What I'm Seeing Now


"Your Inspector Pushed Down The Insulation Just To Take A Photo Of It"

The Realtor called me many times after the final new-construction inspection that began with this roof, this time saying that the supervisor told them, "Your inspector pushed down the insulation just to take a photo of it."

Yeah, right.

Do you see how erratic and fluffy that is?

Does it look smashed down?

It is not, and I do not set up photographs.

That is a most disingenuous comment by a very unprofessional person.

I took a dozen measurement-tape readings around the scuttle hole.

They were all 7" - 8".

Looking around the attic there were high and low spots, footprint divots all over which were never filled back in, and something I have never seen before -

insulation blown in so uncaring it actually filled the gaps in the soffit-vent baffles!  The installer angled the insulation stream so high it landed way up the truss! 


This house is SUPPOSED to be an Energy Star house.

I don't know if they have had their final Energy Star approval.  That means somebody RESNET qualified should come to the house to investigate various things, including attic insulation.

Here is the criteria for Energy Star insulation nationwide.

Virginia is in Zone 4.

Every supervisor on EVERY new home inspection has argued that 13" of blown-in fiberglass is R-38.

That stuff has an R-value of 2.5 per inch.

I don't know about your math, but mine says that 13" does not reach R-38.

Nor the 7" to 8" inches in this attic.

Insulation is ONLY effective when it is level and uniform, and reaches a depth consistent with the stated R-value for the material used.

My favorite is blown-in cellulose.  It has a 3.7 per inch R-value, does not settle much over time and does not absorb heat from the house so much at lower temperatures.  Blown-in fiberglass has the least R-value, settles a lot, especially over time, absorbs heat from the house, and is my least favorite insulation.

It especially does not help to blow insulation into the venting baffles.  That photo is representative of many of the baffles visible from the scuttle hole to the attic.  Does the supervisor think I floated over there to do that too?

My recommendation:  the house is the house.  I don't invent stuff!  People often don't believe me when I say I saw this or that -- until they see the photograph!  And I don't set up the photographs!  And if you are going to tout an Energy Star house, it should meet Energy Star criteria.  And that criteria should be met overall, not only for insulation...




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 51 commentsJay Markanich • October 28 2013 03:42AM


It must have been quite annoying to hear the comment about the setup of the pictures.  Anyone who knows you or has read about your experiences would know that wasn't true!


Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) about 7 years ago

It's expected Kat.  I hear that sort of thing often from supervisors.  They are trying to cover themselves, but really, it's immature and it doesn't work.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay.... I always thought that rigid foam had the greatest R factor.... the biggest bang for the buck...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) about 7 years ago

It might Barbara, but it is har to install in attics without leaving lots of gaps and holes.  The best might be Icynene foam, but you can't afford it and would never break even.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Pretty amazing stuff, Jay.  I hope that they fix these issues for the new homeowner's without any more accusations.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Hope he has to go for more traing for energy star and then anger management.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) about 7 years ago

Desperate people take desperate measures and try to blame someone else for their errors.  Looks like you were in their sights

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) about 7 years ago

What should have been a soft blanket of energy efficient comfort...quite a nightmare !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 7 years ago

Gabe - the realtor said they were "adding insulation."  I don't know what they means because the builder's criteria for R-38 is 12"!!

Raymond - to quote a movie line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a fat one..." You understand what I mean.  ;>)

In more ways than one James.  This builder banned me from a neighborhood 25 years ago because I identified the stamp on the underside of the roof sheathing (visible from the attic) that said, "This side should be installed up."  Boy, were they mad at me!  It was all my fault.

Not really S&D!  If you want R-38 in five years, you need to blow in more than that now!  It settles!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Oh gosh.  Trying to pass the blame again.  And what does the home inspector have to gain?  Nothing.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 7 years ago

Really a schmuck comment, right Debbie?  I don't have the creativity to stage some of the photos I take!  Lots of that stuff would never occur to me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Had a seller say the other day, after it was discovered his DIY installed septic tank was cracked, "I don't believe it". Um, yea, all of us, the buyers, inspector, agent, were seeing things. Oh and did I mention the photos. 

BTW, fiberglass insulation doesn't absorb heat, it lets it pass through rather effectively. Espeically that fluffy blown in type. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago
Glad you tell it like it is. Again, it is so important for buyers to hire an independent inspector during different phases of construction because builders are bound to cut corners and produce shoddy workmanship.
Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) about 7 years ago

My father-in-law had his insulation blown in and they covered the vents also... until he had ice damming problems and had to have a dehumidifier in his house in the middle of winter. The whole perimeter of his house ceiling drywall was damaged.

Posted by Goran Utvic, We Buy & Sell Chicago Houses Fast (606 Homes LLC | Chicagoland Brokers Inc, Chicago IL 60656) about 7 years ago

Jim - I read some study somewhere and the guy said that below 10F it actually absorbs heat from the house.  That's probably true, but I haven't any links.  I KNOW heat passes through!  DIY septic?  Sheesh...

Thanks Rosie, but we all try to be objective.  I have nothing to gain from identifying this.  They don't employ me later to come and make it right.

Goran - the DIY guy doesn't know what he doesn't know.  And the consequences follow!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Insulation is probably one of the most over looked Items for the buyers. Here in South Florida you can feel the difference between room to room.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) about 7 years ago

I am a cellulose man as well... it's not as itchy either! Plus, you can make snow angels :-)

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 7 years ago

This looks another example showing how little many builders care, and that they want to do everything as cheaply as possible whether it's right or wrong. Why doesn't the builder just call the insulation guy back and say, your install is wrong and you need to add more and clear out the vents before you get paid?

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) about 7 years ago
Jay - I would not be happy to get that phone call, but then again, I work for the buyer in this case, and I would have had your back from past history of using you that you merely take photos of items as they appear and it appears the attic is not correctly insulated!
Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) about 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Just another day of getting blamed for an issue that we had nothing to do with.

I have inspected home where the so called ruler for the depth had been stapled three inches short onto the flooring and not flush with the base of the rafter or joist. They said I did it. O.K.....

Have a good day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 7 years ago

Jay, the builder must have been measuring the insulation in centimeters. They have to blame someone for their inefficiency.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 7 years ago

Jay, it sounds like it 's one of those "you can't handle the truth" moments". It's not surprising that when confronted with the truth, this loser resorted to accusing you of manufacturing a picture! Upsetting...

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) about 7 years ago

There was a case here, where the builder did not put in any insulation in the upstairs bonus room and the home inspector caught it. That's why it's important to use a home inspector even on new construction.

Posted by Pam Graham, Jacksonville, Clay & St Johns Counties (All Real Estate Options) about 7 years ago

Good morning and this is nuts!! Keep up the good work and good luck with your business,  E

Posted by Ed & Tracy Oliva, The Oliva Team Arizona Agents (West USA Realty - Arizona) about 7 years ago

It almost sounds like there was a personal vendetta or something..

Hope this is resolved soon.

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team) about 7 years ago

Maybe your tape measure is uncalibrated Jay, try resetting the numbers.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 7 years ago

You darn home inspectors, always ruining it for the shoddy contractors!  Think of that in a Scooby Doo cartoon voice.

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 7 years ago

After I had my attic blow, I have not allowed just anyone up there for fear they would disturb the levels

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 7 years ago


Love your posts as you convey so much good knowledge and sense of logic.  Priceless how defensive folks are when they know it's not been done right, but would rather blame you than solve the problem.  

A knowledgeable inspector is worth their weight in gold!  (Haven't actually done the math on that, but invaluable.)

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) about 7 years ago

Rafter buddies, mates don't work so hot if the insulation covers the soffit vents and the place can not breath huh?

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) about 7 years ago

Jay, come on, I know you routinely take the lawn roller up there just for fun

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago


I've seen the size of your shoe and that compression wasn't done by you 


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 7 years ago


I'm so glad you pointed this out!  I'm going to have to check my attic, and certainly this is something I can make my clients aware of.  Thanks for the share!  Too bad some builders skimp or at least don't inpsect the work of their subs well!  Hope the buyer demanded they fix this.

Posted by Jared Garfield, Invest With The Best For The Highest Returns! (Rich Life Real Estate Team) about 7 years ago

Having been on many a home inspection with you I can say that you are nothing but professional.  Besides, who has time to invent and stage problems?  And why?  

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 7 years ago

hmmm, let me guess it was YOUR fault for telling the truth and YOU are the reason there is a problem and maybe even add in... in XX yrs I have NEVER heard of anything like this before!?!?!


Yeah I hear that BS too but you did the right thing

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) about 7 years ago

Jay,  I have learned so much from the inspectors who have allowed me to follow them around.  Over the years, I have probably driven my long-suffering husband crazy with the things I point out at our house that would not pass an inspection.

I'm sure the agents you work with have appreciated the education!


Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) about 7 years ago

Jay, you have the fire power to back up what you say. We have had a contractor get the wall insulation inspected, then caught him removing it before they dry-walled to save a dime. He forgot about his reputation.

Posted by Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809 (203kOnLine.com, covering the USA) about 7 years ago

Jay - some installers just don't care, for some its all about the money. Good info.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Chuck - you probbably have lots of radiant heat down there.  We can feel insulation problems room to room too, but especially in the winter.

Haven't made snow angels yet Fred, but have you tried to burn it?  It won't!

Jeff - this isn't the first thing he has said about me to these buyers.  I pointed out so many things pre-drywall and in this inspection that I really got under his skin.  So I am the problem.

For example, the wood staircases and guardrail handles were very rough.  That is because the "finisher" did not use sanding sealer under the poly, and did not sand coat to coat.  That is a sign that he was not acting professionally, and probably has never heard of sanding sealer.  It is an extra step to be sure, but the final result (on this $1.25Mil house) would be in keeping with expectations.  The supervisor said I was out of my mind, that they have never used sanding sealer!  Okay then!  Let's rough up our hands as we use the guardrail and our butts when we sit on the steps!

Carol - this is not the first time I have been accused of staging photos, but sometimes I simply don't have the creativity it would take to do it!  Lots of what I see does not occur to me!

Clint - I have seen the improperly stapled ruler too and man, what a joke that is!  Who are they kidding?  Do they do that on their houses?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Mike - in centimeters, I just figured out, 7" of insulation would be R-40!  Silly me!

It is what it is Tom.  I don't know why they would kick at this because it really isn't right.  Sure, blowing insulation into the baffles is common practice.

Been there too Pam.  Once an entire attic was missing insulation!  It wasn't a new home, but I caught it on my inspection and the sellers were not happy.  They did admit the home was "uncomfortable..."

E&T - thanks!  We see what we see.  I don't invent this stuff.

If so I don't know why Ginger.  But there were a multiplicity of things on this house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

That's a good thought Tom.  Should I take it back to Sears for a recalibrate/replace?

Marc - that's the perfect voice!  Or perhaps Curly on the Three Stooges.

Richie - level and uniform, level and uniform.  If you go up there, take a rake with you and replace your divots!

Thank you Michelle.  That's a good math problem.  I wonder if Einstein could have come up with a formula.


Home Inspector = Good and Fair Report Squared

Andrew - we all need to breath, including our attics!  Maybe less in the soffit vents and more on the floor?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

And good thing insulation is easy to crush and I don't have to put much water in it Charlie.  Those things are hard to haul up into the attic!

Rich - that is a pretty uniform level considering I have a size 13.  Some of those footprint divots up there were pretty big though!

Jared - I wonder if work such as this is followed up on by the supervisor.  Perhaps he takes my comment as a personal slap in the face.  It's not intended as such!

Thanks Chris Ann, very much.  And what would be my motivation?  It doesn't make me look good to do the job they are paying me to do.  I just observe and report.  Sometimes people do accuse me of staging photos.  Once this same buiilder banned me from a neighborhood (see my comment to James in #9).

This is not terribly unusual David.  And, like I suggested to Chris Ann, see my comment to James in #9.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Marge - I like explaining things like this to clients because they don't know!  And why should they?  They have their professions and I have mine.

Mike - you should have reported him to every agency possible and put that out over the web.

Eric - I like the label in the attic that says there are so many square feet and this many bags were blown onto it, and therefore there is this much R-value.  Really?  Who calculated the square footage and prove the number of bags!  Still, it's depth that determines R-value, period.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, It was definitely unprofessional for the supervisor to accuse you of altering their work.  I know you and have never seen you manipulate anything in an inspection. 

Posted by Christopher Campa, Northern VA Realtor (LONG & FOSTER REAL ESTATE) about 7 years ago

Thanks Chris, and of course you haven't seen me do that.  It is amazing the lengths people will go to "cover" themselves.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

It is always easier to blame someone else for a problem instead of admitting that it exists or they did it!

Posted by Gerard Gilbers, Your Marketing Master (Higher Authority Markeing) about 7 years ago

Jay, You stomper you ;) Here in Washington the insualtion contractors are suppose to install markers facing the access. Do you have that requirement there?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

That is the way of the world Gerard!  It's always the fault of something or someone else.  Just listen to our "president!"

Don - some builders do that here.  Sometimes I see them stapled in such a way that the bottom is folded under and what looks like 12" or 15" really isn't.  That's cute too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

Another great catch - but I can't believe you are "hating" on that poor truss being blown on, it deserves a warm blanket of insulation too! (LOL)

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 7 years ago

Jay, amazing when the Sellers or Seller's agent "accuse" the inspector of making stuff up.    They are in denial.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) about 7 years ago

Winter is coming on Lisa.  Silly me!

The dirty little secret is that we do this all the time Joan.  How else would we have reports?

Um ...  not.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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