It has rained heavily all up and down the Australian east coast over the last few weeks. Coffs Harbour received well over 500mm of rain, causing flooding and leaving vast areas of our region a boggy, soggy mess. A little rain isn’t usually a big problem on a building site, but when we get a deluge, entire job sites may be closed for an extended period. So what happens to your new home building project when it rains?

Why is rain a problem on construction sites?

Rain on a construction site causes a few problems.

First, it can make the site unsafe. The red clay that dominates the landscape around Coffs Harbour becomes incredibly slippery when it gets wet. It is simply not safe to have workers carrying heavy tools and building materials on such a surface, particularly if the site is sloping. Vehicles may also struggle for traction. We create all-weather access to all our sites, but if our project managers or head builder form the view that rain has made a site unsafe, that site will be closed until conditions improve.

Second, rain can damage building materials and tools. Particularly in the early stages of a construction project, there is often nowhere on a site to store building materials out of the weather. While many modern building materials are designed to handle exposure to the elements for a period of time, we try to avoid this as much as possible.

Third, a rainy construction site is messy and unpleasant! Red clay can cause stains, and when it dries and re-hardens, it’s almost impossible to remove completely. In most cases, work can continue inside during rainy periods, but if extensive work is required outside (bricklaying, for example), it’s unreasonable to ask our contractors or staff to work in the mud and rain. In some cases, it is not legal to require construction workers to work while exposed to rain.

Finally, some building activities cannot happen during heavy rain. Concreting is a perfect example – water is an essential ingredient when making concrete, but too much water may affect the quality of the concrete, so pouring concrete in heavy rain should be avoided. Other activities like roofing, bricklaying, and earthmoving should generally be avoided during rain.

For all these reasons, we may be forced to close our construction sites if we receive too much rain.

What happens to my build if it rains?

If it rains too much, your build may be delayed. The length of the delay will be determined by the severity of the rainfall event, the stage of your build, and the specific nature of your site.

If bad weather forces the closure of a building site, a builder can extend the contractual time period in which the home must be completed. The builder needs to provide written notice explaining the length of the extension and the reasons.

Here at Balance Design and Construction, we expect that we will experience some bad weather during the construction of a new home, so we don’t extend the build timeframe for every shower or thunderstorm. But every now and then, when we get severe and extended rainfall, we may need to extend the building period to compensate for the time we had to shut down a construction site.

How long before construction can re-commence after rain?

Depending on the severity of the rainfall event and the particular site, it could take as little as a few days or as much as a week or two before construction can recommence. If the rainfall has caused damage to the partially-built home or the site, the delay may be longer.

Keep in mind that a few sunny days will not necessarily be sufficient to dry out a site enough for construction to start again. Each site much be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In some situations, a site may be up and running a day or two after heavy rain stops falling. In other cases, a site may not be accessible and safe for a week or longer.

After an extended period of rain delays, trades and materials may also be in short supply as the local industry works to catch up.

How about other weather events?

Rain isn’t the only weather event that can disrupt construction. In parts of Australia, building sites may be affected by dust storms, extreme heat, snow and ice, cyclones, floods, and even gale force winds. Any of these may be considered “adverse weather” events and your builder may seek to extend the build timeframe (check your contract for specific details).

The wrap up

Adverse weather is just part of life in Australia, so there a possibility it will affect your new home building project in some way. As with many other parts of the building experience, it is important for the builder and client to communicate honestly and transparently about weather-related delays.

If you’re planning a new home, give the friendly team at Balance Design and Construction a call on 1300 056 298.

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