It’s being called “snowpocalypse,” or “snowmageddon.” Whatever name you give the series of storms that has dumped more than 70 inches of snow on New England since January — enough to fill a football stadium 90 times, says The Weather Channel — the seemingly endless snow should amount to a lot of new business for replacement contractors.
Of course, first they have to weather the winter, a time for some that typically is busy.
“December was actually our best month of the year,” said Ger Ronan, owner of Yankee Home with locations throughout New England. “But now our installation has come to a halt. February has been a disaster for us. Every time I hear about another storm, it pisses me off.”
Unlike other contractors, Ronan is not set up to work in extreme winter weather. However, he’s now considering adding bathroom remodels to his slate of services so he’ll have jobs that can be done in the winter.
So far, roofing contractors seem to be getting the most business from the weird winter. As more roofs collapse under the weight of snow, roofing contractors are reporting waiting lists up to a week long for snow removals, according to the Boston Herald.
These jobs are sure to spike in the spring, too. “There’s going to come a point where they can’t put it off anymore,” said Mark Graham, associate executive director, technical services for the National Roofing Contractors Association. “The fence sitters or procrastinators will be forced to take action.”
But even for contractors who do have work now, getting to it isn’t easy. Some, like Pat Bentivegna, would even argue it’s “impossible.”
“Everything is like an ice skating rink around here,” said the president of Benco Construction in Bohemia, N.Y.
Already, the harsh winter and the strong nor’easters with winds gusts approaching 80 mph that have battered the area are creating more work for his crews in siding and shingle replacement alone. But Bentivegna expects the work to really start flowing in come spring, as ice damned roofs cause leaks, clogged gutters and basement window water intrusions.
“It’s going to get worse,” added Bentivegna, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s national chair of education. “When the meltdown comes, there’s going to be a lot of calls.”
Additionally, the frigid winter will highlight the need for other needed replacement work.
"Anytime you have a bad winter, homeowners are reminded of how drafty their windows and doors are, so it puts projects like that back on the radar,” said Tim O’Sullivan, owner of O’Sullivan Installs in Billerica, Mass.
O’Sullivan and other contractors already are taking steps to make sure that happens. For his part, O’Sullivan is putting people in place to smooth out workflow once crews can start up again. Meanwhile, Bentivegna is reaping the benefits of his handyman service, and using that to stay in touch with customers who will need his services when the big melt starts. And Ronan is already looking toward March, when he’s got a packed schedule.
In general, Graham recommends that contractors stay visible in their community and work on developing name recognition and word-of-mouth to take full advantage of the coming winter-related work this spring.
For most contractors, that can’t come soon enough.
“We had a foot and
a half last weekend, and they’re talking about more,” said Ronan as he looked
out at a 6-foot snow bank last week. “I just want it to be over.”