Build on Your Land: Insulation and Drywall, When Rooms Take Shape

    Once all the rough installations in your home are complete and inspections done, it's time to install wall insulation and drywall. This is when your home really starts to take shape!

    Wall Insulation

    Wall insulation goes pretty fast. There's just not that much to it, unless you're doing a complicated installation such as spray foam followed by loose fill fiberglass.

    For most installations, you'll see the insulators caulk and foam any corners, holes where pipes and wires penetrate from unconditioned space into conditioned space, and sometimes where the bottom of the wall meets the slab.

    Then, they'll install either the fiberglass batts or the net-and-blow insulation in the walls.

    Energy Efficiency 

    In this day and age, higher-end insulation systems such as spray foam are becoming popular. But I can tell you from an engineering analysis I commissioned a few years ago that the rate of return for expensive insulation just isn't there.

    For the most bang for the buck, install CFL or LED light bulbs and high-efficiency appliances rather than high-end insulation.

    Drywall in Three Phrases

    Drywall comes next, which is really three phases: hanging drywall, taping and bedding the joints, and adding texture. This is one of those weird industry quirks where the builder hires the drywall contractor who then subcontracts one or more of the phases.

    So, you'll see the hangers on the job for a couple of days hanging the drywall, then the house might sit idle for a day or so until the tape and bed crew comes in.

    They'll take two or three days to complete their task, then there might be another wait for the texture crew.

    Still... More Drywall Work

    When it comes to drywall, it isn't finished until it's finished. One of the most frustrating things about drywall is that it seems like a finished product minus the paint, of course.

    Which means it can be heartbreaking for you when someone knocks a hole in a wall, a hairline crack appears in the drywall, or a corner comes loose. As the owner of the home, you've invested emotional capital in addition to money, and seeing something get damaged is hard.

    This is the beginning of that weird period of construction where contractors seem clumsier and more careless. It seems that way because from your perspective, that wall that just got textured is a finished product and is brand new. But in construction, it's far from finished until all phases of construction, including touch-up and repair, are complete.

    Your house will suffer dents and dings through the process.

    Remember that the finished home you looked at when deciding to hire your builder, the one that looked so shiny and new, went through this exact process. It got dented and dinged, but then it got touched up and shined up like a new penny. Yours will, too, and it will end up looking like the brochure. The only difference is that this one is YOURS, and you're seeing the sausage being made.

    Trim and cabinets come next, which I'll cover in a later article after we talk about an emotional piece of the process: mistakes and misunderstandings.

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