With due precautions and proper equipment nearly all construction work can be carried on in winter and at no great difference in cost. The owner may often profit by saving interest on his investment and by securing earlier use of the structure. Although equipment needed for protection and artificial heat in winter construction requires some expenditure and there may be some increase in overhead on the job due to delays from winter storms, these items often may be offset by the saving in salaries and the reduction in the contractor's general overhead. Labor in general is more efficient as skilled workmen can be more easily obtained. Although relative unit costs of labor in winter and summer vary with the class of work, the cost in winter, especially under first-class management, may be actually less than the cost at other seasons.....Building materials usually can be obtained at somewhat reduced prices because of the smaller demand.
As the methods of handling winter work develop, and as manufacturers, supply dealers, and labor take more interest in encouraging winter work, the cost can be appreciably reduced.
Home owners are the largest single class of property owners, and residential building forms the largest single class of construction. The opportunities of home owners and home builders to remedy present conditions may be taken as an example of what building owners of all classes may do.
Repair work and new construction should be classed separately for a number of reasons. Repair work of a minor character is usually paid for on a time basis; that is, the owner pays a fixed rate per hour for the services of the men engaged. When this is done during a period of inactivity in a given trade the most efficient workers are ordinarily available, and they are able to do a better job in less time than less skilled men who might perform the work during an active period.
Home owners from time to time employ building trades workers to do outside and interior painting, to put on new roofs, to make alterations and additions to plumbing systems, to overhaul and repair the heating apparatus, and to do interior remodeling, such as changing partitions and laying tile floors in bathrooms. They also require grading of grounds, the construction of driveways, and erection or enlargement of garages and other outbuildings. Then there are sidewalk repairs, laying of concrete or masonry floors in the cellars, waterproofing, replacing awnings and screens, and repairs to exterior woodwork. The time chosen by the owner for such work is of importance to himself and to the community and bears a close relation to the general cost of living.
The man who builds a home for himself wants to get the best possible house for his money, and in some cases he has to defer building until his savings accumulate. He is more vitally concerned in having his work performed economically than almost any other class of owners, but in all too many cases he "follows the crowd" and not only pays extra for the privilege but has to put up with a slower and less satisfactory job. Most home builders suffer from not having their plans and other arrangements made in advance of the time when they are ready to go ahead. But the number who consult their architect and contractor as to the best time to go ahead is increasing; and as it increases, the construction industry is able to render better service at less cost. The man who builds a house serves his own interest and the public interest by starting work at the right time. The right time usually means when other customers are not rushing into the field. Since the building of the home requires only a few months, it is not ordinarily difficult to plan the work with reference to probable labor conditions.....
Those who build houses to sell or rent have similar reasons for wishing to obtain the benefit of low building costs, but in communities where there are fixed leasing dates or where there is a demand at some particular time of the year, they must also take that into account.....