Extreme weather catastrophic for construction
Following a summer of unpredictable extremes and unsettled weather, experts in construction are calling for sector leaders to seriously rethink their practices or face heading for catastrophic delays.
Ian Atkinson, construction partner at law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson warned: “In a sector that has seen many challenges including, materials shortages, meteoric timber price rises and the impact of Brexit on its workforce, the recent heat has been unwelcome to say the least. With more unpredictable and, arguably, unsafe weather conditions, it’s time the construction industry considered adopting the more consistent environment provided by Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).”
According to the Met Office, the UK heatwave is set to continue, with recent predictions stating that alongside warmer, drier conditions, heavy showers, and thunderstorms are expected to persist until the end of August.
Unpredictable weather has long impeded construction timelines, with research previously finding that UK weather extends projects by up to 21 per cent. Whilst there is currently no legal limit set on outside temperatures for work to continue, employers are bound by ‘duty of care’ to their employees. Extreme heat and sun exposure can cause dehydration, dizziness, fainting, heat stroke and increase the risk of skin cancers.
Ian said: “MMC can offer the sector efficiency, with the NHBC finding that 81 per cent of developers agree that this is a key factor driving the adoption of MMC practices. Regarding building materials and process, MMC can keep climate and conditions consistent within factory-controlled environments meaning that the properties of materials do not change, eg: timber doesn’t swell due to moisture, cement and bonding agents are able to set, thus the manufacturing process is uninterrupted alongside a reduction in material waste.
“At human level, wasted days on weather (rain, wind, snow and/or heat on any given day) can be written off and, the safety implications of working outside are nullified, something which is likely to continue to be a talking point as temperatures rise.
Ian concluded: “As the sector seems to move from one challenge to the next, it’s time to give due care and attention to MMC and the benefits it offers. It is true that MMC is not always the best solution for a project and there will always be a place for traditional building methods, but we need to move away from ‘we should do this’ and start to ask, ‘what are the reasons for not doing this’?’. Before we run the risk of saying ‘we should have done this’ if the challenges facing the sector become too hot to bear.”
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