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Winter-Proof Your New House Plan: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.

Published December 16, 2014

If you live anywhere in the Northeast or Upper Midwest, chances are you will be getting quite a bit of snow during the winter. It may even be rougher for those living in the eastern half of the country. According to The Farmers’ Almanac, “the eastern third of the country will experience colder-than-normal temperatures this winter.” This includes areas from New England and as far west as the lower Ohio River and Mississippi River Valley and down to Florida.


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 bit 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).


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. The following tips from The Plan Collection (www.theplancolleciton.com) could save you time and money.


Footing. Each area has their own codes for an acceptable footing and foundation of a home. The footing must be installed below the frost line.


Heavy-duty materials.  When your area gets extreme snow you must use what are known as heavy-duty construction materials that can withstand this kind of weather, especially on the roof of your new home plan.  Why?  Because cold temperatures causes wood framing to expand and contract; even the paint come off faster than in other climates. The roof must be able to stand up to the heavy weight of the accumulated snow and the freezing and melting as the outside temperature changes.


Insulation. Although adding extra insulation upfront will cost more, it will pay for itself in the long run via lower utility bills and a much warmer, cozier atmosphere. Make sure to build your new home using extra foam or fiberglass insulation. This outweighs having to spend more money on wood for a fireplace or paying for high heating bills.


A pantry for extra food storage. When there is heavy snowfall, people cannot get out to buy groceries, therefore your new house plan needs an extra-large pantry or food storage space.


Beautiful snowy views. Don’t forget when you are designing your home to take advantage of the great snowy views when you live in a cold climate. Plan your home with picture windows hat capture the winter views.


Winter hazards around the home. Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, noted the I.I.I., and can include burst pipes, wind damage or ice dams caused by the heavy weight of snow. What’s more, melting snow can also cause damage to your property.


Seal outside walls and foundations. Make sure to cover cracks by using caulking to protect water pipes and make sure that skylights have the proper weather stripping to prevent snowmelt from seeping in. 


Trim dead branches off of trees. Avoid the wind, ice or snow from causing weak branches to break off, possibly injuring anyone on your property.


Clean out the gutters. Make sure to remove any debris from gutters. This is where melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, a condition where water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.


Install gutter guards. These prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and back into the ground.


Protect your home’s exterior. Never let water from melting snow get behind the exterior stucco, sheathing, bricks or siding, or the structure and wood framing could get wet. This exterior structure must be built to repel water. Or of water does get in, the water vapor needs to be able to escape. Repeated wetting and drying leads to rot.


Clear snow away from windows or doors. Melted snow around the home’s openings could lead to mold issues later on.


Remove ice dams. This is caused by the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof that prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. Worse, the backed up water behind the dam can leak you’re your and damage to the insulation, ceilings, and walls. Make sure to prevent a dam from forming by always removing snow from the roof.


Clear walkways and stairs. But do not use salt on concrete walkways or driveways or it will eat through concrete and cause cracking. Look for the new eco-friendly products without harmful chemicals.


Air vents. Make sure snow is away from any air vents for furnaces and hot water tanks.


Always hire professionals to remove large snow deposits from roofs to avoid damage to the home’s siding gutters and insulation.


For more information on house plans please visit https://www.theplancollection.com



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