Ask The Contractor: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Remodeling Your Home During Winter

Winter is just around the corner. That’s the perennial phrase that kills many dreams of remodeling the house this year. Savvy customers have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. Remodeling can be done any time of the year. In fact, it might even be better in the winter than in the summer. We asked our expert what we should know about remodeling in the winter months.

Q: Can you remodel during the winter?

A: Remodeling during the winter can be quite enjoyable. In places that get cold and snowy, it can be a bit more difficult to work outdoors, but there are often limitations. Indoor remodeling can take place all year.

Many contractors perform an autumn rush to get any digging or concrete foundation work done before the ground freezes. If they can get those things done, the rest of the structure can be built, no matter the weather. One benefit is not having to deal with rainfall.

Q: What can’t contractors do in the winter?

A: Many places have climates that allow any remodeling activity to proceed during winter. Some places are cold enough that it’s difficult or impossible to dig into the ground. If installing new underground water supply and sewer lines are part of the remodel, that could slow things down. Buried electrical supply also needs to have a trench dug.

Many places will stay below freezing for long periods, which makes pouring concrete foundations or footings impossible or too expensive to be worth it.

Exterior painting is best left until spring. It can be done during the winter but it involves a lot of plastic and portable heaters. It’s not efficient regarding time and money, and certainly not environmentally friendly.

Q: Is it better to remodel a house in the wintertime?

A: I think it is. Good contractors are busy during the summertime. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just a number to them. They’re often less busy during the winter months. Those who have remodeling jobs done during winter tend to get more personalized attention and jobs tend to get done faster due to a lack of distractions.

From the contractor’s point of view, there’s little or no rainfall to deal with. It’s much easier to protect a home from snowfall rather than rain. Often, they’re working on indoor projects where the weather is always perfect. Many customers go on vacation during the winter, meaning less worries in terms of paint fumes or dusty air for both parties.

Q: Is it cheaper to remodel during the winter?

A: It used to be an absolute truth that you could hire a contractor for less money during the winter. Those times are all but gone. Good home remodeling companies are always busy. There aren’t any more discounts just so they have something to do. However, to stay competitive, some remodelers might offer holiday discounts or, “get ready for spring,” sales.

Design-build companies like to fill up their summertime calendar during the winter. Shopping around for deals on designing a future project might prove fruitful.

In summary, I’d be wary of hiring a contractor in the winter who is negotiating down in price just to secure the job.

Q: Why wouldn’t you want to remodel during the winter?

A: There are a few reasons to hold off on wintertime remodeling. First, it’s holiday time. If you’re the host of your extended family’s holiday events, having parts of your home disassembled may not be desirable during that time.

Second, dust and fumes can stick around with all of the windows closed. Contractors are very concerned about this. Low VOC paint is always used during winter and special tools keep dust to a minimum. But there’s seldom a perfect solution. Venting the home when the weather permits and keeping fresh furnace filters on hand can help.

Finally, remodeling can be loud. With the windows and doors closed and the weather being too cold to go outside, it’s difficult to escape the clamor of power tools. For some, that’s too much to handle.

Q: What kinds of projects do you recommend for wintertime?

A: Anything indoors is the expected answer. Kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling and basement remodeling come to mind. But, building additions are great for both contractors and customers. If the foundation can get poured before everything freezes, the rest of the work is easy.

Owners of remodeling companies like it because they know their crew is going to move efficiently to finish the outside so they can get inside where it’s warm. Customers can take comfort in knowing that the project is moving as quickly as possible. Less seasonal precipitation also means that, before the roof goes on to protect the structure, water isn’t getting into where it doesn’t belong.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.