Monday, February 7, 2011

May I vent?

Sorry not to have posted in the last few weeks, but I have been a tad frustrated. Whether it is the weather (cold, icy, and snowy), or life in a small town/semi-rural area, or living in an old house bound to be full of surprises--it has been nearly impossible to find anyone willing to take on the job of insulating our home. The saga thus far:

After our energy audit, Brian sent an estimate for the work he proposed; he also encouraged us to get other estimates, which we would have done anyway. I contacted the only other insulation companies I could find, two of which said we were out of their service area. The three remaining companies agreed to come out for free estimates, and very quickly at that. Each one had some new bit of information to offer, and I thought the meetings went well.

What followed was a whole lot of...nothing. One week went by, and when we hit day 10 I made follow-up calls or sent an email. Still nothing. At the three week mark, I called back and left messages asking each one for an estimate or to just let me know they weren't interested. One responded two days later (said he had the flu, so I felt a bit badly for pressing him) but with a quote for only a portion of the work we really need.
So after contacting all the insulation contractors in our area who were willing to come out and look at the job, we are left with...our first estimate. No materials to compare, no prices to compare, nothing. If I was okay with that I wouldn't have bothered chasing people down for three weeks, and the job would already be done. Perhaps it is for the best; I researched the elements of Brian's proposal and it does seem very sound and optimal for our situation.

One thing all four contractors could agree on was that if we are planning to put in a geothermal heat pump, it might be best to do that first and then insulate the attic, so all the work was not stepped on and compromised.  This recommendation spurred us on to get estimates for a geothermal system as well. We found three local companies, all with varying degrees of expertise in the field and again, different ideas about the best system for our home. Fortunately, all of these companies were able to get us estimates in a timely fashion and we have selected a company for that project as well.

The issue now is that we have a projected heat loss calculation (for after the insulation improvements are made) upon which the geothermal installer is basing his system design. We might meet that projection, or more likely, we will come somewhat close. But we obviously do not want either a system that is over kill or a system that is inadequate for our needs. So what we would like to do is have all the insulation work completed (except for the attic floor, so it won't get messed up by the HVAC guys), have another blower door test, and base the geo system on that more realistic number.

I am sure everything will work out wonderfully when all is said and done; it was just one of those times where I really noticed a difference between living in a small town, where if three or four people don't get back to you the job maybe doesn't happen, and a larger metro area, where if four people blow you off you just call the next 40 in the phone book.

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