The Impact of Weather on Your Project

Weather is often one of the greatest interruptions in a construction worker's schedule. Regardless of how dedicated or reliable your company may be, bad weather can tie up your projects for days. Rain, wind, snow and other outdoor elements are more than minor inconveniences in the construction industry. In some cases, they can pose serious risks to your productivity and safety. While weather setbacks are common, it's important to know what they are and learn to prepare for them.

What Is a Weather Delay in Construction?

Weather delays in construction mean the inclement weather is serious enough that the project must be delayed. This delay protects the project, the construction equipment and the crew's well-being. Defining a weather delay is important since it has scheduling and compensation implications.

The degree of the weather conditions is one justification for a weather delay. Severe weather constitutes unusual conditions for the region that could harm property and personnel. Working through these conditions may damage equipment and cause injury or loss of life.

Another justification for a weather delay is in the project contract. The contract's language dictates the weather events warranting a delay or extension. Weather conditions not defined in the contract may not permit a crew leader to call for a delay.

Weather conditions and the project contract can sometimes be unclear on when a construction company can justifiably delay a project. For example, a light rain shower may be normal weather conditions for the area but can prevent construction crews from completing the electrical installation, outdoor insulation and other projects.

These four factors usually determine if the weather conditions allow for a delay:

  1. The delay meets the terms as written in the contract.
  2. The weather conditions affect the project.
  3. The weather conditions are out of the normal range for the region and the season.
  4. There is detailed documentation explaining how the weather affects a given project phase.

How Bad Weather Effects Construction Projects

Poor or extreme weather can have a variety of effects on your project. Here are some examples of how weather can affect the project timeline, equipment and crew:

  • Rain: Freshly dug areas can turn to mud, creating slippery conditions for workers and causing excavation projects to cave in. If a machine drives into these holes, it can get stuck or damaged. Rain can also inhibit certain tasks, like installing wiring and pouring concrete.
  • High winds: High winds can pose risks for people who are working up on lift platforms. For projects in high-rise buildings or on rooftops, wind can make it unsafe for your crew to work.
  • Extreme temperatures: Both cold and hot temperatures can also be dangerous for worker health, leading to hypothermia or heat stroke.
  • Hurricanes, floods and tornadoes: More extreme weather like flooding and tornadoes can severely delay projects, damage equipment and infrastructure, and risk the crew's safety.

The weather may be unpredictable, but your project schedule doesn't have to be. Maintaining an efficient work schedule throughout the year often takes some planning and flexibility. If the weather turns bad, your crew can adjust as necessary to keep the project moving forward.

6 Ways to Manage Construction Delays Due to Weather

Managing your project schedule in adverse weather is critical for protecting equipment and personnel and keeping the project on task. Follow these tips for how to deal with weather delays in construction:

1. Check the Forecast Regularly

When you work in outdoor construction, some weather setbacks are inevitable. Rather than waiting for them to pop up, it's better to take a proactive approach. Project managers and supervisors should pay attention to the weather patterns and forecasts for their area. Knowing the weather in advance allows you to adjust your schedule to avoid downtime and productivity loss.

2. Schedule Projects Around Weather Events When Possible

In many cases, you can schedule projects around the times of year that present the greatest risk. For example, digging projects are safest during the dry months.

You can also reschedule projects ahead of time if bad weather is on the way. Doing so will also ensure the safety of everyone on or around the work site, which is the top priority when you run a construction company.

3. Use Protective Gear and Resources

For both productivity and safety reasons, it's vital to make sure all your employees are prepared to work on hot, cold or rainy days. They'll need the proper clothing and footwear to protect them from the elements. Proper job site attire includes:

  • Winter clothing
  • Slip-resistant rain boots
  • Gloves
  • Hoods
  • Fluorescent coats

Other resources you can provide for your crew include:

  • Water: Make sure everyone has access to water, especially during the heat of the day.
  • Shelters: You can protect your workers by providing them with shelters where they can rest if needed.
  • Nonskid materials: Lay down nonskid materials to protect the site and prevent slipping.
  • Signs and lights: Marking pathways with signs and light towers helps your workers see where they're going.
  • Guardrails: Install guardrails to prevent falling or slipping.

4. Secure Your Project

Weather changes can impact your project materials and heavy equipment. Tools and machines are an investment, so they need weather protection to keep them in viable condition. Have a weatherproofing plan in place to secure your project if the weather worsens.

If an upcoming storm poses a threat to your job site, there are measures you can take to secure it against the elements. For example, you can:

  • Use tarps and sheets to protect partially completed projects.
  • Use hessian sheets on brickwork and large blocks.
  • Store loose tools and materials securely so they stay safe from possible wind and flooding.
  • Have water pumps on hand to eliminate excess water at the job site.
  • Keep electrical equipment rated for indoor use inside.
  • Store bricks in a cool storage area in the summer to prevent cracking.
  • Make sure masonry kits stay dry in the winter.
  • Cover flat roofs with a polyurethane liquid membrane.
  • Install a drainage system with storm drains to direct rainwater away from your job site and prevent major flooding.

5. Budget for Weather Delays

It's important to factor weather delays into the budget so you can prevent unexpected costs and damages. Budgeting for bad weather helps your construction company stay prepared — you'll have the capital on hand to cover these costs when they come up.

Bad weather can add expenses to construction projects. For example, you may need to buy:

  • More vehicle fuel for wintertime projects.
  • Extra water bottles to keep your crew hydrated in warm weather.
  • Protective sheets to cover materials and equipment from the rain.

6. Add Conditions for Weather Delays in Contracts

Make sure your contracts with your clients include declarations about weather delays, as the contract language is crucial if the season or geographic area is known for severe weather. Though your contract may not necessarily entitle your construction company to payment during a weather delay, it can protect your business from penalties, fines and wage cuts.

Preparing for weather delays with your contract can mean adding clauses for:

  • Defining acceptable delays.
  • Incorporating downtime in the project schedule.
  • Notifying the client of delays.
  • Meeting with the client regularly to discuss the project's status.
  • Recording delays and updating schedules to document the effects of the delay on the project.

Contact The Cat® Rental Store

We have a broad selection of construction equipment rentals for all your last-minute and long-term needs. If you're looking for machinery that can meet your job requirements and withstand the elements, browse through our vast inventory today. Call us at 1-800-RENT-CAT or request a quote to learn more, and rent whatever you need from people who do whatever it takes.

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