Buying a New Home? Don’t Forget About Insulation

by | Jun 28, 2018

If you’ve bought a home recently—or even just spent some time on the hunt—you know the market is really getting crazy in West Michigan!

Here’s another thing you might have noticed: information on your new home’s insulation isn’t always easy to come by. Most listings (or at least listing agents) have information about, say, the square footage or age of the roof or furnace easily available.

But insulation? That may be a bit of a mystery. If the home has had more than one previous owner, it’s possible the seller doesn’t even know!

While we wouldn’t say bad insulation is a deal-breaker when it comes to buying a home (it’s easy and affordable enough to upgrade, and pays for itself in energy costs over time) the quality of the insulation is something you’re going to want to figure out pretty soon after you buy—preferably before the Michigan winter hits!

By figuring things out up front (and upgrading if necessary), you’ll be more comfortable in your new home, and you’ll start saving money on energy costs right away.

Some additional things to keep in mind.



First, ask. There’s usually no harm in asking the seller or listing agent if they know about the home’s insulation—what type, how recently it was installed, whether or not it was installed professionally, etc. They may very well have no idea, of course. But why not ask?

Next, how old is the home? Home age is an imperfect guide to figuring out a home’s insulation, of course. A 100-year-old home that’s been out fitted with foam insulation recently is probably going to perform better than a 25-year-old home that hasn’t been touched since it was constructed.

But if you know how old the home is, you at least have a pretty good idea of what we might call the “worst case scenario.”

If you’re buying a home built in the 1910s or 1920s, it’s quite possible the home has no insulation at all—or maybe even something primitive, like crinkled newspaper, wood shavings, or mineral wool.

One other thing you might not be aware of: it wasn’t really until around 2000 before building codes started to get a lot stricter about minimum insulation standards.

If you’re buying a home brand new, or the home was built or extensively remodeled within the last 15 years or so, good news—there’s an excellent chance that you have good-to-excellent insulation lining your attic, roof, wall assemblies, mass walls, basement walls, floors—the whole nine yards as they say.

Of course, while a newer home will likely have been built to code, that’s no guarantee of long-term (or even necessarily current) insulation quality. For example:

  • The insulation may not have been installed properly, leaving gaps where heat can escape.
  • The insulation may have degraded since installation. This is frequently the case with fiberglass batting, which can suffer weather damage, fall out of crawl spaces or ceilings, or even become a nest for intruding pests.
  • The insulation may simply be suboptimal for your personal preferences and needs. You might be satisfied with your current R-value, but want an insulating material that’s more fire resistant, or a makes a better vapor barrier, or does a better job dampening noise pollution—just to name a few examples.

Of course, regardless of how old your home is or what type of insulation it has, there are two surefire ways to tell if it isn’t good enough. One—drafty homes that are always too hot in summer and too hot cold in winter. And two? Massive, headache-inducing energy bills!

If either of these unfortunate circumstances describe your experience with your new home, don’t fret—just call RetroFoam of Southwest Michigan. We provide free estimates and offer a range of high-performance foam insulation productions. You won’t even necessarily have to tear out your walls or undergo a huge remodel—some foams can be injected directly into the wall cavity from the outside!

Request your free estimate online today, or call us at (269) 751-2000.