Author Topic: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY  (Read 4030 times)

jps

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Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« on: January 07, 2020, 12:24:55 PM »
We live in a 1960's rancher with pitiful insulation (doesn't really even cover the joists in the attic) and so I have been meaning to buy a bunch of cellulose one day, rent a machine, and get dirty to keep my house nice and insulated. With ~1300 sq. ft of attic, I calculated that I would need 60-70 bags of the stuff to bring our insulation up to R-49 minimum. At $11.80/bag that meant at least $700 plus a free machine rental and an entire Saturday.

For giggles, I called around to local pros in my area and found one who would do it for $1,600. I also found out that my local utility will give a rebate of $0.75/sq. ft if insulation is installed by a professional, meaning I'd get $975 back, bringing the total cost to $625 to have someone do it for me, with none of the hassle.

I know a large part of mustachianism isn't directly about money, but about the benefits of hard work on your mind and soul, as well as learning new skills. So if the prices of professional vs. DIY are close enough, Pete might say it's still better to DIY. But I was really not excited about crawling around in my small attic for a day and getting filthy. Last time I was up there installing and wiring some recessed lights for my garage, I had a bunch of bruises on my hips from laying on the joists. *waaah*

Is this a win? Or should I go do some push-ups to make my life harder?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 12:30:33 PM by jps »

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 01:50:55 PM »
I DIY nearly everything except dry wall.  For that price let the pro's do it - not really a skill you need to develop considering how few times you would actually need that skill.

terran

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 03:27:44 PM »
If you're counting on the utility rebate to make the math work then make sure you understand the requirements of the program. Like maybe their definition of a professional requires a license of some sort (probably just a contractor state license number) in which case you'll want to make sure this pro has that.

kenmoremmm

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2020, 03:30:25 PM »
i wouldn't call blowing in insulation a skill, necessarily. don't feel bad if you don't "learn" it.

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2020, 04:16:01 PM »
If you're counting on the utility rebate to make the math work then make sure you understand the requirements of the program. Like maybe their definition of a professional requires a license of some sort (probably just a contractor state license number) in which case you'll want to make sure this pro has that.

For sure!

AMandM

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 04:33:26 PM »
i wouldn't call blowing in insulation a skill, necessarily. don't feel bad if you don't "learn" it.

+1

DIY is more worthwhile for tasks you'll need or want to do again. Unless you plan to develop a side hustle installing insulation, I'd hire the pro in your case (assuming the numbers work out as hoped).

Glenstache

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2020, 06:09:19 PM »
Hire it done. I do a lot of DIY and quite enjoy it. Insulation work is only worth doing on your own if it is a big cost savings. The pros are super fast, cheaper than buying materials, and have all the right tools to get it done. If you have a need to do any wiring in your attic, absolutely do that now before you add a bunch of blown in insulation.

AM43

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2020, 07:55:34 AM »
I just did blown-in insulation back in Nov. 2019.
Attic approx. 1600 sqf and it cost me about $400 in materials.
Insulation was on sale and you get the machine for free.
You need 2 people(one feeding insulation into hopper and one blowing it upstairs) and its a dirty job.
No skill required. You just stay and blow insulation to specific thickness  and you are done.
In my area its always cheaper to do it yourself than hiring a pro.
 

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2020, 10:03:20 AM »
I just did blown-in insulation back in Nov. 2019.
Attic approx. 1600 sqf and it cost me about $400 in materials.
Insulation was on sale and you get the machine for free.
You need 2 people(one feeding insulation into hopper and one blowing it upstairs) and its a dirty job.
No skill required. You just stay and blow insulation to specific thickness  and you are done.
In my area its always cheaper to do it yourself than hiring a pro.

@AM43 did you have a noticeable difference in comfort or utility bills from before/after?

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2020, 10:04:35 AM »
I just did blown-in insulation back in Nov. 2019.
Attic approx. 1600 sqf and it cost me about $400 in materials.
Insulation was on sale and you get the machine for free.
You need 2 people(one feeding insulation into hopper and one blowing it upstairs) and its a dirty job.
No skill required. You just stay and blow insulation to specific thickness  and you are done.
In my area its always cheaper to do it yourself than hiring a pro.

I have been getting all of my attic work done over the last year, since I always kind of had this in mind. How about replacing one of my light fixtures, though? Will that be messier after the insulation? Might want to change out a fixture for a ceiling fan in the next few weeks if that's the case.

Fru-Gal

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2020, 10:07:36 AM »
What if the blown-in insulation is over 20 years old? Our attic is insulated but it's been a long time and the insulation is kind of settled in there. Is it useful to "top it up"?

Dicey

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2020, 10:12:06 AM »
DH and I gutted and flipped a house last year. We wanted to insulate the interior walls and the ceiling between floors in addition to the usual places. We calculated what we needed and started pricing materials. Then we made a couple of calls to installers. Found a company to do the entire job for less than our cost of materials. They used the exact insulation we wanted. Seems when you buy in bulk the price goes down a lot. Win-win.

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2020, 10:21:31 AM »
What if the blown-in insulation is over 20 years old? Our attic is insulated but it's been a long time and the insulation is kind of settled in there. Is it useful to "top it up"?
A quick googles seems inconclusive to me. It might lose some of it's r-value when it settles?

kenmoremmm

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2020, 10:33:39 AM »
cellulose fiber compresses over time. fiberglass does not.

TomTX

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2020, 05:13:41 PM »
cellulose fiber compresses over time. fiberglass does not.

Blown fiberglass is often over-lofted by "professional" installers, allowing for far too much air movement and losing much of the insulating value.

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2020, 08:52:21 AM »
cellulose fiber compresses over time. fiberglass does not.

Blown fiberglass is often over-lofted by "professional" installers, allowing for far too much air movement and losing much of the insulating value.

Do you mean that they don't blow it so that it doesn't compress well enough?

AM43

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2020, 10:24:27 AM »
I just did blown-in insulation back in Nov. 2019.
Attic approx. 1600 sqf and it cost me about $400 in materials.
Insulation was on sale and you get the machine for free.
You need 2 people(one feeding insulation into hopper and one blowing it upstairs) and its a dirty job.
No skill required. You just stay and blow insulation to specific thickness  and you are done.
In my area its always cheaper to do it yourself than hiring a pro.

@AM43 did you have a noticeable difference in comfort or utility bills from before/after?

I did it in one of my rental homes so do not know if it made any difference as far as comfort.
I know to fully realize any savings I would need to replace the windows.
This is where I loose most of the heat.
Utility bills are little lower, but its prob due to a new steam boiler that we installed than insulation itself, but I am sure insulation does its part.
I did it because it was inexpensive project(only like $400, but dirty :) ) and I am sure its contributing to my savings on utility bills.

AM43

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2020, 10:32:12 AM »
I just did blown-in insulation back in Nov. 2019.
Attic approx. 1600 sqf and it cost me about $400 in materials.
Insulation was on sale and you get the machine for free.
You need 2 people(one feeding insulation into hopper and one blowing it upstairs) and its a dirty job.
No skill required. You just stay and blow insulation to specific thickness  and you are done.
In my area its always cheaper to do it yourself than hiring a pro.

I have been getting all of my attic work done over the last year, since I always kind of had this in mind. How about replacing one of my light fixtures, though? Will that be messier after the insulation? Might want to change out a fixture for a ceiling fan in the next few weeks if that's the case.

Generally it's better to take care of all the work before applying insulation.
You don't want to walk on top of it and compress it.

TomTX

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2020, 04:19:38 PM »
cellulose fiber compresses over time. fiberglass does not.

Blown fiberglass is often over-lofted by "professional" installers, allowing for far too much air movement and losing much of the insulating value.

Do you mean that they don't blow it so that it doesn't compress well enough?

No, I mean they blow it too fluffy/loosely, so that they get to their agreed depth using less material and time. On a micro level it's like Swiss cheese - air flows through it.

DoNorth

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2020, 05:21:15 AM »
my attic is 1450 sq. feet.  i bought my cellulose for just over $6/bag; about 70 bags = $420 + free rental for the machine.  Took me 7 hours one day and about 5 the next.  3 years later, I'm going to put a top off in there.  Power went out for 3 days last month so we had no heat while the temps were in the mid 20s.  I lost 10 degrees inside over an almost 72 hour period.  if you use the contractor, make sure you go up there before he's left and before you've paid him so you can check to ensure the application was even and there's no major low spots.  I leapfrog catwalk boards along the trusses so I can crawl the span of the attic.

jps

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2020, 02:56:50 PM »
Preliminary Insulation Results:
I had the installation installed on Monday the 21st. Get daily usage from my utility, so already seeing a drop in natural gas use! Sweet!

DateN.G. UsedTemp F
Jan 19  4.55 CCCF  33
Jan 20  4.90 CCCF  33
Jan 21  4.07 CCCF  33 Insulation Added Today
Jan 22  2.60 CCCF  33
Jan 23  2.27 CCCF  33



Luckily, we have had the exact same average temperature for 5 days in a row now. I've kept the thermostat as constant as possible too. I know that the data sample size is super small so far, but glad to see such an obvious drop in energy use. I've already submitted for my rebate, which will cover 59% of the total cost. Should get a check in the mail in a few weeks.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2020, 03:01:24 PM by jps »

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Hiring out blown-in insulation for less than DIY
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2020, 09:57:18 AM »
That's pretty cool (pun intended)