How IDI’s Professional Building Science Training Won a Job and Saved a Home

Timothy Johnson is well known for building beautiful sunrooms and went to bid one the week after he came to an IDI Training class. As a home builder/remodeler who was getting into spray foam and insulation, his favorite part of the training course was building science. Little did he know, he was about to use his newfound knowledge to rectify a bad situation.

What Is Building Science?

Building science is the understanding of a building as an entire system with the end goal of improving air quality, energy efficiency and comfort. It’s a topic that we cover in our training courses extensively, and is valuable knowledge that every insulation contractor should possess.

Winning the Job

Pulling up to the project, he noted that someone had covered up the gable vent. Upon asking the homeowner, he was informed that a woodpecker had been very determined to reside in the attic, and the gable vent was the chosen solution after all other efforts had failed.

Next, Timothy’s site visit required evaluating the side of the house where the sunroom was to be built. Closer inspection revealed rotting facia and siding, as well as biological growth coming out of the soffit vents. Obviously, a lot needed to be repaired before the sunroom could be started.

As soon as he left the home, we connected on the phone and went over photos of the mentioned areas as well as the roof. The addition (pictured on the right) was completely encapsulated with spray foam and its roof line was about three feet lower than the original roofline. In this case, there was room for a vent on the backside, but one was never put in (it may not have helped much anyway).

Before I could even bring it up, Timothy noted that there was no ridge vent or roof vent of any kind. We both agreed that this attic was a prime building science example of the need for attic venting. Warm air holds more moisture, so during the day air in the attic would be letting humid air in through the soffits and trapping it. At night, as the air cooled, it would shed excess moisture. This made everything in the attic wet. Then, as the attic warmed each day, it became even more of a wet sauna or terrarium. It’s no wonder “things” were growing out of the soffits.

The truth is, even before the addition (or the woodpecker), the home would have benefitted from better venting. It had the benefit of gathering air down low, but it never really had anywhere up top for the air to escape. The above illustration does a good job of showing why the air needs a chance to escape in the attic. Now, this project was clearly going from a sunroom, to needing new soffits, facia, gutters, ridge venting, some siding, air sealing and new insulation.

As with most projects like this, the homeowner knew things weren’t great after seeing the evidence but didn’t understand the magnitude of the issue or how it could be affecting their health. After a brief explanation of building science that he had been armed with from IDI’s training class, the homeowner realized that fixing it was a top priority. Now, Timothy, their new building science advocate, will be fixing the home as well as adding a sunroom. Just imagine how this would have gone if a different contractor had come and simply added the sunroom without fixing the problem.

Certainly, most of the IDI family are not full remodeling companies. That said, it always amazes me how the more an insulator knows about home building science, the more they find smaller projects morphing into bigger projects. Even without the sunroom, this home had problems that were only going to get bigger. Yet, there is another lesson here. As a building performance company, I would be looking to speak on projects and issues like this to architects, remodelers, realtors and home inspectors in my area. Maybe your goal could be to become the “house whisperer.”

I want to close with two other things I’ve noticed with these types of projects. The first is how much more building owners feel they need to share their experience with other homeowners. In fact, if they feel healthier in their home after the repairs, it’s an even more interesting story that often leads to them telling relatives and friends. The second thing is something not every job offers, and that’s the satisfaction you feel after fixing a serious problem.

If you’ve been turning horror stories into success stories, we would love to share them. You never know who will find them online and the more we share, the more building owners will realize what they really need is an insulator.

If you would like more information about IDI’s trainings, products or any of the other resources we offer, reach out to your local branch or our corporate office through our contact form. We look forward to earning your business every day.

Written by IDI’s Business Development Manager, Ken Allison.


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