UFFI - Urea Formaldehyde Insulation
Impact on Home Sales
What is the economic impact of UFFI on building sale price or time on market?
UFFI INSULATION IMPACT ON HOME SALE PRICE - CONTENTS: regardless of "should" UFFI impact the value of a home or other building for sale, the presence of this building insulation material might affect the sale price or the time on market before a UFFI-insulated building finds a buyer. Here we describe & calculate possible dollar costs of air bypass leaks if the UFFI insulation job is defective (shrinkage gaps), and we offer an approach for estimating the impact on home sale price or months on the market to sell a UFFI home.
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UFFI insulation effect on the sale of a home:
A reader asked about the actual effect of the presence of UFFI in a building on its sale price. The answer involves what the effect should be and what it probably is. We discuss the practical effect of consumer fear of UFFI that never reaches zero regardless of the actual health risk level, and we offer calculations of the actual effect on heating cost of UFFI shrinkage gaps and air leaks if the UFFI job was imperfect.
This article series on UFFI insulation illustrates and describes UFFI - urea formaldehyde foam building insulation and describes where it is found, when it was used in buildings, how to look for it, how to distinguish this from other building foam insulation products, and its health effects. We include identification photographs and a description of a very simple field test that can immediately distinguish between 1970's vintage sprayed or pumped UFFI insulation and more contemporary icynene or polyurethane spray foam insulation jobs.
Should UFFI Insulation Affect the Sale Price of a Home?
Question: how much would UFFI devalue a home when selling with UFFI
2016/04/20 Andrea said:
Approximately how much would UFFI devalue a home when selling with UFFI
Reply: not much if any at all
There are two answers to your question of the impact of UFFI insulation on the sale price of a home.
Based on objective data measuring remaining environmental hazards and on estimates of the impact of shrinkage gaps in the UFFI insulation in some homes, there should be essentially no cost reduction in the sale price of a home because UFFI is present in the home. Details of this reasoning are given just below.
Based on emotional and market data, because some consumers remain afraid of environmental hazards that were previously a widespread public concern, the number of consumes who will be a bit "afraid" of a UFFI insulated home will probably never drop to absolute zero, regardless of objective data on this subject.
In my opinion the devaluation of a home for sale that has UFFI insulation, provided that everyone involved is accurately informed,
Should be zero with regard to actual environmental hazard: by now any home that had UFFI blown-in foam insulation, IF the insulation was improperly mixed in the first place such that it was off gassing formaldehyde, as it is a open celled foam, it would have long ago off-gassed all traceable formaldehyde. There are of course many other formaldehyde sources in homes such as particle board cabinets & furniture, so a home might have measurable levels of that gas. And depending on how the original UFFI was mixed and installed, it is possible that water leaks into the insulated space might result in some formaldehyde offgassing. See the Health Canada statement at the end of this article.
See FORMALDEHYDE HAZARDS - home, for a discussion of other formaldehyde sources & hazards in buildings.
Might be 2-5% of the portion of annual heating and cooling costs for the home that could be directly attributed to the quality of wall insulation into which UFFI was pumped. That is to account for the opening of gaps at the sides and top of UFFI foam blocks in wall cavities after the insulation has shrunk: a condition that happens in some but not all installations, again probably depending on the quality of the original foam mix. If you add the consideration that the greater portion of heat losses in homes is first from air infiltration/exfiltration and at windows and doors, and second through the top floor or roof insulating blanket, my opinion is that only if walls are poorly insulated will this order of areas of heat loss (or un-wanted heat gain) be modified.
See UFFI SHRINKAGE, THERMAL BYPASS LEAKS for details.
Might be zero to a small % of the home value that a real estate agent might speculate describes the Enviro-Scare impact on marketability or on time-on-market before a home is sold to a non-scared buyer. A nearly objective measurement of the Enviro-Scare impact might be obtained by calculating the additional carrying cost associated with added time on market for a home with any given marketing impingement.
See ENVIRO-SCARE - PUBLIC FEAR CYCLES
Or for a specific discussion see UFFI ENVIRO-SCARE - Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation - UFFI and Cancer
Calculating the Possible Increase in Heating Cost from UFFI Shrinkage Gaps
As the average cost to heat a U.S. home (using gas fuel) ranges between about $550 and $750. per winter (http://www.eia.gov) if the home has gas heat, that means that about $40. of annual heating cost could be attributed to gaps around UFFI insulation in walls.
Here is another data point, taken from a different source, http://www.energysvc.com/ retrieved 2016/04/21
The annual cost to heat a 2200 square foot existing house of average energy consumption for different combinations of fuels and furnaces:
Natural Gas in an 80% furnace: $1215
Natural Gas in a 92% furnace: $1095
Oil in a 70% furnace: $2185
Oil in an 80% furnace: $2004
Propane in an 80% furnace: $3143
Propane in a 92% furnace: $2632
Electric Baseboard: $2485
Heat Pump with 6.65 HSPF: $1284 (includes electric backup)
Heat Pump with 7.5 HSPF: $1135 (includes electric backup)
Using the largest of these numbers, we get a UFFI gap heating cost of $157. U.S.
In sum, even if you want to use a 4x larger estimate than mine of the cost of air leakage from imperfect UFFI insulation due to shrinkage, the annual cost in added heating expense is still likely to be well under $400.
Take any of these estimate ranges with which you agree and multiply that by the number of years of probable ownership of the home and you can see the total actual economic impact of UFFI on the new owners of a home, before taking ANY other steps (that may be more important by far) to reduce heating or cooling costs.
Warning about Building Water Leaks & UFFI in Homes
UFFI, which is foamed in place and used to insulate buildings, has been banned in Canada under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) since December 1980. UFFI was banned due to the high levels of formaldehyde that were given off during the installation process, as well as the continued off-gassing of formaldehyde from poorly installed insulation. The amount of formaldehyde released by UFFI was highest when first installed and decreased over time. As a result, UFFI installed before 1980 would have little effect on indoor formaldehyde levels today.
If UFFI gets wet, however, it could begin to break down and may release more formaldehyde. Wet or deteriorating UFFI should be removed by a specialist and the source of the moisture problem should be repaired. Some provinces require homeowners to declare if they have UFFI installed, and this issue is generally raised during the re-sale of older homes. - Health Canada, "Formaldehyde in Indoor Air", Health Canada . Sante Canada, retrieved 29 March 2015, original source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/air/formaldehyde/fact-info-eng.php
Watch out: leaks into any building cavity, particularly one that is enclosed, risk not just formaldehyde but rot, insect damage, and structural damage. If there is evidence of such leakage, further investigation is warranted.
Research on the effect of UFFI on home resale
Bissett, John. "Fungi associated with urea-formaldehyde foam insulation in Canada." Mycopathologia 99, no. 1 (1987): 47-56.
Abstract: Sixty-eight fungal taxa were identified from samples of urea-formaldehyde foam insulation taken from Canadian residences. Mesophilic taxa were predominant, with Penicillium spp., Trichoderma harzianum and Paecilomyces variotii observed most frequently. Extensive or conspicuous growth also was seen for Hormoconis resinae, Stachybotrys chartarum and Trichoderma viride in some samples. The potential for these fungi to have contributed to the adverse health effects reported in some homes containing UF-foam insulation is discussed.
Excerpt 1: High temperatures and humidity accelerate deterioration of UFFI, leading
to breakage of the foam cell walls and shrinkage of the foam .
Excerpt 2: Although off-gassing was initially thought the probable cause of the reported adverse health effects in some UFFI homes, studies to date do not show a clear correlation between adverse symptoms and the concentratio nof off-gases from foam insulation. Consequently, other facctors associated with UFFI, including the presence of fungi, have been investigated as concomitant causes of tehse adverse health symptoms.
CARB, Guideline, Indoor Air Quality. "Formaldehyde in the Home." State of California Air Resources Board, Research Division 1 (1991).
Cohen, S. David. "The Public and Private Law Dimensions of the UFFI Problem: Part I." Canadian Business Law Journal 8 (1983): 309.
Emery, John A. "Technical Report: Structural Wood Panels and Formaldehyde."
Hanrahan, Lawrence P., Henry A. Anderson, Kay A. Dally, Ann D. Eckmann, and Marty S. Kanarek. "Formaldehyde concentrations in Wisconsin mobile homes." Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association 35, no. 11 (1985): 1164-1167.
Huili, Zhou. "Current status of particle board and limit of formaldehyde released [J]." Forestry Science and Technology Information 3 (2002): 037.
Meyer, Beat. "Formaldehyde exposure from building products." Environment International 12, no. 1 (1986): 283-288.
Meyer, Beat, and Karl Hermanns. "Reducing indoor air formaldehyde concentrations." Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association 35, no. 8 (1985): 816-821.
Stern, Stephanie M. "Temporal Dynamics of Disclosure: The Example of Residential Real Estate Conveyancing." Utah Law Review 57 (2005).
Excerpt: did not disclose existence of urea formaldehyde foam insulation ("UFFI") until after
US Consumer Product Safety Commission. An update on formaldehyde. US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1997.
Waldstein, Sarah. "Toxic Nightmare on Elm Street: Negligence and the Real Estate Broker's Duty in Selling Previously Contaminated Residential Property, A." BC Envtl. Aff. L. Rev. 15 (1987): 547.
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