Planning for Spring Projects

On February 2, groundhog seer Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow to see his shadow and decree there shall be six more weeks of winter… bad news for anyone pining for the green buds of spring.

And yet, there is a silver lining to this cold, snowy cloud: you have a bit of extra time to plan for spring remodeling, maintenance, and home improvement projects! What types of items make sense to tackle when the ground thaws? We look primarily to outdoor projects at this time:

Maintenance and Repair

Icicles hang from the roof of a Des Moines house

Ice dams result from melted snow from the roof refreezing at the eaves

The freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on our homes and outdoor spaces.  From ice dams on the roof to cracked and heaved concrete sidewalks, ice is the enemy of construction. Springtime, after the danger of freezing has passed, is a great occasion to take stock of necessary maintenance.

  • Concrete – As melted water finds its way under sidewalks and driveways and refreezes, the expansion can cause the concrete to crack and heave.  This can lead to tripping hazards and deterioration. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as patching damage with an epoxy-based filler, installing self-leveling caulk, or jacking sunken portions up to level. Other times, when damage is more severe, cutting and replacing portions of concrete is necessary.
  • Roofing – So-called “ice dams” result when melting snow on the roof refreezes at the eaves. While hanging icicles may be beautiful at the time, eventually, the ice will work its way up under the shingles and eventually into the house. Reducing ice damming can involve an examination of air sealing, insulation, and heating systems – the resolution can be quite complex.
  • Weatherstripping and Air Sealing – Particularly in older homes, people often deal with cold drafts. At the end of the heating season, it is usually clear where drafts are coming from. The warmer weather of spring presents an opportunity to make repairs to weatherstripping around doors and windows, install new thresholds and sweeps at doors, and generally tighten up the home from the elements.
  • Painting – Assess the condition of any exterior paint in spring. Proper maintenance and repair of peeling/chipping paint will make a proper paint job last for much longer.

Outdoor Spaces

Contemporary steel arbor is softened by tall grasses and landscaping.

An arbor over the patio outside this addition helps to define space and provide shade.

The end of winter can also be a great time to think about adding to or creating outdoor spaces to enjoy in summer and fall. Depending on the scope of the project, design and construction may take months. In order to take best advantage of these projects, now is the time to start planning.

  • Decks – Wood decks and porches create a gracious transition from the house to the yard. They can be as simple as a covered landing at the door or as complex as a multi-level deck with custom railings, covered areas, and screened-in portions.
  • Patios – Patios help connect us to the landscape more closely than porches and decks. Situated on the ground, a patio is often constructed of stone, brick, or concrete (sometimes colored and stamped with a pattern to mimic stone or brick).  Lighting, landscaping and natural elements can be incorporated into the design.
  • Pergolas and Gazebos – As more formal structures, pergolas and gazebos add a sense of order. Sometimes they are attached to the home and other times they are set apart, as discrete structures in the landscape.

Best practice requires approaching these types of projects wholistically – looking not just at design and construction details for the specific project, but also how the project fits in to the broader system. How is water runoff managed? How is any new construction integrated physically and visually into the existing conditions? What impact will any changes have on the existing home, and how will those changes be addressed proactively. How can the project be designed and built to promote sustainability?


Get in the mood for Spring home improvements by visiting our Project Gallery! Then call us to talk about your vision for how to take advantage of your warm weather remodeling project.


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