Construction winter conditions is always a concern for both the customer and the contractors. We discuss some of those factors below in this blog.
Frozen subgrade material can lead to settlement later. If completing site grading and site subgrade preparation activities in cold weather, specific attention needs to be paid to frozen materials. Moisture can become trapped in frozen material, making it all but impossible to achieve proper compaction, and when the ground thaws in the spring, the moisture is released, and settlement can occur.
Concrete – Can be compromised if exposed to freezing during the first 72 hours of being poured or placed. Concrete can lose up to 50 percent of its strength—you’ve seen it, frozen concrete often spalls prematurely. In more moderate temperatures, 32º and rising, insulated concrete blankets can solve the problem. In colder temperatures you will need to add hot water to the mix at the plant in addition to a non-corrosive admixture. An admixture that often used with temperatures of approximately 20° F and rising is PolarSet®. All of these products protect newly poured concrete. They also add cost.
Fuel – Costs invariably rise at winter construction job sites. Fuel consumption increases significantly with equipment like mixers, on-site heaters etc.
Daylight – During these winter months, daylight is greatly diminished. We all feel it when we go to work in the dark and head for home in the dark. Without the proper planning and lighting, work at job sites end when the sun goes down. This can continue to limit the progress on a site.
Holidays – These always need to be considered when scheduling during late November and December. Depending on where the days fall in the calendar year you may lose up to 2 weeks on a project.
Scope, schedule, and budget are the pillars of any construction project. Sometimes, no matter how many proactive measures you take, the only response to construction winter conditions is patience. If your project is scheduled to begin during the winter months, it is important to plan a bit of flextime into your schedule to reduce the impact of the cold weather on the overall project. If the flextime is not utilized – great! It just means that you are ahead of schedule. If you do end up using it, then you will continue to remain on schedule.