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Question DetailsAsked on 9/29/2017

How much would it cost to install ductwork in a 2000 sqft 1 story condo. Currently uses air space between joists.

Building was built in 1980 and they did not use any duct work. Airflow is not reaching to the extremities of the unit as it just passes into and through the wall, floor and ceiling air space between the joists. Just need a ball park to close on purchase. Perhaps we should run away from this deal. Or is this something that can be fixed for a few thousand $ off on the price?

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Voted Best Answer

Because you are looking at buying this place, you need a pretty good number to base a decision on - like a firm bid from a General Contractor for not only the ductwork but also the associated repair and refinishing of the finished surfaces that have to be cut into to run the ducting (usually mostly ceilings). And the bid should be good for you to use for the actual work for say at least 3 months after the planned closing date. Though in my opinion that sort of fairly major job should be put in as a contingency instead, especially as most people do not like tearing into the ceilings and maybe walls right after they bought a new house. Most would probably pass on it or require (through the inspection contingency provisions) that the OWNER get fixed before closing, with your representative doing enough inspection to see they are not cutting corners like the original builder did.

Course, the owner might balk at that sort of $ to effect the sale - depending on the cost estimate he gets and the total cost of the unit.

Depending on the specifics of the condo and number of stories, assuming wood joists or steel truss joists, can commonly run several thousand $ minimum just for the ductwork for that size unit - sometimes up to as much as $5000 range if running rigid duct (which is not always possible because framing was not configured to accomodate that) - PLUS commonly around the same amount for drywall repair and painting - more if more expensive/exotic interior finishes, plus after-repair deep cleaning to get all the plaster/drywall dust picked up. Could be as much as double that range for a high-priced urban area - though not many 1 story condos in very high cost areas.

There can be a LOT of variation in price so you need a firm quote at a minimum (or owner agreement to do it at his cost, as a contingency item) - because sometimes physically getting the ducts in can be a major problem, so sometimes this sort of situation is "solved" by just running new ducting to the more remote locations in the home, leaving the joist bay ventilation for the areas nearer the furnace/AC or which exhibit adequate airflow now. Properly, airflow measurements and calculations would be done to see just where the air is going, and bear in mind if going with flex duct that they have a lot higher internal flow resistance (so may take parallel runs to fit in the available space rather than the large distribution ducts which would normally be put into a new-build), plus are more prone to deterioration with age and leakage and letting any fire spread through the building faster - all possible considerations.

Another thing to remember is that joist bay ventilation can commonly run 25-50% losses outside the building envelope - into exterior walls to the outside, around rim joists, etc - so your energy efficiency is going to be low as configured - though historic utility bills should make it pretty clear how bad that situation has been.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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