May 16, 2020

How to Manage Construction Projects During a Rainy Summer

EQUE2
Extreme weather
EQUE2
Admin
4 min
Death to the standalone spreadsheet?
In the wake of the UK's wettest winter on record and experts predicting an increasing number of extreme weather events as a result of global climate...

In the wake of the UK's wettest winter on record and experts predicting an increasing number of extreme weather events as a result of global climate change, construction firms should look very closely at how they manage the risks associated with bad weather. Build the expectation of bad weather into your planning this summer to keep projects moving and profitable.

The weatherman never lies

Recent events have shown the severe impact that extreme weather can have. Heavy snowfall during the 2010/11 winter period in Germany saw construction output in the country decline by a staggering 24 percent. In France, heavy rainfall in February 2012 forced many construction sites to suspend work, delaying the country’s economic recovery from recession.

Across Europe the weather has become more extreme, with wind speeds in Sweden predicted to increase by 0.8m/s per month and winter rainfall to rise by 50mm per month over the next century. In the UK, a recent study by BRE (Building Research Establishment) predicted a six percent increase in wind speeds and every site manager knows the effect that crane downtime as a result of wind can have on productivity.

Plan for bad weather

A proactive and well-planned construction project should allow for unforeseen weather conditions and have in place measures on site designed to mitigate the effects, protect worker safety and cut down on wasted materials and manpower. Construction project planning software can help you to build this contingency into your project management.

A specially-tailored construction weather forecasting service such as the one offered by the Met Office, could provide invaluable advanced warning of bad weather to help plan for delays or re-programme work accordingly.

Take protective measures

Rain on sites can create difficult working conditions for operatives, potentially loosening their grip on tools and machinery and creating slippery surfaces, leading to accidents. Site managers might therefore consider installing protective sheeting around scaffolding, which can also mitigate against wind, or temporary roofing structures.

In addition, polythene sheets can be used to cover construction materials to prevent water damage and straw-filled matting and polyurethane foam used to protect materials from the effects of frost and snow in the winter.

Understand your contractual obligations

If you are forced to stop work as a result of bad weather and the project is delayed, you should understand your contractual obligations in such a situation.

According to the solicitor Gullands, bad weather is treated as a 'neutral' event under most building contracts. This means the builder is normally entitled to an extension of time if the delay is likely to prolong the completion of works, but not to payment for any loss or expense suffered as a result of the stoppage.

In general, if a contract overruns, a financial penalty is imposed on the builder. So, when a delay occurs as a result of bad weather it is important to make an application to the contract administrator for an extension of time on the basis that the delay was not caused by you.

To ensure an extension of time is granted, you must give full details of the delay and identify any event considered a 'Relevant Event' as well as estimate any delay to the completion of works beyond the original completion date.

Under the JCT Standard Building Contract 2011 a Relevant Event includes 'exceptionally adverse weather conditions'. However, the term is not defined by the JCT and there is no universally accepted definition of what it means. According to specialist construction and engineering lawyers Hawkswell Kilvington, in practice this is likely to be left at the discretion of the party granting the extension of time. This makes it vital to ensure that any extension of time claim that you submit is comprehensive and will stand up to scrutiny.

Under NEC3 contracts, adverse weather conditions can be classified as a compensation event, potentially resulting in additional time and money for contractors. Details of the types of weather to be measured and the place where measurements are to be taken should be set out in the Contract Data.

The default weather measurements under NEC3 are: Cumulative rainfall; the number of days with rainfall over 5mm; the number of days with minimum air temperature of less than 0°C; the number of days with snow lying on the ground at a pre-agreed time.

Under both contract forms it can become extremely complicated to work out what delay was caused by bad weather, especially if the project is subject to delay for other reasons, such as contractor default. As such, even exceptionally bad weather may not automatically result in an extension of time. And of course delays can be avoided entirely if contractors make every effort to mitigate the effects of bad weather.

Takeaways

To limit the impact of bad weather on your construction project, make sure you do the following: Build a contingency into your project plan to allow for unexpected delays; protect your site from adverse weather conditions to prevent accidents from occurring; understand your legal obligations in the event of bad weather delaying your construction project; use construction project planning software to manage any delays that are caused by bad weather.

Keep your project’s budget on track

Keep your construction project’s budget stable with accurate estimations. Read Avoid Construction Project Estimations Pitfalls to find out more.

 

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Aug 4, 2021

Diffuse disputes through better Project Management

construction
Projectmanagement
Disputes
Technology
Dominic Ellis
6 min
The pandemic has caused a near-doubling in the value of disputes – which means they need to better manage projects to minimise the fall out

The average value of disputes globally rose from $30.7 million in 2019 to $54.26 million in 2020, while the length of disputes fell from 15 months in 2019 to 13.4 months, according to a recent Arcadis reportThe data, featured in Arcadis' 11th annual report, illustrates industry-wide ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic although interestingly, the overall volume of disputes stayed relatively the same in 2020 as in 2019, contrary to what most observers would have anticipated as projects stalled and costs soared during the pandemic.

While trends in the value and length of disputes varied between regions, all surveyed saw an increase in "mega disputes" related to bigger capital programs and private projects. Notably, more than 60% of survey respondents encountered project impacts due to COVID-19.

Owners, contractors, or subcontractors failing to understand and/or comply with their contractual obligations became the leading cause of construction disputes in 2020 (jumping from 3rd place in 2019), followed by owner-directed changes and third-party or force-majeure changes as the second and third-leading causes, respectively.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Proper contract administration was a theme across the globe for the successful and early resolution of disputes
  • Most disputes were settled through party-to-party negotiation, and a willingness to compromise played a key role in early resolution
  • Among regions surveyed, the buildings (education, healthcare, retail/commercial, government) sector saw the most disputes
  • In North America, construction dispute value rose from $18.8 million in 2019 to $37.9 million in 2020, while the length of disputes shortened from 17.6 to 14.2 months.

So how can firms prevent disputes escalating in the first place?

Writing in the foreword to Connected procurement: the Foundation of Construction Success, Mike Pettinella, Director of EMEA Sales at Autodesk Construction Cloud, says trust between owners, main contractors and subcontractors remains a vital element. 

“The importance of partnership makes the preconstruction phase, when organisations decide who to work with and how, so critical to every project’s success,” he writes. “From selecting the best people for the job to mitigating risks, preconstruction is where you make your money and lay the foundations for a successful build.”

Inviting, tendering and submitting bids involves interactions between a large number of construction organisations. But currently there’s little consistency across the industry in the technologies used for this crucial process, the report notes.

Construction firms use a diffuse set of software to manage bids. Email is the most popular tool across owners, main contractors and subcontractors, followed by a combination of Google Drive, Microsoft Excel and  DropBox. Notably, a fifth of owners (20%) and subcontractors (19%) use a custom-solution that has been created in-house. 

A significant proportion of companies don’t use technology at all. More than a tenth of owners (12%) and subcontractors (13%) say that most of their tenders are still paper-based, although this trend is less prominent among main contractors.

Errors can take place that compromise the project later on - and this isn’t a rare occurrence. The majority of main contractors (86%) and subcontractors (78%) admit that errors are made during the tender submission process that impact the project down the line. In fact, a quarter of main contractors say this happens on the majority of projects (24%). 

InEight and Microsoft Dynamics 365 connect all business processes with Construction 365

InEight Inc. has announced a strategic integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 to deliver Construction 365 – a unified enterprise platform incorporating over 30 different integrations to help businesses improve and standardize insights and information flow between office and field for capital construction projects.

The integration unifies the data experience (including CRM, Estimating, Project Controls, BIM, Risk Management, Document Management, Scheduling, Accounting, and Procurement, through desktop and mobile capabilities) to deliver businesses with improved transparency and alignment, providing a single source of truth to enhance ease of user access, collaboration and security across Microsoft and InEight applications. Using the end-to-end, customisable platform, customers can now connect data and processes seamlessly and intuitively across systems to reduce errors, omissions and redundancies while improving the outcomes of complex long-term projects.

Pål Christian Hustoft, CFO, at Veidekke Entreprenør AS, a joint customer of Microsoft and InEight and one of Scandinavia’s largest construction companies said it believes the Construction 365 solution will meet itsr business needs as a fully integrated digital transformation platform, providing transparency and control throughout the business. “We expect the ongoing implementation will confirm our beliefs, making it possible for us with a greater ability to create great projects for our clients with our desired profitability and on schedule.” 

Petter Merok, Industry Executive, Architecture, Engineering & Construction, Microsoft Norway, saic complex construction projects involve huge amounts of variables and many different cross-practice and company personnel. 

“This powerful Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration with InEight empowers teams with unified, real-time data across all processes to make smarter decisions that drive business progress. We are proud to be playing a role in supporting productivity and performance improvements in the construction industry, at a time when it has perhaps never been more important.”

Mike Paul, Managing Director for EMEA at InEight, said while the physical world is still seeing borders and restrictions on freedom of movement, the trend in the data world is the opposite. “Connectivity is key. Through this integration with Microsoft Dynamics, InEight is creating interconnected workplaces to enhance collaboration and project outcomes in capital construction. It’s an important and timely step towards our goal of digitalising construction project management.”

Pursue quality partnerships, embrace on-site tech and adopt agility

Construction professionals surveyed in the Arcadis report have clear ideas about the qualities that would make them want to collaborate with a business again in the future – and  communication, as well as reliability, is an  important factor. 

For subcontractors, regular communication and project updates (31%) and the timely completion of work (29%) are the attributes that would make them most likely to work with an owner again in the future. 

Turning to main contractors, the quality of handover delivered by subcontractors (46%) is the most influential attribute, followed by them completing work on budget (41%) and on time (40%). Notably, the use of digital technology on-site is also an appealing trait for both main contractors (31%) and subcontractors (25%). 

In an article for Business Chief North America, Chris DeBrusk, Partner, Digital Practice, Oliver Wyman, considers the future role of the project manager. He believes as organisations adopt agility and drive their transformation efforts using a more iterative approach with increased alignment between business and technology stakeholders, the role of the project manager is definitely going to change. 

“That being said, it will be a rare organisation that is able to eliminate the role completely,” he says. “More likely is that the role will become one of enterprise coordination, organisational change management, and risk management and less a manager of SDLC processes.”

Arcadis Report highlights

  • Proper contract administration was a theme across the globe for the successful and early resolution of disputes
  • Most disputes were settled through party-to-party negotiation, and a willingness to compromise played a key role in early resolution
  • Among regions surveyed, the buildings (education, healthcare, retail/commercial, government) sector saw the most disputes
  • In North America, construction dispute value rose from $18.8 million in 2019 to $37.9 million in 2020, while the length of disputes shortened from 17.6 to 14.2 months.

Business Banking Resolution Service tackles recent and long-standing disputes in UK

A free and independent UK dispute resolution service, the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), is appealing directly to property and construction businesses to see if their banking disputes, both recent and long-standing, can be resolved. 

 It is estimated that, over the past 20 years, some 600,000 businesses could have developed a dispute with their business banking provider that remains unresolved. More than 179,000 mid-sized businesses including construction companies, property developers, architects, estate agents and residential and commercial landlords dating back to 2001 may be able to benefit from the service according to ONS data.

This number includes businesses that have since closed. The BBRS and Propertymark, are urging businesses to see if they can apply, particularly those with older unresolved complaints, as the deadline for historical complaint applications is February 14 2023.

Businesses going through the service will be assigned a highly skilled dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support. The BBRS is fully independent and free to use. Businesses can find out full details, including if it is appropriate for their situation at: www.thebbrs.org/register

 

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