Winter Building

Winter-home-constructionBelieve it or not, building in the winter is more costly than building in the summer. Understandably, there could be very good reasons why you need to build in the winter months, but there are also a few reasons to consider holding off on that addition, second story or brand new build until the warmer months!

Ever wonder why you see truckloads of farm trucks heading into the city with bales of straw on them in the late fall and early winter months? They are heading towards the construction sites. If excavation is done and there is a risk of frost, the ground has to be protected – this is the purpose of the straw. It acts as an insulator and prohibits frost from compromising the ground before the footings are placed. When dirt freezes, it heaves, and when the frost leaves the dirt the ground will settle back down. If the footings are placed on frozen ground, you run the risk of structural damage.

Footings are one of the structural elements which carry the weight (or load) of the home. They support everything above the ground on which the house rests, and are made of concrete. Foundations, basement slabs, garages, and porches are also made of concrete. Come the winter months, concrete has an additive to assist with curing*. As a result, purchasing concrete in the winter months can cost up to $18/cubic meter more than if it was purchased in the “non-frost” months!

Once the concrete is poured in the winter months, it is still very important to prevent freezing to avoid structural damage if frozen. Propane heaters, straw and insulated blankets are some of the products that can be used to do this. Winter heat is also required for the electrical and plumbing rough-ins.

Additionally, If you’re having brick or stonework done to the exterior of the house, the scaffolding needs to be tarped-in to prevent the mortar from freezing.

Now, if the added costs are not enough to make you want to hold off on your winter build, there is one more important factor to consider. Time.

Your contractor has no control over the weather. When it’s extremely cold outside, or the snow is blowing so you can’t see what is in front of you, it’s not safe to keep the framers, roofers, masonry and stone workers, and siding and aluminum workers on site working. You can pretty well guarantee weather halting a job and pushing off that targeted end date.

Have you experienced hidden costs due to a winter build? Share your experiences with us in the comments!


*Curing is the process in which the concrete is protected from loss of moisture and kept within a reasonable temperature range. The result of this process is increased strength and decreased permeability