Top 5 Reasons to Renovate in Winter

The peak home renovation seasons traditionally begin in the late spring thru summer, then again in the fall as homeowners clammer to have their renovation projects completed in time for Christmas.  However, depending on the nature of the project you plan, there are some very compelling reasons why renovating in the winter can be the better option.  

  1. Trades take vacation too.  Just like you, tradespeople and suppliers like to take vacation in the summertime to take advantage of the warm weather.  In Calgary, during the months of July and August this can mean that there are up to 30% fewer construction trades available to do your job.  This will typically have an impact on the timeline of your project, and can even result in possible project delays.  For example, your kitchen renovation might stall while you are waiting for the electrician to return from his family vacation. 
  2. Supply and Demand. Building upon #1 above,  just as seafood is typically “market-priced” when you dine out, to some extent the same holds true for construction labour.  When timelines and the availability of labour are tight, some trades will charge more during busy times - because they can.  While the best contractor will always work for you to keep costs in line, avoiding the busiest season for your home renovation project is always a good start.
  3. Manufacturing shut-downs.  To create efficiencies during prime vacation time, many manufacturing plants cease operations for a 2-week period during the summer so all their employees take vacation at the same time, rather than run short-staffed all summer.  This means that for products such as custom cabinetry for example, there are additional lead times involved for manufacturing, delivery & installation.  This can be further exacerbated by the additional build up of demand as a result of items 1 and 2 above.
  4. Mother nature doesn’t care that you’re renovating.  It’s a common misconception that it’s better to renovate in the summer months because the weather is better.  This may be true of some projects, but what people outside of the construction industry may not realize is that snow and cold are less likely to affect project timelines than rain will.  If you are excavating for your new addition for example, it can still be done in the winter while it certainly CAN’T be done when it rains.  And depending on how much rain, perhaps even for another week or two afterwards while the mud pit in your back yard dries up.  The same holds true for some other outdoor work like framing, siding, etc.  A little snow can be shovelled away, but rain pretty much stops everything meaning there can be days with no progress on your project.
  5. Humidity.  On the topic of Mother Nature, humidity (or the drastic change thereof) is a constant challenge for Calgary renovation & construction projects. Building materials absorb moisture from the higher humidity in the summer, then it evaporates again in our dry winters.  Building materials - especially wood like hardwood flooring, millwork and the like will actually have small changes in size between winter and summer.  This means that materials installed during the months with the highest humidity may start to show hairline cracks or gaps in the winter - particularly where 2 materials are joined together.  By having this work performed in the dry winter, you take advantage of using the wood when it is its “smallest”, thus helping ensure the likelihood that joints stay tight and your beautiful flooring or millwork stays that way.