Fall Foundation

mountain town architecturePreparing for Winter

Anyone wishing to build a home in a Colorado mountain town must realize there is a limited construction season. This holds especially true in the resort community of Steamboat Springs, where winter seems to dominate the landscape for an average of 4 1/2 months every year. The construction trades are well aware that April through November is when building generally takes place and is considered their “busy season”.

An average home size of 3,000 sq. ft. takes approximately 12 months to complete. This means that as soon as the snow melts and spring runoff begins, everyone is anxious to begin excavation and foundation work. Once in the ground, this work is followed by framing, plumbing, mechanical and electrical, insulation, etc., and before we know it the summer season has quickly passed and winter is soon approaching. Ideally, the project will be “dried in” by Thanksgiving in order to avoid outdoor winter construction costs i.e. weather tenting and propane heating among others.

One possible alternative to ease the intensity of the summer building season (and hopefully find more competitive pricing from subcontractors!) is to implement a fall foundation.

If architectural plans are being finalized over the summer months (usually not a crunch time as all spring starts are underway), the General Contractor is able to solicit excavation and concrete bids for a fall project, when these two trades have typically wrapped up their spring jobs and are looking to fill a void in their schedule. That said, it’s quite possible more competitive bids will be obtained late summer opposed to spring.

After proper winter protection of the foundation and backfill, an early spring could allow a framing crew to get started as early as March; a time when most framing contractors would be anxious to have work. What this modified construction schedule further accomplishes is getting trades placed on the job earlier before the ‘busy season’, resulting – hopefully – in a much more economical project because theses sub-contractors are competing for work at a time when they normally have little to none.

Today is November 6, and as I’m about to post this blog on fall foundations, snow is gently falling and quickly piling up out my window. This week likely marks the end of another fair-weather construction season, and the beginning to ‘lets-get-that-project-we’ve-been-dreaming-of-started’ season. And while there are certainly advantages to the fall foundation, now is the ideal time to get your ideas on paper to capture next summer’s construction window. So drop into your favorite steamboat architect’s office: Mountain Architecture Design Group!