Builders around the country are finding that insulation is no longer a commodity item .

     For many years the common thinking among builders and architects has been that the material used and the lowest price were the only two criteria in determining who did their insulation on construction projects.

     Particularly with the recent spate of mold related problems it is becoming more apparent that there is a lot to risk if the individual contractor doesn’t assure that the insulation function is done correctly. All you have to do is ask your insurance company if your liability policy covers mold related lawsuits to see how much attention it deserves.

     Properly installed insulation of a type selected for the application {no, batts are not the answer to everything} with proper attention paid to the thermal break required and the design of the structure and it’s affect on air infiltration and hot or cold weak spots can eliminate most of the builder’s exposure to mold issues. All that is left to create mold problems are wet basements or crawl spaces, roof leaks, or plumbing leaks and most builders have been accustomed to dealing with these issues for years.

     What is relatively new for a builder is the extreme concern for stopping air infiltration. It is still common today to run into builders who respond that “a house has to breathe” when approached about the measures required to stop air infiltration. This attitude was out of sinc with reality about the time that heating oil and gasoline prices started their increases in the Nixon years. With the conservation of oil related products a national issue the design of homes became tighter and tighter. Today, in order to meet the efficiency that is advertised by high efficiency furnaces and air conditioning systems it is necessary to have the outer envelope of the home insulated correctly and for air infiltration to be stopped wherever possible. Wherever the warm air in a heated home meets the cold air of winter, from the top plate of the highest wall down through the first floor sill, there is not only a heat loss but also a grand opportunity for mold to grow.

     In the attic a good insulation installer will not just install the inches he is supposed to, but will also be attentive to the attic ventilation , protective wrapping for can lights, water heater flue pipes, ceiling fan, sound systems, security systems, plumbing runs, bathroom vents, etc.,etc.,etc.

    It is important that a builder use an insulation contractor that will not only use quality materials but will also have a well trained set of installers who are cognizant of the entire building process and their role in it. When the installer sees that a bathroom vent has not been hooked up, or a junction box hasn’t been covered, and is responsible enough to see that the problem is corrected before continuing then he is worth a little more than the guy who thinks that putting the inches in is his only job.

    When the installer is willing to make a floor to top plate inspection for any seams or openings in the exterior sheathing and get it sealed and then walk the house one more time just to be sure all the openings have been sealed then his effort is worth more than the fellow who figures that the sooner he covers the wall with insulation the more likely he can get that second job done today and feels that someone else{the builder, framer, plumber, electrician, inspector} should have taken care of it before he got there.

    A builder who feels today that insulation should be installed by the lowest bidder is setting himself up for liabilities that can put him out of business or at the very least have him spending more later to correct the problem than it would have cost to do it right the first time.

    Insulation today is not a commodity and has to be installed by well trained and caring installers in order to prevent future problems.

    Before the insulation is installed it is very important that the structure be reviewed by the builder, owner, and insulation contractor’s field engineer to determine what type of insulation, attic venting, house wrap, caulking, vault framing, foundation venting, or any of dozens of items need to be covered in the insulation quote.

    A good contractor who does a thorough job of defining what is available to the builder and owner and who sees to it that the installers perform as contracted can be a valuable Asset in the building process.


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