Choosing an Insulation Contractor
Selecting the right insulation contractor for your job is an important decision. Not sure where to start?
Ask your utility company for a list of reputable and licensed contractors, consult friends and neighbors, or contact the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA) for a list of certified contractors in your area.
Before you hire an insulation contractor
Your home is your investment, so before you award you job to a contractor be sure to take the following steps:
- Check references: Ask the contractor for references, including other homeowners for whom he has done work.
- Ask trusted sources for a reference: In addition to the approaches mentioned above, you can also check with the local Better Business Bureau for a contractor, or ask your bank to get a report on the contractor’s credit rating.
- Evaluate materials, too: Remember that you want good quality materials as well as labor and price. When you talk to a contractor, discuss R‑values. Don’t forget that R‑values are determined by material type, thickness, and, in the case of loose-fill insulation, by installed weight per square foot (or density), not by thickness alone.
- Ask questions about how the contractor’s installers are paid: Does the contractor pay them by the number of square feet they cover or by the hour? If he pays them by square footage, they might do a hasty job on your house just so they can get on to the next one.
- Check if the contractor has appropriate insurance coverage: Does the contractor have insurance to protect his own men if they are injured? Are you covered if one of his workers damages your house? Ask for proof of current insurance.
- Check certifications: Ask the contractor if he is certified by ICAA or another organization. (Contact the Insulation Contractors Association of American (ICAA) for a list of certified contractors in your area.
- Check bag labels: When you talk to a contractor or his salesman, ask him to show you a sample of the bag label for his brand of insulation and ask him to explain it to you. If a contractor uses insulation packed in bags that aren’t labeled, don’t hire him. The quality of the material will be unknown. Always deal in R‑values, not inches. Every type of insulation has a different range of R‑value per inch, and the Federal Trade Commission does not allow insulation to be marked by its R‑value per inch, except in very limited cases. You want a guarantee of a specific insulation R‑value.
If a contractor offers spray foam
There are some specific issues unique to spray foam that you’ll want to be mindful of when considering a contractor offering spray foam:
- Ensure the contractor has the requisite training and credentials to use spray foam
- Ask about the re-entry and re-occupancy times for the specific product and application in question. These times vary by manufacturer, product and specific application. Timelines are also always predicated on specific amounts of ventilation, so you may want to ask if the contractor is prepared to provide additional ventilation to the installation area. This is a matter of health and safety so it needs to be considered carefully.
- Ask if the chemicals are stored in a temperature controlled environment, as they should be.
- Determine what the air temperature and humidity levels need to be in order for the installation to take place.
- Ask whether the application in question requires additional elements for fire protection. This varies by application and local building code, but it is worth asking about.
Once you’ve hired a contractor, there are a few things to do to manage the project and make sure you’re getting the results you want. Some tips:
- Make sure the contractor gives you a contract or receipt for the insulation installed. This is required by law.
- Check that the proper amount of insulation is actually installed. Make sure you get the R-value you were promised up front.
- After the job is finished, inspect your home to make sure the insulation was installed correctly.