Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Question about Home Inspections

This morning I want to share a question from a friend in Tosa re: home inspection and insulation, as it's something I am frequently asked:

We're looking into the whole home inspection thing because like you, we have a drafty old bungalow and are paying out the ears each month. I was wondering how much your assessment cost? Did you do the blanket assessment or did you pick & choose individual testing to be done? Was it a lot of do the air seal and insulation? And you said that there is a marked difference?

I think the inspection cost around $300. Generally they run from $300 to $500, depending on the size of one's home. We did the whole assessment, for which the inspector looked at the home's air flow as it relates to heating and cooling. FYI, the inspector doesn't look at, say, lighting, or water usage, or appliances. These are things a consumer can easily assess on one's own. Air flow is much harder for a consumer to assess, and it's important to assess, as heating and cooling account for a majority of a home's energy usage -- which can be A LOT if one lives in a drafty old bungalow. Our first February in Wisconsin the We bill blew my mind. I could simply did not expect to pay $400 or $500 a month on energy each winter when I had been paying closer to $200 a month in Urbana, Illinois.

BTW, the company that inspected our home is Beyond Energy, llc. You might want to contact your neighborhood association to find out if any of your neighbors are interested in getting an assessment. Many energy inspectors offer group rates.

Following the inspection we had our attic air sealed and insulated. We also insulated our basement. The cost was about $3,500 – this is a significant expense for us, but we felt the cost is worth it for the following reasons, in no particular order: (1) improving the comfort level of our home (2) saving money (in the long run) (3) preserving energy and protecting the environment, and (4) preserving an old home while bringing it up to twenty-first century standards. I haven't seen a full month's We Energies bill since we had the work done, so it's too early to analyze cost savings, but the house does feel warmer. Based on estimated savings, my husband figures it'll take us about five years to recoup inspection and insulation expenses.

We were pretty happy with the company who did the work: Intech, located in Milwaukee. They've specialized in home insulation for decades and have had thousands of happy insulation customers, so we knew we were in good hands. They also offered us the most attractive price. The were pleasant and professional, didn't use sub-contractors, and completed the work in one day.


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