As hurricane season is fast approaching for many states along the United States eastern seaboard and in the south, inclement weather will soon be a fact of life. For those involved in construction projects, the forecast of an impending hurricane or tropical storm can strike fear in the hearts of all involved. Thus, during the pre-construction phase of a construction project, it is essential that bad weather is factored into the construction plan and what steps to mitigate against its impact be put in place so that the weather disruption is as minimal as possible.
TAKE TIME TO PLAN
First and foremost, a construction project schedule should have a certain number of days factored in as “inclement weather days” where it should be assumed that there will be minimal or no work on the job. By allocating a certain amount of time as weather delay, it defuses some of the anxiety felt by contractors and owners alike when a storm is forecast that will negatively impact the jobsite and productivity. If the job proceeds without a weather event and the weather delay days are not necessary, the job will finish ahead of schedule to the delight of all involved! Accordingly, in drafting the construction contract, it is important that weather delays be factored into the final construction schedule. This simple step will alleviate countless problems later in the project.
Additionally, there are some practical steps that can be taken in anticipation of bad weather on a jobsite. First, if there are materials or equipment that will be damaged by soaking rain or wind, a temporary onsite storage unit can be utilized to protect the items of concern. If utilizing temporary onsite storage is not practical due to cost or space constraints, it is wise to source protective materials to make use of if there is a weather event. Items such as protective sheeting and tarps become invaluable in preserving the integrity of building materials and equipment. It is a best practice to be proactive on maintaining even a small inventory of protective materials on site as there could be a shortage of them if a storm strikes quickly. Further, if a storm is fast approaching and even assuming protective materials are available for purchase, there might not be adequate time to obtain them, transport them to the jobsite and install them properly. Accordingly, a diligent owner and construction manager will insist that a supply of weather related protective items be maintained on site which can be accessed quickly should the need arise. Again, the importance of pre-planning for the construction protection materials cannot be understated. It is wise to incorporate a small reserve of funds for weather related protective materials into the construction contract which provision should include the allocation of cost for these items. By addressing the issue head-on during the contract drafting phase, it defuses any arguments that may arise after the job has commenced and an impending storm is threating the integrity and progress of the project.
Moreover, if there is a water related weather event, the importance of insurance cannot be understated. It is undisputed that damage and loss caused by water is the leading cause of loss on a construction jobsite. Accordingly, it is critical prior to work on a construction project, to ensure that all of the relevant and necessary insurance policies are in place. In that regard, it is a best practice to have the insurance agent or underwriter visit the jobsite and assess the extent of the work to be performed. This simple practice helps to clarify the scope of the job and ensure that adequate coverages are in place.
While weather cannot be controlled as it impacts the progress of a construction project, there are steps that a prudent and cautious owner and the contractor can take to minimize any damage prior to the onset of a weather event.
About the author:
Laura Colca is a partner in the law firm Goldberg Segalla, where she is a member of the leadership committee of the Corporate Services and Commercial Litigation practice group. Laura is also a member of the National Association of Women in Construction as well as Professional Women in Construction. Laura has counseled countless clients on all types of business transactional matters including representing owners and contractors on both private sector and public construction projects. She can be reached at 716.710.5840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Contractor Solutions, September2018
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