One would assume that construction and building projects would come to a grinding halt in Minnesota’s sub-zero temperatures. On the contrary; with the right equipment, technology, outerwear, and flexibility in schedules, these projects continue even through the rough winter months.

Although other states might shut down until warmer weather arrives, our climate doesn’t afford that luxury. Instead, site managers do their best to manage schedules and expectations but need to work around snowfalls, less sunlight, and difficult working conditions.

Thawing Frozen Ground

When construction projects need to break ground, technology and time work together to thaw Minnesota’s frozen ground, which can be frozen as deep as 6 feet down. Products that fit the bill include electrically heated blankets,surface-heating units, or a system of underground hoses filled with antifreeze.

Complications from Snow

Dealing with winter’s snow not only messes with schedules but presents safety and logistical challenges for a construction site. Snow needs to be completed removed or melted before workers can go on roofs or elevated surfaces. OSHA recommends a comprehensive snow removal plan as well as several specific tips for avoiding injury.

Concrete

In cold temperatures, there is a danger of concrete either freezing before it can cure or taking much longer to fully set. To combat this, hot water and accelerators can be used in the mix to achieve that 500 psi strength.

Workers’ Comfort and Safety

Not only does the work site need to be kept free of ice and snow for the safety of the workers, these individuals need to have the warmest clothing possible, including thermal outerwear and proper boots. It is recommended to provide workers with a warm, dry shelter for taking breaks, and to encourage everyone to watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Although difficult, keeping construction projects on track during the Minnesota winter is possible. From projects like the US Bank Stadium to the new house down the street, construction crews are fighting the elements in some of the harshest conditions in the country.

At Miller Architects, we finish custom design/build projects no matter the time of year. Visit our website to learn more.