Chad Deschenes is a building inspector who is usually called in when issues like air quality, mold, and moisture have gotten out of control. Chad is here to blow the whistle on some of the standard tiny house building methods, and share some common problems he sees in buildings, large and small. Plus, Chad will share the one system that EVERY tiny house must have. Chad has kindly shared lots of photos to go along with this interview.
In This Episode:
- Every home, even brand new construction, should have an inspection
- Symptoms of a mold issue and the lasting effects
- The one system you must have in your home (tiny or not)
- Workmanship matters: this is where people consistently get it wrong
- SIPs, insulation, vapor barriers, and your roof
- How to detect mold in your house and is it fixable?
Links and Resources:
Chad Deschenes is a building inspector who began researching tiny homes after he was introduced to the tiny house movement while watching the minimalist documentary on Netflix.
Being interested in the minimalist lifestyle, Chad began looking into tiny homes and was surprised and concerned to learn there were really no building safety Code regulations.
As a licensed building inspector for the past 9 years in Canada, Chad has experienced and seen firsthand the numerous construction deficiencies and hazards that happen in buildings old and new, even when there are building regulations in place.
Chad has been committed to educate others since his personal experience with mold which affected the health and wellbeing of his two sons when they were at a young age.
Chad believes that education is the key to fixing this problem, both with tiny home builders and tiny homeowners.
This Week's Sponsor:
Tiny House Decisions
Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!
Chad is driven to educate people
His two sons were the motivation behind his business
Vapor barriers are often improperly installed
Moisture from condensation creates mold
Tiny holes can allow moisture to seep into walls, causing massive damage
This is not what you want your insulation to look like
If you have exposed fasteners in your roof, you should inspect them twice a year
Extreme heat and cold can cause the screws to loosen up
Water damage that's been patched
Chris is conducting a blower door test
You should have a licensed thermographer inspect your home
Even brand new construction should always be inspected
Mold is preventable
Chad Dechenes 0:00
I've been doing this nine years. And I used to I started out the company as our slogan was educating the homeowner. But the sad thing is, is nobody wants to know what's going on in the home. They don't want to know. They think it's going to go away on its own.
Ethan Waldman 0:19
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 152 with Chad Deschenes. Chad Deschenes is a building inspector who is usually called in when issues like air quality, mold and moisture have gotten out of control. Chad is here to blow the whistle on some of the standard tiny house building methods and share some common problems he sees in buildings large and small. Plus, Chad will share the one system that every tiny house must have. Chad has kindly shared lots of photographs to go along with this interview and you can find them on the show notes page at thetinyhouse.net/152. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/152.
I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan to design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know like how you're going to heat it and how you're gonna plumb it and you know what construction techniques you're going to use like SIPs or stick framing or steel framing Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically, and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions. For listeners of the show, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD o learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.
Right. I am here with Chad Deschenes. Chad is a building inspector who began researching tiny homes after he was introduced to the tiny house movement while watching the minimalist documentary on Netflix. Being interested in the minimalist lifestyle himself, Chad began looking into tiny homes and surprised and concerned to learn that there were really no building safety code regulations. As a licensed building inspector for the past nine years in Canada, Chad has experienced and seeing firsthand the numerous construction deficiencies and hazards that can happen in buildings both old and new, even when there are building regulations in place. Chad has been committed to educate others since his personal experience with mold which affected the health and well being of his two sons when they were at a young age. Chad believes that education is the key to fixing this problem both with tiny home builders and tiny home owners. Chad Deschenes, welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Chad Dechenes 3:13
Hello, how are you doing? So much for having me. I'm very excited to be on your show. And I think this has been a long time in the works to have something like this. In my world. Share this with your listeners.
Ethan Waldman 3:28
Yeah, well, I'll share that I think we first got in touch maybe a year ago, like right around the start of COVID. And that kind of blew up everyone's schedules. So I'm glad that we're finally getting to connect on the show.
Chad Dechenes 3:40
Ethan Waldman 3:42
I was curious, just to start, you know, what, what do you do as a building inspector, you know, what does a building inspector do?
Chad Dechenes 3:50
What we do specifically, we look at all components of a building from smallest to largest, you're looking at your building envelope. You're looking at your roof systems, it could be commercial, residential. We do inspections from schools, look at environmental issues, such as mold. Getting into homes itself, a lot of the homes that we inspect are after a family has been in or within about two to three years, and a lot of these homes majority of homes are a brand new home. And a lot of these buildings and homes are never inspected. But there's one part of the system, the code inspectors, it's failing, you know, the homeowner or the building owner. And it really plays. It affects us personally, as well because we see what happens. And there's a lot of systems that are failing. And it's unfortunate. Everything that we see is preventable. And most of these issues are from original construction. So this is where we find that it's so important to educate people for them to have as much knowledge as possible. When they're when they're going to buy a home, or they're working with a builder. In case the builder doesn't know, or, you know, if they're not, if they don't need to implement certain devices or mechanical devices into a home, especially Tiny Homes, this is where we have a stain. Huge issues. Big Issue. Yeah. And, and we need to we need to fix that.
Ethan Waldman 5:29
So So is what you're doing mostly, you know, whether it's with Tiny Homes or other homes, or are you getting called in, like, after the fact when things you know, when things have gone wrong? Is that primarily kind of what your what your role is?
Chad Dechenes 5:45
Yeah, yeah, we started out with, like, the pre-purchase inspections of homes and everything else like that. And we've gone away from that, because, you know, in that type environment, people don't want to know, they look at a new home or a new building. And it's almost like we're, we're talking to a brick wall sometimes. And it's unfortunate, where, because people have that mindset is, Hey, this is a brand new building, or a brand new home. And it doesn't need to be inspected. So this is where we specialized afterwards. And we try to explain to people, you know, this home or building is only new because of the materials, it's the workmanship that we need to inspect right from the get go. So they have an upper hand, so they have something to stand on, and to be protected prior to all the issues. Right. Right in the future.
Ethan Waldman 6:42
Well, maybe we could start. Could you share? You know, you mentioned in your bio, that you had a first hand experience with with a mold issue in your own home. So you know, what, what caused it and what happened?
Chad Dechenes 6:59
Yes, so what has happened, it wasn't in my personal home, it was, it was in my son's mother's home where we separated, she purchased a new home, and they had it inspected and everything else. And my kids would be with me every other week. And I seen their regular cold symptoms, whenever they would come back to my house, within like 24 hours, your symptoms would be gone. And so realizing that, hey, there's something going on in that environment or in the mother's house, which was inspected. Prior to purchasing it, I found out there was a leaking basement, and then they had to do air quality testing, then they had excessive amounts of mold in the home that they couldn't see at the surface. But environmentally, the air spores, the mold spores were going throughout the home. And now that my sons are in their early 20s and late teens, they have health issues such as asthma, and major allergies towards mold. And it gets worse and worse the older they get. And something like that is preventable. 100%. So I have a you know, it's my personal story. And I don't want people to go through what my kids have gone through. But you know, I still see it regularly.
Ethan Waldman 8:24
Yeah. Wow. So what are maybe some of the common issues that you see with with tiny home construction? I know, that's a pretty, pretty broad question. But yeah, what what are some of the common issues that you've seen?
Chad Dechenes 8:44
You know, the biggest thing that I see, I could tell a tiny home builder knows what they're doing, you know, possibly has a better idea what kind of mechanical devices they have to implement in these homes. The number one thing is an air exchange system, all tiny on path to have an air chimp system. And you know, it's it's one of those topics where people will say, I shared my comments on like Facebook forums on Tiny Homes and everything else and other forums in regards to you know, you need to circulate that air in your home. And people will say, Well, we've got ventilation fans and our bathroom, and over the hoods in the kitchen. Well, that's exhausting your air. You're not having that air being researched within the home. And the most important time to have this is in the cooler months. Because what happens is people are not going to have their windows wide open when it's wintertime it's minus 20. depends on where they're located. And what happens is, I say as simple as this, and for people to understand it. When you put a plastic bag over your head and you're and you start breathing, what happens? Condensation. So you're suffocating. So basically your home is suffocating. And those timeframes and in those seasons. Because what's happening is new home construction, all these Tiny Homes, most of these Tiny Homes are being built with the same materials within the new homes are being built with, well, our new homes today are being built so airtight. And this is why they have to have an air exchange system, like it's required, you have to have an air exchange system in your home. So it's bringing in fresh air and exhausting the stale air. So that home is breathing properly. When we had homes built in the 70s, and 80s, we had no issues. You know, there was no issues with mold and everything else like that, because our homes were breathing, but they weren't efficient. But, you know, that's, that's one of the biggest topics that I see. And people need to have that education to have that knowledge when they're looking for a builder. No, it makes sure that that builder, no matter what, it shouldn't be a choice of the homeowner, that should be a requirement. The home builder needs to educate their clients, you know, this is you need this component in your home to be healthy and safe.
Ethan Waldman 11:12
So you're kind of likening it to like you don't get to choose whether your car comes with seatbelts and airbags or not, you know, they just do.
Chad Dechenes 11:19
Ethan Waldman 11:22
Yeah, you know, I know, I'm located in in northern Vermont, so I have a pretty cold climate as well. And, you know, I've kind of developed this theory that, you know, a tiny house kind of pushes, it really pushes your building envelope, it pushes, it pushes the envelope, you know, just in terms of, you know, you're gonna be living inside of this tiny space, this tiny airspace, and and you've mentioned the importance of an air exchange system to get that fresh air in, and the stale air out. And then, you know, another thing that that I've seen, and I'm curious if this is something you've seen as well, is just issues with moisture, you know, getting into the walls, you know, so moisture building up inside of the walls, rather than, you know, in the airspace, but actually damaging the insulation, creating mold, as you said, and even.
Chad Dechenes 12:21
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know,
Ethan Waldman 12:24
Can air exchanger solve that alone, or is there something else that's needed?
Chad Dechenes 12:28
Well, no, that's, that's another issue. So majority of those issues come from if a vapor barrier is being used in that building process, so they have vapor barrier with insulation. But again, if that vapor barrier is not sealed properly, and you're having, you know, people are using tuck tape, or they're using acoustic sealant, but again, you have to have everything has to be done, perfect for that. For that to be done properly, such as there can't be any dust on the vapor barrier on the wall material. So what happens is, I'm gonna say 99.9% of buildings that we test that have vapor barrier, acoustic sealant or tuck tape, which tuck tape is really not allowed in, in, in our area. And so acoustic sealant, which nickname is death sealant, because, you know, it's black and because it's never applied properly, so you're fighting against, okay, is it at the right temperature to apply that? How old is it is expired, is it being applied to areas that are all clean free of dust? I mean, when you're in new construction, I mean, you have all those components, you have all the dust, you know, it's not going to be able to be applied properly. And some of the images I sent to you, and it shows those are the issues that arise that arise out of this type of application. And we've never seen it done perfectly. So again, in Tiny Homes, you know, there's other systems that should be used for building practices other than you know, there's some that should not because of the issues with walls. So you have your warm air on your living space needs cold air from the exterior wall and together that common space and then that's what if you have valid insulation, and then not bad installation to cams? No, there's no more our value in it because it's getting wet because air will go actually go through that installation. And then usually we're using OSB or plywood, but again, then it creates more growth because it's going on that organic materials.
Ethan Waldman 14:54
I'm curious, you know, you you say that, you know workmanship is the issue. And, you know, it's not necessarily the materials fault. It's it's how they're being used. And I'm just curious, you know, if if perfection is is required for these airtight homes, you know, the vapor barrier has to be perfect.
Unknown Speaker 15:19
You know, is there?
Ethan Waldman 15:21
Is there a different solution? Is there an easier solution? Because I, you know, it seems to me that that very few builders are ever going to achieve, you know, perfection in their buildings.
Chad Dechenes 15:35
Yeah, and, you know, there's, there's only one system, I believe, you know, looking at the history of the system, and it's the wall system, panel system. So structurally insulated panels, that is the only way to go, because you're building this home on a trailer, it's not like it's on a foundation. And you know, these are the obstacles that we have to think of, and the importance of it. Yeah. So again, I was, I was introduced to the Minimaliste Tiny home, in Quebec with JP and Elise, from the Minimaliste Tiny Homes. And I have to say, they're probably the first company I watched on YouTube after watching the minimalist documentary, and how they build their homes, and even the materials that they use on the exterior, and interior. Like, I have to say, you know, they have a down pat, they know what they're doing. And they, they introduced the air exchange systems. And, you know, it's not a choice from the client as well, you know, I, I've talked to JP, on a few phone calls, and we get right into it. And it's really it's refreshing to hear, when contractors and builders are doing the things that they are doing, you know, there's good, and there's bad and on everything. But again, my experience so far with even new home, you know, there's not, there's not only the failing systems of, you know, the building practices, the builders, and the materials, how it's applied. But it's also, you know, in, in a lot of the buildings that we inspect where it's all regulated, the code inspectors, they don't, they don't inspect it properly, they don't catch it. And again, this is who pays that ultimate price, with stress and financial loss is the homeowner. And it's, and it's very upsetting for me personally, because I see, no, up front, I see the stress of these families I've had, I've had wives and mothers just break down in front of me, because of how much stress they're under. And nobody wants to take responsibility. And it's hard to see that. Yeah. And, you know, I've been doing, I've been doing this nine years. And I used to I started out the company as our slogan was educating the homeowner. But the sad thing was, is nobody wants to know what's going on in their home.
They don't want to know, they think it's gonna go away on its own.
Ethan Waldman 18:22
Right. It's kind of like I if I can't see it, I don't want to know, because it just, it sounds like it's going to be expensive to fix.
Chad Dechenes 18:30
Ethan Waldman 18:32
But just going going back to what you said earlier, we've definitely talked about SIPs on this podcast before. But it's been a little while, though, it you know, for somebody who maybe started listening in the last couple of months. Could you just explain, you know, what SIPs are? And why? why it is that they're better.
Chad Dechenes 18:53
I mean, you're looking at so you have your, you know, your being a structural insulated panel. So basically, you have that solid piece of foam in there for your insulation, has a better R value depends on the thickness of your walls and your ceiling. You could have a thicker ceiling. So basically, what what makes it best is because you can't have you know, so think there's no vapor barrier. There's no vapor barrier. So as it gets punctured, it's got airflow in there, it's not going to cause all that condensation within that wall because there's there's no chance for that to happen in that type of system. Got it. So it's so go ahead. No, no. So So basically, you're looking at when you have, again, most importantly, your exterior walls on a tiny home. It's all exterior walls, the roof, or thin in your and your sidewalls. So, basically, if there's no vapor barrier that's done properly or maybe they don't include it. You're not you're you're asking for, you're asking for a complete headache. And where you're a construction of your home as the picture you showed me last week of that one home, you know, it was, it's perfectly no three years, I said, when all these items are not done properly, it's gonna take two to three years, until people are gonna start noticing these issues.
Ethan Waldman 20:26
Yeah, and so so Chad is, is referring just for those listening to I guess it's gonna be last week's guest, Chris Murphy. So this is actually a great, this is a great interview to follow that, because listeners will have just been introduced to that to that home and seen those pictures.
Chad Dechenes 20:44
So, you know, I know from I don't know, if he's talked to JP from the Minimaliste in regards to the practices and why they you know, that's, that's the only that's the only system that should be used. You know, a lot of people say, Well, you know, this spray foam, you know, with the Nicole cell spray foam? Well, again, this product is great. Depends, right? And a lot of people don't like it, because the off gassing and everything else like that. But again, the big issues that we find is the application, how is it applied? Again, we're going back to workmanship, we've we've done we've been called by homeowners like with conventional homes, that they're doing their due diligence, they thinking, Hey, we want to make sure we did a great job for a client. And this is, could be done on a tiny home as well. But it's not done right. You can have bigger issues, and then just as regular vapor barrier and bad insulation. So again, this is where I always go back to the CIP system. I would say, for Tiny Homes. That's probably the only system that should be used for Tiny Homes. Interesting.
Ethan Waldman 21:57
Yeah. That's, that's fascinating. So, you know, I'd written down the question, and I guess you've already answered it, which is, you know, if you were gonna build a tiny home for yourself, you know, what system would you use? And it sounds like resoundingly SIPs.
Chad Dechenes 22:12
SIPs. Absolutely, absolutely. All the way.
Ethan Waldman 22:15
Is there an air exchange system that you that you like, for tiny houses?
Chad Dechenes 22:22
No, you have no, what's most popular air exchange system out there that I can introduce from the beginning is The Lunos and actually talking to JP, the minimalist. They used to use the Lunos a lot. And I've talked to those companies. And, you know, it's a great unit. Then I was introduced to there's another one's called the loom Bloomberg, or the bloomer lumber. Yeah. Bloomberg. Yeah, I think it's another European air exchange system. Yeah. But again, it goes down to colder temperatures. So again, up here in Canada, that is great. So I got a lot of more info on that system from GP last week, actually, when I spoke to him. Yeah. Because I noticed that they, they started out with the Lunos. But they changed that.
Ethan Waldman 23:18
Yeah. Yeah. The the, I've also seen a lot of, you know, praise of the Lunos system, though, you know, the criticism that I've heard of it, is that it's it's only 10 CFM. So 10 cubic feet per minute, per pair. And so it doesn't actually move as much air as the current standards require.
Chad Dechenes 23:50
Okay, is that depends on what model? Because they have a few different models?
Ethan Waldman 23:54
Yes, I'm sure there some different models. Yeah.
Chad Dechenes 23:57
Yeah, so it all depends. Again, that's the part where everyone needs to really do their own due diligence to make sure they have the right components. But the biggest thing for me is everyone needs to know, looking at a tiny home, and the builder, and I don't know how many homes I see. They don't have any air exchange, you know, you have to look on each end of the home, they have to have that. If they don't have that, that should be a red flag for everyone right there. Right, because the upsetting thing, you know, getting introduced to the whole Tiny Home movement about 4 years ago, I went to a specific builder. Again, I'm not gonna say any names of course. And I volunteered my time for them. And I said, You know what, our outcome here I'll come with all my equipment. And we'll we'll show you and I try to explain to them what type of components they need to implement into their homes which is, you know, is necessary for a safe and healthy home for their clients. And what they replied to me and they said, You know what? Well, if our clients want one, we'll put one in. I said, No, no, no, you, as the builder need to educate your clients, right, because what their clients are doing, they're looking at the cosmetics, they're looking at, wow, this is cute. Look at the white paint. Well, you know what, that's not going to matter in about two to three years, when things are rotten, and you have an unhealthy home to be in, it's making you or your kids sick. So again, these are, these are the things that really have to change. And I've been trying to do this, I've done it too. I've offered my time, volunteer my time to some builders. And I tell you what, there's only one builder that was open to this, actually, because they're so far away, but they do it already. And that would be the Minimaliste tiny homes, they do this already too specific. They do so many homes, they do a blower door test to see what kind of air change per hour is in the home how airtight is. So they do a lot of things that a lot of builders don't do. Because I feel it's all about the quick buck. It is and not only no air exchange, there's really I mean, you got to really pay attention to is the main system to that house is that roof, your roof is your protector. That's the key component to any home, when I see no sheet metal, when people install sheet metal with exposed fasteners. That's a nightmare waiting to happen. And you know what, as long as the homeowner understands and and understands the, you know, the maintenance that that type of roof system requires to avoid any, you know, issues, water leaks, we see it all the time. And you know, what's the reason why people started?
Ethan Waldman 26:56
Well, I was gonna I wanted to slow you down there because I know why it's a problem. But know what Chad is talking about is you know, your, your metal, your sheet metal that so many people put on tiny house roofs and walls, for that matter. You have these exposed fasteners, so they're little, they're screws that have a bolt head. And then there's usually a little neoprene washer. And so correct me if I'm wrong, Chad, but what I guess what you're referring to is that over time, those washers break down, they actually need to be replaced. Otherwise, you have a roof with 1000 tiny holes in it. That's going to start to leak.
Chad Dechenes 27:40
Actually, yeah, absolutely. So again, there's, there's more to it just in the washers. And again, I have to apologize in advance. I get you know, I get really involved with what I see. And I remember with all the inspections we've done yeah. And you know, I get a little excited and you may have to stop me.
Ethan Waldman 28:01
I like your passion and I you know I I'll try to slow you down when I feel like something you know, I'm gonna slow it down and explain to the listeners what you're talking about.
Chad Dechenes 28:11
Absolutely. So what happens is you have a few different reasons why the exposed fasteners shouldn't not never be on the roof of a tiny home or even the sidewalls is because one as you mentioned, Ethan, is a gasket, but also to again getting into the workmanship where if those screws are stripped and if they are over tightened. Also too is what happens is through weather conditions with when they change that metal will twist in vinyl actually possibly over the fastener or the fastener will actually extract part of the roof.
Ethan Waldman 28:52
Wow, that sounds even worse.
Chad Dechenes 28:55
So that's why I sent you I sent you I sent you a few pictures showing you of the fasteners itself actually extracting themselves out of the materials of the material.
Ethan Waldman 29:07
Yeah, and so those Chad did send me a bunch of photos, including photos of some moisture issues in a wall and then some issues with roof fasteners and those are all going to be up on the show notes episode or the Show Notes for this episode, which is going to be thetinyhouse.net/152 because this is episode number 152. So just for anyone listening who wants to see some photos, there are a lot of really good photos that that illustrate this at at thetinyhouse.net/152.
I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It starts with the big decisions which is you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help? is a is a prebuilt shell a good idea? is a house on wheels better than on the ground and what works better for you? Deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in the in part two, we get into the system so heat, water showers, hot water, toilets, electrical, refrigeration ventilation. And we're only two thirds of the way through the book at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions talking about nails versus screws, SIPs versus stick framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing. We talked about how to construct a sub floor, sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, windows, flooring, kitchen. I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive Tiny House Decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages. It contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions using the coupon code tiny when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD. That's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check out at thetinyhouse.net/THD.
Well, I was gonna I wanted to slow you down there because I know why it's a problem. But so what Chad is talking about is you know, your, your metal, your sheet metal that so many people put on tiny house roofs and walls, yeah matter that have these exposed fasteners. So they're little, they're screws that have a bolt head. And then there's usually a little neoprene washer. And so correct me if I'm wrong, Chad, but what I guess what you're referring to is that over time, those washers break down, they actually need to be replaced. Otherwise, you have a roof with 1000 tiny holes in it. That's gonna start to leak.
Chad Dechenes 32:09
Actually, yeah, absolutely. So again, there's, there's more to it just in the washers. And again, I have to apologize in advance. I get you know, I get really involved with what I see. And I remember what it's all the instructions we've done. Yeah. And you know, I get a little excited and he may have to start slow down. Well, you know, I just,
Ethan Waldman 32:32
that's good. I like your passion. And I you know, I I'll try to slow you down when I feel like something, you know, we got to slow it down and explain to the listeners what you're talking about.
Chad Dechenes 32:41
Absolutely. So what happens is you have a few different reasons why exports fasteners should not never be on the roof of a tiny home or even the sidewalls is because one, as you mentioned, you think is the gasket, but also to is, again getting into the workmanship, where if those screws are stripped and if they are over tightening and also to is what happens is through weather conditions with when they change that metal will twist and bind will actually populate over the fastener or the fastener will actually extract out of the roof. Wow. That sounds even worse. So that's why I sent you I sent you, I sent you a few pictures showing you of the fasteners itself actually extracting themselves out of the materials of the material.
Ethan Waldman 33:38
Yeah, and so those Chad did send me a bunch of photos, including photos of some moisture issues in a wall and then some issues with roof fasteners and those are all going to be up on the show notes episode or the Show Notes for this episode, which is going to be thetinyhouse.net/152 because this is episode number 152. So just for anyone listening who wants to see some photos, there are a lot of really good photos that that illustrate this at at thetinyhouse.net/152.
Chad Dechenes 34:10
Actually, and just for all the listeners, if they look at the pictures will say hey, that's not a tiny home. No, I know, a lot of these homes, but it's the same building practices that people are using on the Tiny Homes. So actually, we're going to be doing a full detailed inspection on a tiny home that the we met this young lady that has purchased this home that she's been in this home for a year and a half now. And we looked at it and there's a lot of issues and we need to help her to educate her to actually to catch this to prevent any major issues. So her home can last a long time and you know, she spent an enormous amount of money on this home. You know what we're talking over $150,000 that is a lot of money. And I guess, yeah, and you know it for me personally, I have a real hard time when I hear these builders, they charge that kind of money, and they only offer a one year warranty. And I'm like, you know, what, if you're a good builder, and you know, your, your building practices are, are good, and you really care about your clients, and your warranty should be a lot longer than one year. Because you know what, you're not going to find the issues before that one year, even after that one year, they're away from their hand cleaning, done, not responsible. And that that's upsetting for me. Because, you know, it's, I find that there's a lot of builders out there that are doing this, and they're just, you know, they're concerned about filling their pockets. And but again, I'm hoping after all of this, you know, there's a lot of builders that will do the right thing. But again, they need to do their due diligence as a builder for their clients, they have to. So people, so the thing is, today, our homes are making us sick, they're making a sick, because, you know, we have issues, environmentally, but a lot of times, we don't know, until, say two to three years, even if it's a new home. So what happens is, we want to spend all of our time, most comfortable and safe, we feel in our homes, with our families. But again, first thing 90% of our times in our homes, and then what happens when we get sick, we spend that time going to the doctors, but the doctors will never ask you, okay, have you ever had a leak in your home? No, they're there just to manage what's going on with you. They'll give you some, some pills, whatever, hopefully it goes away, we all have to pay attention, what's going on with our health when we're in our home, from when we're away from our homes. So this is something you know, again, on my personal side, where I noticed with my boys, and the amount of times that we've been to specialists and doctors and everything else, mold is 100%, preventable 100% it should not exist in buildings or homes. But again, we have to make sure it's done properly. And we need to maintain again, just because it's a tiny home, our home, even Tiny Homes need to be maintained properly. But the home owners need to be educated. What they need to do to maintain that home.
Ethan Waldman 37:31
Yeah. So let's, let's kind of shift gears to because I think you've made a really compelling, you know, case for this? And what can I want to ask the kind of to two things. The first main section is like, for somebody who is currently maybe shopping for a tiny home or use tiny home, you know, what kind of inspection? What kind of inspections should they do? Can they do it themselves? Or do they need to hire, you know, a professional. And then the second one that I want to ask later is just for somebody who's already in a tiny home, what kind of diagnostic things can they do, to kind of see if their home has one of these problems and maybe catch it before it becomes, you know, a catastrophic mold problem?
Chad Dechenes 38:27
Yeah, you know, there's those are all those are all very good questions. And there's a lot you can do. So in regards to, you know, if someone's in a home already, and, you know, prior to say that one year, passing of the warranty depends on what the warranty is. I would have you know, someone that is greater, maybe they built the house themselves. Yeah. They built the house themselves, if they see, you know, making sure , you know, making sure they feel drafts. First of all they should have, if they don't have an air exchange system in there, they should have one installed. No, and it doesn't matter, you know, the average about anywhere from $1200 to $1500. I tell you, that's going to be the best money you want to spend. Yeah, basically, and then giving them to, you know, to see if there's any issues because he needs to have specific tools. And now, I would recommend people contacting a thermographer. So basically, they're trained in thermal imaging, and it's not a piece of equipment that you can just turn it on. You need to understand what the image is telling you and you need to always have verification, right? So just thought about the thermal camera, you need to have verification. know is that infiltration, is that moisture? You need that proof as well. So that's when you dig if you have to dig a little bit deeper to find the cause of issues what's going on. So, thermal imaging on a tiny home would be a good thing because you're, especially if you have a metal roof with metal siding and with exposed fasteners, I highly, highly recommend someone be called in that the trained thermographer, and also ask these people if they're trained in thermography, it's not just a point on, you know, just turn on the camera and shoot, take a look at whatever the building is. There's a lot to that as well.
Ethan Waldman 40:30
So what would that what would that thermography tell you about the building,
Chad Dechenes 40:36
So you you'd have different images such as you know, more of, and it doesn't hurt. Understanding, if you have a vapor barrier with batt insulation, you can put a blower door system if if they do a blower door test on there. That's where you can see where all the air infiltration is. So basically, that's where you'll have issues. So basically, to do a thermal imaging, you could see if there's any moisture coming in with verification with the moisture tester, and then also to is with a board or it didn't have air infiltration signatures. So having those two, those are the those are the key components is test that in a tiny home for sure, in any home, but in a tiny home, especially if they had that tin roof with exposed fasteners, I'd highly recommend that, you know, you want to catch a leak, even before it becomes an issue. Got it? Got it.
Ethan Waldman 41:39
So in a lot of the pictures that you've sent, especially the ones where you know, you're you're finding moisture, and you're finding holes in the walls, you know, you've clearly had to remove the interior wall to get there. Are there any other diagnostics that that a homeowner can do themselves? Like, let's say they just are like, Oh, my house smells kind of kind of funny, kind of musty as there? Are there any, like over the counter air tests? Are the tests for things that people can do?
Chad Dechenes 42:11
No, you know, you see a lot of that, you could pick up an air sampling unit and test it. So I've heard a lot of clients doing that previous to calling us doing air quality testing. Yes, you could do that, but also to is and it all goes together with like a thermal imaging. So all those pictures I sent to you, before we open up the walls to find these issues with the mold and the sheet device within the wall systems, we thermal scan that entire area to see. Okay, so then we know, we knew we had to go in a little bit deeper into our investigations. So getting to air quality testing, I highly recommend to spend your money wisely to have a certified indoor air quality testing done completely. So they have their machine, it's calibrated, you know you're doing that and you know, they offer these, they could sell them at Home Depot or any other Home Hardware for 10 to $15, then it's not done properly, then you have to send it to the lab, there's so many different steps. If they're not done properly, you're not going to get the proper amount that you need. Yes. So again, sometimes when if it's too if it's really if it seems like it really easy, then, you know, there's more to it, it's, it's, I wouldn't recommend it personally. And that's why I just get recommendations of someone that just simply does that. Actually, there's a lot of throw, throw US and Canada, there's a number of people that do air quality testing and that type of inspection with thermal imaging or even Florida, right. But you know, these are the things that builders, these are the things that builders could actually show to their clients. This is the steps that they take. I mean, that's that's for the longevity of the business that they accompany. Sure, no, and also to see if a tiny home company, if a builder has a numbered company, that's another red flag. I see a lot of that where they ended up going bankrupt or they they closed that company. And then what happens is a few weeks later, they start a new company.
Ethan Waldman 44:31
Right and they kind of escaped the bad bad reputation of the one name and then go on to the next name.
Chad Dechenes 44:38
Ethan Waldman 44:40
So it sounds like I mean if somebody listening is is maybe in the market for a US tiny house because I know that that is also you know not everybody out there is is buying a brand new tiny house, you know, due to the cost. It sounds like you are recommending that, you know, somebody does, you know, hires a professional to do an inspection of blower door tests thermal imaging to make sure that the house doesn't have these kinds of issues before they before they buy it.
Chad Dechenes 45:19
Yeah, so, again, just because it, you know, there's say someone a used house. So again, for myself, I'd really look into that a little bit deeper. But maybe they found issues, and that's why they want to sell it, I run into that a lot. You know, so basically, it's like, I highly recommend if someone is looking at buying a used home, that, you know, that's very important to get that inspected. And you don't want to be caught with someone else's neglect, or like the homeowner or the builder, right. And in that it's very unfortunate that we, in the last few years, we've inspected brand new homes, when these homeowners have been in there for a year or two years max. And we find the issue, the reason why we're in there, because they didn't have this home inspected, because it was brand new. And they would say, Well, why do we need this inspected? It's a brand new, we're buying it from the builder. Well, and then we explained to them, this is why we're here right now, because you want to catch these issues. So what happens is, and, you know, they shouldn't be doing this, but this is what happened, they fix issues that they found at the time that we inspected, and we will show them all the proof. And what did they do? They sold their house, you know, it's like passing the buck. Nobody wants to pay to have that. You don't want to pay that ultimate price. And that's, you know, it's bad, it is I see way too much. loss? No.
Ethan Waldman 47:07
So, you know, once a house is kind of built wrong. What What can, what can homeowners do? Because I'm unfortunately, I'm going to imagine that the majority of homeowners are going to find themselves in a situation where the how you know, where they are having these issues, rather than you know, that their builder knew this in advance. So what are the common techniques for kind of remediating these issues?
Chad Dechenes 47:40
So first of all, you need to know exactly the extent of it, I mean how much you know, how much damage is there? Like, again, going back to those images you showed me. I'm sure they, they started off with one little area, and then they exposed everything, right? So it's, there's a, there's, there's so much to make sure that things are done, right. But again, this is this is for your listeners to be at the beginning of the game of looking at a home or whatsoever, you want to catch all these issues, even if it costs you, wherever, whatever area you're in, it's worth that few hundred dollars to get it inspected. But again, you have to make sure that you're getting the right inspector as well, you know, just like I said, there's good builders, there's, there's not so good builders. Same thing within inspections, people are not as depends on how detailed they are, how thorough they are, know how much experience they have. So you'd like even with builders, if someone's buying a new tiny home from a builder, you know, you want to ask how many, how many homes have they built? How many homes have they built where people have actually lived in for like two to three winters? Or, you know, two to three years full time? You know. So again, but if there's been an issue, no, there's not a perfect home? I mean, as humans, we're not perfect. So if there's mistakes, find out from their previous clients, how did they take? How are they taken care of? If there's any issues that arise from their home? Were they taken care of? Or did they try to pass the buck? Or did they say, Well, no, that's not our responsibility. So again, it's unfortunate but again, this is your home, you'ree spending a lot of money in. You want to make sure you're in a healthy space environment. You know, I tell my clients now there's three things in life. And I'll ask you, Ethan. I'm sure you'll get it. There's three things in life that we spend the most money on, and the most neglected and the one of them is the most important. One is is the number one in life. Can you guess those three
Ethan Waldman 49:59
Home? I'm guessing it's it's our homes, our cars, and the most neglected that we spend the most money on. Our kids? I don't know.
Chad Dechenes 50:13
Yeah. ourselves. Our own selves.
Ethan Waldman 50:16
Chad Dechenes 50:18
Absolutely. And you know what you get you get a gold star for that.
Ethan Waldman 50:24
Was I right on the cars?
Chad Dechenes 50:26
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So again, our homes, you know, there's times that I'll go into a friend's home. And they'll say, Chad, don't say anything I don't want to know. And, you know, what am I saying, you listen, I give you I'm trying to give you a free advice here, if I if I haven't talked to a lawyer account, are getting charged by every minute or 30 minutes. You know, it's like, this is free advice. And it's like, for me, it's like, I don't understand. So, you know, for the longest time, I've always said, you know, there's a lot of people that could find issues, deficiencies in home. But again, the reason why I created this company, my company is dedicated to my two sons because of what they went through. And I have a passion, a mission to try to change things, because a lot in the construction world with new construction, why are there so many issues, even when another, you know, in new properties? It is regulated. You have the code inspectors, but for me, right? I know, this can continue. There's other inspectors out there, there has to be another path. And I want to pick that other path to educate people and like to show them because pictures, say a million words. You know, I don't have to really say...
Ethan Waldman 51:46
Are you available? You know, for somebody listening? You know, somebody hears this interview and wants to work with you? Can you do this over like Zoom or video chat? Or do you really recommend that people find somebody local? Who can actually step foot in that home?
Chad Dechenes 52:03
Oh, absolutely. You know, we do i do consulting stuff, like the Zoom, I can explain to them what's going on. But again, if they could, you know, and what I can make recommendations, what next steps they should do? We do a lot of that. And you know, we're absolutely open to that. Right now I'm looking at, I would love to travel the country and to to go to tiny home builders or homeowners, you know, and so we could we could change this movement. Because you know, what, I was dead on three or four years ago, I said, there's going to be a lot of issues with mold in the next few years. And people are not going to realize, yeah, because when this whole new Tiny Home movement came in, again, being all over YouTube, you just saw this cute little, you know, home, and it's like, wow, yeah, it more freedom. Right. But again, it doesn't change, it doesn't change if it's not done right.
Ethan Waldman 53:12
I'm very appreciative of of the time that you've, you've spent here with me. And I realized that I forgot to ask you a follow up question from earlier. So I just want to briefly touch back on on the roof. Because you talked about the metal roof with exposed fasteners, you know, what, what style of roofing do you recommend for for a tiny home.
Chad Dechenes 53:37
So again, being in one tiny home, we want to have materials to be you know, to do as much preventable maintenance as possible or very little to no maintenance. So basically, standing seam, a standing seam metal roof system, hands down. Same thing as you could use that same material on the walls itself. And, you know, again, going back, going back to, you know, for people to go onto YouTube, and look at the Minimaliste Tiny Homes, out of Quebec. This is what they do these, these are their Google practices. And again, they do they have it down pat, they know what they're doing. Yep.
Ethan Waldman 54:18
Yep. So I have a standing seam roof on my tiny home and I love it. But it is, that is a very expensive option is there, you know, if somebody really just can't afford to do the standing seam, but then they don't want to do the the exposed metal fasteners, is there another roofing system that you know is kind of a budget pick but is is acceptable to you?
Chad Dechenes 54:43
You know, shingle architectural shingles, no shingle roof, there's a lot less maintenance than there are to the metal roof with exposed fasteners. Those exposed fasteners metal roof system, you have to check that twice a year. Twice a year. So once right once, in a once at the end of summer where the most extreme heat from the twisting and binding of the metal, then right after winter. So again, after the most extreme winter weather conditions, you want to check those, but again, I would say all builders, all Tiny Home Builders should get away from a metal exposed - away from them. And I know you said I know that it's, it's more costly for the standing seam. But again, think about that. That's, that's almost an insurance investment. So again, you know, as insurance, we don't know, how stressful it is to deal with insurance companies. We don't want to contact insurance companies, we can prevent any issues, but again, shingled roof, over a metal roof with exposed fasteners, you know, I would recommend a shingles over that.
Ethan Waldman 55:57
Nice. Well, one thing that I like to ask all of my guests, you know, what are two or three, you know, books or other resources that people can check out if they, you know, want to learn more about this field or, you know, learn more about the science and what goes into it?
Chad Dechenes 56:18
You know, what, I can't I can't stay on the books. I'm not a book guy. I don't do much reading. But I'd have to stay. You know, you go Google and Google, again, exchange system exchange system for timing. There's a lot of literature, there's a lot of info on there on the web. Getting into again, thermography, all that sort of things are also tools because we have a website, we have a lot of images on there to show a lot of issues, and they could check that out. And if they have any other questions, you know, they could feel free to contact us. That's that's what we're here for us.
Ethan Waldman 57:07
Chad Deschenes, thank you so much for for spending the time and being so passionate about, about Tiny Homes.
Chad Dechenes 57:14
You know what? It is a passion of mine. And you know what? I have to say thank you for what you're doing, Ethan, this is I mean, this has to get done. I've always said to people, we could change things if we're a colony of ants that gets things done. But if we're a single ant, it's a lot harder to get things accomplished. But if we get like minded people, to change this type of movement to change these issues in these homes, it can be done. Anything is possible.
Ethan Waldman 57:47
Thank you so much to Chad Descheness for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including all the photographs that Chad shared with us, and links to Chad's business and website at thetinyhouse.net/152. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/152. Also, don't forget to check out my signature resource and guide, Tiny House Decisions. You can get 20% off using the coupon code tiny when you visit thetinyhouse.net/THD. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD for Tiny House Decisions. Well, that's all for this week. I am your host Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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