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Erecting these shelters can help you avoid weather-related delays on exterior homebuilding projects

This sheltering structure, made of 2-by-4 framing and plastic sheeting, allows workmen to lay concrete blocks in cold and rainy New Hampshire weather to keep a job moving forward. (Tim Carter/TNS)
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You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage “Time is money.” If ever there’s a time when it’s true, it’s now. The talons of inflation are digging into your wallet, purse and budget with respect to any home improvement project. The sooner you get any job done, the less it’s going to cost. Period.

I’m about to share with you some stories that should inspire you and your contractor to keep working. Don’t let him tell you the weather’s going to cause this or that delay. It’s pure poppycock.

My first lesson in how to get around weather delays happened almost half my lifetime ago. Thirty-three years ago, I subscribed to every home building and remodeling magazine I could find. The World Wide Web — what we now depend on as a repository of images, videos and all sorts of technical information — was merely a glint in the eye of the tech industry. I consumed tips and tricks from publications and books like you might pop peanut M&Ms in your mouth.

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One of my favorite magazines was Fine Homebuilding. I started subscribing around Issue 23 or so. I’d read each issue cover to cover, and it helped that I had a photographic memory. I’d store snapshots of the photos in the magazine in my tiny gray cells that I’d use to help me do things each day on my job sites.

I’ll never forget when I turned over to the rear cover of Issue 51 of the magazine. There were four photographs showing how a new house was being built in the Hamptons on Long Island in the middle of winter under a giant inflatable structure. Mind you, this was 1988!

Can you imagine that? The builder was no fool. He knew that at least 30 percent of each day’s worth of productivity for each craftsman could be gobbled up dealing with Mother Nature. It was to his benefit, and that of the owner, to get the house built as fast as possible. Fortunately, the builder had access to an inflatable structure that used to cover a tennis court. It was a win-win all the way around. The house stayed dry during construction; the workers weren’t miserable and were safer; and the owner got a much-better-built house. I share this to show you it’s possible to do what seems impossible!

Twelve years ago a special painting crew was sent to my house to satisfy a warranty claim on my windows. They had to do extensive work to remove the window sashes and then paint parts of the remaining frames with a very special automotive fade-resistant paint.

The three painters had a huge trailer that was a traveling workshop with all the special spray-painting equipment. It was also filled with every imaginable tool they might need for any situation. One day rain was in the forecast. The painters, in a matter of minutes, fabricated a movable lean-to out of a sheet of heavy translucent plastic and lumber that was in the trailer.

They constructed the lean-to so it tucked up perfectly under the roof overhang and extended far to the left and right of their work area so no rain would get inside my house or fall on the window frames they needed to paint. It took them less than 30 minutes to construct the lean-to. Clever indeed, and it allowed them to get the job done a day early.

Two months ago, a Seattle entrepreneur scheduled two phone consultation calls with me. He was about to start building a wood foundation for a stunning cedar shed kit he purchased online. It just so happens this time of year, the fall can be very wet in the Northwest.

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He asked me how he could keep the project moving and not allow the days and days of rain to put the project behind or get the cedar wet. I told him how he could build a very simple pup-tent design using a giant fiberglass tarp, some rope, and a few 4-by-4 posts. He built an inverted V shelter in less than two hours that was both wind- and rainproof. He sent me photos of the finished shed under the tarp. It brought a smile to my face, to say the least.

Lastly, here in my town in rural New Hampshire, work has been going on for months on a foundation for a giant new garage and service center for the town public works trucks.

Two weeks ago, I saw workmen building an ingenious triangle-shaped structure around the poured foundation. It was done to create a warm environment for laying concrete blocks. The project is months behind schedule because of a pier-drilling mistake, so not a day can be lost to the weather.

The laborers did a fantastic job building this simple structure from sheets of plastic and some 2-by-4s. It turned out to be windproof, and the concrete block thought it was being laid in June it was so balmy under the plastic with the heaters on.

Should you decide to build shelters as I just described, keep the wind in mind. You must be sure your structure doesn’t blow over or get ripped to shreds. There are plenty of online videos out there that give you tips on how to prevent this. Good luck and get 'er done!

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