In areas where outside temperatures rarely fall below freezing, construction can take place at all times of the year. However, in areas such as New Jersey, where winter means less favorable conditions, most construction takes place during the summer. Nevertheless, without a snow and ice assessment, the building that you construct during the winter could have defects that do not become obvious until the temperature drops.
Such defects include drainage problems that cause damage to the building. Additionally, snow or ice formations may fall or slide off a building and cause damage to people or property below. This could potentially expose both you and the building owners to liability. According to the Whole Building Design Guide, a snow and ice assessment attempts to identify such issues and modify them before construction takes place so that they do not pose a problem once construction is complete.
What does a snow and ice assessment involve?
The goal of a snow and ice assessment is to evaluate the directionality, frequency and severity of winter storm conditions on the proposed building site. The evaluation takes into account factors including local topography, e.g., existing natural and manmade features, and historical meteorological statistics.
The assessment identifies the potential for frequent, severe hazards due to snow and ice accumulations. It is then possible for you to modify the building’s design to lessen the severity and/or frequency.
What modifications are possible?
Once the assessment has taken place, it is possible to make modifications to the design of the building. For example, you can redesign the roof to prevent snow and ice from accumulating or falling with such force. You can also change the building’s shape or orientation to prevent snow and ice from collecting.
It is important to have a snow assessment early in the planning process. Changing the design is easier than making modifications to the building following construction completion.