Facilities managers use wintertime strategically. It’s a smart time for construction because it can be an off-season for some trade contractors. While lower demand can set the stage for projects to move faster, winter construction projects require special planning and strategy.
Freezing temperatures bring a host of additional considerations for your construction trade partner. As a result, wintertime building restoration requires more detailed research and planning for facilities managers – and a highly qualified contractor.
Four Considerations for Winter Construction
Effective winter planning starts with an analysis of your interior and exterior commercial building needs. Let’s examine the following four considerations for winter construction planning: exterior projects, interior repairs, safety measures, and timeline expectations.
1. Exterior Repairs
While conducting a construction inspection, facility managers should understand that exterior projects typically incur an increased cost—estimated to range around 15% to 20% more than interior repairs depending on the scope.
First, harsh weather and sub-freezing temperatures may require exterior accommodations like temporary enclosures and heating. These are necessary to create a work-ready zone or to ensure your facility occupants and guests can safely enter and leave your property.
Second, sub-freezing temperatures may require specialized materials designed for harsh conditions. Or, your construction supplies may require special additives. Either case can escalate wintertime construction supply costs.
2. Interior Repairs
Indoor construction projects are less impacted by winter conditions than their external counterparts. Winter is a good time to tackle any interior projects that may have presented themselves during a construction inspection. However, the season can still impact indoor projects. Consider, as an example: someone may need to leave external doors open for extended periods to move equipment in and out, resulting in a notable drop in temperature that could disrupt facility employees or operations.
Furthermore, projects may also require cordoning off large sections of the building, further disrupting operations. For this reason, planning ahead to prevent logistical conflicts is essential. Qualified contractors will advise on essential work space needs and a logistics plan to minimize disruptions and contain dust or exhaust, among other measures.
3. Safety Measures
Winter can present extremely challenging working conditions for even the most seasoned construction crew. Low temperatures, wind, snowy conditions, and icy walkways all combine to make even the most simple tasks like bringing equipment inside a hazardous task.
To prevent slip and fall accidents, ensure that someone properly salts and clears all walkways before contractors arrive—preferably before any construction inspection. Furthermore, winter conditions require warming and hydration stations to prevent safety issues such as frostbite and dehydration. Finally, cold weather conditions often result in slower activities and movement across sites in order to maintain safety and quality production.
4. Managing Project Timelines
Weather delays are common during the winter—and the construction industry isn’t exempt from these disruptions. Equipment or supplies might take longer to get to the worksite because of shipping delays. Strategic facility managers collaborate closely with contractors and supply-chain providers to ensure that all necessary materials will be ready by the start of the project.
Keep lines of communication strong, documenting any potential disruptions and providing updated schedules to all parties. This ensures the project has the best chance of proceeding uninterrupted even under winter weather conditions.
Budgeting for Winter Repairs and Construction
When budgeting for winter projects, it’s important to carefully consider the extra expenses that winter conditions may bring. External projects in particular are likely to cost more in terms of labor and materials. Indoor projects don’t incur most of the same additional expenses, but even projects within the facility may experience weather-related delays caused by slow product shipments.
In addition, facilities managers should be prepared to bear the costs for extended project timelines.
Winter Construction Takeaways
Winter construction comes with additional challenges that warmer months don’t have. However, with careful planning—and strategic budgeting—these projects can proceed just as smoothly as warmer months.
Select a contractor with the experience to guide their clients through winter conditions. This way, all parties will be more prepared to face any issue cold weather may bring. Kent Companies has a long history of winter construction projects. We can approach your project with the season-specific insights needed to plan for additional challenges.
Reach out to learn more about Kent Companies’ approach to winter construction.