For anyone buying a home in Saint Paul, here’s some helpful information that we’ve put together, to give you more knowledge about stuff that is specific to Saint Paul homes.
Check out the TISH
Saint Paul requires a Truth-In-Sale of Housing (TISH) evaluation on every single family home, duplex, townhome, and condo listed for sale. A TISH evaluation is like a mini home inspection, but the list of items that are looked at and the comments that are made on the report are regulated by the city of Saint Paul, so this is absolutely NOT a substitute for a home inspection. Nevertheless, looking over this report is helpful to get a snapshot of the overall condition of the home.
To look up Saint Paul TISH reports online, Go to the Saint Paul Safety & Inspections Online page, and click on property search at the bottom right. From there, you can search the property records to find permit records, Truth-In-Sale of Housing reports, and other related information.
The big difference between Minneapolis and Saint Paul TISH evaluations is that Saint Paul doesn’t really require repairs as part of their TISH program; when items are marked as a hazard, nothing needs to be done. The one exception is for smoke alarms; Saint Paul requires the presence of one hardwired smoke alarm near the sleeping areas. If this isn’t present at the time of the TISH evaluation, the fire department follows up on this.
Heritage Preservation District
It’s important to know if you’re buying a property in a Heritage Preservation District, because it means that you’re buying a historic home that you don’t have complete control over. If you want to change the look of the exterior of your home, you need to get permission from the Heritage Preservation Commission, and you will only be granted permission to commence such work if the Commission determines that the proposed work is consistent with the character of the district. For more info on this topic, click here: Historic Designation in Saint Paul, FAQs .
The permit history for Saint Paul homes is listed under the same lookup feature as shown above. If a permit status is listed as “Finaled”, it means the work was approved. If it says anything else, such as “Active/Issued” or “Closed”, the work was not approved. This might be because nobody called for inspections, the work was never done properly, or the work was just never commenced.
Registered Vacant Buildings
If you’re buying a registered vacant building in Saint Paul, do your research first. We have a blog post on our web site that was written on this topic back in 2009: Buying a category 2 registered vacant building in Saint Paul. For the most up-to-date information on registered vacant buildings, go to the Saint Paul web site: http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?nid=1090
Other info specific to Saint Paul
Water Piping: Galvanized steel or lead water supply pipes were installed throughout Saint Paul until 1925. After 1926, everything was copper. If you’re buying a home in Saint Paul built before 1925, find out what the water supply piping for you home is. If it’s not copper all the way out to the street, you might have a problem. There are a lot of homes in Saint Paul with lead water supply pipes. For information about health concerns with lead water mains, click the following link: http://mn-stpaul.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=428 More on the topic of lead and galvanized water pipes here: http://www.structuretech1.com/2014/05/galvanized-steel-water-pipes/
Drinking Water: A+. Just like Minneapolis, Saint Paul has fantastic water, and Saint Paul residents don’t need water softeners. The chemistry of water in Saint Paul also seems to help water heaters last a lot longer; while we typically say that water heaters have a life expectancy of about 10 – 15 years, it seems to be significantly longer in Saint Paul.
Rental Program: If you’re planning to use a home for rental purposes in Saint Paul, be aware that Saint Paul has a rental inspections program.
Housing Maintence Code: Saint Paul has a housing maintenace code, which is used to enforce proper maintenance of properties. See Chapter 34. – Minimum Property Maintenace Standards for All Structures and Premises.