Weathering the Changes: Climate Change and Its Effect on Contractors

by Joel Harper on 2018-02-19 2:13pm

Image by: Jay

The world is changing and this includes the global climate. Average temperatures have shifted and weather patterns seem to be trending in extreme directions.

Like many industries, the construction industry is having to adjust and adapt to the effects of climate change. This presents both a potential boon and a potential crisis for the industry.

The infrastructure in the United States, which includes roads, rail lines, bridges, and tunnels, is showing its age. This has only been exacerbated by the changes in temperatures and the increase in severe storms. As a result, a large portion of this infrastructure is in need of repair or reconstruction. For most states, this means reinforcing the public infrastructure against freezing, flooding, and high winds. Due to the increase in rainfall in many places around the country, numerous communities are having to look at raising the height of bridges over creeks and rivers.

Climate change also affects private buildings from small homes to office parks. The lifespan and utility of existing buildings will be dependent on how resilient they are to extreme temperatures and powerful storms. This may require significant retrofitting and remodeling in older buildings New buildings will need to incorporate advanced features that make them habitable, comfortable, and strong enough to withstand whatever is thrown at them.

There are many opportunities out there for contractors to fill a pressing need. However, contractors should also be aware that climate change will also present a significant challenge.

Weather is one of the biggest factors affecting a construction project. If the temperatures drop too low or go too high, building materials can be damaged or weakened, and workers can suffer harm. Large amounts of water, either from rains or floods, can wash out a site or make the ground too wet to build on. Dry conditions can cause dust clouds that can clog machinery and choke workers. All of these situations can delay a construction project. In some cases, they can put a complete stop to construction work.

Climate change threatens to make extreme weather patterns more common. This means that some contractors need to be prepared for more precipitation and construction sites that are wetter for longer periods of time.

Other contractors will need to prepare for hotter, dryer conditions that kick up dust and sap the moisture from building materials like concrete, mortar, and grout. All contractors should be prepared for weather-related delays that come more frequently.

This situation is not hopeless. Solutions are already being proposed to mitigate the problems that could be caused by climate change. Industry experts and researchers are developing data-driven apps that can help contractors predict weather patterns and when and where they will have the most impact. The concept here, is to assist contractors to plan construction projects so as to avoid weather-related delays. Improvements in materials and building construction techniques will make buildings more robust and weather resistant, meaning they will last longer and withstand more.

The changes in global climate will create a significant challenge for everyone, including contractors. The need for skilled contractors to repair and rebuild outdated building and infrastructure presents a huge opportunity. On the other hand, climate change could make construction projects take longer and cost far more. Successful contractors will be the ones who recognize this opportunity but prepare themselves for the challenge that comes along with it.


Joel Harper is a content writer for At Your Pace Online. In his over five years with the company, he has written on numerous educational topics. Joel is a graduate of Southern Oregon University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife and dog.