and other problems to their clients. In  residential appraisals, this often is termed “calls”. The goal is to improve the family’s safety and well being while at the same time reducing the financial risk to the creditor.  A residential appraiser may point out to a client such as a bank that there is a lack of hand rails or double pane windows in the house. In turn, the bank may require these to be fixed before making a loan on the home. Both the family and the bank benefit from having a safer, more efficient home.


Appraisers working in a rural area are not relieved of this responsibility. Besides the home, many rural appraisals include farm buildings. Except for the electrical code, Minnesota often exempts agriculture buildings from the Minnesota Building Code. Many rural areas have no local inspectors to see that building codes are followed on homes.  As a result, it is not unusual to see safety and structural problems. To follow through on this requirement, any problems seen while completing an appraisal will be reported to you,  the client of the appraisal.


At the end of this tab are the guidelines that FSA is expected to follow on environmental issues. Prior to that is a wide range of various problems seen while completing appraisals in southern Minnesota.



raftersRafters can only support their rated snow load when they are perpendicular to the roof. When rafters come under heavy snow loads, the bottom of the rafter will tend to move sideways. If the bottom of a rafter moves sideways, the strength of the rafter is quickly compromised. As has happened above, this twisting of the bottom of the rafters can even cause them to break and further reduce their ability to hold snow. The older rafters pictured above are strongly built but are allowed to operate as separate units.
New machine sheds will typically be built with smaller sized material but they will be held in place by with horizontal wood pieces that keep the bottom of the rafters in place. These wood pieces typically run the length of the building and force the rafters to work as one. They use the end walls for additional support. These are essential in keeping the bottom of the rafters from moving and the rafters being able to hold the rated snow load. If this horizontal bracing is not sufficient, the snow load will break these horizontal supports and the roof will tend to collapse in the middle of the building.


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shinglesThese are older shingles in need of replacement. The heat, UV light, and weather all work to break down shingles. The colored gravel on shingles is not just for looks. It lengthens the life of the shingles by blocking the UV light and protecting the roof from hail and other weather related deterioration.

It is the oil in the shingles that makes them water repellent, flexible, and holds the gravel in place. As shingles age, the oil evaporates. In turn, the shingles shrink, curl, and become brittle. This roof shows the shrinkage through the enlarged spaces between the tabs on the shingles. There is also a loss of the colored gravel. Along the bottom edge, the shingles are curling and breaking off.


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Decks & Railings

deck 1

Decks more than 18” off of the ground are to have railings. This deck is about 24” off the ground and is considered dangerous.


















deck 2

In certain circumstances, the lack of a deck is considered dangerous.




















deck 3On this deck, the railing verticals are considered dangerous because they are too far apart. A small child could get stuck in them or fall through to the ground. The safety standard is that one should not be able to pass a 4” ball between the verticals.















deck 4

Hand railings are also required on all stairways.



















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radon gasRadon gas is considered a carcinogen. In the US, it is estimated that radon gas kills over 20,000 people a year from lung cancer. Both Iowa and Minnesota have significant levels of radon gas in their soils. For more information, contact






















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mold 1This picture was taken inside a five year old home. Along each outside wall, there were black spots every two feet. Investigation revealed that these were the location where the preformed rafters were attached to the walls. Because the ventilation to the attic area of the rafters had been blocked, moisture built up and flowed down the rafters until it struck the top of the wall. The wall became wet and black mold formed. This excess moisture can quickly rust the small points on the metal plates that hold the rafters together. The roof was also constructed of particle board that disintegrates when wet. To prevent the problem, air has to flow from under the eaves up through the top of the roof. Once a set of rafters and associated roofing is put under water stress for this length of time, the cost to cure could be substantial. It is possible that the whole house including some of the walls may have to be rebuilt.


mold 2This is a close up view of one of the above black spots. The full sized spider in the picture gives one an indication of the size. As stated previously, it is a sign of potential structural problems above.
Black mold can be harmless but other molds and fungus can cause respiratory illness. In this case, there was a family history of the children having numerous colds, etc. Could the mold or another mold/fungus mixed with it be causing the problem? Could the colds and flu simply be considered typical for children? Did they sue someone over the problem? I can only answer the last question. They could not sue anyone. To save the money, they built most of the home themselves.
CAUTION: Without the proper equipment and training, do not enter an attic like this to look at the problem.


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