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Question DetailsAsked on 10/11/2016

Contractor was caught trying to cheat me by not installing insulation under siding. Should I pay balance owed?

Contractor finished siding install but I noticed only partially insulated. I gave half down and upon inspection, not even half of the house had the fan cold insulation installed. He stated he was working on the other side of the house and was not aware what the installers on his crew were doing. Also, they crushed one of my gutters that was replaced upon me informing him. The metal trim work still is not as I'd like it. The insulation was installed upon me confronting the contractor while a friend was present during the confrontation. Contractor stated I had the right to be peed off....I stated I was just disappointed with his honesty to install what I paid for. We were in Alaska when this all occurred. Now I am unsure if all insulation was completely installed for I did not see everything under the siding. I also noticed on one corner of the upper half of the bathroom upstairs, that a white circle that appears to be spray painted overs the soffit, said ding, I channel and corner.

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Not sure he was trying to cheat you - may just have not informed the crew of what was to be done, or they goofed off. A lot of the workers these days are marginal at best, and a lot of siding and roofing contractors flesh out their crews with day labor who may have little or no experience at the job being done.

I do have to say, you are a trusting soul to take off to Alaska while major work is being done on your house.

You do not have to pay until you are satisfied (within reason) with the work - that it has been done per the contract and to manufacturer specifications.

The trim issue you would have to discuss what is wrong with the contractor- could be what you want cannot be done with the standard trim, but if sloppy or mis-sized work or wrinkled or crumpled trim or such you have a right to have it done right.

As for the fan-fold insulation - not knowing type and make of siding and trim, hard to say what easiest way to check for it is. Depending on mounting nethod, you may be able to poke a probe up under the siding and "feel" whether the foam is there - though if your water barrier is over the insulation that might not work without puncturing the water barrier, which would be a bad thing.

If insulation was put in directly under the siding, depending on the mounting method, you might be able to look up under the siding (assuming lap siding here) with a bright light and see the insulation color - or reach up in ewith very thin needle nose pliers and grab a hold and pull out to see if insulation comes on the tip. Again, if water barrier was installed over the insulation these methods are a no-go because you will not be able to tell without puncturing the water barrier. Also, with many or most brands of lap vinyl or metal siding, the fastening strip or strip lap connection may prevent you from reaching up under the lap like that.

Depending on whether it is snap fit or not, he might be able to take off the corner trim so you can see the end of the fanfold visible under the siding at the corners - though of course that does not tell you if any areas of the field were missed.

A non-invasive way which should work, at least when outdoor siding surface temp is significantly different than the rest of the house, is to rent (Home Depot or Tool Rental place or some auto parts stores for under $100/day, half-day rentals available some places) a thermal infrared camera and scan the outside of the house (will work best when cold outside and house is heated, or if still in AC season when it is hot outside and AC is on inside) and scan for differences in heatflow through the wall - should be pretty obvious where the insulation is and is not unless you bought into the very thin fan-fold insulation that is only R-2 rated or such - then might or might not show up clearly between different walls,, though missing areas in a given wall should be pretty clear by difference in heat flow and rectangular shape of edges of the insulation where its installation stopped.

Some smartphone camera can be tempoarily returned toward the infrared range with an App - newer Apple iPhones and iPads come with that capability already built-in, which can give you a soemtimes decent view of things like this. Not as precise or clear as a true infrared camera, but if you have one of those might be worth a try. Shows wet areas and hot and cold water pipes fine on our iPad - and shows areas in the walls where the batt insulation has settled at the top of the wall, so might work for your case, especially if the insulation has a significant R-value.

Professionally, this evaluation of whether all the insulation is in would be an Energy Auditor or Home Inspector who has a thermal IR camera - who can commonly also give you a thumb drive with a record of the scanning.

Of course, best to have a chalk on a stick to mark the limits that need to be removed and the insulation installed while the scan is being done.

Then you and contractor will have to discusss whether he tears that part off and puts the insulation in and replaces the siding (and maybe water barrier also) - or if you negotiate a price adjustment for it not being done, based on the difference in installed cost without the insulation OR the estimated present worth of the energy savings that were promised with the insulation. Tearoff is not something he is going to want to do (especially if vinyl or thin aluminum because hard to take off without damaging it) but if the insulation was required by contract and not there, he has no choice if he wants to get paid. And if he refuses, you have option of calling his Bond to get it done by the bonding company.

On the soffit ding - if damaged, you have to decide if you can accept the repair (with or without a cost adjustment forthe damage), or if you want it replaced at his cost. Or if you just want him to have them repaint that repaired area with a brush and paint to get rid of the spray painted circle. Of course, if they put on the soffit covers and corner as part of their work then asking for new replacement without a ding is perfectly reasonable, rather than them repairing damage done to existing trim.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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