In many regions of the world, the construction industry is tied inextricably to the changing of the seasons. Others may look forward to those April showers that bring May flowers, or the winter wonderland that comes when the temperature falls, but for those in construction, these changing tides can be problematic.
Cold weather can throw a wrench in even the best-laid plans. So how can construction business owners protect their projects during these colder seasons? And how can this business move be aided by more sustainable building techniques?
Start by Preparing for Winter
While Mother Nature can be fickle and unpredictable, there are some things that happen like clockwork — and winter is one of them. It may be impossible to predict the exact date that winter will arrive, but it always comes around the same time every year, leaving even the most unenlightened plenty of time to prepare.
Now is the perfect time for companies to start making their winter preparations before it’s too late and the snow is upon the ground. Preparing for winter long before the temperature begins to fall will ensure everybody is ready once the season finally makes an appearance.
Pre-planning is crucial for most construction initiatives. Reducing project delays and schedule changes is essential to keep operations in-budget and projects on track with sustainability goals. As we move into autumn, map out a plan now and keep the following tips in mind.
Plan to Be Done Before First Frost
Once winter has the world in its grips, it becomes nearly impossible to start a new project that requires breaking ground, pouring foundations, and creating the exoskeleton of a new structure. When the temperature drops below freezing, the very ground itself will freeze solid, often to a depth of several feet. It is possible to work with frozen ground, but it’s very difficult and requires both heavy equipment and advanced expertise.
Plan to work on the interior components of any builds planned over the winter after the first freeze of the year. Anything that requires being outside for extended periods, pouring concrete, or breaking ground needs to be completed during the warmer months of the year.
Keep Things Warm Wherever Possible
It is possible to continue to work during the frigid winter months, but it is not without its difficulties. There are tools available to help keep job sites warm wherever possible, from concrete warmers to assist in the curing process to propane heaters to keep the crew from freezing while they complete their tasks.
Opt for heaters that don’t require a lot of extra work to set up. If electricity is available, opting for electric heaters is the best option. If electrical infrastructure is not available yet, opt for propane or natural gas-powered heaters to keep workspaces warm and prevent the cold temperatures from negatively impacting the construction site.
Opt for Modular Construction Techniques
Modular construction is swiftly emerging as a new and sustainable approach for both residential and commercial construction projects. Instead of constructing everything from the ground up on-site, modular construction projects build major components in a factory setting that can later be assembled, piece by piece, like a massive puzzle. Once assembled, crews can come in and set up the utilities and get the space ready for operations.
The benefit of modular construction is that structures are built in a climate-controlled environment, so there’s no need to worry about rain or excessively cold temperatures that could prevent concrete from curing properly or encourage lumber to twist and warp. Once the pieces arrive on-site, it takes a fraction of the time to complete the assembly, so there is less time spent out in the cold, which means less fuel (or electricity) needed to keep the site warm.
Slowing Down and Building Sustainably
The goal here is not to stop the perpetual advance of winter but to prevent the snow and ice from negatively impacting the construction site and those working on it.
Preparation is the most important tool in any construction crew’s arsenal, and when working in the cold is unavoidable, heaters and other tools to keep sites and crews warm become necessary. Stay warm this winter, and begin preparing before the temperatures start to drop.