When Attic Insulation Is A Mess - One Small Step For Man, One Giant...

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

New construction inspections are always interesting - especially when attic insulation is a mess -

One small step for man, one giant leap for a poor indoor environment.

Attic insulation is very often a problem in new construction. 

How?

Usually the builder advertises a high R-value (which can only be defined as depth of insulation), but they try to do so in funny ways.  They say the insulation they blow in is "special" and of a higher R-value so they only have to blow in 9"!  Or they say there are so many square feet in the attic and they put in so many bags and that, of course, dontcha know, defines R-value!

OF COURSE NONE OF THAT IS TRUE.  R-VALUE IS ALWAYS DEFINED BY INSULATION DEPTH, NO MATTER THE KIND OF INSULATION.

But here is another problem.

Different trades go into the attic space.  Each makes their "one small step" (many steps actually) into the attic insulation.

The electrician, the cable company, the security company, the bedroom ceiling fan installers, the guys who spray paint the dormer window - and the list goes on.

It can be a parade.

And each of them walks around the attic creating footprint divots in the insulation!

All over the attic!

Does it occur to them to fill in the holes they create in the insulation?

If it does, and they actually did fill in their holes, someone else is likely to follow who does not!  And the holes remain.

Each of those holes is a spot where the insulation ability, defined as R-value, is dramatically reduced.

And in this attic, like in many in new construction, the footprint divots were everywhere.  This is just one photo of just one direction as viewed from the attic access hole.

When I mention it and the supervisor hears me, he often says something snippy about what I expect - that he would go up there with a rake and smooth it all out?

THE ANSWER IS YES.  THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPERVISOR WITH OVERALL RESPONSIBILITY SHOULD DO.  MAKE SURE IT IS CORRECT, EVEN IF HE HAS TO SMOOTH IT OUT HIMSELF.

After all, if it was his house, what would he do?  What would he want?

Do unto others likewise.

My recommendation:  on new construction things should be in pristine condition.  And things should be proper.  This home is supposed to be one of the vaunted Energy Star homes!  Not only should the insulation be deep and smooth, it should have been looked at and approved by another authority, like RESNET, to certify its capacity and R-value.  If the RESNET certifier saw this, either he did not care or does not realize it's incorrect.  He approved it!

Yes, I am finding less and less value to the RESNET evaluation and certification of new construction...

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
788,079
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Hey Jay, not sure when you changed your profile picture, almost didn't recognize you!

 

I agree new construction better be perfect, especially when paying a premium for it.

Aug 22, 2014 07:49 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

AB (and you know who you are...) - no matter what is advertised, it needs careful checking!

That's a good move Steve, always!

Joan - anything that reduces the depth of insulation will reduce it's R-value.

Norma - so much bears checking!  And even on new construction.  Insulation should be a one and done installation.

Kevin - that photo was taken at our last AR get together.  Since that photo I am down almost 50 pounds... 

Aug 22, 2014 08:01 AM #33
Rainmaker
2,447,016
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Most excellent posting from the front lines of Inspecting...well done. I had this type of insulation blown in and when I found out they had extra, I told them, blow it all! They did! I am "R"-MAX rating...LOL

Aug 22, 2014 08:13 AM #34
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Is that anything like the movie "Mad Max," Richie?

Good decision, by the way.  One and done!

Aug 22, 2014 08:15 AM #35
Rainmaker
645,797
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

I agree about the insulation especially since it will be 97 here tomorrow with a heat index of about 108. I have installed an attic fan which sucks hot air out of the attic. On a thermostat  set to start at 95 degrees. It helps.

Aug 22, 2014 12:51 PM #36
Rainmaker
2,520,684
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

This is very useful information about attic insulation.  I can imagine it would pack down or not "measure up" to the R rating with time, and attic activity, like you point out.

Aug 22, 2014 01:10 PM #37
Rainmaker
2,753,228
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It's all how you bake the cake in other words, rather then how do you market it

Aug 22, 2014 04:42 PM #38
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Heat seeks cold, Bill, so in summer it's trying to get in!

Myrl - it does pack down, with storage or walking.  Either way it's ability is reduced dramatically.

Laura - the value of marketing you say?  There are 20 mountains in North America higher than Pike's Peak.  How many can you name?

 

 

Aug 22, 2014 08:20 PM #39
Ambassador
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TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good evening Jay. I totally agree. It is amazing how many times the attic cavity looks like who did it and ran,

Aug 22, 2014 08:22 PM #40
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's a regular photo of the moon surface Michael!

Aug 22, 2014 08:23 PM #41
Rainmaker
1,428,378
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Thanks for the explanation - I hadn't realized the only thing that increases "R" values is depth.

Aug 22, 2014 09:27 PM #42
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Despite the sometimes claim that "this insulation is special" from the builder, Kat!

Aug 22, 2014 09:32 PM #43
Rainmaker
1,030,702
Christopher Lotte
Red 1 Realty - Lithopolis, OH
Central Ohio Realtor, 614-390-9243

Hey there ,

great post, thanks for bringing this here...

 

have a good day!

Aug 23, 2014 04:45 AM #44
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's what I do Christopher!  Thanks for stopping by.

Aug 23, 2014 05:10 AM #45
Rainmaker
1,763,811
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Maybe we should be required to rake behind us Jay, sort of like in the sand traps at a golf course.

Aug 24, 2014 12:50 AM #46
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

If everyone managed themselves with personl leadership, or regarded the Golden Rule, Tom, nobody would be "required."

Aug 24, 2014 03:15 AM #47
Ambassador
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Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Thanks for showing an example of a variable R-value.

Aug 24, 2014 11:22 AM #48
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This is a fine example of that Michelle, and truly, this seldom occurs to people!

Aug 24, 2014 08:03 PM #49
Rainmaker
163,603
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA
DomainRealty.com LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

In earlier years as a practicing home inspector I've seen insulation installed in every wrongway possible and installed properly but disturbed by others. Attics are often full of surprises and they certainly are not all good.

Aug 25, 2014 07:23 AM #50
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

All true Jim.  Most are not good, frankly.

Aug 25, 2014 08:39 AM #51
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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