Northern Thermal Comfort
2379 Rux Rd.
Arbor Vitae, WI 54568

How To Pick An Insulator

The simplest answer is pick NTC.  We hope that will be your choice, but we also know that every other insulation contractor wants you to pick them.  Your home is one of your biggest investments.  You want to make a good choice.

When it comes to Insulation Contractors, there are really good ones, and there are those that are, well, not as good.  So how does one choose?

“I'm a Good Insulator!”

An insulation contractor can tell you that they will do a good job, in fact they can tell you anything they want, but that doesn't make it so. 

A few years ago we added the line to our telephone book ad, “Problem Solving Specialist”. We added this because we had been spending a lot of time fixing the problems that were created by our competitors less than good services.  Many times we were the second or third company used to fix the problems.  Since there was an obvious need for the service,  as well as an obvious lack in how some jobs were being done, we figured, put the information in the ad.  Maybe at least some of the people would be spared the added stress, come straight to NTC, and get the problem solved the first time.

An interesting thing happened the next year.  One of our competitors noticed the change to our  ad, liked it so much he put it in his ad too!  “Problem Solving Specialist”.  The point is this, saying it doesn't make it so!

Interestingly enough, when a person says that they are good, or better then average, they are probably very sincere in their assertion.  A Cornell University study a few years back was entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”.  It found that pretty much everybody thinks of themselves as above average.  The worst exaggerate their abilities the most, whereas the best have a tendency to underestimate their abilities.  British Philosopher Bertrand Russell said it this way “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”.

At NTC, we consider ourselves to be, well, above average.  Are we just being cocksure?  Are we unaware of our stupidity?  Perhaps!  The same study showed that the best performing individuals raised their assessment of themselves when they came to realize how poorly others did.  So not all confidence is over-confidence.  After seeing, and fixing so much of what other insulation contractors have done, we have been forced to recognize how great the difference in end product is, and adjust our self assessment accordingly.

“We Do Insulation, Too!”

There are two ways that you see this.  The first is that a building contractor will do insulation “In House”.  The second way you see this is that a company will do several things, and insulation too!  They do roofing and insulation, or they do siding and insulation, or they do drywall and insulation.  That's right, we do insulation too!

Now there are those who do insulation too, and do a good job.  But, think about this.  If you were visiting your Family Doctor and he told you “It looks like you need a heart valve replaced, but don't worry.  I do heart surgery too”, what would you think?  True, a family doctor could be a skilled heart surgeon too, but wouldn't your first reaction be “ahhh, don't we really need a specialist?”.

If you get nothing else from this, at least recognize that insulation science is a very complicated thing.  NTC has been doing insulation work for about 25 years, it's all we do, and we  still learn new  things.  It really needs to be left to the specialists.  A sad, but unfortunately true fact is that those who do Insulation too will usually send the least trained and least skilled people to do it, and do it fast. 

“We'll do it for less”

Cost is always a consideration, but being the lowest bid doesn't mean it's the best value, anymore than the highest bid will be the best quality.  Rather than cost, it's important to determine value.  Many times the lowest bid cuts out some important features that greatly reduce it's value.  
A couple of  years ago, a building contractor we frequently work with had us bid on a project.  We sent him the bid, but never heard anything.  About a year later, the same contractor called me, said they were going to start to drywall the project, but, we really needed to come and check out the insulation job.  The owner had found someone that would do it cheaper.  When we went there with the contractor, well, it was one of the worst insulation jobs we had ever seen.  “What will it take to fix this?  “A lot” was the reply.  Insulation was missing, and a lot of the insulation  that was already installed needed to be removed & installed right.  We asked the building contractor why we didn't do the project to begin with.  He told me that the owner thought NTC was too expensive and he could have it done cheaper.  The contractor told him that with all of  the extras now needed to repair the insulation, he got the most expensive insulator the first time.

It's not a bargain or  a value if the job isn't done right.  It will cost you more in the long run.|

“I want someone that does "XYZ" technique”

We live in the information age.  At our finger tips is an overwhelming amount of information.  Included in this glut of information, is an endless amount of suggestions on what is the best way to build, and insulate your home.

In the last several years, a number of new insulation techniques and products have hit the market.  Some, like spray foam, perform very well in many applications, but are so expensive that they are not a value.  Other techniques, like “Flash and Batt”, function well in warmer climates, but has potentially serious drawbacks that make it ill advised in cold climates.

It is best to first find an insulation contractor in your area that you trust and then discuss techniques, not the other way around.

"So, how do I choose?"

We have seen that self promotion, divided interests, cost and technique really mean very little in determining competence, and are therefore poor criteria for selecting an insulation contractor.  So what does this leave? 

Reputation!  Do they know what they are doing, or are they just an installer?  What do former clients have to say.  What do building contractors and other construction professionals think?  What do building inspectors think?  If you ask, most of these will share their thoughts.

NTC has been in business for almost 25 years.  We have worked with a wide variety of methods and know what works, and what doesn't.  We know what is cost effective, and what isn't.  We have worked with many different building contractors.  If you are building in northern Wisconsin, we have worked for many of your future neighbors. 

Ask around!  And ask us! We will be more than happy to help you see why NTC really is your best choice!