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House renovation: How to cope with cold weather

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Joanne Cicarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Jason Folick of Sima Drilling keeps a fire going in a metal barrel in order to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures while working on the renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow, a 1902 farmhouse in Connecticut.

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Ah, the snow is flying and the roofers who were to start mid-December are now talking about coming in mid-January due to delays on other jobs caused by previous snows. But work at Sheep Dog Hollow, the old farmhouse we’re trying to renovate in a green and economical fashion, lumbers on (as it were.)

The carpenters have been busily preparing the exterior walls for the new energy-efficient windows, putting in new support beams, and tearing out rotted lumber and reframing where it needs to be done. In all, we’re talking about a month’s worth of labor (times four carpenters, each at a good hourly wage) that we had not expected. And now there is also the cold to deal with.

Martin’s nephew Liam O’Connor, who's a contractor in New York City, had one piece of advice for coping with the cold in January and February: “Shut the job down,” he said. “It’s too cold to work efficiently.”

Indeed, winter cold does cause construction delays. I even found a book written about the various lawsuits that have been filed by disgruntled homeowners who were furious that contractors did not get things done in a timely fashion and thus cost them extra money. (Ah, litigious America…)

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