Many projects are completed late so my last two posts focused on project delays. The first; ’10 reasons your project is behind schedule’ looked at delays caused by the contractor and the second post; ‘Is your client delaying your project?’ considered delays created by our clients.
Many readers raised bad weather as a major cause of delays. Yes, inclement weather can seriously delay projects, but in many cases should we not have made allowance for some of the weather events?
Contractors are an eternally optimistic bunch and never seem to allow for any weather related impacts on construction projects. What, are you really going to work on a twelve month long project and think you won’t encounter rain, winds, summer, and winter at some stage in the course of your project!
If you have 500mm (20 inches) of rain in 3 months it will almost certainly disrupt your project. But, if the average for that region is 500mm for those 3 months we shouldn’t be surprised and we should have made allowance for rain disruptions in our schedule and taken mitigating measures to reduce the impact of the rain on construction work.
Contractors often put the blame on clients for their unreasonable schedules and say it’s impossible to allow additional time for delays caused by rain – average rainfall which will almost certainly occur! Well that’s professional suicide if you knowingly accept a schedule which doesn’t allow for weather conditions which we can expect in that region during the time you will be constructing the project – weather conditions which will almost certainly occur. Instead of knowingly risking your project and betting against weather events not occurring, even though they happen on average, you might consider taking on the odds at your local casino.
But some contractors do make their life even harder. Is it possible to at least avoid some of these weather delays?
How does inclement weather impact our construction projects?
Many only see weather disruptions as the direct time lost during the bad weather. Unfortunately some events can cause damage to partly completed structures which could take days or weeks to repair. Recovering from one hour of rain could take days while we pump work areas dry, clean debris and wait for materials to dry out. Adequate insurance can cover us for some of the damages but they usually don’t cover for the delays caused to the project.
There are a number of measures contractors can take to at least mitigate some of the delays caused by bad weather.
We should also consider the weather risks to activities happening off-site. Items being manufactured off-site may be hampered by poor weather. Will your supplier be able to continue manufacturing if they experience poor weather? I’ve often suffered delays because suppliers couldn’t paint the items because of wet weather. Choosing an alternate supplier that has covered manufacturing facilities may be more expensive but could avoid the risk of poor weather impacting delivery.
Understand your transport networks and how poor weather can disrupt these. Sometimes it pays to keep sufficient stock or get materials in earlier to avoid disruption caused by heavy rains. We have had projects cut-off from major centres for days.
We can almost guarantee that most projects will be impacted by inclement weather. In most cases this shouldn’t be an excuse for delays, although unfortunately these days more projects seem to be interrupted by extreme weather events which couldn’t have been foreseen.
We can prevent, or at least mitigate many of the delays by understanding the weather patterns in the area and allowing for these expected weather disruptions in our schedule. Proper planning can also mean that weather dependent activities are scheduled for times when better weather can be expected. We can also implement mitigating measures to reduce the damage and return the project to full production as quickly as possible.
Contractors shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the responsibility of extreme weather events or those that couldn’t have been reasonably expected. They should therefore be cautious in accepting contracts where they could be liable for these delays.
Much of what I've said seems very basic, yet, almost certainly some contractors won't put bad weather mitigation in place, and their project will be delayed.
How has inclement weather impacted your project? Are weather disruptions a major cause of delays for your projects?
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