15th April 2016

Construction project management: coping with adverse weather conditions

The UK may not have to put up with monsoons and decade long droughts, nor months of complete darkness, but adverse weather conditions still bring our country to a standstill. Whilst many of our industries operate whatever the weather, in construction, we’re a little more reliant on the elements to complete projects on time. 

Construction project management: coping with adverse weather conditions

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Of course, this is costly for many construction companies. Contracts are often unsympathetic to the impact of high winds or extreme heat, and at best, contractors may gain an extension from the client – but rarely any form of compensation for the extra expense.

Today on the blog, we examine how to restrict the cost of adverse weather conditions, and how to increase your chances of gaining an extension or compensation from a client.

Weather forecasting

Many organisations, including the Met Office, offer forecast data specifically for the construction industry. These allow you to check the chance of precipitation, the average temperature and wind speed, and other variables for the construction period. Decades worth of data are drawn on to help produce location-specific reports into the type of weather you can expect and plan for during the project.

This data can be invaluable in helping you plan when to carry out weather-sensitive tasks.

Training and preparation

It’s often worth investing in protective materials to help keep your site safe during adverse weather conditions, whilst also preventing key materials and machinery from becoming damaged by the elements. Again, use past data to try to estimate what kind of protective measures you’ll need to take – it’s far preferable to have tarpaulins and protective sheeting on site before the weather hits than it is to transport it and erect it in a rush.  It doesn’t hurt to remind site staff of how best to shield materials from the elements, including what should be prioritised if cover is limited.

Exceptional adverse weather conditions

Different contracts contain different clauses about what the contractor is entitled to if adverse weather hits a project – some are scientifically precise, some are incredibly vague. Contractors should record weather information over the course of the project and compare this with the site’s typical weather during the time period.

  • Many contracts only allow for extensions (or compensation) if the following conditions are met:
  • The adverse weather is on average likely to occur less frequently than once every ten years.

The above holds true when the weather conditions for the entire calendar month are taken into account. For example, a short burst of exceptionally heavy rainfall that is disruptive for a few days may be insufficient if the rest of the month is dry.

  • It can be proven that the weather caused a delay.
  • The contractor took all reasonable measures to avoid the delay.

Contractors must also notify the client within the timescales outlined in their contract.

It should also be noted that some contracts only consider the impact of low temperatures, rainfall and snow – ignoring the potential effects of high winds or periods of extreme heat.

Regardless of what your contract says about adverse weather conditions and compensation, it’s important to keep records of how the weather impacts your projects. Limit the impact of any weather-related delays by using construction software to reassign your resources and staff more efficiently.

Want more info? Find out about Evolution’s Plant Management function.

This post doesn’t constitute legal advice – we’ve written it for your information only.


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