Depending on where you live, the cold winter months can cause more wear-and-tear to your new home than just about any other season of the year. Cold winter months can begin as early as October and remain long into May. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), people can protect their houses from freezing temperatures and save quite a lot of money. In fact, winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses.
And in case you are wondering … the biggest seasonal snowfall on record was set at Mount Baker in Washington State, where 1,140 inches, or 95 feet of snow, was recorded at the Mount Baker Ski Area from July 1, 1998, to June 30, 1999, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
It's a constant challenge to keep the harsh elements outside while keeping things warm and comfortable inside—and not only that, without proper foresight in building your home, the weather can take a heavy toll over time, shortening the life of your roof, paint job and other protective features of your home. Even though you may not be building a new home anywhere near Mount Baker in Washington State, there are still some important design considerations for those planning to build a new home in any cold climate area. Here are some helpful tips for winter-proofing your new home.
INSULATE, INSULATE, INSULATE
Simply put, the more insulation you can afford, the better. Insulating the roof is essential, but an insular layer inside the walls can also keep things warm and comfortable in the cold winter months. Insulating your new home not only keeps the inside warm in winter but also cooler in the hot summer months, adding up to significant savings on your energy bills over time.
UPGRADE YOUR WINDOWS AND DOORS
Consider upgrading to double-paned or triple-paned windows for your home for a modest increase in building costs, and consider adding glass storm doors to your external entrances. This extra step will go a long way toward keeping drafts out and keeping things warm and toasty inside. Also, don't forget to use quality sealant and caulking around windows, and add weather stripping to the doors.
CHOOSE A QUALITY FIREPLACE
Everyone loves a cozy fireplace in winter, but when not installed or used properly, your fireplace can actually vent more warm air out of the house than into it. If you install a fireplace, make sure it's installed to proper standards, make sure the damper works properly, and have the flue clean and swept periodically for maximum safety. Better yet, to increase warmth and efficiency, consider installing a wood-burning stove as an alternative to a fireplace.
PROTECT YOUR PIPES
When water pipes freeze, they can crack, causing water to leak out and cause damage your home. When designing your home's infrastructure, the further your water pipes are from the exterior, the safer they will be from freezing. Any exterior pipes should be protected with insulating wraps; if your home has a crawl space underneath, be sure to wrap any water pipes in that space as well. When the temperatures fall below freezing, let your faucets drip to help prevent the water in the pipes from sitting and freezing.
DON'T CUT CORNERS ON MATERIALS
When bringing your home plans to completion, the best way to winterproof is to use quality materials, especially on your home's exterior. If you're building with brick, make sure to use high-quality mortar; if you have exterior siding, use quality paint with a strong warranty. You might save money in the short term by using cheaper materials, but you'll spend much more later on if your mortar and paint begin to wear out after a few harsh winters.
A PANTRY FOR EXTRA FOOD STORAGE
When there is heavy snowfall, people cannot get out to buy groceries. Therefore you should be sure your new house plan has an extra-large kitchen pantry or other food storage space.
By thinking ahead and winterproofing your new home (even while you're building it), you can help ensure that you and your family stay warm and safe in the cold winter months and that your new home will stand up to the elements for many years to come. For a full selection of winter-friendly home plans, visit The Plan Collection.