1902 Victorian

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Appraisal Schmappraisal

In case you missed it in the comments on my first post on insulation, John gave this helpful advice:

I used to do appraisals, and some appraisers either: mis-measure the house and come up with the wrong square footage, some use the courthouse records for the square footage (which may be wrong or 40 years out of date), and they don't count areas of the house that are "living" spaces (unfinished attics, basements, garages, etc. They should include baths, closets, etc (we always did).

If you can't find your appraisal, contact the appraiser. They are legally required to keep a copy for 7 years before they may throw them away. They may charge a printing fee however ($50.00 or so).

I've heard that appraisals count all the space that is heated and cooled. We think maybe the previous owners were counting the part of the attic that has a floor as living space. The appraiser obviously didn't count this because it's not heated and cooled.

But our measurement of around 3,300 doesn't include the attic. It does include bathrooms and closets.

It wouldn't surprise me if the court records are wrong. The Loan Lady hasn't called me back yet. I don't even know who the appraiser was without talking to Loan Lady. Arrrgh. I hate it when people are hard to get in touch with.

John was just full of good advice. He also said this:

Make sure the attic and exterior walls are insulated first before insulating the floor. From what I've read, insulating the floor gives the lowest return for cutting heating costs. Storm windows or additional attic insulation may do you more good.

I wasn't aware that insulating the floor gives the lowest return. Hmmm. We do have storm windows on most of the windows, except the very front of the house, which has shutters we keep closed in the winter (I wonder if that actually does any good).

The attic could probably use better insulation - it has fiberglass on the floor - and I doubt the walls have any at all. Maybe we do need to have a professional come out and give us his/her suggestions. An estimate is free after all, and we can see how it goes from there.

But I have to wonder if anything we do will help significantly. Most of the house has 12-foot ceilings; the rest has 10-foot. Is there even a way to keep a house like that warm?


Lenise said...

FWIW, we were evil and had vinyl siding installed on our 1920 clapboard house, which didn't have ANY insulation when we bought it. (We had insulation blown into the attic probably the first year we were here). Maybe it's just the rise in natural gas prices, but the siding didn't really do that much to bring down our obscene heating bills. And we have low ceilings. Thankfully, we live in NC, but as you can imagine, it still gets cold here!

BTW, my understanding was that you should let as much sunlight in as possible in the winter, so you probably don't want the shutters closed during the day.

9:44 AM  
John said...

To date, I have no first hand experience with heating a house with high ceilings.

I was talking with fellow old home owner in Atkins, and, according to him, heating with high ceilings (his are 14 ft + high) isn't too much more expensive than heating a house with low ceilings.

He said the first time you turn the heat on is the most expensive (costing more than house with 8ft ceilings that is). Since there are more cubic feet of air to heat, it takes the system longer and more energy to bring the whole house up to the desired temperture. Once the house is at the desired temp, the system only has to maintain it. This of course presumes that you have insulation, storm windows, etc.

While the hot air will rise to the ceiling, you can recirculate it back down toward the floor. If you have ceiling fans, you should be able to set them so they gently circulate the hot air downward.

Also, keeping a kettle of water on the stove (woodstove in our case) or a humidifier can help. Humid air will feel warmer than dry air at the same temperture.

Keep us posted and let us know how and what works. By this time next year, I'll be in your position.

10:59 AM  
ben said...

Insulation just keeps the heat in. With tall ceilings all the hot air just floats above your head anyway. You might consider radiant floor heat. At least that way the warmth is closer to you. It would be interesting to know the temperature difference between the ceiling and the floor.

11:01 AM  
derek said...

Blow in insulation in the walls helps a lot. it either leaves holes on the inside or outside at each stud bay though. With clapboard, I think they can remove a piece of siding, make the hole, then cover it with the siding again. The attic is the most important, since heat rises. Stopping wind from blowing under the house by building a wall around the perimeter of the crawlspace, and insulating that would help too.

11:53 AM  

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