Winter’s Might: The Challenge of Building During the Catskills Cold Season

Frost

When you are building 10 homes across 3 counties with a range of more than 2+ hrs from your home base, it’s even more important than ever to lay out a comprehensive and thorough Catskills winter game plan.

We get asked all the time, “Do you build in the winter?” And without hesitation the answer is yes. We build and we build mostly at the same speed we do the rest of the year, it just takes more day-to-day logistical planning, a couple of A-Team snow plow guys and very good, very early morning communication channels. Construction is a morning sport and our job sites are populated and humming by 7:30 a.m., so the planning and execution to keep the sites open starts even earlier.

Last winter was a real bear, with so much snow we had nowhere to put it and ended up bringing in small loaders to move it around. You figure a busy job site has assorted trucks of all shapes and sizes arriving hourly, so the sites must have turn-around areas, loading areas, parking areas, etc.

Besides the big-picture, big-truck machinations, the real concern is job safety. Slips, falls, heights, boom trucks, snow coming off of roofs like avalanches, wind, frigid temperatures, run-way trucks, non-working pneumatic tools, and fingers too cold to be too cautious.

The costs rise too for winter construction since all the safety precautions, snow plowing, temporary heat, salt, sand, shoveling, bulldozing, etc., costs real money and a winter like last year — when you have 6 jobs making steady progress — gets real expensive real fast.

During these stressful storms, ice-overs and the like, I often dream of building in South Carolina, where the footing frostline is not only not a concern, winter months actually just mean cooler temperatures, and 4 months of the year remain cool and breezy, and not a harrowing exercise of liability management, logistical gymnastics, and budget-busting weather-mitigation costs.

Home building is like movie making — progress is dependent on the weather, and the ability to plan for and plan around becomes not quite instinctual, but definitely second nature.

About Catskill Farms

Charles Petersheim founded design/build firm Catskill Farms in 2002 in Sullivan County. Continually inspired wholly by regional architecture, his 100+ new old homes dot the Hudson Valley, including Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties. His 12 years of Catskills building have given him broad perspective on how to succeed upstate, be it with farming, building, small business or just relaxing on the front porch.

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