Author Topic: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof  (Read 1764 times)

ysette9

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We should be closing on a house this week (and moving in next month) that will need some work. The disclosures say that it needs a new roof and the sellers told us about how some exterior walls are insulated and some are not. There are also two rooms that need updated electrical wiring and a few other minor issues.

Overall my goal has always been to live in a house that is really well insulated, mostly for comfort but secondarily for efficiency/environmental reasons. After upgrading the last bits of electrical I am looking for how to go about getting the other walls insulated (and crawl space, roof, etc.) as well as how to do a trade study on what type of roof to get and which skylights to install where. I like the idea of a home energy audit as a good place to start and as much as possible I'd like to combine the work with the new roof to be most efficient.

Aside from going to Yelp and reaching out to the top-rated roofing and insulation contractors, can you give me tips on how to start my research? We both work full time, have a toddler, and I'm pregnant so there is no DIYing that will take place here. We'll save that energy for the garden down the line. :)

Finally, for the list of other minor issues (close up an exterior dog door, some dry rot on a floor joist, fixing a sink flex drain pipe that isn't up to code) should I just look into the services of a handyperson?

studentoflife

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 02:49:11 PM »
I work in the home energy field, and used to work for one of the big players in that industry in the Bay Area. Based on your decision not to DIY, I would seriously recommend that you use a general contractor to coordinate this work, rather than hiring an electrician, roofer, insulator, and handyman and trying to manage it yourself. Unless you have experience in construction, all these different trades will end up working against each other and screwing up each other's work if there's not a GC there to coordinate it all.

As far as workflow, you should plan to do things in this order:

1. framing (dry rot) - can't wire, plumb, or insulate if there's nothing to run it in
2. skylights - placement may affect electrical and doing skylights after roof is begging for leaks
3. electrical/plumbing - you may be running wires around the skylight wells and/or pipes and wires may penetrate the roof.
4. roof - if you do the roof after you insulate the ceiling, the roofers are guaranteed to screw up the insulation, especially if yo do a full tear-off.
5. insulation - if you do this early on, the framer/roofer/electrician/plumber will ruin it
6. finish work - they call it "finish work" for a reason.

For wall insulation, you are most likely going to want to do drill and fill cellulose, which will allow you to get insulation in the walls without having to gut the walls.

For the best results as far as comfort/environmental, you're going to want a GC that specializes in energy efficiency (also called building performance or building science). If you want a couple of recommendations, I will be happy to accommodate via PM

Scortius

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 03:07:30 PM »
I love this ysette as I have found myself consistently 2 weeks behind you.  The house we're closing on will also need a new roof (in a few years) and I have been actively thinking about how to best go about checking and updating the insulation.  Our house has a flat roof, so I've been considering white PVC for stability and reflectance, but it's also one of the more expensive options.  Our house also has some electrical issues that I'm hoping the seller will agree to remedy before we close, but we'll see what happens with negotiations.

Definitely posting to follow!

gaja

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 03:10:33 PM »
We are planning to do something similar to our house. The ambition is to be energy neutral. We will replace the wood siding, all the windows, and doors. During this process, we'll put in plenty of insulation. The roof also needs insulation, but instead of replacing all the old roof tiles, we'll put in some sort of solar panels on the south side.

Those are the plans. The difficult part is finding contractors we can trust. The best ones are fully booked almost a year in front. I don't know if I would trust Yelp; the best ones go by word of mouth. My best bet so far has been talking to people working in the municipality and county. They both build and renovate a lot of buildings, and see which contractors do decent work, and which don't.

ysette9

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 03:15:12 PM »
IBased on your decision not to DIY, I would seriously recommend that you use a general contractor to coordinate this work, rather than hiring an electrician, roofer, insulator, and handyman and trying to manage it yourself.

I really appreciate this advice. Somehow I was thinking that these individual projects didn't add up to enough to necessitate a general contractor, so I am glad you pointed this out. I'll contact you separately via PM for your recommendations.

ysette9

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 03:20:03 PM »
Quote
I love this ysette as I have found myself consistently 2 weeks behind you.

@Scortius: That's cool! I hope you can update us on how your project goes as well. We are closing this week but the seller's negotiated staying an additional 5 weeks so their kids can finish out the school year. That gives me a little lead time here to do my homework before moving in. Thankfully the house is pretty much move-in condition despite everything I listed, and being that the rainy season has ended, I have a good 6 months to do all of this before worrying about the next batch of weather.

SisterX

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 04:07:44 PM »
PTF, as the house we're in the process of buying (the fickle gods and the bank willing) will need a bit of work. However, we're planning to DIY as we/our friends and family have the necessary skills for at least most of it. (Taking possibly asbestos-laden popcorn off a ceiling, insulation in the attic, some electrical work, updating the kitchen and bathrooms--long term projects--patching the roof, and a few others.) The biggest one for me is the attic insulation. That will most likely be the first project, as it will have the most long-term benefits.

ysette9

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 04:46:46 PM »
Quote
The biggest one for me is the attic insulation. That will most likely be the first project, as it will have the most long-term benefits.

That sounds like a lot of work to do yourself, but fun if you have the time and the skills. I am totally on board with the insulation thing. It makes such a huge improvement in quality of life and pure enjoyment of your living space.

misshathaway

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2017, 09:27:02 AM »
I just finished a whole house insulation - cellulose for walls, cellulose covered with fiberglass for attic. House was build in 1960.

it's a good thing you got the electric done first. In my attic they had to go around the pot lights installed in the top floor rooms in a special way to insure that it was not a fire hazard. This is even though the cellulose is fire-retardant.

Also, there was a fine layer of dust on EVERY surface in the entire house when they were done. It wasn't anything they did wrong. From what I read prior, it is par for the course. Also, when they poured the cellulose into the walls, even though it wasn't pressurized it came out of the baseboard heaters, inside some of my cabinets, inside one of my bathrooms with a loose slat of paneling. If you can get this done before you move in, it will be easier to clean up. They did a lot of the cellulose flake cleanup with a shop vac but I am still finding it in unexpected places a week later.

CptJack83

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2017, 03:21:13 PM »
I just finished a major renovation on my house and still need to do insulation.  They will put holes in the outside and fill it with blown in insulation. The house is 100 years old and currently has 0 insulation on the exterior walls

I'm having a hard time deciding between blown in foam vs Cellulose.   Can someone that has experience with both offer their opinion on their recommendation between the two.  I've talked to contractors who use both and both seem to think the product they use is the best...looking for more of an objective opinion.


twbird18

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2017, 06:43:00 PM »
You should visit your local utility companies website to find deals & savings on energy related items. Many states offer free/reduced home energy audits with freebies & will provide credits or discounts on energy improvements.

monarda

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2017, 10:41:20 PM »
Our city had a promotion, we had a free energy audit if we had a party- inviting our friends and neighbors to be there when they pointed out the things that needed attention. Then the party guests were eligible for a discounted energy audit, or they could also have a free one if they held their own energy party!

ysette9

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2017, 09:06:32 AM »
Like a Tupperware party, only better. :)

SisterX

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Re: Looking for advice on insulation, home energy audit, and new roof
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2017, 10:18:47 AM »
Thank you for the reminder about rebates, audits, incentives, and all that. I would have completely forgotten and I bet we'll save quite a bit of money with it as we fix our place up!