In most places in the US and Canada, the winter weather is construction’s nemesis. Even in places like west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest where you aren’t overwhelmed with freezing temperatures, it’s exceedingly rare to string enough dry days together where you can make much progress. And east of the mountains of course has the snow that presents a whole other load of problems. Really, other than parts of the sunbelt and southwest, most of the US (and all of Canada) are not places conducive to building in the winter.
But that doesn’t mean winter is a time where you should just sit there, twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the weather to improve. In fact, when it comes to building your home, winter can be the perfect time to lay the figurative foundation. That way when spring comes, you’ll have everything in place to lay the actual foundation.
The case for starting in winter
The oversimplified argument would be “Winter stinks for building, but spring is great for building!” And crucially, the first step to building a home isn’t pouring any concrete or hammering any nails. Thus, by getting everything necessary done in winter, you can be hyper-ready to go once the weather gets good again.
For example, before construction you’ll need to secure financing, secure permits, decide on floor plans and customizations, and more. If you’re doing this during spring, you’re taking up valuable construction-weather time on stuff that doesn’t depend on that same weather; it’s a simple case of comparative advantage, really.
The fact is that, before building, there’s two phases you’ll have to complete that both take quite a bit of time – and that doesn’t take into consideration acquiring the land or confirming the floorplan if you haven’t done that yet. First, you’ll have to secure financing; that can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. After that, you still have to obtain the necessary permits before any building can happen. That can take anywhere from 30 to 90 says, give or take – sometimes even longer depending on your county.
That means if this pre-production process lasts on the longer side, you’ll spend five months on it. Were you to start this in spring – say, April – you wouldn’t be able to build until early September! Depending on your climate, that would give you just a couple months of construction maybe before the weather turns sour again, and you have to call construction off for an extended period of time. But if you start this process in late fall or early winter – let’s go with early November – you’ll line up your timeline so you’re ready to begin the actual construction process right when the weather’s ready, too.
Besides the fact that winter’s unofficial moratorium on building gives you a good excuse to really focus on these pre-construction steps, it also provides another seasonal advantage: building departments and builders’ business is naturally slower during the winter, so they can give your project more attention. That makes sense; since there’s not much building itself going on during this season, they have less to do. But their only job isn’t the actual building – the prep work is huge. Since their other clients are often on hold during the winter, though, these professionals then have more time to devote to you on this preparation. Otherwise, by waiting for the spring or summer to do this work, you’re putting yourself in a position where the people you work with will be busier and everything will take longer.
The homebuilding process takes patience – but it’s made easier when you’re diligent and deliberate. By timing it all with the seasons, you’ll experience a more efficient process, fewer complications during prep and building, and likely a lower final cost. So between saving money and fewer headaches along the way for yourself and your team, doesn’t utilizing the winter sound like a good move? We sure think so.