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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Published: 2/9/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Winter puts freeze on area construction, contractors worry about effect of delays

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
This winter’s subzero temperatures and snowfall have thrown contractors and builders off their schedules, such as finishing this home in the Summerlyn Ridge subdivision in Bedford Township. This winter’s subzero temperatures and snowfall have thrown contractors and builders off their schedules, such as finishing this home in the Summerlyn Ridge subdivision in Bedford Township.
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Already having messed with roads, school schedules, and the local economy, this season’s wrathful winter is claiming another victim: the local construction industry.

Record snow and recurring single-digit and subzero temperatures have created havoc this year with contractors and construction firms who have seen projects delayed or drawn out because of extreme working conditions.

The scenario is in extreme contrast to the last two years, when the local construction industry benefited greatly from mild winters.

“Speaking of construction in general, it’s really set things back. There’s going to be a delayed schedule later on this spring,” said Scott Hayes, vice president of general contractor A.A. Boos & Sons Inc. in Oregon.

“Right now, companies should be looking at engineering plans for a project and thinking, ‘What am I going to be doing this spring?’ And no one even wants to think of that right now,” Mr. Hayes said.

“When the spring comes, I think it’s going to be a real frenzied mad rush to get projects done. There’s just a lot of projects to get done,” he said.

And those projects may be set back even further into the spring and summer because of a pressing need to use contractors to fix the area’s roads, which have been damaged severely by the harsh winter.

“Roads, that’s going to be the priority as opposed to some other infrastructure projects,” Mr. Hayes said.

Toledo’s Willson Builders Inc., which was hired to build a Toledo Fire Department station at Bush and Erie Streets downtown, keeps getting delayed or stymied in its attempts to work on the project.

“Everything we do takes two to three times as long,” Willson project manager Kevin Skotynsky said.

“Some weeks we spend more time clearing off snow and getting the structure enclosed than we do actually doing work.”

The project manager said that, luckily, workers got enough of the building enclosed before the bad weather arrived.

“And all the [subcontractors] have been very cooperative. We’ve been able to keep people flexible. and if we can’t work outside, we move to do work inside,” he said.

But Mr. Skotynsky admits the weather has been a supreme hindrance. The project is on schedule and will be finished in May, he said, but it would be well ahead of schedule had the weather been milder or just a little more cooperative.

“We were not expecting this bad of a winter. This winter has just been so miserable,” Mr. Skotynsky said.

“We made a lot of progress because we were able to put up temporary walls, use temporary heat, and temporary double-fill windows,” he said.

“But we’ve burned through most of our temporary-heating and temporary-enclosures money,” Mr. Skotynsky said.

“We never expected it to be quite like this. We’ve probably burned through three times our normal budget, but that’s the nature of how it goes. People go outside to work for a few days, and then we’re right back inside.”

The cold has delayed by nearly a month and a half attempts by Willson Builders to add concrete floors to the fire station project.

Mr. Skotynsky said workers can’t thaw the ground enough to pour concrete and have it cure properly.

“And we’re also trying to get underground plumbing and electrical work done. But for that we need to thaw the floors and we can’t do that,” he said.

Weather has stymied Willson Builders on the new fire station on Bush and Erie. Project manager Kevin Skotynsky says he hopes for a break in the weather. Weather has stymied Willson Builders on the new fire station on Bush and Erie. Project manager Kevin Skotynsky says he hopes for a break in the weather.
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“If the weather had been cooperative we’d have been well ahead of schedule, and all that would have been left is outside paving and landscaping come spring,” Mr. Skotynsky said.

“If we can get even a little break in the weather eventually we’ll be sitting good. But who knows?”

Jamie Wietrzykowski, owner of 4 Guys and a Roof LLC, a roofing and remodeling contractor, said the weather also is frustrating residential remodelers and contractors.

“We still do work, weather-permitting, but everything takes so much longer,” Mr. Wietrzykowski said.

His company recently had a job tearing off a roof at an Ottawa Hills home.

“It was supposed to be two days. But that stretched into two weeks due to the weather,” he said.

While workers dress for the extreme cold, Mr. Wietrzykowski said workers’ equipment cannot be protected as easily.

“They dress for it. But it’s the equipment that doesn’t last,” he said “The air compressor will freeze up, and then your nail guns don’t work.”

Work still can be done when the temperature is above 20 degrees, but below that, it’s impossible, he said.

“Once you get below that, you can’t do much of anything. The shingles turn to concrete and you can’t cut them, the equipment freezes up, and there’s just no point in being out there,” Mr. Wietrzykowski said.

The snow and ice also have made working on roofs much more treacherous, he said. But surprisingly, the cold and snow have generated more work for companies like 4 Guys and a Roof.

“We’re actually a lot more busy because of icing and leaks where people have never had them before. Most of it is due to extreme ice damming and a lot of gutters that are sagging.”

Ice dams are a buildup of ice on roofs that cause water damage to the building and contents if water leaks through the roof.

“We’re doing a lot of roof repairs, ice and snow removal, and emergency repairs,” Mr. Wietrzykowski said.

A.A. Boos & Sons also has had its fair share of ice-dam repairs and other emergency repairs from clients, including refineries and manufacturers, Mr. Hayes said.

“We’re doing rebuilds where there were pipes that burst and water damage,” he said.

“There’s also opportunities with snow removal. We’ve got a lot of equipment and a couple of the clients, like the BP Husky refinery, are places where we have 40 or 50 guys there anyway.

“We’ll get called in to clear their roadways and other areas.

“This has probably been the busiest winter I can remember doing snow removals,” Mr. Hayes said.

“Normally our guys who are driving an excavator or a Bobcat are busy anyway. But instead of moving dirt, they’re moving snow.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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