Overcoming the Difficulties Associated with Cold Weather Concrete

Pouring concrete in cold weather can be a challenge for all parties involved. While many may think of cold weather as being below freezing, it is defined by the American Concrete Institute as any temperature below forty degrees Fahrenheit, and often includes rain, snow, or ice. But it isn’t just the discomfort or decreased morale that inclement weather can bring on the job site that poses risks for concrete pours; the addition of schedule adjustments, reduced efficiency, and added labor to prepare work areas for heating and crews all play a part.

Matt Rogers, vice president of Suntec Concrete, shares how Suntec keeps their teams moving efficiently during the winter.

“Many of our jobs see both extremes, from the raging heat of summer, to the dead of winter, so we’ve poured an immense amount of effort into helping our crews adapt to the changes in weather without losing valuable time or money on projects.”

As the cold weather hits, here are four key approaches to mitigate the issues that can arise that impact your project’s schedule, drive up costs and affect quality:

1. Buy-in from the team: As we all know, weather can affect a project that has any span of duration from October through May. As soon as a drop in temperature is anticipated, the owner, contractor and subcontractor team must collaborate. Together, they ensure the schedule and budget are adapted to combat the decline in efficiency and the demands of the project for optimal work surface temperatures. The cost component of cold weather can vary drastically depending on overall winter conditions and temperatures along with the design and sequence of the project.

2. Creative solutions: To reduce overall exposure on the project, the team must come together to consider a work approach that allows for strategies around the weather. Flexibility is key, and having a nimble team assembled is a major driver that leads to project success. One large snow day can cost a project up to a week of the schedule, making it critical to incorporate an alternative plan into the project.

3. Address the budget considerations: While the team works steadily throughout the cold weather season, making sure that time is accounted for in the budget is extremely important. A key point, is how the cold weather is valued up front during bidding, scheduling and overall collaboration is a key part to the overall cost of the project and how the risk is captured between the owner, contractor and subcontractors. Working in cold weather conditions affects the labor inefficiencies for the work, concrete costs for admixtures and hot water, and added labor/equipment/material/fuel costs for blanketing and heating the work areas which typically is before or after typical work hours. Valuable dollars can be saved when all parties strive to reduce costs and proactively spend money up-front on alternative means/methods and materials to prevent or minimize overall cold weather premium costs.

4. Leverage resources: Planning ahead means getting the buy-in and commitment on the ability to send a crew during non-workdays, which in turn maximizes the days the team is able to work when the weather permits. Setting a project up for success during winter weather usually means adding labor to prepare upcoming work areas.

While one big snow day on many projects can wreak havoc on the project schedule and budget, Suntec believes in a proactive approach to combat these common pitfalls. We work together with the entire project team to develop creative solutions for reducing overall exposure to the elements, discussing exactly what the job requires, and using tradesmen who are willing to work outside of normal working hours in order to remain flexible with the weather. Suntec helps owners and contractors navigate the cold.

As we move into the winter season, the team at Suntec is experienced in helping you maintain your project’s progress, while achieving the budget that cold weather can impact. Call Suntec at 720-507-2529.

Photo courtesy of Suntec 

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