With housing demand at an all-time high, builders do not have the ability to halt home construction during the winter months. Builders can work safely year round, even building houses during winter with planning and preparation. Advanced products and installation methods allow work to be performed during wet and very cold temperatures, but builders also need to consider winter safety for construction workers.
Most trades can perform in all but the coldest weather conditions--and some hardy individuals prefer it over the hot summer. Make sure your crew is wearing the proper clothing and gear for the weather conditions, including multiple layers, moisture-wicking clothes and socks, and waterproof outerwear. Work boots with good traction should be worn year round, but they are especially necessary when working in snowy and icy conditions.
High performance building for cold climates is tough since bulky clothes can hinder range of movement, so workers should take caution and anticipate moving more slowly. Coupled with fewer hours of daylight, building a house during winter stretches the typical construction timeline.
Just as a good jobsite manager keeps an eye out for sudden summer storms, it's equally important to maintain vigilance on winter weather forecasts. This is true for any location that experiences winter weather. A house in Minnesota can present a blizzard bringing three feet of drifting snow and wind chills below zero, while in the Southeast the threat of ice storms may hamper building construction.
That’s why morning inspections are a good cold weather construction safety tip.
Jaime Perkins of North Carolina–based building duo The Perkins Brothers regularly inspects jobsites before the crew begins. Perkins told us about a recent mountainside build: "When I came onto the jobsite, everything had 1/4 of an inch of ice on it. I'm talking our walk boards, scaffolds, and windows--everything. Our ropes and safety devices, which are on the roof, were coated in thick ice. It is not a safe day to be at work so we needed to cancel," Perkins said. He redirected his crew to a side job inside a heated house.
The Perkins Brothers posted a video to their Instagram channel of Perkins shoveling a few inches of overnight snowfall off the second-story roof before he was able to get down to work. "It's a lot of work to be able to work," he joked. He made sure he was securely roped in very well. Some days he goes up on the mountain and spends the afternoon shoveling the jobsite in hope to be back to work on the next day.
With pragmatic planning and an eye on the weather forecast, building houses during winter can keep your company and crews productive.
Speaking of planning for inclement weather––begin now with ways to navigate wet springtime construction.
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