Why Start a Construction Project in the Winter?

At first thought, it may seem crazy to start construction in winter, but there are actually quite a few positives to it. Depending on where you live, Arizona’s winters can be very forgiving or they can be very harsh, so we at Urban Design Associates want to list out the pros and cons of starting a home construction project in the winter in the Phoenix Valley and Northern Arizona. 

Phoenix Home Construction in Winter 

The Valley is known for having mild winters, which means the construction season is very busy during this time for Phoenix residential architects

Pros to Winter Construction in Phoenix 

The biggest pro to starting construction in the winter when you’re in the Valley is the weather! There are no monsoons, no extreme heat, fewer delays, and very little chance of snow and rain. Not to mention, the temperature is mild and perfect for outdoor work. Think 30s and higher, instead of 100s and higher in the summer. 

Ideally, the framing and exterior work will get done when the temperature is lower and construction workers can move inside as the season starts getting warmer and wetter. This allows for a faster timeline. For example, the time for completing the foundation can vary depending on the weather. It can take up to a month, or longer if it rains! 

Secondly, landscaping is much easier in the colder months too. You don’t have to worry about plants dying or grass yellowing immediately when planted in the cooler months. Also, the ground will be easier to work with during the winter than versus monsoon season or the dry summer. It should be wetter and thawed (unless snow does happen to come through). 

Cons: 

In Phoenix, it’s no surprise that the winter is peak construction time. It’s extremely busy, meaning your project may not get the one-on-one attention it needs and it may be subject to delays due to your contractor’s workloads. 

Secondly, expect a lot of traffic. The Valley’s traffic typically picks up in the winter due to tourism and those who have a winter home in the area. Phoenix is known for mild winters, so it’s no surprise that many come down to visit during the beginning of the year to avoid the freezing temps up north! 

construction in winter

Walnut Canyon – UDA

Flagstaff and Northern Arizona

Flagstaff and northern Arizona are beautiful during the winter: snowy mountain peaks, perfect winter weather, and views that just can’t be beat. However, that means construction projects in the winter are at the will of the weather. 

Pros 

Due to the region’s winter weather, not many people choose to build around this time. The snow and the ice can cause a lot of delays, so most don’t risk it. That means your build is likely to get more one-on-one attention from the builder and contractor. So your architect should have the time to walk you through the process and answer your questions without fear of delaying the project.

This also means shorter build times too! Starting in the winter can cut down significantly on this time frame, for several reasons, such as: 

  • The volume of home construction projects is much lower
  • 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

Secondly, the weather can actually help (though it is unpredictable). Mother Nature can actually be quite forgiving in winter. How? Well, during the rainy and wet seasons, architects can really get the lay of the land by seeing where water tends to gather. This will help them tremendously during the planning and building phases. 

The extra moisture also helps compact newly laid gravel, which is the ideal base for concrete work! 

While icy land is no good for construction equipment, saturated dirt actually helps excavators avoid the dreaded “settling” that often emerges after summer builds. Just be wary though, because too much moisture means no traction, which is not good at all! 

Cons

We’ll start with the cons right where we left off: the weather. It’s cold, it’s slippery, and it’s snowy. Snow can be just as unpredictable as Phoenix monsoons, so working during the winter in Flagstaff and other northern areas requires patience. Snow is also very heavy, so contractors and builders have to be very careful when installing framing and new roofs. 

Needless to say, winter is wet too. All of the materials will need to be stored in a dry and warm place to avoid cracking, moisture damage, mold, and more. 

A second con is that you can’t typically get landscaping done until mid-spring. You have to wait for the snow to melt and the ground to thaw, which can delay plans. 

Thirdly, traffic. Flagstaff gets a lot of tourism in the winter due to their ski resorts. You can expect the winter recreations to bring about some delays on the road. Don’t forget the snow and icy conditions too — sometimes, the roads will be too perilous to use, which will cause more delays. However, just be patient. The project should resume once it is safe. 

Should You Build in the Winter?

All in all, what season you build in depends on your location and the timeline of your project. While there are pros and cons to building in the winter in the Valley and in northern cities, it shouldn’t be the determining factor for your build. 

Talk with your architect about how the seasons will impact the planning, design, and building process. They will be able to predict any delays and should have them pre-built into the timeline. 

If you’re looking to build a home in Arizona or remodel your current home, give us a call! We’ve been building homes here for over 40 years and know the weather well. We’re well equipped to help you with all of your custom home and remodel needs!