Strict health and safety regulations have to be met on building sites and if weather conditions reach a critical level then operations necessarily cease. “weather can affect many aspects of a construction project, from site work to worker discomfort” explains industry expert J. Crissinger. Indeed, there are many different weather events that could impact on a construction project, including hot and dry weather, cold weather, heavy downpours, high winds and thunderstorms. I will be examining the effects of each of these in more detail in the next instalment of the Weather2 blog.
However, in this article I will be discussing how weather, more broadly speaking, affects the construction industry and how you can mitigate its impact. A study published in Real Estate Economics identifies two distinct ways in which weather impacts on projects. One is the ‘seasonal effect’, with activity generally slowing down during the colder months. Contractors attempt to make allowances for this when they plan a project, although the severity and duration of the bad weather is impossible to predict. This is because long range forecasting (longer than a several days in advance) is notoriously inaccurate, a phenomenon explained by the chaos theory.
The second influence is the ‘unseasonable effect’, which is even harder to anticipate and make allowances for. Unseasonably cold weather can result in downtime during a contract period, which is bad news for contractors and developers. During this period of inactivity the project is losing money and wasting resources. Even worse, a delay to the completion of the project threatens to throw the firm’s reputation into jeopardy. According to Coulson and Richard: “…Housing starts and completions have important dynamic components in their regeneration processes. Thus any shock (like a weather shock) will have on this account, substantial, long-lasting effects.”
However, the good news is that in some circumstances a spell of unseasonable weather can have positive effects on the project. Coulson says “…warm weather (say) in cold months in cold regions, does have a significant favourable impact on housing starts.” The key, of course, is to anticipate the temperate weather early enough to fully utilize it. This is why a forecasting service specifically designed to meet the needs of the building and construction industry is such a key tool for anybody tasked with project managing and planning for periods of downtime. Here is a link for more information on this service: http://www.myweather2.com/business/weather-decisions/construction.aspx
Remember, weather cannot be controlled. However, it can be prepared for and made the most of. Crissinger concludes “Proper preparation, adjustment, and reaction to local weather will influence the success of a construction project and the completed building.”
Crissinger, Joseph L, ‘Design and Construction VS. Weather’, 2005
Coulson and Richard, the dynamic Impact of Unseasonable Weather on Construction Activity, Real estate Economics, ’96.