What I'm Seeing Now


"Why Do You Need To Check The Insulation? It's A New House."

"Why do you need to check the insulation?  It's a new house."  So asked the builder's supervisor.

The answer is simple - because a home inspector observes and reports a variety of things during a home inspection, whether the house is new or old.  And insulation is a HUGE part of that inspection.

So what was promised?

Virginia requires an insulation certificate for new construction.

It is to be provided by the insulation company verifying what they have done.

It lists the kind, weight (red arrow), and depth of the insulation.

The formula stated on this cert would obtain an R-44, shown in the red circle.

The stated depth, 16.5", and the stated weight, .65 pounds per square foot, would produce an insulation R-value of 2.7 per inch of insulation.

If you multiply that you get an R-value of 41, so I am not sure what they are touting.  Weight and depth are everything.  But let's go with their claim to have 16.5" all over the attic floor.  Remember, 30% of the thermal protection in a house happens in the ceilings abutting the attic.  So if it is not uniform the insulation value (thermal barrier) is compromised.

These are just two photos of many which showed that contractors had walked all over the attic space, without paying attention to how much they disrupted, and ruined, the insulation.  Certainly the vaunted 16.5" is not present in either photo above.

Amazingly, the builder installed an attic access panel instead of the advertised access ladder.  They put the ladder in later, replacing the panel with drywall.  Unbelievably, the access panel was in the tray ceiling of the master bedroom!!  However, after installing the drywall to patch the hole (NOT very professionally done) they somehow forgot to replace the insulation!  The thermal image on the right shows how that lack of insulation looks from inside the bedroom with a thermal camera.  Can you imagine how hot or cold that spot would be during severe weather?

"Why do you need to check the insulation?  It's a new house."

My recommendation:  don't let the builder talk you out of a home inspection on new construction!! Don't let the builder try to sway you from investigating this or that aspect of the house because it's a "new house"!!   Hire a bull dog home inspector who will take his time and look around, and observe and report.  You might just find out things that you will really appreciate down the road!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 9 commentsJay Markanich • January 11 2017 12:04PM


Good to point out.  As a Home Inspector have seen far too often, in fact I saw one home in Barrie which was new, and had no insulation at all, zero.  Problem is Building Inspectors in subdivisions do sample inspections, and if the sample selections are okay then the rest pass.  Now I doubt this was a deliberate act on contractors part, they are doing so many in large subdivisions that things can and do get overlooked.

Posted by Robin Wells, Giving Peace Of Mind One Chimney At A Time ( RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections) about 2 years ago

Good morning Jay. Insulation is always an issue! Staged inspections of new construction are critical. Enjoy your day! 

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) about 2 years ago

Such an easy fix completely overlooked by so-called professional builders. Once again, your blog makes a valuable argument for new home inspections.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National & Geneva Financial, Llc.) about 2 years ago

Robin - this is part of the ceiling of a baby's room where the owners complained was hot and cold.  Gee, why?  It was one of three rooms devoid of attic insulation!  The only way to combat the problem you mention is to do a home inspection!

Wayne - as critical as inspections on older properties!

S&N - and remember, the buyers are told by the builders that they don't need a private home inspection as the house has been looked at hundreds of times by many people!  Ummmm...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 2 years ago

I did a final with a client once and when I went into the attic, there was NO insulation! Ooops! Yes, folks, get that new construction home inspected!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 2 years ago

Fred - and the supervisor said, "Yep, that was already on my list."

That's what my clients always hear...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 2 years ago

I learned on my own house, just because it was new doesn't mean the builder didn't make mistakes or miss something.  ALWAYS have a home inspection on new construction.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 2 years ago

This is a project I have put off for several years and I have promised myself that 2017 will be the year I get this project completed!  Any suggestions for how to properly insulate around the attic HVAC system?  I've built an 18" barrier and will be blowing insulation in the rest of the attic to achieve an R-38 rating. 

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) about 2 years ago

Gee, Chris Ann.  How did you learn that?  Life experience is a cruel, but effective teacher.

Stephen - I am having a hard time picturing what you mean about insulating around the system.  Can you send me a photo?   And R-38 is very fine.  If you're going over other insulation I recommend blown-in cellulose.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 2 years ago

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