2010 ended much as it began, with snow and ice blanketing much of the country – and the construction industry largely at a standstill. It may be a situation we need to get used to, and like those responsible for our roads or airports, put measures in place to ensure work can carry on.
Activities such as interior fit outs are obviously mainly unaffected, and Plastic Surgeon’s repair teams were able to continue putting right chips and scratches in doors, work-surfaces and sanitaryware.
Outdoors, though, so many operations are damp or temperature sensitive, with bricklaying and placing concrete having to halt as the thermometer nears zero. We already have so called ‘frost-proofing’ additives, while in colder countries than Britain they resort to heated formwork to protect the pour. Yet the construction industry has to look hard at all areas of operation in order to maximize productivity across the seasons. It is a challenge that Plastic Surgeon takes very seriously, where the company has made significant investment of time and research to overcome.
The strategy used very much depends on the scale of the work being undertaken, as well as the weather susceptibility of the materials themselves. On some contracts where there have been large numbers of demountable components to be repainted, our finishers have erected temporary spray booths which give protection from the wind and rain and can allow the temperature to be raised if necessary. And shelters are sometimes created to weather a section of wall or a window frame being worked on.
The stone teams, meanwhile, have developed a technique for small repairs where they will use a heat gun to pre-warm areas such as a window cill, in temperatures down as low as -50 C, to overcome frost and allow a repair to set correctly.
Plastic Surgeon has also changed the formulation of its base repair compound, moving away from a plaster based product to a modified cementitious system which offers ultra-fast gain of strength. And although it is not practical to use our customized screed coating system on large areas in the rain, other operations can be sequenced in until the weather breaks.
Overall, at Plastic Surgeon we would like to see other sections of the construction industry adopt our ‘can do’ attitude and keep UK sites running, whatever the weather.