Can These Home Renovations Be Done in Winter?

By: Renohood

Living in Canada is a wonderful thing, and whether you’ve grown up here or are new to the extreme seasons, you learn to adapt. Coping with the scorching heat of summer can be challenging, but until you’ve had your first taste of a Canadian winter, you haven’t learned to truly hibernate.

Of course, if you’re a homeowner, putting those home renovations off for “better weather” may just mean they never get done. Surprisingly, there are many projects that may seem better suited to warm temperatures but can actually have great outcomes in the winter too.

There are pros and cons to every project, so RenoHood team have put together a list of some of the home renovations you should consider doing in winter along with advantages and challenges of each. 

Some Winter Reno Perks

If you’re going to use a contractor, you might find faster turnaround times as winter months aren’t as busy. Take advantage of special offers and year-end closeouts. Contractors may offer seasonal pricing to keep their staff working year-round. 

Prices for lumber, windows, cabinets and appliances are usually at their lowest during the winter months. 

Building permit approvals and inspection appointments may be expedited during the off-peak season so your home renovation will be done more efficiently during the winter. This could be a great advantage to beating the spring rush if you plan to sell your home once the weather breaks.

Window and Door Replacements

Pros: Whether you’re making an old home more efficient or taking care of a few leaky windows, winter window and door replacements can be more effective than summer jobs. Installers will have no trouble identifying problem areas like air and water leaks, excess moisture and seal breaches. New insulating foams and caulking stay malleable at cold temperatures so there’s no need to wait until warm weather to apply.

Cons: Window and door replacements take longer during the colder months as they’re usually done one at a time to reduce heat loss. Conscientious installers will finish one window or door before starting on the next. However, make sure your contractor plans to protect your floors with tarps or booties to reduce tracking in mud, snow and water. Vinyl windows are designed to handle all types of weather conditions and temperatures but can become brittle when cold. You should wait for warmer to install bay or bow windows due to the challenges of cutting smaller pieces in frigid temperatures.

Matan Korin from Ecoline Windows Edmonton gives a piece of advice to homeowners “If you decide to undergo a window replacement in winter, don’t forget that it’s your responsibility to provide access around your house. That means you’ll need to clear any snow away from doors and windows before and during replacement work. This could be difficult to plan especially if a big snowstorm hits around the time you’ve scheduled the work to be done.”

Deck Installation

Pros: There are plenty of advantages to having a new deck installed in the cold winter months including the cost of labour and materials, faster service from contractors, and your deck will be ready to enjoy once summer arrives.

If you plan on using pressure treated wood for your new deck, you might be surprised to learn that winter is the best time to install this material. Winter’s dry air and reduced humidity means the woods will stabilize faster and dry more evenly. Excessive heat and exposure to sunlight during summer months will cause pressure treated wood to expand, crack and warp. These are non-issues with winter installations.

Cons: The main problem with building a deck in the winter is accessibility. You’ll need to clear snow and ice away from the area where concrete footings will be drilled. This could be difficult if you’re building a large deck or if the ground frost is extremely thick.

Basement Underpinning

Pros: Lowering your basement crawl space to make its ceiling higher and create more living area is underpinning. There are several methods of underpinning but all require some type of excavation work. Frozen ground and the dry air of winter are actually better for digging foundations and pouring concrete footers than wet, muddy ground conditions and high humidity of summer. New additives can be used for faster concrete curing during cold temperatures, so it’s an ideal time to expand your living space and build a reading nook for kids, a game room, an extra bedroom, or it might even save your commute and be one of those home office ideas to improve productivity.

Cons: Due to the extensive exterior work required with this project, access may be an issue if there is a lot of snow piled along the foundation or in the path of heavy equipment. Typically, the frost in the ground will help protect your yard from heavy equipment damage. Always make sure to hire a professional waterproofing contractor to do this type of project. They’ll need to take precautions when leaving a foundation wall or footing open to freezing temperatures for an extended period of time as frost may permeate the structure and damage it. Site clean-up after the job is done may also be difficult due to the mixture of snow and soil.

Attic Insulation

Pros: As winter gets into full swing with blowing and drifting snow as well as frigid sub-zero temperatures, you may notice icicles forming along your gutters or a chill inside your home that just won’t go away. This could be caused by too little insulation in your attic. Icicles are often a symptom of ice dams caused when heat escapes through your roof, melting snow and eventually damaging it. 

Adding more insulation during the winter months is a perfect project to help resolve both exterior and interior problems. You can make this a DIY project or hire a contractor who can do an energy audit to determine just what you need. It’s easier to do the work in the winter when the attic temperature is cooler, technicians have more openings available, outside weather conditions don’t affect inside work, and the extra insulation will help save energy.

Cons: The only “Con” to doing this home renovation project in the winter is you’ll have to figure out what to do with all the extra money you’ll have from lower heating bills. So, don’t let Mother Nature stop you from tackling those big reno projects. Taking care of your “to-do” list now will save you time and money and free up your summer days for more enjoyable activities.