What I'm Seeing Now

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I Saw An Insulation Best Practice And A Not-So-Best Practice

Busy all day with new construction, and looking at attic insulation, I saw a Best Practice  and a not-so-best practice.

The Best Practice  is the use of a ruler to determine insulation depth.  On this pre-drywall inspection, notice how the bottom of the ruler comes to the bottom of the truss rafter?  That's so the insulation depth is accurately measured.

One of the most common rubs I have with builders is over the value of insulation.

Insulation provides a thermal barrier, no matter the type.  And each type provides different R-values determined by depth.

R-value, or Resistance Value, is the quality of thermal protection it provides.

The higher the number, the better the value.

An Energy Star rating in Virginia for acceptable R-value of any insulation begins at 38. 

For blown-in fiberglass that R-value would be represented by a depth of about 17.25".  Builders always argue that fact.  I don't invent it and merely include a link on my report to demonstrate R-values for different insulation, like this one: 

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/types-insulation

So, on the pre-drywall inspection above I noted the use of one of many rulers to help the insulation installer determine a proper, and consistent depth.

Later in the day, on a final inspection of a new home, I noted the insulation chart indicating that this Energy Star home had 15" of insulation for a stated R-value of 38.  Well, 15" doesn't add up to R-38, and here we go again.

However, my tape measure did not indicate anything like 15" - more like 11 or 12".  How oh how could that be?

However, when I put my tape measure next to the Best Practice  ruler in the attic, I found something amiss!

I found the ruler did not match up with my tape measure.

How could that be?  How, oh how? 

Why, they differed by 2"!!  Gee, willikers - 2"??

How could that be?  How, oh how?

You watch.  I'll be banned from the site now.

My recommendation:  people often ask me if this or that is a good builder.  My answer is simple - it depends on the supervisor on site every day and the sub contractors the builder uses.  And it's really that simple!  And while the builder might spit and splutter about how the home inspector is this or that, or the code is this or that, the house is still the house.  And while the builder typically points at me and how I am out of line and have failed, when you point one finger at another there are three pointing back at you.  It's not polite to point.

 

 

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


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • September 13 2014 01:18AM

Comments

Wow, what are they doing w/ that ruler?  Are they starting at a lower point or folding it down a bit?

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 4 years ago

I'm with Debbie on this one.  If they didn't fold it maybe a little slice with a knife or a pair of scissors

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 4 years ago

Folding it under before they staple it Debbie.  With no pre-drywall inspection nobody would notice.  The second inspection homeowner did not have a pre-drywall inspection.  I have seen it folded under or cut as much as 5".

One way or the other James.  See answer above.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Great share Jay and again buyer beware...and the same for their real estate agent!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

I think the buyer is happy we found it now Ginny!

I bet the agent is too...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Ah!  The games some builders play to save a few bucks. 

The county is surely their partner in crime. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thanks for another tip to ask for.

Good thing you are on top of the situation.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 4 years ago

Do you think for a minute the county ever goes into the attic to check the insulation Lenn?  My question - this is a certified "Energy Star" house - aren't they supposed to check?  Hmmm...?

Right on top Raymond.  Into the attic and on top!

Later I made snow angels.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Jay: Great blog and I think James Dray is on to something here. Did the builder fold the ruler off at the bottom, or was the calibration of the insulation ruler rerally that far off?

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) almost 4 years ago

What's a few inches amongst friends Jay? Who's going to see it anyway?

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) almost 4 years ago

Jay, however they did it, we know that they were caught CHEATING on the exam! They should be expelled, not you!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) almost 4 years ago

S&N - on pre-drywall inspections I have seen both.  In this case I did not dig down to see why and my tape measure is jammed as far as I could.  I'm not the one cheating here.

Tom - if you can't see it, did the tree really fall in the forest?

It's something like that, right?

But you know who's fault it is Tom.  And I will be sent to the corner.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Cheating is cheating is cheating... and should always be called out. And surprisingly, some of the nicest people just don't have a sense of ethics.

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) almost 4 years ago

Brad - I find so much of this it is silliness.  And the "Energy Star" rankings that supposedly come out from "independent" parties approach silliness too.  This insulation, for example, was already approved.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

I would have to lay the "blame" for this where it belongs, the insulation contractor. I have seen great work and shoddy work in the same house, dependent on the particular contractor. The builder or his supervisor may be unaware of the cheating that is being done with insulation. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 4 years ago

It might be the insulation guy who moved that card board ruler down two inches Jim.  Very true.

Still, it was done!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

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