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The age old question “Can I build in Winter?”  the answer, “absolutely”! 

With advances in materials such as concrete, simplicity of temporary heating, and our snow eating winds,  building can commence almost any time of year in Southern Alberta. 

If we didn’t build in the winter months our building season would be cut very short. To combat the cold winter months we are continually monitoring the weather. We compare it to our schedule, and dictate the timing of weather sensitive tasks. Proper winter construction will be more work and take a smidge longer. However, with meticulous planning and added lead times you are way ahead of a spring start.  

Below are three items that have a positive influence on our ability to build in the winter without sacrificing quality.

House on the open prairie being framed

Advances to Concrete that Combat Cold

To combat cold, concrete suppliers are using warm raw materials and additives such as WeatherMIx.  These additions allow for a larger pour window in our winter months.  Concrete strength and curing times are directly related to ground temperature and air temperature at the time of placement.  Signs your concrete may have been too cold to cure could be, cracking, warping, or flaking.  Not a great start if these signs are obvious.  Having the right concrete mixture in cold weather conditions is only a small part of responsible building in winter. 

Temporary Heating

Temporary heaters and warming tarps are the most common sources for heating during construction.  We use warming tarps for pulling frost out of the ground/curing concrete and use temporary natural gas heaters after the framing is complete.  Temporary heating starts just prior to pouring the basement concrete floor, and continues all the way to drywall and painting.  With our system of temporary heaters we’re able to maintain adequate temperatures in any of our projects right through winter.  This allows all our trades to work in a warm safe environment.  Note: We prefer natural gas heat over propane.  Propane heating creates excess moisture, and causes discoloration on drywall, not to mention it can be dangerous if not vented properly.

Temporary Heaters suspended from ceilings with warming tarps safely controlling inside temperatures
Temporary Heaters safely controlling inside temperature

Snow Eating Wind

Lethbridge and area has a weather phenomenon known as Chinooks.  Chinook winds are found where the prairies and mountains meet. As the air is forced over the mountain range it cools and loses all moisture.  On its way down the east slops of the Rockies the air warms causing a strong warm wind known as a Chinook.

Chinook Winds Diagram

During the winter months we rarely receive more then a 2 week blast of cold.  The chinook winds role in and the temperatures can swing as much as 40 degrees C.  Sounds crazy right?   This allows us opportunities to work on weather sensitive tasks. Bonus!

So you might ask, “What is the best time of year to start a new home build?”

I would tell you “we are not likely to dig your basement in January.”  Instead we can plan to have the foundation in late fall or early winter. Then we work through the coldest part of the year on framing and other things that are less weather dependent. 

House under framing stage being built in winter

We use all the tools to complete our jobs in a responsible way without cutting any corners. Winter is by far the hardest season to work in, but lets be real, every season has its challenges.   Spring, summer, and fall bring rain, wind, and heat; all factors needing consideration equally as much as the cold.

You can be assured that building in the winter will not impact the quality of your new home.  Quality is always the driving force behind our process.  It may take a smidge longer but the end product will be the same Ramton Quality you deserve.

Have more questions about building in the Winter months in Southern Alberta? Send us an email!

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