26 July 2019
Whilst we are all basking in the record breaking heatwave (or doing our best to avoid it), the disruption caused to construction projects by the hot weather may be problematic. As well as the obvious dangers to health and the safety measures needed to protect people working on site, these unusually high temperatures could cause overheating and fire risks to flammable materials, could affect the moisture content in building materials such as concrete, or damage machinery.
In the event of such disruption, contractors may be prompted to look at their potential contractual rights to recover any time and money lost. Any potential entitlement is likely to arise from the provisions of their contract that deal with relevant events for 'exceptionally adverse weather conditions' if they have a JCT contract, compensation events for 'weather measurements' under an NEC contract or extensions of time for 'exceptionally adverse climatic conditions' under a FIDIC contract. We are accustomed to thinking of such weather events as compensating the contractor for torrential rainfall, snow and ice, but under most standard form contracts, the provisions would apply equally to unusually high temperatures.
Of course, the high temperatures alone would not be sufficient to entitle a contractor to additional time or money as there are a number of further hurdles for a contractor to clear to make a successful claim, but both employers and contractors would be prudent to ensure that they take appropriate weather measurements and keep a clear record of any impact on the works in order to avoid any potential disputes.