This is another great piece of information that Jay Markinich, an Home inspector from Bristow VA and fellow active rain blogger, recently posted. I, for one, have seen first hand the damage that improperly installed insulation can cause...
One of the most important things I look for on a pre-drywall inspection is properly-installed insulation. A house lives with its insulation for a long time, so insulation must be installed properly.
During a recent pre-drywall inspection with Cindy Jones, the house was in very good condition overall. But, as in so much new construction, the fiberglass insulation needed work!
The biggest problem I see with new insulation installation is that it is not stapled. In this inspection, some insulation was stapled, but some was not. And some of what was stapled was done incorrectly.
First, how should insulation be stapled?
Looking from the top, with the wall stud in the middle of the diagram, it should be "face stapled."
Fiberglass batt insulation, with a paper vapor retarder, comes with two paper flaps that stick out further than the insulation. Those are there on purpose!
They allow the insulation to be stapled. "Face stapling" means that those two flaps would overlap a stud and be stapled together.
Not only should face stapling be done properly, but when completed, the insulation should fill every small cavity and the paper vapor retarder would be touching the inside of the drywall.
IF THE VAPOR RETARDER IS NOT TOUCHING THE INSULATION, IT IS NOT PROVIDING INSULATION.
Second, the insulation should not be crushed to fit into an area, no matter how small. Some builders are, rightly, spraying an open-celled foam or acrylic caulking into the small gaps around windows, doors and corners.
Insulation can be crushed two ways: by stuffing it into a small cavity and by "side stapling" inside the drywall.
This is not an effective way to install insulation.
The R-value, how much insulation it actually provides, is dramatically diminished.
Remember, the house is going to live with this insulation for a long time!
This house had a lot of inside stapling and crushed insulation. There were even a couple of small cavities without any!
I'm told the supervisor had "noticed" that earlier and was going to bring the insulation subcontractor back for a look.
One thing I find often on pre-drywall inspections is that many of the things I identify are "already on my list" when they are brought up to the supervisor... So be it.
On one pre-drywall inspection, when I point out many insulation issues, the supervisor told the buyers that he had never heard such a thing. He called me and I asked what the flaps on the sides of the insulation were for. HE HAD NO IDEA! Asking for some more information, I sent him links to four DIY sites (!) which impressed him enough to send the idea to regional. Regional sent it up to corporate and guess what?
THEY CHANGED THEIR CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES, REQUIRING ALL INSULATION TO BE STAPLED, BEGINNING WITH THE HOUSE I INSPECTED! My clients were impressed, and grateful.
Except for being a bit laughable, it is pretty typical. I don't tell you that story to point at me! It's a big YIKES!
My recommendation: On pre-drywall walk throughs, have a look at how the insulation has been installed. Insulation must be installed properly! Doing so will not only leave the occupants more comfortable, but over the life of the house will save thousands of dollars in energy costs.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia
Chris Smith CSSBB
Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage