How to Prevent Construction Weather Delays

A lot goes into planning a construction project, from the basic design to gathering a team and collecting supplies. For every plan you make, there are at least two things that can go wrong, and sometimes there are variables in play that you can’t control.

The weather is an example of the latter. As much as we would love to guarantee warm, dry days that are perfect for working outdoors, we have no control over the whims of Mother Nature.

What we can do is prepare and be ready for anything that fickle spirit might throw at us. How can we prevent construction weather delays?

Understand Weather Patterns in Your Area

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when it comes to preventing weather delays in the construction industry, information is your best ally.

Most construction companies operate in a relatively localized area, so take the time to study and understand your locale’s weather patterns. If you work on projects around the country, understanding meteorology can help you make informed decisions about working through each type of weather you might encounter, or whether you might need to shut down your operation.

There will be some situations where you will always want to shut down, such as during severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and snow, or hurricanes and tornadoes, just to name a few. Some of these are less common than others, but you still need to be prepared for anything that could happen on your work site.

Make Safety a Priority

The biggest problem with working through poor weather conditions is safety. Rain and snow make surfaces slippery, increasing the likelihood of slip-and-fall accidents. Lightning becomes a serious concern, especially for anyone working on upper floors or near metal scaffolding that might attract a lightning bolt.

Even the exterior temperature can impact job site safety. Cold weather creates the risk for frostbite and hypothermia, while extremely high temperatures increase your employees’ risk of heatstroke and dehydration.

Preventing construction delays is essential, but not at the expense of your team’s safety. Paying close attention to daily weather conditions can make it easier to keep your team safe.

Include Clauses for Weather in Contracts

If you work in an area where severe weather is typical, delays are almost inevitable. Instead of letting these problems sneak up on both you and your client, include clauses in your contract that allow for delays in the event of severe weather or dangerous conditions.

You may never end up needing to invoke these clauses, but it’s better to have them in place in case Mother Nature decides to throw a temper tantrum and throw a wrench into your plans.

Having a contract lawyer assess your finished contract before either side signs on that dotted line is always recommended.

Make a Financial Plan for Construction Delays

When you’re creating a cost projection for a new project, the ultimate goal is to understand exactly what you’re going to need for any variable that might arise.

This plan should include delays caused by severe weather. If your job site is shut down because of a blizzard or hurricane, you are still responsible for salaries, leases, and other expenses, even though you’re not bringing any money in.

Include a cushion in your cost project for weather-related construction delays. If you don’t need it, then it’s just some extra padding for your bottom line when you complete the project. But if you do end up needing it, it can help protect you from going over your cost projection while you wait for the weather to clear.

Employ New Technology

Construction management software isn’t brand-new, but it is easily one of the most valuable tools in your tool belt for preventing weather-related project delays.

With a click or a keystroke, you can send weather reports, schedule changes, or other vital information to everyone on your team. This includes everyone from the workers on-site to clients and stakeholders, so everyone is on the same page regarding the weather and any potential scheduling delays.

Using construction management software may not help you prevent a delay, but that’s only because we haven’t invented software yet that can control the weather.

What it can do is help you make the best decision about how to proceed and keep everyone in the loop without spending your entire morning making dozens of phone calls or sending out mass text messages.

You may find you can use it to keep some aspects of the project moving forward, such as prefabricated construction, which happens indoors, while you wait for the weather to clear.

Be Ready for Anything

Mother Nature can be a fickle beast, and even the best forecasting equipment in the world can’t always tell what she’s going to throw at us.

Maybe you’re working in the Midwest, where any dry summer day could find you taking shelter from a dust storm. Perhaps you work in the Southeast, where you’ll see a 20-minute thunderstorm every afternoon that shows up with such regularity that you can schedule your lunchbreak around it.

Whatever the case, the best rule of thumb for preventing weather delays in the construction industry is to be ready for anything. Predicting the weather is challenging enough, and changing it is impossible. But we can be prepared and have plans in place for any and all contingencies.

Make safety your priority, study the weather patterns in your region or any regions where you’ll be working, and be ready for anything. If you’re prepared for everything, nothing can ever surprise you.

Author: Rose Morrison is a freelance writer in the construction industry and the managing editor of Renovated.