construction-sod-installed

Impact of Rain on New Home Construction

By Jennifer Nixon on June, 3 2021
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Jennifer Nixon
Jennifer Nixon

Marketing Consultant
Jennifer has experience in graphic design, brand development, and digital media. She is passionate about architecture, typography, and black & white film photography.

Since moving to Texas, I've heard a lot of people say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change." At first this didn't make a lot of sense to me, because in my mind, Texas = HOT!

After several years of working in the construction industry, this turn of phrase has taken on a whole new meaning and significance, especially when it comes to rain!

In Temple TX the average annual rainfall is just shy of 36" and usually follows the same pattern:

 

In comparison, College Station is just over 40" annually and Georgetown is about 37" - you can find similar information for other cities in Texas, and the US, by visiting U.S. Climate Data.

 

Typically, the average seasonal rain impacts construction of a home at 3 key points:

 

1. Pouring the Foundation

Not only does the weather have to be clear to pour the concrete, but it is extremely important that the fill material in the form boards is completely dry first.

If it rains after the fill is set, the plumbers will have to wait for it to dry completely before walking on it or it could collapse the beams.

 

construction-form-fill

 

When the plumbing rough-in (the installation of the plumbing system that goes within the slab) is complete, any additional rain will cause further delays with pouring the concrete.

 

construction-plumbing-post-tension-complete

 

Pouring the concrete before the form fill is completely dry will cause the slab to bow, which I've heard is not a good thing and something our team absolutely won't do.

 

construction-slab-pour

 

2. Pouring the Driveway

For similar reasons, it is best to wait to pour the concrete for the driveway until the rain clears and the ground is dry.

 

construction-driveway

 

3. Final Grade & Landscaping

Not only would the job site be super muddy from all the rain making it impossible to walk on and clear the debris, but there are three other things to remember when it comes finishing up the yard.

 

construction-clear-debris

 

First, if the yard isn't dry it would be nearly impossible to determine the proper grading of the yard - which is necessary to avoid drainage issues later on.

 

construction-grade-delivered

 

Second, the dirt used to grade the yard has to come from somewhere and when it rains, it is essentially a huge mud pit.

 

construction-final-grade

 

Third - just like the dirt - the sod has to come from somewhere, which is usually along the coast for prime growing conditions, but when it rains more here, it usually rains more there, too.

 

construction-sod-installed

 

You wouldn't garden in the rain, so trust me when I say that you wouldn't want to install a flower bed in the rain either...muddy nightmare!

Because of the way our team builds homes and the way we plan our projects overall, most of the time any delay caused by seasonal weather can be made up during other stages of construction to lessen the impact and help our Superintendents stick to the projected schedule.

Additionally, our subcontractors don't get paid until the work is done, so it is truly in everyone's best interest to keep the construction of your home on track - unfortunately, I don't think anyone has a magic wand that can make the rain stop or for the ground to dry up.

 

Excess Rain and Water Runoff

Another factor to consider is where your home is in the neighborhood - while everything might look flat, if your home is located lower than those around, it might take longer to dry and those started after yours might end up further along.

 

development-curbs-in

It is also worth mentioning that before we even start construction on a home, weather can cause 1-2 month delays for the developer to finish the streets within the community and development of the lots. While you might not think this would impact home buyers as much, it can start to add up when they've purchased a home before the community is build-ready.

Frequent rain or large amounts of rain can also cause concern for homeowners. The absorption rate of water into the ground doesn't really change - the more rain, the longer it takes to drain.

In general, after the rain stops you shouldn't have any standing water left once 24-48 hours have passed. As with everything else, back to back rain can cause it to take even longer to fully drain.

 

Going back to the unpredictability of the weather... in 2015 and again over the last 5-6 months, most of Texas experienced an excess amount of rainfall - upwards of 20-30 inches more than usual!

 

Words don't seem to convey the impact on non-seasonal rains as much as something tangible, so for that I think it is helpful to relate it back to something familiar.

For example, looking at lake levels that are controlled by a dam is a great way to put the extra rain in perspective.

Here is a snapshot for Lake Belton comparing 2021 to previous years:

belton-lake-water-levels
>>
Get up to date water level info for Lake Belton


The lake is considered Full Pool at 594 feet and it is currently just shy of 8' above, with lots of rain still in the forecast.

 

lake-belton-19-january-2019

The familiar cliffs of Lake Belton are no longer visible when looking across to the marina

 

I think it needs to be said that an increase in rain by this amount, frequency and duration has a compound effect on homebuilders, especially when building over 400 homes per year.

While every home buyer is focused on their own home and is treated with the upmost priority, all construction schedules are treated equally - which means delays on current job sites could cause delays on future job sites and so on.

Rain delays are not fun for anyone, especially Superintendents managing upwards of 20 homes at a time. AND...rain is not the only factor they are dealing with! Any number of circumstances can arise at any given moment to make their job more difficult. 

Regardless of where you are in the home buying or building process, a little patience, compassion, and understanding will go a long way in setting the right expectation and making the experience as stress-free as possible!

I hope it goes with out saying, but delays of any kind are not ideal for anyone and unfortunately no one can control the weather, so don't let the weather control your decision.


While all of this might sound a bit scary, my hope is that it brings you great comfort knowing that everyone on our team is aware of the impact rain can have, we know how important the decision to purchase (and build) a home is, and we are prepared to face the challenges together!

 

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated to reflect the most current information

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