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Old 08-04-2008, 03:57 PM   #1
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Hi:

I live in the Denver,CO area in a 2100sq.ft. ranch style home that is pretty much one big vaulted ceiling from front to back. We recently had an energy audit done and they indicated that we need more insulation in the attic as well as ventilation. They indicated we had around R25 in most area...some areas had no insulation and you could see the drywall on the floor..."thank you Mr. home inspector for doing such a good job when we bought the house in 1995".

Anyway...I got two quotes:

Company 1: uses Dry Cellulose (Loose Fill) and fiberglass batting for the various vertical knee walls that extend into the attic. Cost $2500

Company 2: uses Stabilized Cellulose and will build some simple little walls 12 inches from the various kneewall that extend 12 inches above the kneewalls and will fill those voids with the cellulose and the tops of the kneewalls. They will basically put a 12-inch thick wall around everything. Cost $3000

I did not trust company 1, the person stuck there head in the attic and in 5 seconds came down and gave me a quote. Company 2 walked around the attic for at least 45 minutes with a huge flashlight, tape measure and laser tape measure and did a detailed analysis.

So...does the $2500-$3000 sound high? This is to install enough insulation to bring the attic to an R50-R60 rating. They said it was around 2000sq.ft. of total insulation.

The whole reason for this was that the AC is having a heck of a time trying to cool the house down. Oh yeah...the attic ventilation is being done by another company.

I look forward to hearing some comments.

Thanks,

Mitch

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Last edited by mitchel; 08-04-2008 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:08 PM   #2
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Not an HVAC guy, but. . .IMHO

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchel View Post
I live in the Denver,CO area
the weather data for your area might be able to be used to figure the payback period for the money you will spend

one big vaulted ceiling from front to back.
So the cool air already sinks, if the registers are mounted near the ceiling. Otherwise, ceiling fans might work.

an energy audit done
Some sources say a hot ceiling causes 25% loss, others say it makes no difference.

I did not trust company 1, the person stuck there head in the attic and in 5 seconds came down and gave me a quote. Company 2 walked around the attic for at least 45 minutes with a huge flashlight, tape measure and laser tape measure and did a detailed analysis.
Company 2 has better marketing skills, even if they are equally competent and honest as Company 1. Company 1 might be more experienced or more careless or both.

The whole reason for this was that the AC is having a heck of a time trying to cool the house down.
You might first have the AC checked to see if it is performing to factory rated specs on heat transfer capacity.
For this many bucks get at least five bids.

Preliminary DotPlot

0............................ x....x.............
|.........|............|...........|............|
0.....$1000.....$2000.....$3000.....$4000

The cluster of x's that will hopefully form in the middle when you get several bids is the true cost of doing this job in your zipcode in Denver, CO, in August, 2008.
:-)

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Old 08-04-2008, 07:40 PM   #3
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Stabilized cellulose? Never heard that one before. My son is in this business, and he rarely spends more then a few minutes in an attic before making a quote...especially if the HO knows the sq/ft of the home, and it is as you described. With all things considered, $1 and up a sq/ft isn't unreasonable.

I would be suspicious of bidder number 2.
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:21 AM   #4
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Bid 2 is doing some construction work, thus bid is reasonably a little higher.
But is the construction of a wall needed?

I agree with getting more bids.
Make a list of questions to ask each contractor,
1 You are allowing for ventilation, intake from the eaves to flow to the roofs ridge.
2 Your wall won't trap heat causing condensation, possible mold problems later.
3 If you need to penetrate the roof for easier access, how will you deal with that.
4 etc., etc., etc.
More questions the better.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:00 AM   #5
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Doesn't an "energy audit" give you any recommendations about how much insulation to have or to add to give you a payback of so many years given the place where you live, the construction, the existing HVAC plant and the choices out there? Otherwise what's the point?

I mean we don't know your budget...but I presume there is a payback to all this - otherwise they'd tell you to insulate to R1000 and heat with a candle! Is saving $100 on the bid worth it to you? Goes to elasticity of pricing.

I look for clarity and precision in the quotes I get from professionals in any given field. I am not swayed by the car the sales rep drives, nor the time he spends on getting me the info I need. In most cases I have accepted, those were the criteria: the clearer the picture given by the company the better my questions were anticipated, the easier it was to do business. Stick to these ideas rather than discount company A because they didn't spend x amount of time there...who knows, the first guy might have had 25 years of experience and the second 25 days, but we don't know...and you want us to make a judgement based on your values?

I don't know how far you can push Home Inspectors on giving you advice on how much insulation you should have. I don't see that as their role...If you didn't have any, then yes, I'd expect the inspector to say "you have no insulation!" because that would normally be unacceptable in Colorado. But if he sees 6" of cellulose, is it really his job to say "you should have 8" of Roxul?". Whether you buy an well-insulated house or spend $5000 a year in heating is not his $ concern, but yours. I want facts from my Home Inspector, not opinions.

But that's just me...what can I tell ya!
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:55 PM   #6
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Thanks everyone for the info and advice. I guess I will get some additional quotes. I may wait till the Fall...maybe they are slower and I can get a better price.

Mitch
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:57 PM   #7
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ccarlisle...I don't know why you are being so hostile, but I guess that's just the way you are!.

Quote:
I mean we don't know your budget...but I presume there is a payback to all this - otherwise they'd tell you to insulate to R1000 and heat with a candle! Is saving $100 on the bid worth it to you?
The payback does not have to be in $$$$, it also has to do with being comfortable in the house. Will it take 10 years to recoup my money...who knows, but I will be more comfortable.

Quote:
I don't know how far you can push Home Inspectors on giving you advice on how much insulation you should have. I don't see that as their role...If you didn't have any, then yes, I'd expect the inspector to say "you have no insulation!" because that would normally be unacceptable in Colorado.
But that's just me...what can I tell ya!
I clearly said there was NO insulation in some areas...he should have pointed it out. You may want to read the whole post next time before commenting.
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Old 08-05-2008, 01:40 PM   #8
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


Good one! hey I wasn't being hostile, Mitchel, just sharing my point of view. So calm down.

I think you're more concerned with that $100 I mentioned than you are with anything else. So, sure, go ahead and wait for the fall, you may save that and you'll be MY hero.

Given the state of the housing in the Excited States, I'm sure you're just annoyed that you paid too much for your house, its value is tumbling - and you look to blame someone...GWB, the home inspector, mortgage company...anyone. But your a winner Mitch - keep up the good work!

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Old 08-05-2008, 02:13 PM   #9
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Enough already. Respect to all please.
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Old 08-05-2008, 02:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joasis View Post
Enough already. Respect to all please.
Agreed...I'll just ignore him.
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Old 08-05-2008, 04:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchel View Post
The payback does not have to be in $$$$, it also has to do with being comfortable in the house
You bring up an interesting point.

Supposedly economists [I am not one] can put a dollar value on almost everything.
I faced a similar problem, but having to do with auto safety, a few years ago and I think there is a solution.

You know how comfortable it is, or not, to live in your house now.

Let's say that I agree to pay you a monthly sum, $X, to not insulate your house.

A coin is flipped to decide whether you insulate or whether you take the monthly sum and don't insulate. Once the coin is flipped you can't change your mind.

Now, $X is adjusted upward from $zero until it makes absolutely no difference to you whether the coin shows heads or tails.

I think this is the worth, to you, of your comfort.

If you substitute [your family] for [you] you get better results. In effect, you are making a small jury.

This is all from a book on decision theory.
In practice, I noticed people have to give it a few tries before they agree on X. They have to imagine the discomfort and then the comfort, what each will be like.
Just asking the question of someone is a little disconcerting; people don't usually think like this, probably because in the real world very few people will pay you to not insulate your house.

The ads that sell ACs and insulation do the comfort part for you, and imagining the downside is left to the viewer, in fact it is kept out of sight of the viewer.
It is the downside that we are mainly hashing over now!

I hope this helps you. . .'cause I sure had fun writing it!

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Old 08-05-2008, 06:33 PM   #12
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Attic Insulation Quote...what do you think?


As I said earlier, my son is in the insulation business.....and with fuel prices and material costs going up, $1 a sq/ft is about typical in this area for adding 12 inches of insulation. So if you spent $2500 or less, and lets say you save 20 percent of your heating and cooling dollars, then how long to pay a return to you?

When we build ICF homes, I can tell customers how efficient they are.....like heating and cooling a 2000 sq/ft home for $80 a month or less....compared to $200 or more for a tight framed home......if it costs 12k more to build in ICF, how long to pay off? If you are strictly after comfort, and savings are secondary, then do it since you know it needs it anyway.

One more thing: With many hacks getting into insulation, check whether your contractors have insurance and workman's comp......if my son was flying under the radar, he could cut 20% off his price and make the same money.....you use a guy without insurance, think about him possibly stepping through your ceiling and getting hurt.....and suing you.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:15 PM   #13
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Joasis...thanks for the info. You know, I tried to come up with how long it would take to recoup the cost and it's something like 10-15 years but to tell you the truth, I'm more concerned with my families comfort. Trust me...I'm not rich, but I'm just sick of the house being on the warm side in the summer. FYI: I did have the AC checked and it's fine.

Oh yeah...I'm also going to get a whole house fan (Quietcool QC-4500) installed along with roof and sofit vents, our house has extremely limited vents.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:16 PM   #14
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Yoyizit...thank you for taking the time to respond, but to tell you the truth I read your post a few times and I got a headache trying to figure it out .

Last edited by mitchel; 08-05-2008 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Yoyizit...thank you for taking the time to respond, but to tell you the truth I read your post a few times and I got a headache trying to figure it out .
The writing problem is still being worked.

You don't need my post; I think from what I've read on this topic, you're in shape to get a pretty good and reasonable solution to your HVAC problem.

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