How’s the weather? This is perhaps one question a builder often asks. After all, he more than likely performs his trade while being exposed to the mercies of Mother Nature. Once he answers this question, he may then ask “What do I do about the weather?” We all know that nobody can control the weather. But a diligent builder can learn to control its effects.
Weather delays are a common woe of a builder. Commonly, construction contracts refer to “inclement weather.” The most common inclement the entire spectrum of possible weather – from extreme heat, extreme cold to endless rain. Often, however, construction contracts do not define what inclement weather actually means. How hot is too hot to work? How much rain is needed before it is unsafe to work?
A diligent builder, in order to protect his contractual rights and comply with his work health and safety obligations, uses several tools to deal with inclement weather.
- Know your contract. You have to understand what constitutes inclement weather under your contract and the steps you have to take when encountering weather delays. These usually include issuing a notice of delay and then an extension of time claim. Contract terms also lay down strict timeframes and time bars.
- Investigate and use sound judgment. Construction sites vary. Work performed for each day also varies. For example, you cannot perform outdoor work in 40°C weather, but you can do indoor work with a fan installed. In all instances, you have to inspect your work site and take into account environmental factors as well as the risk to health and safety. Use sound judgment and asses the conditions – when you feel it is unsafe to work, go ahead and claim for inclement weather delay.
- Collect and store the right information. Often, your customer requires you to prove the existence of inclement weather events. You may use simple and inexpensive tools like your phone’s camera and take pictures of your construction site. You can take this a step further and keep a site diary. You may also look at the Bureau of Meteorology website and collect weather information. You may notice however that not all cities or suburbs have a Bureau of Meteorology weather station, so the weather data may not be accurate for your own construction site. This is where your additional information – such as your photos – can help prove your claims.
- Communicate with stakeholders. One of the key strategies to keeping a sustainable business in construction is through having a good reputation as a reliable builder. To do this, you must have good inter-personal skills and professionalism. Whenever you encounter a weather delay – or any other kind of delay – it is always important to keep channels of communication open. Meet with your customers, subcontractors and other trades. Coordinate and schedule your efforts to manage the delay with the least costs and at the highest productivity.
The weather is an unavoidable mistress of the construction industry. And like most mistresses, she is fickle and demanding. However, with the right strategies and tools, a careful builder can navigate around his inclement weather risks.