The completion of a project depends just as much on the weather as on the contractor’s rate of work.
Most projects have standard Main Contract Conditions, i.e. JBCC, NEC or FIDIC contracts, and construction programme periods which outline the conditions for any inclement weather claims the contractor might need to submit for a specific project. Then, there might be other employers who have their own additional conditions as well.
It also does not just depend on the days when it is raining, but also on the days following the rain, as the working conditions won’t allow normal activity for safety reasons, due to excess water or muddy conditions, etc. Strong winds can also prevent construction from taking place.
Different provinces will have their own specific rainfall patterns, and contractors in the provinces will be aware of these, however, each construction site is to keep daily weather records which include rainfall meter and/or wind speed meter.
So, the question is, are contractors able to depend on weather sites and/or reports to predict the days that they will not be able to continue construction due to bad weather?
Given all the technological advances during the last few years, the prediction of the weather has become more accurate. However, given all the variables that need to be taken into account in order to predict the weather, the chances are quite high that should one of the elements change, it will affect the entire prediction. This means that a prediction for the weather for the next three days will be more accurate, but a longer-range forecasting becomes significantly less reliable by the third and fourth day of the forecast.
Of course, there are also alternative ways of predicting the weather, i.e. observation, pattern and folklore. According to wikiHow (http://www.wikihow.com/Predict-the-Weather-Without-a-Forecast), there are four methods of predicting the weather without a forecast:
- Observing the sky
- Feeling the wind and air
- Watching animal behaviour
- Creating your own prediction methods
I am not going to go into all the details, but they had the following rhymes/proverbs which are quite interesting:
- “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”
- “Rainbow in the morning, need for a warning.”
- “Circle around the moon, rain or snow soon.”
- “Flowers smell best just before a rain.”
To find out the meanings of these, you are welcome to follow the link above, it does make for interesting reading, although these are for the Northern Hemisphere.
In conducting my research for this article, I came across the COMBISAFE UBIX® temporary roof system (http://www.combisafe.com/news-and-events/keeping-construction-on-track-when-under-the-weather/). This is a British product that they use in construction to keep a project on course and limit the effects of adverse weather conditions. Further to the temporary roof system, it can also feature a COMBISAFE RunWay system. This means it can quickly and safely be rolled open to allow for plant, equipment and materials to be craned in and out as required.
In the end, it appears that although there have been great strides in predicting the weather, it is not possible to only rely on weather predictions for accuracy. A combination of all methods described here might have better accuracy than just one or two of all the methods. But unfortunately, there will still be instances when mother nature decides that she has to vent, and construction will have to bow down and surrender to her will for a day or so.
Special thanks to Neels Van Staden from Steffanutti Stocks Building Gauteng for his assistance.