Weather clauses: causing a storm in construction contracts

This blog explores how adverse weather events and conditions can affect construction projects and, as a contractor, what you can do to mitigate the associated risks.

It’s commonplace that most construction contracts contain clauses which outline how projects and their stakeholders deal with adverse weather conditions. These events usually incur an extension of time and/or an increase in prices for construction projects. Depending on the form of contract, the risks associated with weather events may be a client risk or a risk that the contractor owns.

It’s worth noting that the clauses don’t just cover drastic conditions such as floods and heavy snow; in fact, conditions such as strong winds, rain and lower temperatures are also covered, as these can affect things like lifting activities, use of materials, ground conditions and safety of workers on-site.

It extends further into related disruptions to vehicles on roads, railways and ports, creating costly delays delivering supplies - and even making it difficult for workers to get to the construction site.

With this in mind – let’s have a think about how you, the contractor, can look to mitigate the risks in your construction contracts when it comes to dealing with our unpredictable weather and the associated clauses.

Resequencing your works

Simply resequencing the stages of the construction project before you start is a way you can ensure the weather doesn’t impact completion times. Simply planning work around colder and warmer times is just one small way you can reduce the risks and ensure that work is less likely to be postponed.

Consider alternative materials

In recent years, there has been increased pressure to source and use more sustainable materials in the construction industry. While looking to source sustainable products – identifying materials that can be installed during adverse weather conditions could be another change that can have a bigger impact on the wider project.

In situ vs. off-site construction

When planning your work, consider in situ vs off-site construction. Opting for in situ installations can be another small adjustment that could be better in unpredictable climates. For example, in situ concrete formed on-site will not require the same use of cranage on-site as pre-cast modules would. Conversely, using components manufactured off-site in factory conditions can enable productivity to continue through periods of adverse weather.

In conclusion...

It’s vital that you identify which party carries the risks associated with adverse weather conditions. If the client carries the risk, this is better for you as they will likely cover the cost and time elements that are impacted.

However, it is important to remember that, as the contractor, you still carry a responsibility to mitigate THEIR risks. Being proactive in your approach to reducing weather-related risks and fully understanding your contract before signing on the dotted line is imperative to avoid timely and costly disputes in the future.

Should you need commercial support in connection with a weather event on one of your projects – or want more clarity about a construction contract and how you can mitigate adverse weather risks, contact us today for a consultation, and we will be happy to advise you further.

Meet the team...

Graeme Cochrane is Director of Construction Consultancy Services at BWL Consulting.

Graeme is a chartered civil engineer and chartered surveyor and brings large amounts of value to the team. He is experienced in offering support and guidance to businesses in construction and engineering. He is happy to talk to you about your requirements, and offer advice and support over a free consultation.

Request a call from him today by clicking the button below and completing the online form.

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If you need support or advice regarding a construction project, contact a member of our Construction Consultancy Services team and we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Simply click the button below and complete our online form.

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