Three consecutive years of La Niña weather events on the east coast of Australia has brought widespread rain and flooding, with construction delays caused by wet weather impacting sites much more than COVID.
A small relief for builders will be new modelling by the Bureau of Meteorology showing the La Niña weather pattern is likely to end by next February.
Brett Mason, CEO & Managing Director, Built, told the audience at this week’s Property Congress that the company budgets for 10 per cent of its construction days to be lost due to bad weather.
“We’ve lost 40 per cent of our days to wet weather since last November in Sydney,” he said.
Scott Hutchinson, Chairman, Hutchinson Builders said that wet weather had been the “real killer”, more so than COVID when it comes to construction delays.
Mr Hutchinson said he is seeing more clients taking on the risks of wet weather.
At the moment, governments are more likely to share we weather risk, according to Mr Mason, but that private clients are more likely to share supply chain risk.
Sandra Orlando, General Manager NSW, Lendlease Construction, agreed, noting that she has not seen to many examples of sharing weather risks in the private sector.
Construction workers typically work six-day weeks, but Mr Hutchinson is now trailing five-day weeks, with four 10-hour days and an eight-hour Friday.
“It’s working well, but it’ll take a while for it to get fully released,” he said.
Whether a five-day week might impact productivity due to prolongation of projects, Mr Hutchinson said it depending on the site.
“[If] It makes the site happier and rolls along better than the project goes better, but if you have tried it and you’ve got an unhappy site, the stoppage is going to hurt you a lot more,” he said.
Ms Orlando said Lendlease is supportive of a five-day week and offers a five-day working week on all its tenders, depending on the complexity of the project.
She pointed out other flexibility options, such as job sharing, as ways to achieve similar goals.
Mr Mason agreed, noting Built is working on flexibility rather than a blanket five-day work week as it doesn’t work for every site.
“Some workers want to take their kids to footy on a Wednesday afternoon,” he said. “So, we’re talking a lot about flexibility and we’re having these conversations in all our board meetings, management meetings, it’s top of the top priority for us and our clients.
“Australia is a place where you can work hard and dream big. So, we’re really conscious of not limiting people’s opportunity by saying you can only work X number of hours per week, we try and manage it carefully, so everyone’s got flexibility and doesn’t burn themselves out.”