Construction works in winter – not a very sound idea.admin
When the winter conditions are reasonable, it is possible to conduct outdoor construction activities even in low temperatures. Construction work in winter always poses risks for the contractor and the client. CEO of Conberg Ehitus, Ert Soasepp talks about the risks.
From the client’s point of view, the biggest risk lies in quality problems which could emerge much later. If construction works in winter are absolutely necessary, then you should make sure that there is proper construction supervision and not choose your contractor purely based on a cheap price. High-quality final results require regular supervision, high-standard of project management, and a responsible team of construction workers. All parties of the object must understand the aim, conditions, and what aspects are checked upon. If conditions are not agreed upon then it is impossible to take precautions against issues that might arise and there could be cost-effective and chaotic construction works and it is difficult to assess the final quality.
When choosing your contractor, you should examine the standards of the company’s project management and the competence of the project manager. It is good to know if there is a plan, schedule, quality instructions, and systematic quality control to manage the construction works of an object. Up to date documentation and experienced construction workers are also important, and the workers should have previous experience in working in winter conditions.
Choosing your contractor for construction works in winter solely based on price – a high-risk venture.
Off-season in the construction market means more competition, and pressure resulting from lack of work might force a contractor to underbid without taking into account extra costs in winter. Some might avoid losses by ignoring the material manufacturer’s instructions on installation and cutting down the heating. The contractor might give up on finalizing the works or quality problems arise and eliminating those problems could be more expensive than the original project itself.
In recent decades, there are a lot of new products on the market that have labels marked with subzero degrees. This poses a risk of misinterpreting the information and construction companies to use clauses in their contracts, where heating of the object commences only when the outside temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius. Before a client agrees with this kind of contract, they should understand what are the real temperature requirements for the ground, air, and material drying time. Subzero degree markings on the label of the product do not always mean that this material could be installed during minus degrees without any restrictions. For example, there are materials which require at least zero degrees of air and ground for installation and temperature can drop to -5 only after eight hours of drying, or the product has to be mixed with warm water at a certain degree before installation. If the client is unaware of the field of construction, they should find an independent representative, who could stand for their real interests and goals and is concerned about the results after the construction works have been finished.
If Client’s main aim is durable and high-quality construction, they need to be flexible and considerate in terms of project deadline.
Weather predictions are not an exact science, but project deadlines, for many, are of utmost importance. Estonian winters have shown that mild winter weather could quickly be replaced with very low degrees. Construction in extreme weather conditions is not feasible and I would recommend temporarily suspending the construction works. The contractor might attempt to continue the work due to time pressures and in fear of contractual penalties, but it is very likely that something goes wrong. Subzero conditions and strong wind have negative effects on outdoor workers’ health and lead to stress. In a longer period of time, people’s ability to make sound decisions as well as their speed of reaction is negatively affected, which in turn heightens work safety risks.
In some cases, however, construction works during the winter period are unavoidable. If that is the case, I recommend thinking about it before planning the construction. It is also possible to manufacture some structures in the factory, so the only assembly is required on site. It is a good idea to order the manufacturer’s finishing for the products that are installed. For example, coatings of paint are not to be installed when the outside temperature is less than 5 degrees Celsius. Smart planning helps to save on costs, is time-efficient, and minimizes all risks related to cold weather.
It is a great idea to look for a contractor during winter.
There are fewer projects at work and companies have more time to respond to inquiries. Quite often the prices are better because companies have not sold out for the upcoming season. When choosing your contractor I recommend you draw up a contract as soon as possible and set the start date of construction works. Procrastination might lead to a situation when the price quote in winter is no longer valid in spring or the contractor might decline because they have received new projects. It is much more difficult to find a good contractor during the construction season, as good companies have sold out for the entire year by March or April.