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Old 11-05-2010, 10:49 AM   #1
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


Hello,

I need to add another R30 worth of insulation in my attic. I like DIY but after calculating how much cellulose I need ($10 a bag) and calling some contractors it seems I could only save about 15% by doing it myself.

Is this typical saving? Does it mean generally it is not worth messing with DIY attic insulation?

I wonder what is your experience.
greg

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Old 11-05-2010, 01:39 PM   #2
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


The savings by the DIY method usually are optimistic.

1. How many trips to pick up the insulation, equipment and how much fuel and wear on your vehicle ($0.50/mile)?

2. How much time and loads of clothes to wash?

3. How much mess to clean up after an amateur installation, while a contractor will not create as much mess.

4. How much for the beer and hot dogs for your friends that fluff it and and guide the hose.

5. Do you know how to distribute the insulation as well as a contractor?

6. Do you know the tricks to do it right?

7. How about getting rid of the excess insulation and cleaning up.

8. Cost of cleaning the house for possible dust.

9. Every spot of dust in the house for the next few months will be blamed on you.

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Old 11-05-2010, 02:35 PM   #3
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


I replaced my windows at home on my own and I just finished building a large outdoor wood fired adobe pizza oven. I save much money doing those windows on my own.

My problem is I am cheap. I am surprised that there does not seem to be much savings in the DYI insulation department. Why is that?
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Old 11-05-2010, 03:07 PM   #4
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


Very ofter the, for certain types of jobs, the contractors are more experienced in the installation is some, compared to a DIYer.

They know the materials, logistics, methods and labor administration to start on time, handle materials, logistics and how th do it with a minimum of mess (due to better installation procedures and care). They do it for a living and not to just have the personal satisfaction, for whatever that is worth in a year or two. They make money by being efficient since their material price is not that much different than yours.

There is nothing wrong with having some friends over, enjoy doing it and learning what the contractors know in the end to avoid. As a buyer, you certainly know there is a difference in contractors than just the installed price, since your job may be better than the low bidder and you have had the fun and experience.

Being "cheap" is not necessarily good. A better term is being "prudent". You then do what really makes sense.

Dick

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Old 11-05-2010, 03:30 PM   #5
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


Dick's advice above is good, IF the contractor is good, as most are. DIY is often a penny-saving deal; been there 1000 times. We hired a friend to install my son's boiler, for ex, because he passed his discount on purchasing the boiler and water heater to my son, so the difference in him vs us was a couple of hundred bucks. I am not going to install a boiler, water heater, etc, for $200, since I know Lee is good and I am still learning. We also hired pros to put in his slab, and it was atrocious. Any good slab contractor would at least have not charged him; puddles as deep as 5/8" and 6' in diam, several shallower. They put ONE screed pin in the middle of the floor, swung a stick around it to "level", then left. Had I been armed.... So, make sure he/she is GOOD. That said, if you like doing this kind of thing, then it is a hobby you get paid to do. Blowing in cellulose (not familiar w/ 'glass, but I suspect it is similar) is not rocket science; see housewright.com and Google the idea. Better yet, have a buddy hire the guy, you watch, then DIY at your place!
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Old 11-05-2010, 03:50 PM   #6
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hahaha, funny you say that - guy next door is going to hire one to blow the insulation.

I am thinking contractors buy the cellulose in bulk and have it much cheaper maybe?
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:53 PM   #7
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


I like to do most DIY work, mostly because of three reasons:

1. I get exactly what I want, especially when building cabinets, my deck, built ins.
2. I enjoy the process.
3. I have lots of tools, so it isn't going to cost me a lot to buy new ones.
4. I like to keep busy.

Note I did not list saving money, because unless you value your time at zero, you are not likely to save any money on a project you have not done before. This is because it is going to take you much longer than a pro, who has been doing it a long time, has all the right tools, and is motivated.

There are certain jobs I simply will not do myself, not because they are extremely difficult, but because the quality of work by a real pro is going to be better than I can achieve, and the quality I can do will not be good enough for my own standards. Examples: I do not finish my own hardwood flooring, I don't do significant drywall work, and I do not plan to paint the outside of my house next time it needs it. I also hired out blowing in cellulose into my walls. The guys who did it were very professional, very fast, very neat, and had a high capacity blower that was at least four times faster than anything I could rent. Net result, they did my 2000 sq ft house for about $2000, which is only slightly more than I would have paid for materials and tools, and they did a better job than I could have done.

Your attic may be a DIY job, but I don't think you are going to save significant money, and the job is a PITA. Not gonna win you any Kharma points. For my money, skip it, and focus on a DIY job you are gonna love, like replacing all the leaky copper pipe in the house with PEX. Now that is a real treat.+
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:28 PM   #8
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


I sealed my attic myself and fully intended to blow the insulation in too - to save money.

Just out of curiosity, I had several insulation contractors come here to give estimates on what they would charge.

After taking into consideration all the things that Concretemasnry said in the previous post, I ended up hiring a company to blow the insulation in.

If I remember right, it was only $250 more to have them do it. That figure could be off a little.

One other thing that convinced me is that the guy who did the work told me that as a contractor he can get a better quality cellulose that has more boric acid in it than what's available at Home Depot or other hardware stores. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.

The only issue I've had with the work that particular company did is they didn't insulate over the exterior top plates and there were a lot of areas just inside the soffit openings that he didn't cover with ANY insulation.

Because of that, I had condensation on my ceilings last winter along the walls in the front and back of my house.

Pictures here: Help! Water droplets on the ceiling!

I have since taken out all of the soffit, fixed the problem with 2-part spray foam and am putting up new soffit now.

Once you have that insulation added, I hope your energy bills go down as much as mine have.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:32 PM   #9
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


Quote:
Originally Posted by gma2rjc View Post
... I ended up hiring a company to blow the insulation in.

The only issue I've had with the work ....
•• Sorry to hear that, it is very discouraging to the rest of us. That is exactly why so many of us refuse to hire pros unless we know them. Just because you have a badge does not mean you know stink about stink, AND/OR are willing to do the quality that people should be getting. I wish things were different, but....
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:07 PM   #10
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this water condensation problem is no joke! The main reason I want to add insulation is because of the really bad ice damming last winter.

I dont have soffit vents, so I understand I dont need soffit baffles, correct?

Even if i hire a contractor, I want to make sure they do good job.

thanks for all the info so far.
greg
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Old 11-05-2010, 11:07 PM   #11
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


"I dont have soffit vents, so I understand I dont need soffit baffles, correct?
" No soffit vents? That may be a part of your problem. Typically, assuming you have a cold roof, you should have soffit and gable vents to let air pass over the insulation and take away the inevitable moisture that sneaks into the roof area. Why no soffit vents? Run over to greenbuildingadvisor.com and search for roof venting or ice dams. j

Last edited by jklingel; 11-05-2010 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 11-05-2010, 11:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklingel View Post
•• Sorry to hear that, it is very discouraging to the rest of us. That is exactly why so many of us refuse to hire pros unless we know them. Just because you have a badge does not mean you know stink about stink, AND/OR are willing to do the quality that people should be getting. I wish things were different, but....
The thing about that is that there are so many good, honest contractors out there, but the average person doesn't know how to tell the good from the bad. Myself included sometimes.

The best you can do is educate yourself about whatever project you are taking on. Learn as much as you can. Even if you don't plan on doing the work yourself, the knowledge can help you separate the contractors that are full of bologna from the ones who really know their stuff.

And one nice thing, if a contractor tells you something that just doesn't sound right, you can ask questions here on the forum.
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Old 11-05-2010, 11:27 PM   #13
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


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Originally Posted by leckig View Post
this water condensation problem is no joke! The main reason I want to add insulation is because of the really bad ice damming last winter.

greg
The ice damming can be from your attic not being sealed. You may be losing heat up through penetrations from light fixtures, wires, the seams where two pieces of drywall meet, etc.

Also, maybe the hatch to your attic (if you have one, that is) isn't insulated properly and the gasket may be missing or damaged.

Another thing is that your top plates may not have insulation over them. Heat will rise up through your walls, whether they are insulated or not. When the heat gets to the top of the wall (the top plate) it will continue to rise and will melt the snow on your roof and cause damming and icicles.
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:35 AM   #14
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


I think "ice-damming" is something else involving icicles hanging on the outside. Frosting inside the attic, another. Need more specifics...
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:56 AM   #15
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blown insulation - does it pay to DIY?


Remember guys, you can ask for references before hiring any contractors to do anything.

To the topic, we buy semi loads of cellulose at a great price, and for instance, we can blow in the insulation and be profitable for about the same price as you can buy cellulose at retail and try to DIY it. Remember, the insulation contractor will be insured, in case someone steps through a ceiling....or any other "accident" happens.

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