There is one in California where the state has instituted QII (Quality Insulation Installation), a procedure that ensures insulation and air sealing have been properly installed in a home. In order to meet QII a home needs to be inspected by a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) provider who will issue the verification.
The basic items inspected are:
- the insulation holds the proper R-value and type listed
- there are no gaps or voids between the framing or insulation
- there is no insulation compression where it is restricting from achieving full thickness
- pipes and wires are in cavities where insulation occurs and is covering with non-compressed insulation in front and back
- an air barrier install is at all exposed faces of batt, blown-in, and SPF insulation
- electrical boxes are carefully cut out in the insulation and form a tight fit with no gaps or hole
It all seems common sense to us and begs the question, why does there need to even be a standard like this? What insulation installer (regardless of location) would not adhere to these basic principles? Well, the truth is that the insulation installation industry still needs dramatic improvements in quality control. We’d highlight some interesting commentary from a CalCERTS document about proper insulation installation and QII :
…The current state of industry-standard practice did not get this bad overnight, it evolved over time. One of the causes is the common use of paying installers for “piece work.” That is, paying them for each house completed, rather than paying them by the hour. This encourages installers to work faster and results in generally sloppy work. Passing the QII protocols requires that the installers slow down and exercise much more care and precision, attention to detail is critical….Coordination between designers and the trades is critical. Passing QII is not completely the responsibility of the installer. Architects and framers are finding that they too have gotten sloppy on how a home’s thermal boundary and air barrier are defined and constructed.…
As an insulation manufacturer that works directly with homeowners, we could not agree more with these observations. Every day we connect with folks who demand not only a higher quality insulation but also need the proper installation and frequently they get pushback from their builders, contractors, architects, and installers. The plain truth is that building and renovating houses is difficult and time-consuming. Moving fast with cheap materials is a temptation that far too many professionals succumb to in the pursuit of a more profitable project. It’s easy to understand but as the occupants of the home, we are the ones who are left with poorly constructed, inefficient, and unhealthy homes.
Now on to the good news…
We see encouraging signs every day that professionals care more about building properly and with healthy materials. Projects may take longer but the end result is far superior. Specifically, we meet lots of insulation installers who really do care about proper installation and want to avoid toxic, underperforming products. Our good friends at Mr Insulation are a great example of a company that offers healthy insulation choices and encourages the homeowner to make an informed decision about which product to use. (Stay tuned for an upcoming video interview with them).
Importantly, the homeowner is way more informed about proper and healthy building. The proliferation of websites and influencers that provide great information and education is extremely impressive (though beware of bad info out there too!). The result is a more discerning customer who expects more from the professionals working on their home.