The seasons are a fact of life, but winter in particular can be an inconvenience for many with construction plans. Farmers sometimes need to carry out preparatory building over the colder months to ensure structures remain stable. Sheds and warehouses must be capable of storing grains and crops for spring.
Although snowfall can bring its own complications, construction in the wintertime is also thwarted by frozen grounds and freezing winds. For farmers preparing to plant as soon as the warmer temperatures hit, time is critical for maximizing yield. However, the cost implications of winter construction prove to be a real threat to both revenue and a sustainable farm.
We’re going to take a further look below at the issues to be aware of with winter construction and how to mitigate them, ensuring you as a farmer or landowner execute a build of reasonable cost and effort.
Why Is It so Difficult to Build in the Winter?
Costs are passed on, and one of the costs of winter building is lower productivity of employees, which can drop by up to 50 percent. Hard frost reduces capability, motivation, efficiency and accuracy of the construction team, and it’s unsurprising given that frost can reach up to 5 feet underground.
If frozen earth needs to be dug out, specialized equipment may be required and generic building machines may take longer to heat up. That means longer time spent on-site doing very little aside from freezing! Moreover, removing snow will eat into a considerable portion of a worker’s hours on the job, as before construction work even begins, snow must be shoveled.
Should concrete be involved in the build, certain types need to be heated to specified temperatures, as do the aggregates and water. Reaching the right temperatures requires a huge amount of fuel. Other, more specialized building materials could require advanced protection or more sophisticated storage facilities to protect them from the harsh weather, pushing costs upward.
Health and safety is another major consideration for winter building. Slipping in the ice or snow is common, and colds and influenza are even more so. Protecting a workforce from the elements involves investing in appropriate clothing, boots with superior grips and eyewear with better visibility.
How Can Construction Continue in the Midst of Winter?
Luckily, there is a way to continue construction during winter. Hydrostatic excavation allows a crew to remove cold or frozen ground much faster and more easily. This is the process of removing soil with highly pressurized water, and then the soil is transferred directly into a tank.
Hydrostatic excavation gained popularity in Canada in the oil and gas industries, as removing potentially frozen ground in this way is far less destructive and far more accurate. In fact, it is so advantageous to the construction world for winter building that has become the preferred method of digging. The most significant advantages of using hydro excavation are that it is safer, more easily controlled, limits accidents, and does a more thorough job of digging.
It is highly superior in its avoidance of underground pipes, lines and cables, which prevents interruptions to jobs, repair costs and further hours during which the workforce needs to be compensated. In the long term, however, the reduced charges for insurance and liability can save companies millions given the lower risks associated with this method of digging.
Farmers have an awful lot to think about, and that extends especially to planning seasonal activities. Winter building to repair or prepare crop and grain storage facilities can be thwarted with expense and complications, but there are ways to have hassle-free winter construction.