Building works and construction during the winter months doesn’t come to a complete stop, but sometimes it does create some issues. In the main, building work can continues as normal, however when there’s extreme weather, such as ice, snow, blizzards and rain, it can be challenging and counter-productive to continue to work.
The UK weather is unpredictable at the best of times- we’ve seen high winds and unprecedented rainfall in the summer months and more temperate weather in the winter too! The construction industry has to work with the temperamental UK weather – we have no choice but to work with it!
One of the main issues with construction during bad weather is the drop in air temperature. The temperature of some of the components in the construction industry can only reach their optimum strength when the air temperature is above 4 degrees centigrade. As an example, cement, can’t be used in under a temperature of below 4 degrees because it won’t set correctly, and consequently will be unfit for purpose.
This makes building work under these conditions slower than when the weather conditions are fair, but we adapt our work schedule to accommodate the weather conditions . Obviously, some days are inevitably lost, because we’re at the mercy of the elements, but a bit of forward planning and monitoring weather forecasts, we try to plan our work schedule in accordance with the changing weather.
A thermometer kept onsite is often used to make sure that any concrete that’s poured is done when the temperature is above 4-5 degrees. As mentioned earlier, it would be counter-productive and hazardous to do so. We constantly check the air temperature and begin and complete our work accordingly.
During the winter months, it’s really important that any poured concrete is protected during the curing process. It’s often covered with 2 layers of protection – firstly a hessian layer to insulate the concrete from any frost that may develop overnight. If frost does penetrate the concrete, it won’t reach it’s required strength and will have to be scrapped. Another layer of polythene is then laid on top of the hessian that serves to protect the concrete from snow and rainfall.
The early winter darkness can also limit the number of hours the building industry can work. There’s always a risk of snow, ice and heavy rainfall during the winter months, so we have to think about our working hours and our work flow accordingly.
Diminished morning sunlight and early evening darkness shorten the number of working hours for many outdoor trades. However, we do have the use of additional light sources where appropriate which can extend our daylight hours in some cases.
Wet and rainy weather in the winter months can also cause issues
Excessive rainfall could:
- cause slippery surfaces, especially if ice develops
- increase the risk to safety associated with some plant equipment
- make digging out for foundations more unstable
- become a risk factor for construction workers.
While there aren’t any specific regulations to deal with inclement weather, it’s very often included in the constructors site risk assessment.
Obviously, there are certain health and safety risks in the construction industry, but the frost, freezing temperatures and wet weather are arguably the riskiest. However, an experienced, professional and mindful building company will comprehend these dangers and will assess the risks in their site assessments.
The construction industry, along with many other outside market sectors, is at the mercy of the winter weather, and even though progress may be a bit slower in the unpredictable weather, it doesn’t come to a complete halt. The unpredictability of the UK weather is constant, so although we may lose working hours in the dark winter days, we tend to gain them back in the summer months.
Many large projects in the building industry usually take many months to complete, and by being flexible enough with our workforce and schedule, we can ensure that our projects are completed on time, irrespective of what the winter weather throws at us!
We are Regency Contractors – Regency Contracting, building contractors based in Gloucestershire, helping transform domestic, commercial and industrial property across the region. To find out more about us, take a look at our website https://regencycontracting.co.uk/ or give us a call on 01452 372229 – we’d be happy to help!