Construction projects can be challenging at any time of year, but winter brings its own unique set of obstacles. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can slow down progress, increase costs, and even pose safety hazards for workers.
Companies can take a number of steps to prepare their construction projects and jobsites for the winter. By planning ahead and taking the necessary precautions, companies can minimize the impact of winter weather and keep their projects on track.
Preparing your project for winter
As the winter season approaches, it's crucial to prepare your construction project meticulously to overcome the challenges of harsh weather. Here are the key steps to ensure your project remains on track and successful even during the cold months.
1. Make your project weathertight
Embarking on building projects necessitates a focus on making the structure weathertight. This proactive measure enables work to proceed indoors, shielding the project from external temperature drops.
Consider investing additional hours now to guarantee the weathertight integrity of your building, an effort that can prove worthwhile in minimizing potential disruptions later.
2. Complete groundwork
Complete all the groundwork before the onset of inclement weather. A solid foundation is fundamental to the project's success, and finishing groundwork in favorable conditions avoids complications and delays arising from adverse weather.
3. Inspect drains and gutters
Check stormwater drains and gutters before the onset of wet weather. Often, construction debris blocks stormwater drains. Sometimes drains are damaged by construction work or connections aren’t done properly.
While the weather is still good, clean and test drains and gutters to ensure there aren’t blockages and that they are all functioning. Blocked drains can lead to flooding and property damage. Nobody wants to go outside in a fierce winter storm to fix a problem that should have been sorted out when the weather was still good.
4. Ensure adequate gear
Guarantee that your team is well-equipped with sufficient wet and cold weather gear. Given the likelihood of working in wet and cold conditions, the absence of proper gear can lead to decreased productivity and increased downtime.
5. Stock weatherproof coverings
It is prudent to maintain a stock of weatherproof coverings and tarpaulins to protect unfinished work. Additionally, having water pumps with sufficient pipes on standby is advisable, addressing potential flooding concerns in excavations and basements.
6. Adjust work hours
The sun is rising later and setting earlier, with less daylight to work in. Consider reducing working hours to fit the new daylight hours. Alternatively, ensure there is ample lighting to facilitate safe and efficient work during reduced daylight.
7. Check site access roads
Conduct a thorough check of site access roads to guarantee accessibility even in the worst weather conditions. Unforeseen road closures due to weather events can significantly impede project progress.
8. Review hazard assessments
Reevaluate hazard assessments to incorporate changes in weather conditions. Conduct toolbox meetings to discuss these alterations with your crews, enhancing overall project safety and awareness.
9. Proper material storage
Verify that all materials are stored in a manner that shields them from unfavorable weather conditions. Adequate protection ensures materials remain in optimal condition, preventing setbacks caused by damage or degradation.
10. Monitor weather warnings
In areas prone to severe winter storms, designate someone to regularly monitor weather warnings. Timely information, even with just a few hours' notice, can be instrumental in securing the project, safeguarding materials and equipment, and ensuring the safety of workers.
11. Prevent material shortages
Account for potential transport route closures by maintaining a sufficient stock of critical materials, such as fuel. Avoid work interruptions caused by shortages resulting from weather-related disruptions.
12. Record weather events
Ensure meticulous recording of all weather events that could contribute to a delay claim.
Accurate and detailed records provide essential information when seeking an extension of time due to poor weather conditions, justifying any project delays.
13. Evaluate construction schedule
Review your construction schedule to allow for flexibility during the anticipated poor weather. Consider accelerating progress in areas susceptible to winter-related delays when weather conditions permit, potentially staying ahead of the schedule.
14. Protect water pipes
Check that water pipes are adequately protected from freezing temperatures. This preventive measure safeguards critical infrastructure, minimizing the risk of disruptions caused by frozen pipes.
15. Ensure equipment readiness
Make sure that all equipment is ready for cold weather, and stock up on snow chains for tires if required. A comprehensive readiness approach ensures that your project can navigate the winter months efficiently and with resilience.
In addition to the tips above, here are a few more things you can do to prepare your construction project for winter:
- Install temporary enclosures to protect materials and equipment from the elements.
- Clear snow and ice from walkways and access roads.
- Applying salt or sand to walkways and access roads to prevent slips and falls.
- Keep drains and gutters clear to prevent water from pooling and freezing.
Remember, weather events affecting the project's location or offsite facilities could lead to delays. Stay vigilant and take proactive measures to mitigate potential issues arising from winter conditions.