Homebuyers and builders alike often assume that new home construction is best suited for the warmer months of spring and summer. Many perceive cold temperatures and harsh weather to be the source of complications and delays to the building process, but the notion that winter is a bad time to build is simply not true. In fact, there are several distinct advantages to starting a build in the colder months. Whether buyer or builder, all can learn from these little-known facts about building in winter:
1. Shorter Build Times
The average custom home takes about nine months to build, from start to finish. But starting in the winter can cut down significantly on this time frame, for several reasons:
• The volume of homes is much lower, so construction teams are able to devote more time to individual homes and complete many of them faster.
• The many professionals involved in a home build—including engineers, subcontractors, designers and trim carpenters—are not as busy in the winter.
• Building permits take less time because fewer people are applying during the winter.
2. Personal Attention
Starting a build in the winter also offers customers much more personal attention than they might receive during busier months. Because subcontractors, construction crews, engineers, designers and everyone in between are less busy during the winter, they can more readily devote time to each customer, walking them through the process and answering their questions without feeling the usual time crunch.
3. Help from Nature
You might find that Mother Nature is more cooperative during the winter than you originally perceived. In fact, a few environmental aspects of starting a build in the winter actually help ensure a high-quality home, such as:
• In the dry summer months, it can be challenging to know how a piece of property behaves in precipitation, but during the rainy season, it’s easier to understand the “lay of the land” by evaluating circumstances such as where water tends to gather.
• Water from rain or snow helps compact newly laid gravel, which creates an ideal base for concrete work.
• Saturated dirt encourages more thorough work from excavators, which helps avoid the dreaded “settling spots” that often emerge after summer builds.
4. Benefits to the Buyer
Finally, winter building offers buyers big benefits during the shopping and moving processes, such as:
• Searching for and buying property during the winter can be beneficial, because a lack of tree foliage and undergrowth gives people a better idea of the land itself. Plus, any wetland and drainage issues are more obvious during wetter months.
• Fewer people are looking to buy during the winter, so buyers will encounter less competition and may find that sellers are more willing to negotiate.
• Once a home is completed during the spring, the buyers will get to enjoy a warm weather move—instead of building during the summer and moving during the winter.
Although the benefits listed above can make winter a great time to build, it’s also important to plan carefully for the season. For example, at Adair Homes, we follow a process to ensure every new home has a chance to dry out before application of interior finishes—even during the winter. This helps avoid any possibility of mold—a major concern for winter builders—and prevents drywall nail pops and stud warping.
When building in winter, use weather-appropriate materials (we like kiln-dried lumber), and work efficiently to ensure exposure is limited. Top all of this off with safety measures, such as moisture readings and inspections, to ensure a healthy home.
As you see, the old thinking about wintertime homebuilding no longer applies. As an industry, we should work to ensure year-round success by planning effectively for the winter months and educating buyers about building in the so-called “off season.” And we can put processes in place to ensure each and every home is built correctly and with the same quality standards—regardless of the season.
About Lynn: Lynn Tribon is the Director of Market Development at Adair Homes and has worked for the custom home builder for nearly two decades. She has a deep background in construction, administration, and home planning and is passionate about Adair’s mission to help families improve their quality of life and financial futures.