The Build of Rights: 
Tracking Temperature Keeps Your Project on Track

You won’t see Steph Curry wearing a hard hat any time soon, but the NBA sharpshooter does share one similarity with construction sites: both require frequent heat checks.

In a fast-moving industry that requires absolute perfection, a rookie mistake like forgetting to check temperature levels can undo months or years of work, and ultimately cost developers Steph Curry-like money and on-site workers their jobs. Whether it’s icebox-cold or hotter than a ghost pepper, temperature changes can aggravate construction materials and project managers alike, who don’t have the time, money, or blood pressure to deal with disastrous cracks, breaks, and bursts.

Too hot? Too Cold? We’ll let you know.

In part one of our Build of Rights series, we hammer home the importance of temperature monitoring and share a painful, real-life example of why the weather isn’t just for small talk.

Let’s Talk About the Weather — and What Happens When You Don’t

We all want 75 degrees with a breeze, but not all construction sites are in Disneyland/Disneyworld country. Thus, project managers — particularly those working in less favorable climates — must preempt the negative effects of extreme weather on building materials.

Here’s a hot take: high temperatures dehydrate mortar, making it weak and brittle. Heat can also cause wood to swell or buckle, turning doors, floors, and walls into financial liabilities, and more importantly, safety hazards.

On the other end of the spectrum, cold temperatures increase the time for materials like spackle and paint to dry or set. Additionally, the cold limits cement and mortar hydration, which causes freezing and cracking. This produces frozen pipes, which lead to busted pipes, and severe water damage that can rapidly transform a building project into a giant aquarium.

In Deep Water: An American (Construction) Horror Story

Water is the source of life. But in this industry, it’s often a source of anguish.

Not too long ago, a ground-up Manhattan high-rise was nearing completion. The custom $10.5 million luxury condo was the type of lavish pad Kanye West, Jeff Bezos, or Tony Montana might snatch up in a heartbeat. Picture grand bathrooms designed with Bianco Dolomiti marble floors and counters; Pacific White marble walls; powder room floors made of elegant mosaic marble; handcrafted millwork complimented by handset white oak flooring — pure real estate agent poetry.

And then, a pipe went boom. In just five minutes, water filled the condo, destroying all of the finishes, then seeped into two neighboring condos and three downstairs condos. The total damages? 537,000 big ones.

Don't be this guy

Sadly, the general contractor could have avoided this catastrophe had he known the heater was off. This elementary oversight lowered the temperature inside the units to below freezing, causing the water line to burst. With the added repair costs and the condo completion date pushed back, the condo’s original buyer walked away from the sale.

When all was soaked and done, the plumbing contractor paid $237,000 out of pocket, and almost went bankrupt, while the general contractor filed a builders risk claim that only covered $150,000. The rest of the balance was withdrawn from their general contractor’s fee.

Here is a complete breakdown of what temperature negligence can cost:

  • $206,000: Floor subcontractor (removal of oak flooring/rubber/scrape glue, dehumidifiers, daily inspections of moisture meter, pre-wood floor installation, reinstallation of oak flooring/rubber/glue)
  • $140,000: Marble/tile removal and reinstallation (base cabinets, kitchen countertops, front panels/waterfalls, post-reinstallation of base cabinets)
  • $120,500: Baseboard remediation/patching/blocking, base cabinet removal and reinstallation
  • $40,000: Environmental costs (mold inspections)
  • $18,000: Painter (re-prep and painting affected areas)
  • $12,500: 10 laborers x 60 hours for vacuuming and remediating water issue, installing a dehumidifier

The Ten O’clock News Can’t Save Your Project

What can we learn from the Manhattan disaster? It’s simple: the internal temperature of a building project must be carefully and constantly monitored. A continual read on the conditions of a building will help prevent worker downtime, material damage, rework, delays, and the stoppage of critical activities — while promising fatter wallets for everyone involved.

But opening a weather app or watching a weatherman/woman point at a doppler radar isn’t enough, especially if a site’s zone is prone to swift temperature changes. This is one of the many reasons we built Pillar: a smart, connected solution that enables your structures to beat the heat and kill the chill.

This could be you!

Want to see how we’re changing the climate of the construction industry? Check out our case studies here.