Winter weather hinders construction progress

Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s always the demand for building something new. The hardest season for construction workers to get the job done in is winter. The weather is constantly changing from large temperature swings to unpredictable precipitation types. When it’s cold or wet outside, production is slower and costs more.

Todd Matthews, President of Scott & Murphy Inc., informs “Icy roads, snow, big temperature changes, it affects how we get to work, it affects our equipment, and it affects the safety on the job site. Slippery conditions, you tend to have more accidents when you have ice on your materials and things of that nature. Getting the labor force and getting materials to the job becomes a problem.”

If the conditions are too bad, it’s necessary for workers to take a day off during the week and pick up the slack on a Saturday. If conditions are still workable, machinery needs extra time and lubricant to warm up and ensure it’s working properly.

One of the biggest challenges construction sites face is groundwork. If the ground is frozen, they can’t grade it. When the ground thaws, soil becomes muddy. During winter months, it’s almost impossible to find dry ground to work in.

The second hardest thing is making sure conditions are prime for concrete. Many times it’s necessary to cover the subgrade with plastic or insulated blankets the night before concrete is poured and again after it’s been poured to ensure it stays above 50 degrees while it sets.

”Definitely takes longer for paint, for drywall, concrete, any of those things to set up in the wintertime. You just don’t have the temperatures, you don’t have the duration of sunlight that you have in the summertime. It definitely affects how long we have to stay on the job. Pouring some concrete paving in the wintertime may take 12 hours where in the summertime we may be done in 8 hours,” stated Matthews.

Roofing materials, PVC pipe, electrical wire insulation, and plumbing also require extra care in the wintertime. Those materials become more brittle and easier to damage. To protect such materials and improve worker safety, temporary enclosures and portable heat is sometimes necessary to set up.