Reducing the Impact of Weather on Construction Schedules

Weather happens. Planning for and around it is key to reducing downtime and saving money.  

Weather delays equal money lost. So do wind-toppled cranes that cause property damage or fatalities, mold that develops when interiors are exposed to damp conditions and collapsed or flooded excavations.

Tracking the weather is essential to knowing what’s coming — and postponing certain work accordingly. But the strategies below can also help you avoid or at least mitigate the effects of weather-related delays.

Start with smart scheduling. Look up several years’ worth of past weather in the jobsite area so you have some idea what to expect in terms of rain, snowfall, temperature, etc. Plan to have earthwork complete and structures dried in before the rainy season or winter weather begins. When creating the schedule, allow time for the occasional, inevitable weather-related delay.

Check the contract. Make sure it allows for extra time in case of an unusually severe weather event. Note that requests for additional time typically must be made in writing and submitted along with evidence of the delay, such as National Weather Service reports showing rainfall exceeded the seasonal average. Failure to do so can result in monetary penalties for failing to meet the original deadline.

Consider alternative methods of construction. During hurricane season in Florida, for example, you might plan to prefabricate certain elements of the work offsite (and indoors) to help you avoid delays.

Implement physical controls to reduce damage. Create berms around excavations and trenches so they don't flood. Store loose materials and reinforce any work in danger of collapse during high winds. Use a weather-resistant cover like polythene sheeting to cover unfinished roofs, other unfinished work and stored material that can be damaged by rain or snow.

By understanding and planning for the weather patterns in the project area, building weather-related downtime into the schedule, and tracking incoming bad weather and taking relevant precautions, you can weather any storm with less impact to the schedule and the bottom line.