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How the weather can affect your construction project

In light of the recent heatwave and now the torrential downpours, here’s some information on how different weather conditions can cause issues on your building project.

Dry and warm weather conditions are ideal when working on a construction site: not too hot, not too cold and free from rainfall. However, if the weather gets too hot and dry, this presents its own set of problems. It can be dangerous for workers to be exposed to harsh sunlight and high heat, so the priority is always to protect the workers by letting them take regular water breaks to keep hydrated, wear the appropriate PPE and sun cream. We recently had a loft space we were working in on a site in Wokingham, Berkshire hit over 46 degrees, that's just an impossible environment to work in!

In addition, dry heat can cause more dust and airborne dirt – this is dangerous for workers to be ingesting, hence the appropriate PPE, and can also damage some equipment, clog up filters and impact their efficiency. The later is always a difficult one to explain to clients, we often get asked ‘why are you watering the mud’…… this is purely to reduce the amount of dust!

As construction workers, we’re well adapted to working in wet conditions as drizzle or light rain doesn’t impact the operative’s ability to complete their job. However, incessant rainfall can mean that a day’s work gets ‘rained off’, subsequently delaying a project, not only by the day of no work itself, but also by the time it takes for any subsequent clean-up that’s needed, including areas that may need to be pumped of water or dried out and debris that needs to be cleared before work can recommence.

Importantly, heavy rainfall can also cause damage to the works, with excavations collapsing, any unfinished elements being exposed to the downpour, such as materials and earthworks becoming saturated and waterlogged, and plant and surfaces being slippery when wet.

The cold weather impacts a lot more on a construction site than you may first think. Not only are these conditions dangerous for the workers but, with the onset of ice and frost, plummeting temperatures can affect the machinery itself, causing all manner of hazards on a construction site.

When the temperature drops, groundworkers will have to wait longer for concrete to set, and this slows down the laying of foundations, slabs and brickwork, causing delays to the overall timeline.

It’s not only the construction site that is affected by the cold; our supplies can be impacted, too. Suppliers may sometimes protect themselves by stamping the concrete or tarmac that’s delivered to us. The stamp means that they are happy to send us the material but will not guarantee it when it reaches us or after it has been applied. So, if the product is not of an appropriate standard, we may not be able to use it. This precaution is taken because concrete quickly loses heat and moisture in colder temperatures. For concrete to retain its strength and curing, it’s recommended that it is kept above 10 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, it can take days for the concrete to properly set – that’s if it hasn’t frozen first. Luckily in the UK, we rarely experience sub-zero temperatures but, through autumn and winter, temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius are common, so it’s something we keep your eye on.

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