Several different factors can hold up a project on the job site, but one of the most common and uncontrollable factors is the weather. Mother nature has a mind of her own, and when it comes to finishing construction projects, she doesn't care about deadlines. Whether it be extreme temperatures, hot or cold, exceptionally wet conditions, extraordinarily windy or stormy days, snow and ice, these different conditions can negatively impact the construction process in various ways.
We have seen cold and wet conditions as of late, and as we head into the winter season, it's only going to get colder. Top the low temps off with some snow and ice accumulation, and you've made the perfect cocktail for challenging building environments. But what does this mean? What do these conditions impact and how do we combat them each year to keep our projects moving forward?
Cold Conditions – Did you know that drywall is known to shrink in cold conditions? Or that asphalt and concrete won't set correctly (or at all) below specific temperatures? In Michigan, the asphalt companies shut down for the winter each year; this means that cold weather conditions almost always halt or slow the construction process if concrete or asphalt is involved, including grout and mortar projects. Concrete slabs, foundations, brickwork, masonry, and seeding; all can be impacted by cold temperatures.
Hot & Dry Conditions – Just like in cold conditions, concrete cannot thrive in extremely hot and dry conditions. Hot & dry conditions cause the water in concrete and masonry grout to evaporate too quickly. When this happens, it compromises the strength and durability of the concrete and can lead to masonry leaks over time which causes water damage to buildings. Hot & dry conditions can also negatively affect the curing process of paint. When paint doesn't cure and dry properly, it will crack, bubble, wrinkle, or peel from the surface to which it is applied.
Wet Conditions – extremely wet conditions can affect multiple areas of construction, especially in roofing and excavation trades. Not only can it stop work due to discomfort and safety issues, but if the weather is wet enough that the ground is saturated, this can cause problems with excavating especially if the water table rises even slightly. Excavations can collapse, building finishes that are open to the elements can be damaged, silt and debris have to be cleared. Not only that, but the rain saturates materials which, particularly with earth moving jobs, can result in having to wait for said materials to dry completely before moving forward.
So why do we see these trades continuing their work throughout these nasty conditions? It is almost guaranteed that inclement weather will impact a job site in one way or another, but there are ways in which to combat some of these circumstances to keep the project moving forward. Temporary heating, tenting, blanketing, snow & ice removal; all of these are ways in which companies continue their work during the winter months. Providing a heating or cooling source, protective barriers, supplying adequate water pumps, providing temporary roads and working platforms, are even more ways in which to help the construction process in moving forward during less than ideal conditions. The best ways to prepare for extreme weather conditions in the construction industry is to anticipate, plan, project and ultimately, create the construction schedule and budget with accurate and realistic outlooks.