I hired Ideal Insulation this spring to take care of all of the insulation for a new home that I am building for my family. The job is now complete and while I must confess that I am very happy with the end result, I have to say that overall my interaction with Ideal throughout the process was less than "ideal". Specifically, the insulation process involved blowing JM Spyder into the exterior walls, spray foaming joist-ends and other difficult spots, hanging poly and sealing openings to effect the vapour barrier, soundproofing interior walls with bat insulation, blowing loose fill into the attic, and covering exposed spray-foam with a thermal barrier. Under Ideal's business model each of these tasks is performed by different crew which are scheduled and managed independently from each other. Although there were a few instances of unprofessional conduct with which I took exception, the main source of my dissatisfaction was a lack of scheduling, coordination, and communication regarding these autonomous crews.
The process got off to a poor start on the day before work was to commence. Despite having spoken to Lee in the office earlier that day and clearly communicating that access to the site was to be coordinated through me, I was summoned to the site in the afternoon by an intrusion detection alarm to find that a supervisor had been sent to check out the job site and upon finding it unoccupied and locked up proceeded to go around the house trying windows and doors until he found one that happened to be ajar. The supervisor was suitably apologetic and professional but clearly my access instructions had not been passed along to him.
For the first day of work, I was told that the JM Spyder crew would arrive onsite at 8am. Due to a scheduling conflict that morning and asked if the start time could be pushed out until 9am but was told that they needed to start at 8am to get a full day in. This seemed a reasonable enough request and as such I re-arranged my schedule to be there for 8. Needless to say that I was less than impressed when the crew did not arrive until 9am without reason for their late arrival. At this point though, things started to look up. The JM Spyder crew was a team of young energetic men who were polite, respectful, and did their job efficiently yet with care and attention to detail. I feel that they did an excellent job and having observed it's application, believe JM Spyder to be an exceptional product (offered pretty much exclusively by Ideal in Calgary) that I would encourage others to consider instead of either bat, cellulose, or spray foam for exterior wall insulation.
The second day coordination was again an issue. Despite that the supervisor's unannounced intrusion two days before had occasioned another discussion with Lee regarding access procedures and on the first day, Ideal personnel were given security codes to allow them to let themselves into the site, I was again summoned to site at 7h45 by an intrusion alarm that this time turned out to be a third party supplier hired by Ideal to deliver material attempting to physically force a sliding patio door. My call to Lee while enroute to site in response to the alarm was not answered with concern or apology but simply a terse demand that I provide the supplier with immediate access to make the delivery or Ideal would have to discontinue the job. Turns out that JM Spyder crew who had access to the site arrived 5 minutes after me anyhow.
At the end of the second day, the team lead of the JM Spyder crew told me that they'd be back in the morning and get their portion of the job finished up by the end of the day. However when they hadn't arrived by mid-morning I called Lee only to be told, as usual without apology that the crew had been sent elsewhere and wouldn't return until the following week. When I inquired as to scheduling for the other crews, I was told that a spray-foam crew would be onsite the next day (Saturday) and a poly crew would be there on Monday. An hour later, I got a call from a spray-foam supervisor saying that the spray-foam crew would be there in 30minutes. In one way though this was an improvement - at least someone actually called prior to the crew's arrival!
Although the spray crew got the job done they weren't the most respectful or professional. In doing the initial walk around with them, I offered to drill out some pilot holes in the subfloor to help them check there fill levels in some tight spots. The team lead assured me that they didn't need them but that they would let me know if that changed and they would like them drilled. A few hours later, loud banging in the area that they were working was determined to be the crew smashing at the subfloor with a hammer to create the afore mentioned holes which were larger than the pilot holes would have needed to be and proved more difficult and costly to repair (at my expense) afterwards. The spray-foam crew's second day of work fell on Saturday and as such they were the only ones present on site. At the end of the day I stopped by to check on the progress half an hour after the crew left for the day to find the lockbox on the front door broken and left sitting beside the door. The door was locked but the key from the lockbox was sitting right beside it. I immediately phoned the spray-foam crew lead (no answer and call not returned) followed by the spray-foam supervisor who said he'd check with the crew and call me back. He got back to me to say that the crew had left the site properly locked up despite the damage to the lockbox being was such that it had to be inflicted while it was in the open position. The most likely explanation was that it was simply accidentally dropped but Ideal never assumed any responsibility for either the causing the damage or leaving the site insecure. Somehow during the spray foam insulation process a previously tightly sealed boiler exhaust vent was dislodged with the leak being discovered and reported to Ideal within hours of the spray foam crew having finished the work. All of the insulation in that cavity had to be removed to repair the vent, and although Ideal waived the fee to re-insulated it they did not take any responsibility for the repair which cost several hundred dollars. There were also deficiencies in the spray-foam application. To Ideal's credit a supervisor was showed up to inspect the work (without being asked but also without providing notice that he was coming so it was only happenstance that I ran into him) and had the crew return to address the deficiencies that he found as well as concerns I had raised including cleaning a significant amount of overspray throughout the house.
The vapour barrier was sub-contracted out as piece work and while I have nothing bad to say about the gentleman who did the work, based on this experience I will never allow another piece worker to perform work on my house. Simply as a result of the architectural design of the house, there were significantly more openings to be cut out and caulked than would be encountered on a typical job and thus required more time to complete than was allowed under the sub-contract. The piece worker did the best job he could and allocated as much additional time as he was able before having to move on but it still resulted in a job that was not thoroughly and diligently done. As a result, I was required to spend several hours auditing the work and compiling a list of deficiencies most of which Ideal agreed to address. Although it only would have taken a minimal amount of time and effort to fully seal the vapour barrier there were some openings (such as holes drilled in window headers for power blind cabling) that they said were not part of their standard scope and thus refused to do. This required me to go out and buy insulation products to complete the work myself. Nevertheless, Leonard, the employee who was sent out to address the deficiencies was phenomenal. He was polite, professional, always provided advance notice of his visits, arrived when he said he would and did what he said he would. Perhaps Ideal should promote him to head up scheduling and coordination!
Once drywall had been installed on the second floor ceiling it took more than one phone call to get a loose fill crew dispatched to insulate the attic and then several more phone calls to get a last crew out to spray a thermal barrier on exposed spray foam. In one instance the thermal crew drove down the back alley and was greeted by my foreman who happened to be in the backyard. He told them to pull around front and come on in. They never arrived around front and when I called in to inquire I was told that the crew reported other work was being done onsite that prevented them doing the job. As my foreman was the only one onsite that day, that was not the case. The thermal crew finally arrived after I received a phone call one day from Ideal's accounts receivable representative inquiring as to when the invoice would be paid. Upon explaining that I would pay the invoice as soon as the job had actually been completed, I received a call back from the scheduling coordinator within 10 minutes and the job was completed the next day.