The best time for construction projects are usually in the spring and fall. Mild weather and long hours of sunlight make for the best time to build things. This is true for various reasons. Concrete and other poured aggregates can settle and harden faster and without complications. Working conditions are safer because things aren’t freezing. Conditions for moving supplies to your worksite are amenable. The list of benefits goes on. Summer poses its own problems. Summer heat can prevent concrete and asphalt from cooling properly. The heat can also be dangerous in extreme situations. But nothing compares to getting a project done in the winter.
Winter is pretty far from the ideal season to have an ongoing construction project. Tools and materials need to be kept at the right temperature, safety is a huge issue, darkness falls earlier so there is less daylight in which to work… the list goes on. Fortunately, a good construction contractor has some tricks to keep a project going in the right direction over winter. Let’s take a look at some tricks of the trade.
Include some extra time between projects
Winter can cause all sorts of delays. Whether a sudden freeze prevents things from getting to your site, or a winter storm halts construction for a while, it’s safe to say not every project will be completed on time. In the coldest season, give yourself at least several days before starting a new project. This gives you time to finish any unplanned work that has to go into the last project. This way, you won’t constantly be starting projects behind schedule. A job well-begun is half-done.
Have an alternate schedule for bad weather
Speaking of scheduling smart in the winter, be ready with an inclement weather schedule. Obviously rescheduling is far from ideal. Fortunately, you can at least prepare for the bad weather. Look at when the worst weather is expected, and make a system that allows for work stoppages or slowdowns during storms and ice. You can’t predict the future, but you can at least prepare for it.
Some important elements of preparing a bad weather schedule are the following:
- Finish groundwork before winter. The ground can freeze during the winter. This makes digging, leveling, and any underground work impossible or extremely difficult.
- Clear drains and gutters before winter. You want your drainage open when the bad weather hits.
- Check site access and ensure your site can be reached in the winter. If it may be cut off, prepare for the delays this will cause.
Pay attention to the weather
You won’t be able to make a worthwhile schedule or get much work done if you don’t pay attention to the weather! If there is a massive storm coming you can act preemptively. Also, in the case of some kinds of strong winter weather developments – like polar vortexes, certain parts of the project may be halted long-term.
Keep the worksite prepared for inclement weather
Winter is obviously the time of bad weather in most of the continental US. Although spring-fall storms can be serious and devastating, they are the exception rather than the rule. During winter, bad weather is the rule.
When freezing rain, snow, or icy conditions are expected, you can prepare. You can salt the areas where vehicles will be, so ice doesn’t cause crashes. Make sure sensitive parts of the construction, like water pipes, aren’t going to freeze. You can also cover areas to prevent snow and ice build up when storms are expected. It may seem to be a waste of time and resources, but it will be worth it to keep your project going strong after bad weather. Do your best to keep your project weather-tight. The additional hours you put in protecting your work will pay off.
Proper personal protective equipment
Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, everyone knows what PPE is. For a construction workers, it’s a little more. Make sure that your workers, or whoever you contract your work out to, has proper winter clothing for their workers. The following should be in any commercial contractor’s winter gear list:
- Insulated (lined) hard hat.
- Waterproof steel toed boots.
- Waterproof winter shell jacket. Ideally it should be a jacket that fits over other warm layers.
- Warm layers. Long johns under trousers, thick socks, and something to layer on the upper body.
- Face covering for extreme cold. A balaclava or similar is ideal, as scarves are long and can get in the way during construction.
Stay on top of snow removal
Make sure to have a plan to clear snow from the site. Weather it’s space heaters, snowblowers, or good old-fashioned shovels, snow and thus water can damage your site. Have a plan to remove accumulated snow and ice from in and adjacent to your site. Additionally, depending on the sensitivity of the site, have something for removing snow and ice on peoples shoes/clothes before entering. This will prevent excessive water damage to your construction project.
Construction floor protection
Winter weather and ice can not only damage your floors and work, it can be dangerous. Obviously you want to protect your investment, so it’s worth it to put a little extra money into it. Floor protection are coverings that provide traction for people on them and prevent weather and construction site related damage. Here’s a great guide on various types of construction floor protection.
Store materials properly
Propane gas and other construction tools and materials can freeze in the worst weather. Make sure they are stored correctly and kept warm. Ensure that all your tools, equipment, and materials are kept at the right temperature so that you can use them when you need.
Use a reliable contractor
At Reliable Commercial we are fully dedicated to ensuring your project runs on time. We have over 35 years of experience in commercial construction, and a team of over 200. No project is too much for us to handle, so let us handle yours. Contact us today, and we will be happy to get started on your winter project.