New Shop (The New Mossback Workshop)


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  • 4 weeks later...

First, the good news. I got all the wiring roughed in and passed cover inspection. Hit it off nicely with the local electrical inspector, which is always good. He also gave me a few nice tips for any future work I do. The panel is definitely at capacity, but I should be well covered for regular outlets, the table saw, and there's a couple existing circuits I can re-purpose as needed for any more 220v tools down the line.

I did 90% of the work with classic metal staples, before being converted to the infinitely nicer to use nailed plastic clips. You always learn the best lessons at the end of the job.


After that though... Things take a turn.

As I mentioned previously I'd gotten a quote I could stomach for a "cut-and-cobble" insulation job on the ceiling. There's a higher risk of failure with this technique, but the company estimator gave me a good pitch, they had excellent reviews, and I decided to take the risk. I'll have to replace the roofing (currently basic 3-tab shingles) in 5-8 years anyways, so I'd have a chance to add ventilation from the outside if problems cropped up. This was the same situation I ran into with my previous garage (with finished attic) and I've known a few pole building homes that have had to do it as well.

The job had two line items.

  1. Full airseal with weatherproof/mold-resistant caulking. Specifically including every joint and penetration in the exterior envelope of the ceiling.
  2. 3" of rigid polyiso insulation cut and glued into the purlin bays and fully sealed around the ends and edges with spray foam.

During scheduling they expected the job to only take one day. I didn't believe this for a second (it's 1260 sqft of insulation) but they assured me if it needed more time they'd work the weekend.

Come Friday morning the crew arrived fashionably (about an hour) late. Not a big deal, I work from home. The foreman wouldn't be around till later that day (first warning flag), but the crew got started immediately.


Something i didn't notice until the next day: The long ladder at the shallow angle and the smaller A-frame on the right side are my ladders. They did not ask me before they pulled them out of where I had stored them. The long ladder is definitely not safe in this configuration as it only has one skid-pad on the bottom and they hadn't affixed the top to the girt it is resting on. Thankfully nobody got hurt.


Around noon I walked out to see how they were progressing, and noticed the first (of what would become many) installation problems. Crew member #1 was taping off panels, which I could see from the ground had not had spray-foam added to seal it in the bay. I pointed this out and another crewman promised they'd redo that immediately. They did not redo those panels. You can also see a noticeable difference in the gap between the foam and the sheathing.

Around 1PM the foreman finally arrived, and we talked over a few things. According to him they needed to install the rigid foam with a 1" airgap above it for fire-code reasons, and needed to nail up some retention cleats in-case any of them "fall out". I have not been able to confirm or disprove that this is actually required, but this was definitely concerning to hear, and went directly against what the estimator (who I later found out was the company owner) had described of the system.

While he was explained the required gap, I watched one of the crew gluing (liquid nails) a panel directly to the sheathing. Foreman immediately said they'd replace that piece and told that crew member to stop. Concern growing, I asked about the airseal and was assured by the foreman and the crew that they were caulking everything before putting up foam. I would later determine that was a bald-faced lie by the crewmember. I had to get back to work, but I made a note to check this later.

The foreman left not long after, and I was caught up at work until the crew packed up around 5. They asked if they could leave their tools and materials in the shop overnight and they'd be back tomorrow morning. I said this was fine and after they'd left I went out to do a walkthrough. This is when the horror show really set in.

The first thing I noticed was they'd left a pile of plastic wrap and insulation scraps sitting on-top of my big electric heater, which has several very visible warning labels to not do that. I cleared it off and unplugged the whole thing to be safe.

Then I started poking around at the panels they'd gotten installed.


This photo is facing the eave where a purlin passes through the blocking at the top of the truss. That's an exterior joint, notably lacking either caulking to airseal from the outside (on a bright day you can see light around that 2x6) or spray foam to airseal it from the interior space. This panel was completely "finished", with cleat and tape installed (I pulled it back to check).

It was the same story basically everywhere I looked. Pieces were miss-matched at the joint, missing caulk or foam, or affixed completely randomly. Some were glued to the sheathing, some were floating an inch or more below, with no rhyme nor reason to any of it.


Looking at the tools and materials they'd left behind, I noted they didn't even bring any caulking with them.

Day 2 arrivesd, and I told the crew (when they called me to tell me they'll be an hour late) that I'm going to need to talk to the foreman before any more work happens. I'm 95% sure at this point I'm going to pull the plug on the whole job, but I'm going to at least talk through it first.

Crew arrives, tells me foreman in 10 minutes behind them. I point out the myriad problems with the installation and they all get very quiet. I tell them to hold off on doing any work and wait until the foreman arrives. He does, about half an hour later as I'm standing in the shop noticing more and more problems everywhere I look. This is also when I realize they've been using my ladders without permission. I pulled out the contract, and I'm fairly certain this was the first time he or anyone on the crew had even seen it. I don't know how they bungled communication this badly, but even if the airseal hadn't been part of the job the foam work itself was completely unacceptable.

Credit where it is due, when I pointed out all the problems the foreman doesn't try and BS or gaslight me. He was very polite and contrite about the problems, agreeing that nothing here was acceptable. He tried briefly to salvage the job, offering a discount and to re-start with his "best crew" (which I noted was 2 of the same 3 guys from yesterday including the one who lied to my face about caulking the joints). I pulled the plug and had him and his crew rip out everything they'd installed yesterday and truck it off. The problems were even more glaring as they were taking things down, showing just how little anyone on the crew understood or cared about their work.


So insulation is right back to square one, and I'm feeling pretty defeated over the whole thing. No idea where I'm going from here, but just buying my own spray-foam tanks is starting to look more appealing versus relying on contractors (most of whom were flaky enough just trying to get a quote much less this horror show). Thankfully I'm not out any money, just a lot of time.



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On 3/20/2022 at 1:23 PM, Chestnut said:

That sucks. Seems like an easy process it's hard to believe they messed it up. Doesn't seem like they ever intended to do it the right way honestly.

This was my read as well. I wouldn't be surprised if I caught the foreman skipping work day 1, and the crew not caring in the first place. I get the feeling there were problems at the company even before the crew got started.

It wasn't even like they were rushing through the job and cutting corners, which while bad is a little more understandable. Work was both slow and shoddy.

On 3/20/2022 at 4:07 PM, Tom King said:

People still ask me why I do everything myself. 

I wish it didn't have to so often come down to this, or that DIY wasn't equally as much of a crapshot. I had to fix a ton of problems (electrical in particular) at my previous house that the prior owner had DIY'd. But it wasn't much better with the contractors back there either.

Even with reviews, recommendations, doing my own research, and avoiding the cheapest or youngest companies I'm averaging about 50/50 good/bad contractors (the roofers I used last is another horror story).

Most of us just don't have the time to become expert builders in addition to a dayjob and hobbies.

On 3/21/2022 at 5:35 AM, Tom King said:

First, it's almost impossible to do any kind of job well when you don't have good working conditions.  ... If the worker gets tired early, the job suffers as it goes along.


If it was already built, then it has to be dealt with, but the worker needs to be comfortable and safe to do good work.

This is an important point that seems lost on so many employers, regardless of industry.

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/1/2022 at 6:41 PM, Coop said:

To get the 3” of foam, since it’s overhead, did they have to spray multiple thin layers? 

Yeah. It looked like they'd do it it 2-3 passes over a section, with a couple minutes between. I checked the depth as well, and it's 3" at a minimum, more like 3.5-4" over most of it.

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  • 1 month later...

Although I like the look of natural wood and cringe when I have to paint something I made at the order of the recipient, I think you would be amazed at how much brighter and larger the area will look and feel if it were painted whitish. 

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  • 6 months later...

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