P.P. from Litchfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
In the late summer of 2012, we moved into an end-unit town house. The past few winters we’ve noticed there seems to be absolutely NO insulation within the walls of our master bedroom walk-in closet, which is the most exposed exterior corner of the building. We seriously could use this closet as a refrigerator in the winter, that’s how cold it is. I haven’t checked with a thermometer, but it is easily 15-20 degrees colder than the bedroom. The builder was out of the situation decades ago when he declared bankruptcy and many of the unsold units were sold at auction and there would be totally no recourse with him as he has passed away. Should or would our association be responsible to help us in any way? It seems like building codes may have been violated or overlooked from when they were constructed in the late 80’s. We purchased the unit in a summer month and did have a home inspection. We don’t want to run into an issue with ice dams or plumbing issues as the master bath is on an exterior wall as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated before we approach our HOA.
Mister Condo replies:
P.P., I am sure that it is an unpleasant living situation and you are wise to think about potential plumbing issues as the colder months approach. Of course, you haven’t had an issue with pipes freezing yet so there is a good chance that won’t change this year. Fingers crossed! Regardless of how the units were built way back when, you, as the owner of the unit, likely have the ability to have insulation added to the walls that are currently exposed and uninsulated. It is highly unlikely that the association has any responsibility or interest in insulating your unit but you can certainly ask. The correct time to have had this corrected was when the unit was purchased from the previous owner. As you said, it passed the home inspection so it would be very difficult to claim the unit was defective at the time of purchase. I had a not so different situation in my own unit. I was losing heat and taking in cold from the attic. Turns out there was no insulation there whatsoever. I hired a local insulation company to blow in cellulose insulation which helped keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. My guess is you would benefit from such an insulation job as well. I actually had a whole home inspection done and, at the time, there was an energy rebate program that helped offset the cost of the insulation. I just looked at https://www.energizect.com/your-home/rebates-and-incentives and it looks like there are still rebates to help. Check it out, keep warm, and good luck!