One of the main causes of a delay on a construction job happens to be one of the things you have no control over: the weather. When a big thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, ice storm, or blizzard blows into town, you simply have to shut down work. Sometimes this shutdown is for a day or two, and sometimes it’s for several weeks. If you can’t control the weather, what can you to do help prevent these delays from causing conflicts in your project? Highlighted below are a few tips to help you prepare for inclement weather.
Plan for the Season
The first thing to do is plan for whatever inclement weather is coming. If you’re going into the winter months, be prepared for ice and snow. If you’re in an area that regularly gets hit by tornadoes seasonally, plan for that. Look to the past to see how bad the weather typically is and how long of a shut-down these storms usually cost.
This can also help you schedule temperature-dependent projects. Painting exteriors, for example, needs to be done when it’s warmer. If you’re going into a series of months when historically temperatures have been near freezing, you may need to let the client know painting is going to have to wait.
Include Weather Delays in the Contract
When putting together the contract for the job, be sure to include a section outlining potential weather delays and how they will be handled. This should include a potential revised deadline and what constitutes a weather-related delay. In some cases, you may need to look to an outside source like the National Weather Service in order to show the client that the delay was truly out of your hands.
You also may need to lay out how, in case of a delay, deliverables would still be accounted for, and explain to the client what a weather-related delay could mean to the project overall. You will want to show how an updated schedule will be created, including who can order such a change, who needs to approve it, and how quickly the scheduling update will be distributed to all involved personnel. There should also be a process in place to deal with dissatisfied/disappointing clients, and a clear explanation how your construction company deals with these types of situations. In many cases, this is where having weather reports from the National Weather Services could be useful.
Protect Your Equipment and Your Team
By looking at the weather forecast and at the historical weather data, you can make sure your job site and your team are ready. If you know it’s likely to rain soon, you can make certain you have tarps and other coverings at the job site to protect your equipment overnight. Your team can make certain they don’t leave anything outdoors that might freeze or, in hot months, might be affected by the higher temperatures.
You may also need to set up your construction site differently depending on the weather. During the rainy season, you may need to dig some trenches and create run-off areas for water so that your work area doesn’t flood. During tornado or hurricane season, you may need to reinforce areas so they don’t blow down.
You can also be certain that your workers have the right type of protection on hand. This means raincoats, boots, a place to warm up, sunscreen, and anything else they might need. Be sure you train your team on how to handle this type of weather, too. For example, in the hot summer months, you want to make certain everyone is taking enough water breaks so they don’t get dehydrated. Have ice melt on hand during the winter to de-ice areas so your workers won’t slip and fall.
Consider Off-Site Options
If you can’t work on-site due to the weather, look at what you can do indoors or at another location. You may be able to prefabricate parts of the project in your shop or work in an area that isn’t as muddy, wet, snowy, cold or hot. While some work may inevitably have to be delayed due to the weather, try to plan out the job so that your crew isn’t simply sitting around waiting for the job site to be accessible again. Your client will also appreciate the preparation, and will likely be more understanding if you can show that work is still progressing, even if it isn’t going as quickly as they would like.
Overall, if you plan for bad weather and build in some extra weather days into your schedule, you’ll be able to absorb the delays while still completing the project and meeting your client’s deadline. Be sure to include weather delays in the contract, have your crew trained on how to work in specific conditions, and prep the work site for upcoming bad weather. Always take into consideration the season and how the weather in your area tends to behave during that season so you can be prepared for the worst.