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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    27

    Default Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    I am re-insulating my 1.5 story attic space. All of the closed cell spray foam contractors I have talked to say that the best way to do it is to spray the foam against the roof decking and create a perfect seal. They say that it is not practical to try and ventilate an old 1.5 story, 2x4 built roof with no eaves to speak of. It just doesn't work, so it is better to seal it all up tight.

    The city on the other hand, says that NO HOT ROOFS ARE ALLOWED, claiming it is state code, despite the fact that all neighboring cities allow them.

    What should I do? Keep fighting the city? Is there another workaround to this?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    I am not opposed to sealing the attic and conditioning the space, but if yours is 2x4 construction, I don't think you can use the conditioned space for anything, i.e. storage. This approach to insulating is primarily done when the intent is to use the space for something like storage.

    The spray foam contractors have a vested interest in this type of insulating, but it is not true that it is not practical to ventilate the space. Gable end vents work just fine with blown in insulation (fiberglass, cellulose, etc) and may be a lot cheaper than spray foam.

    You need to talk with an insulation contractor who is not a spray foam contractor for a bid and more information. Then if you still want the spray foam, which is OK as I said, then you will have to fight city hall. At least you will be making a more informed decision.

    If you are not planning to sell your house in the near future, you could just go ahead and do what you want to do, then hope the city inspectors change their minds when the day comes that you do want or need to sell.

    Why are the city inspectors involved with a simple insulation project? Are you doing an addition or something?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    The problem with trying to ventilate the roof is that at least half of the rafters terminate before the hit the eaves (there is a large gable in the front of the house). It seems like that defeats the purpose of venting.

    The city says they want a permit pulled if the insulation is changed in any way. We are not modifying anything structural, just changing a few room dividing walls and changing paneling to sheetrock, plus plumbing a bathroom in the attic, and updating electrical. I live in the northern US, so snow, ice dams, cold temps, and hot temps are all issues.

    They don't seem to have a problem with the 2x4 construction because the attic space already exists. What they do have a problem with is the amount of insulation that can be put into that space, so they want vent chutes installed and the 2x4s firred out to accomadate enough insulation.

    If you are not planning to sell your house in the near future, you could just go ahead and do what you want to do, then hope the city inspectors change their minds when the day comes that you do want or need to sell.
    Can they sue or something?

    Quote from the city website:

    Permits are required for
    All new construction
    Any building addition
    Any remodeling that changes a building's structure, plumbing, mechanical or electrical system
    Any window, exterior door, or garage door replacement
    Any project that requires a property line or zoning review
    Adding insulation to your attic
    Selling a home, condo, townhouse or duplex
    Selling a commercial building
    On-street parking during the winter
    Recreational fires
    Using the off-leash dog park
    Purchasing a gun
    Last edited by Netdewt; 09-24-2012 at 01:50 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    I can see the requirement for a permit for all those things except adding attic insulation. The only reason I can see for needing a permit for that is so they can increase the assessment on your property and collect more taxes.

    But you are adding a bathroom so you will have to deal with the inspectors so I guess you are going to have to fight city hall if you want to use a spray foam. BTW, have you actually talked with a city inspector or is this just what the contractors are telling you? If you do, ask them to cite you the state law, then you can check to see if it has been changed and the city inspectors are just not aware of it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    In some cities you can apply for a variance. So you might be able to get your info together and see if they can make an exception.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    1: Motoguy has the right idea - apply for a variance, which is an exemption to the code. If you convince the city, they'll give you one.

    2: Don't argue or fight with them - you can't win anyway. Try to reason with them instead. The worst they can do is force you to rip everything out, In which case you lose most of the materials and of course the labor.

    3. If you're changing the plumbing, the inspector will be there to see the plumbing and he'll be looking at everything you're doing. But the inspector has a supervisor - and he's the one you want to talk to.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    nova scotia, canada
    Posts
    1,522

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    theres always conflict with building officials and building practices when it comes to new products along with engineered products.

    if the inspector says no but the insulation installer says its fine you just have to present engineering reportts and documentation regarding the product and it more often than not over rules the building officials say. if hte official still says no, their an idiot their not keeping up to date on building practices
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    I have talked to the inspectors, and contractors, and I called a state official today. He said that the state codes do not address unvented roof insulation. He also suggested the "alternate method" but said that ultimately it is up to the building inspector to decide. I have another contractor appointment this week. Thanks for the suggestions!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,480

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Netdewt View Post
    I have talked to the inspectors, and contractors, and I called a state official today. He said that the state codes do not address unvented roof insulation. He also suggested the "alternate method" but said that ultimately it is up to the building inspector to decide. I have another contractor appointment this week. Thanks for the suggestions!
    A neighboring city to me has the same B.S. building code rules and regs that trump the state/county level requirements. They're just flexing their muscles to make themselves feel important and enhance their revenue, hence the need for insulation permits. If your inspectors can't see reason, then you are up a creek without a paddle. You either do it as they want or you don't do it at all. Petty F'ing functionaries.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Hot roof vs. cold roof: problems with city inspectors

    If you don't get anywhere with the inspector or his supervisor, then you should go to the representative for your district on the city counsel. And if the councilman doesn't help, then you know how to vote in the next election

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