Construction is due to begin on the site of your new development. You’ve lined up everything necessary to greenlight this project: insurance, health and safety, fire prevention, and sustainability checks. But there’s one quiet threat you might not have accounted for: water. Construction projects by their nature are hotbeds of risk. From collapsing scaffolding to electrical fires, so many things could potentially go wrong. When it comes to the risk of water though, many developers and construction companies find themselves unprepared for how much damage this natural resource can do.
Where water flows, risks in construction projects follow30% of Builders Risk claims come from water damage, a problem that can happen at any time, and cause temporary or permanent loss. A leak that’s left unidentified and unattended overnight is – in itself – a large cause for concern, but consider how much damage could be caused by a leak over a weekend, or even one that’s not discovered for weeks. Water always finds the lowest point in a structure and moves stealthily and unseen for long periods of time. It follows pipes and seeps through cracks, causing massive damage well before it can be fixed. And this damage is not just monetary. It’s also environmental and has an impact on a project’s delivery time. In its assessment of water damage prevention in construction sites, insurer HSB UK & Ireland states that, “As well as direct costs of clean up, repair, replacement and dealing with items such as mold, there can be long delays in restarting construction”.
Prevention is better than cureA solid water management plan is key to ensuring your site isn’t dramatically affected by water damage. Along with identifying where you may be most exposed to problems, it also trains your on-site staff in how to deal with those problems, creates an emergency procedures plan for when the unexpected happens and covers the technology you need to have available to stop water problems in their tracks. But where do you start?
- First, map out the potential water risks in construction projects on your site. This could include internal sources like the plumbing, mechanical, and drainage systems to construction defects that could be a potential threat, like improperly fitted doors, windows, gutters, and roofs, cracks in waterproofing structures, and even excavations, which could be flooded in heavy rains.
- Next, create your quality control plan. Choose a dedicated team to take ownership for water damage prevention plan and track, monitor, and repair any problems they find. Allocate time and budget resources to training on-site workers about the project quality you expect so that they can contribute to keeping the site safe too. It’s also a good idea to create a checklist that everyone has access to where they can see when certain parts of the site were checked and by whom.
- And finally, make sure you have a solid water management technology system on-site to help identify the leaks that people simply can’t. This is the biggest source of water damage, with over 70% of payouts by insurers being a result of pipes leaking in the building rather than external water penetrating it, so this is where you want to invest as your first priority.