Should You Start a Construction Job in the Middle of Winter?
Nov 05, 2018
This is a question we’ve been asked many times by our customers and it’s something that really divides tradesmen and construction crews. Should you start a construction job in the middle of winter, or, should you wait for the spring when the days start getting a little longer and it’s not so cold?
How we see it, there’s no perfect time to start, it’s more about looking at the challenges you might face and putting together solutions for them.
Here’s what you need to think about for your next winter job:
Is your schedule adaptable to shorter days?
In June, July, and August, the UK has at least 16 hours per day of sunlight, but by December and January, that figure is halved to just 8 hours each day. Knowing that daylight will be reduced in the winter, are you able to make the most of those 8 hours of sunlight?
Do you have proper lights to work after the sun sets?
Following on from the question of having enough sunlight, have you bought enough lighting equipment to let you continue working when it gets dark? Lights can be pretty affordable and they will allow you to get a few more hours of work done so that you can finish your project sooner and move onto the next job.
Did you know? strukta is running a fantastic sale on site supplies and safety, check out our special offer on this 10w rechargeable LED cob light.
Do you have the right clothing?
In the summer you might need sun cream, caps, and vests, but in the winter, you need layers, you need protection from wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, and hail. In the winter you need gloves that give your hands mobility but keep you warm and dry. It’s the same for the rest of your body, warm and dry are the priorities. Don’t forget about your boots too, they should be waterproofed and with steel toecaps to protect your feet.
Have you seen our sale on lighting and winter clothing?
Go here to visit our online store where you’ll find huge discounts off equipment that will make your winter construction job a lot easier. We’ve also put a great sale price on our LED rechargeable beanie torch hat. Grab one while the sale lasts.
Resource: Check out this guide on what to wear and how to wear it for thermal efficiency.
Are you doing regular risk assessments?
When a construction site becomes wet or icy, or faces sub-zero temperatures, there are new risks that were not there before. If you’re going to start a construction job in the middle of winter, there must be a safety person in your team who can do regular risk assessments and make tough decisions about whether your team can work or not.
Are you properly insured?
In winter the risks are greater and that means your public liability insurance is more important than ever. If you accidentally slip and damage something, thankfully you’re covered. Winter also means more darkness and less visibility, which is opportune for tool thieves, so be sure to get tools insurance and also be vigilant.
Have you thought about supply and demand?
In the winter there aren’t as many jobs going, which means there are plenty of tradesmen looking for work. When the supply of workers is bigger than the number of available jobs, the hourly wages usually get smaller. This is good news if you’re running a construction project, but not so good if you’re looking for work in winter.
Can the winter work in your favour?
Here is an advantage that the winter could offer. If there is a very difficult construction build that requires specialist skills or experienced tradesmen, then doing a winter project could work in your favour if you have those skills. If there are winter related issues, like burst pipes, you could also use the winter to your advantage.
Are you working on a commercial project, such as a shop?
Getting an outdoor construction job in winter is tough on the body, so when an interior job comes along, most people will be quite happy to go indoors. One of the best indoor jobs for the winter is doing interior remodelling for the commercial industry, like shops, retail stores, and supermarkets. Be careful to time the project well, so that it comes in November, before the busy build-up to Christmas, or after the January sales when consumer habits take a bit of a rest.
Do you have your project designs already?
From sitting down with an architect and handing them a brief, to receiving a set of finished blueprints, can take up to four months. If you’re thinking of starting a project now, and let’s say it’s November, and you need an architect to put it all together, and it’s quite a large build, then it could be February or March before you are ready to start. For some people this would be great, getting the ball rolling on a project in the winter months with a nice early spring start date. For others, it could be an inconvenience.
Do you need to apply for permits for your winter construction job?
Permit applications are not fun, but in the winter, they are a lot faster. As you can imagine with fewer jobs going on, the queues are shorter and the in-trays are smaller at the permit office. This is seen as another advantage to doing a winter job.
Resource: Have you got your permits together? Check here.
Would it be a good idea to get everything ready for a spring start?
If you’ve read all of the above factors and thought ‘I am still not sure whether I really want to start this now, while the days are getting shorter and colder’ then perhaps you want to consider doing some preparation instead. You can still go about getting your blueprints, buying all of your site supplies, equipment, and materials, assembling your team, and making your plan of action ready for a spring start.
Have you browsed our November offers?
Every month we put together great offers, and this month is no different. We’ve got some great discounts on site safety supplies, like hi-vis waistcoats and first aid kids. There’s a brilliant new offer on cotton dust sheets to protect floors from mucky boots. Cleanroom construction tape for indoor decorating jobs is currently discounted, and don’t miss out on offer for Dart Impact driver bits and Optimix Mortar Plasticiser.
Yes! You should start a construction job in the middle of winter. The evidence suggests that if you’re prepared, the shorter days won’t hold you back.