When it comes to an outdoor construction project (ie: most projects) nothing matters more than the weather. Yes, you need a rock-solid contract, a cooperative client, and fine-tuned asset tracking. You need an accurate invoicing system and a good combination of talent and dedication on your team. But none of that matters if you get rained out so many days in a row that your schedule is shot. Even the most understanding client will still be deeply unhappy if you promised that their home would be finished by September and you finally wrap up in November. They won’t care that there were three weeks of fall storms. If the weather is too bad during any given project, you stand to lose a lot more than your early completion bonus and depending on your contract, the cost of going over deadline could seriously cut into your profits for all the work done.
Construction and Weather Prediction
That is why it’s so important to understand the weather as you go into a construction project. In the short term, weather prediction is important so that you know what it’s safe to set up each day and how you’ll need to prepare working conditions. You can plan for the temperature and even for mild weather like a light drizzle of rain but most construction crews consider themselves helpless in the face of rainstorms, hail, sleet, and dangerously strong winds. While it’s true that work does have to be closed down until the weather subsides, you don’t have to allow your projects to be sacrificed to Mother Nature’s whims.
It’s long-term weather prediction that really matters for saving your profits and projects. What if you could predict how many days you were going to be rained out during a project before it happened? If, somehow, you could even schedule bad-weather days with your client beforehand so they’re not surprised by necessary weather-related delays, both customer relations and your track record for accurate estimates would go through the roof.
How to Predict Future Weather
The fact of the matter is that you can, in most cases, predict the weather well enough to save projects and soothe clients. No, you don’t have to see the future or even be a skilled meteorologist. All you need is familiarity with your region and a little internet research. While you can’t predict the exact weather that is coming, you can base your estimates on what weather is typically like in the area.
Start with your own memory and intuition for each season. How many rainstorms do you typically have in the summer months of June, July, and August? What about the fall months of September, October, and November? If you were just chatting with friends, no doubt you’d be able to sum up the weather during these times, including the approximate ratio of stormy days to clear ones. Now back it up with research and check out the monthly rainfall reports and timing of storms that blew through in previous years.
This will give you a pretty clear idea of approximately how many storm days to expect during any particular project duration.
Calculating Weather When Building the Contract
Finally, the true key to saving your profits is what you do with your weather predictions. When asked to give a time estimate of how long a project will take, most contractors tend to calculate based on the number of fully productive work hours the project will take. But the client doesn’t hear ‘days of work’ they hear ‘days total’.
When making your estimate, you already calculate for weekends, transitions, and the like. Now it’s time to calculate for storms. With your data in hand, expand your estimate to include the number of days you suspect will be storm days plus a few for dry-out and post-storm cleanup. Now draw it into the contract.
Once your storm day estimates are included in your deadline calculations, clients will have little to nothing to object to when the inevitable few days of bad weather slows down the progress. Because it won’t be an official slow-down, it will be a calculated delay and you might even be able to plan some ‘rainy day’ work to get done during these times. And if the storm of the century does blow through, only the most unreasonable client will try to hold you responsible.