Planning Ahead with Your Builder

My builder has already signed a contract for our project with regular insulation and I am wondering if you can do foam for the same or nearly the same price?

Planning ahead with your builder can make all the difference in the long run.The short answer is “NO”. Unfortunately the material and labor of foam makes it impossible to do for anywhere near the same price. It is especially difficult if you wait until it is time to install the insulation as the savings opportunities for foam are created in two ways, first you need much less equipment and secondly you spend less every month for heating and cooling (also meaning that you will not have an uncomfortable in your home after we foam it).

If you want to go with foam and you are already at the insulation stage of your project and you cannot down size your HVAC equipment to take full advantage of foam, we can still foam it but you will need to ensure you are not short cycling your AC and that is between you and your mechanical contractor.

In 2009, I got a phone call from a man who was doing a full gut rehab that was not planned for foam. He had two furnaces and two air conditioners and I told him that we could move forward but that I would bet that the second furnace on his house was totally unnecessary. He was an engineer and liked the comment so he sub metered that furnace in the attic and decided he would take the bet and we would revisit that conversation a full year after the work was done and he had the data. He hooked up a wired sensor to collect the usage data on his furnace and in mid April of the following year he called me ready to share the data…. “It ran for 60 minutes.” I asked if that was 60 minutes per day and he said “no”. I said what do you mean and he then said “Last winter for the whole winter the furnace in my attic ran for a total of 60 minutes.”

It situations like the one mentioned above, it was not possible to change and that happens more than I would like. Sometimes homes have an open floor plan and cannot find a way to move air from the mechanical closet up or down or both. In cases like that using really small furnaces is the way to go and even better modulating furnaces that only use the number of BTU’s that are required to satisfy the thermostat.

Let’s talk about a family doing this with forethought and planning, I know you are out there reading this now.  As my Grandpa Hoyt Decker reminded me many times when we were working on projects, “Measure twice, cut once.”  Foam is part of a plan, that plan includes windows, doors and how many total square feet you have in your home.  We work on homes that aspire to at or near net zero all the time and we love seeing those utility bills of $20 (not include utility delivery fees) in July or January for 3000 square foot super energy efficient home.  That is not common but we are happy to do it with you.  Most conversations at the planning stage involve a “how can we use foam and not break our existing/ already tight budget”?  That is a tough question but I get it every day.  Foam for most 2500 to 3000 square foot single family homes runs in the $15K to $25K for a whole house.  With that size home you can typically reduce the furnaces from two 100K BTU furnaces to one 60K BTU furnace and from 4 tons of cooling to 1.5-2 tons of cooling.

Use of foam as described above will impact your floor plan and where/ how the mechanical contractor moves air.  It may mean that you have forced air down stairs and first floor and mini splits up stairs where… the options are limitless… foam give you options and reduces your cost of operation but it will require an architect who understands these things.  If you would like a referral to an architect that understands these things please call.  If you would like me to talk with your architect, I am happy to do that.

Last winter for the whole winter the furnace in my attic ran for a total of 60 minutes.

The last scenario I deal with all the time is repurposing of existing space either finishing a bonus room that was never finished or an existing space that is not meeting the family needs. Foam is a fantastic addition to either of these projects because it will ensure that you have the comfort. Finishing a space that is unfinished is pretty simple…. Modify existing mechanicals, add electric and any needed plumbing and then foam it up, drywall and enjoy winter and summer. Modifying an existing space is more complicated. Don’t believe the TV commercials about poking a hole and filling a wall with foam… that process does not work well and we do not to offer it for that reason. Modifying the use of a space requires demo of existing drywall, opening up the cavities at the walls and getting into the space above either the attic or roof and foaming there.

A few years ago I got a phone call about a space that was uncomfortable and the lady of the house was calling to ask for my help. I explained the demo, foam and replacement scenario and she then said it was for her 34 year old son who was complaining that his room was cold… I said wait, you are asking me to help solve that issue? She confirmed that it was for her 34 year old son and I said, ok… lets do this project in a year and she asked why I would delay and I said…. Because if we fix it now, he will be your 35 year old son living at home and if we wait a year it can be your dream space to create whatever you want…. One year later we did the project and as we were getting the project going she said, “he is now my 35 year old son living in Wicker Park with his girlfriend complaining about his cold apartment.” I call that a victory for both!

Give us a ring so we can talk about the options to help you live your best life with foam!

Comfort is only a FOAM CALL AWAY! 847-987-3626

About the Author, Tom Decker

With ten years of experience selling spray foam insulation in Chicago, Tom Decker is THE person to call and the Chicago Green Insulation is the organization to hire when you are looking for top notch quality and performance as well as someone who can deal with the needs of code officials, home owners and general contractors. Call the others in Chicago, if you are interested in the cheapest price, call Chicago Green Insulation if you are interested in using your dollars to make Chicago a better city for all of us!

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