house in winter

Practical Building Designs for Winter

If you live in a cold weather environment and are thinking about building a new home or want to expand the structure with an addition? The information provided below will outline some basic construction designs that work well during the winter months. Additionally, structures are designed to handle the type of environment in which they are built on. As an illustration, a ranch-style house with a flat roof built in Florida would not survive the weight of the snowfall in Utah, unless you constantly shovel it after every significant snowstorm.

For homes in heavy packed snow regions like Utah, a pitched roof design will allow the snow to melt, blow, and slide off. If you don’t know how to build a pitched roof, using a professional construction service like the best builder in Logan is highly recommended. The benefit of using a quality building contractor is their ability to use the proper building materials and their knowledge of construction applications. Applications like ice and water shield, and vents that provide air flow through a roofing system, believe it or not, is an important construction design. When your roof is designed for its environment, the benefit, in the end, goes to the homeowner with a roof that can last a lifetime or more.

Tips and Construction Designs for Winter Season

Roof Designs

  • Complicated roof designs are an open invitation to future problems. Things like leaves, pine needles, ice, and snow can accumulate in certain areas or become trapped, causing major damage to your roof and interior of your home. A simple gable roof is sturdy, strong, and allows snow to shed easily.
  • Limit the number of openings in your roof. It’s important to realize, every hole that is cut into your roof can be a potential area for ice accumulation or leaks. Things like pipe vents, chimneys, and skylights need to be properly installed. Construction materials like step-flashing, sealants, and membranes are required for maximum protection.
  • The highest point on a roof is the safest place to install a vent pipe or chimney. For this reason, snow and water will follow gravity down the roof and accumulate along the eves. The top of a roof is an unlikely spot for ice and snow to accumulate and cause a leak; therefore, the reason why you see most chimneys and vent pipes at the top of a roofline.
  • When it comes to roofing materials, metal is the best durable option because the snow simply slides off, and leaks are very rare with a metal roofing system. Asphalt shingles are also great roofing materials for harsh winters. They provide years of protection and are less expensive to repair than slate and wood shingles or clay tiles.
  • Consider the design and layout of the roof to shed snow. Metal roofs are notorious for fast, unexpected snow slides. Design your roof with eves to allow proper water drainage, a place for the snow to accumulate on the ground, and to keep the snowbanks away from the windows. Additionally, when laying out your walkways, keep them three to four feet away from the exterior of the house.

Exterior Designs

  • One point that is often times overlooked is the benefit of a heating system beneath driveways and frequently used walkways. This design is sometimes neglected without thinking about the long-term benefits, and installation after the fact is often times, not even feasible. Depending on how much time and money you spend on snow removal, this design option can save on both in the end.
  • Design your frequently used walkways with hard surfaces like concrete, tar or bricks. Even though gravel driveways and paths are beautiful to look at, they can be a nightmare in the winter to shovel and plow. Additionally, design your walkways with enough room to shovel.
  • Design your decks and stairs with railings on every stairway. Stairways that are covered in ice and snow are an accident waiting to happen. A sturdy railing is something to hold on to, and it prevents a lot of slips from happening. Ice melt is another tool for ice build-up on stairways, especially in harsh winter environments.
  • Design your structure with a sheltered entrance. A sheltered entrance provides safety from the snow, and it allows a more comfortable area for visitors. It’s also a great place to remove snow-covered boots and clothing, keeping the mess out of the main part of the house. You can build a covered porch, breezeway or even a portico.

Heating Designs

  • Do you live in an environment with bone-freezing winters, but you have lots of sunlight? Why not take advantage of the free energy source from the sun and install solar panels? A solar heating system can reduce your heating bill significantly. The energy collected from the solar panels is used to heat a storage tank of liquid. This heated liquid can be used in radiant floor heating, baseboard heaters, walkways, and even driveways.
  • Some of the best heating designs for a house in cold weather climates are pellet and wood stoves. They are very efficient, clean-burning, and cost-effective solutions for either primary or secondary heat sources. Two or three strategically placed pellet or wood stoves has the potential to be the only heat source you need.
  • Design your home with larger windows on the south-side of the house. For example, picture windows will allow more natural sunlight into your home during the day. Installing smaller windows on the north side of the house will protect better against the strong winds that blow-in from the north.

Additional Winter Design Advice

If you have ever had your pipes frozen in the winter, you know how important well-insulated pipes can be. Frozen pipes can be an absolute nightmare with repairs and damage running in the thousands. Keep your pipes in insulated walls and wrap your pipes with insulation in areas where they are subject to sub-freezing temperatures. It is also a great idea to insulate the trench containing your sewer line to the septic tank to prevent sewage backup in your home. Not to mention, the cost of very expensive excavating machinery to dig up frozen earth to repair the problem.

It’s important to remember, these simple design applications for homes in harsh winter climates can save the typical homeowner hundreds of dollars in heating cost and repairs each winter. For the best results for a quality construction design that can handle frigid winters, always use the best building contractor in your area.

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