Preparing for Construction in a UP winter

With averages of 27.3°F and 163 inches of snowfall per year in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, commercial construction companies need to be experts in harsh winter conditions. To continue to build efficiently during the winter months, you need to be well versed in these factors:

Planning for a Winter Build’s Costs

If you need to build during winter, the budget must factor in the costs to heat the worksite. Additionally, completing the interior or exterior of the building in winter conditions is costly because the extreme cold of the UP can cause heat and fuel costs to increase temporarily, but significantly. It is best to have permanent utilities available and functioning by the time winter begins. This approach is more efficient than generators, temporary panels, and temporary heaters that require more energy and worker management.

Considerations for the Designer/Architect

Systems that can add to the budget of a winter build include masonry, metal wall panels, metal cladding, precast concrete panels, vinyl, or wood siding. The cost for these systems rises substantially due to tenting and heating the work areas and heating the materials. To avoid these winter construction costs, consider a different one that works better with winter weather.

Roofing material also needs to be considered. Certain roofing systems cannot be installed during winter months because the adhesives cannot be used below certain temperatures. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL), recommend between 40 and 85 degrees F (4 and 26 degrees C) as the best temperatures to install asphalt shingles. Rubber or vinyl roofs should not be installed in temperatures below 40 degrees.

Considerations for the Contractor

For the builder, winter construction begins in spring. Items that need to be addressed are completion of the construction documents, bid out to subcontractors and suppliers, review plans, obtain all permits, begin submittal process, approve all material, and order long lead time items. Handling these steps will allow the builder to begin construction and have the critical parts to be finished in time for the winter construction phase. It is essential to enclose the building by November 15 to heat through the winter and continue interior work through any harsh weather.

As a premier builder in the Northern Great lakes for over 100 years, Gundlach Champion practices all of these methods to assure a successful winter build. The GCI team brings over 350 years of combined experience to every commercial construction project, from new buildings to renovations. To discuss your next project, contact us at

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