Winter can be an especially difficult season for builders and anyone working in construction.  Low temperatures often bring certain challenges to sites and these will require creative solutions in order to overcome them.  With the right preparation and a little determination, there’s no reason your project or build can’t go ahead.  Here are some things to take into consideration as you work through winter.

Allow More Time

If you are planning a project that needs to be worked on throughout the winter months, it’s a good idea to allow more time than you would normally.  This gives you a bit of leeway for any setbacks due to bad weather, supplies or even illness.    

Cold conditions can bring snow and ice which present their own challenges including slippery surfaces which can make for dangerous working conditions.  If such conditions can’t be managed with salt or de-icing agents to keep things safe, you may need to consider postponing.  This is especially poignant for tasks being carried out above ground level, particularly on roofs or scaffolding.   

Be Aware Of Frozen Ground

Stable and compacted grading and foundations are key to a secure and stable build.  When temperatures drop for a long period of time, the ground can become frozen and will keep hold of moisture.  This makes it difficult to compact as the pockets of trapped, frozen water can expand, offsetting the ground around it.  Once this starts to thaw, it will leave pockets in the ground and when the earth starts to settle, it will fill those pockets causing a disruption to the land and anything built above it.  It’s fine to go ahead and dig foundations during the winter but it is worth anticipating the problems that could arise and that it could take longer than usual. 

Concrete Can Be Weakened By The Cold

Concrete is widely used in construction because it is strong and durable but it’s worth noting that cold conditions can impact this.  Concrete needs to dry quickly in order to hold its strength.  If temperatures are low, the drying process is slowed down.  If concrete freezes before it dries, it may need to be taken out and repoured.  Concrete blankets can help to preserve heat loss and anti-freezing components can be added to the concrete to battle against the low temperatures.

Building With Timber In The Winter

Erecting a timber structure in winter is actually a great choice.  The speed of construction shouldn’t be impacted by the weather or temperatures.  Timber frames can be built in keeping with your time scales allowing other trades to carry on once the weather improves.  Building in winter also means that your project can be completed and be ready for use when the better, warmer weather comes. 

The Cold Prevents Mortar, Grout & Adhesives From Working

Just like cement, the cold temperatures can cause water in any of these components to freeze which produces little ice crystals and alters the chemical composition.  This weakens their ability to bond and can lead to unsecured works.  In some cases the bricks and tiles can be heated to ensure an adequate bond or the areas can be covered to keep heat in and dry efficiently.

Ensure You Have The Right Equipment

The winter months not only bring cold and wet weather but the daylight hours are fewer.  So as well as appropriate clothing, it’s important to have adequate lighting and hi-vis PPE to ensure safety on site.  It’s also crucial to protect all materials that haven’t yet been fixed by covering them and machinery should be stored in a weatherproof area and used only when safe to do so.  

Construction doesn’t need to stop for the winter but the conditions should be assessed in order to remain safe.  With the right approach and preparation you’ll still be able to complete your project to a great standard, on time and in keeping with your budget.  To browse all of our timber, building and concrete supplies, head on over to our website.