Make Hay While the Sun Shines

It is difficult to think about winter when the temperature is approaching 90°, but summer is the time to plan for what will be a fast-approaching winter.  One saved day now has the potential to save multiple days, as well as money, when fall turns to winter.

What are Winter Costs?

Winter costs are primarily incurred because of cold temperatures… think water.  Water freezes.  In addition to causing safety hazards, it takes longer to dry because of the limited amount of sunlight.

In Greater Cincinnati, for example, there is actually, more rain during the months of June, July and August than December, January and February—about 3.4 inches more.  However, in those same summer months, Cincinnati enjoys 36% of the sunshine it will see in a typical year.  This contrasts sharply from the 14 % seen from December through February.

So, what are some of the additional costs that are associated with winter construction?

  • Concrete:  In the Midwest, concrete suppliers begin adding additives and hot water automatically beginning November 1 to the mix.  Even if the weather is above freezing, the additives are included.
  • Weather Protection:  This could include blankets, tents and barricades to protect an area to keep it warm and dry.
  • Temporary Heat:  In addition to the rental of heating units, the cost of fuel becomes a factor.
  • Lost Time:  Winter snows and rain wreak havoc on a schedule.  Although most contractors generally assume some lost days in their schedule, one day of winter weather could become multiple days of delay depending on when the winter weather hits on the critical path of the project.
  • Lost Productivity:  Winter weather is the least predictable and it is certain to be the most disruptive to construction, forcing ongoing stops and starts that make it difficult to maintain the strategic flow of the job.  It forces the contractor to shift focus to areas where the work can proceed, which may not be the optimal method.

Are there advantages of winter construction?

In short, yes.  Frozen ground is better than a muddy quagmire and subcontractors generally have additional labor capacity in the winter.  Even the pouring of concrete, which cures slower in the winter, can have advantages over hot summer months when heat can cause concrete to cure too quickly and cause additional cracks.  That being said, one would be hard-pressed to find a contractor or owner that prefers winter construction to the summer.

Mitigating the Impact

The best solution to avoiding winter conditions is advance planning.  The sooner an owner can break ground in the summer months, the less likely they will have to rely on luck and pay additional costs due to winter conditions.  One day saved now can save many days, as well as money during the winter.

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