Under Construction During the Storm ? A Hurricane Guide for Businesses that are Under Construction

As a business owner, you've likely created a hurricane plan for your business and your family, but did you overlook your construction project? Don't worry, you're not alone. Most people don't even think about preparing their construction site because it's not written into their "construction timeline." But when a hurricane threatens, general contractors usually get panicked phone calls asking about potential damage, delays and cost.

You can save time and frustration by contacting your general contractor to discuss their plan before a hurricane strikes. You've invested a lot of resources into your construction project, so insist that your contractor safeguard it the same way that you safeguard your home. Here is a guide on what to expect from your general contractor's hurricane preparation plan:

1. Preparation Timing ? A construction site has infinitely more hazards than a completed building, so it is reasonable to assume that the site won't be properly secured in one day. Depending on the size of the project, your general contractor should start preparing your site three to five days in advance of the storm.

2. Actual Building Preparation ? Your general contractor should complete a structural analysis of your building to assess its weaknesses in the days prior to the storm. Is the roof up? Are any of the frames or trusses exposed? Are the exterior openings exposed? Any work that will help the structural integrity of the building should continue if it can be completed in time (this might include concrete or roofing). At the same time, any work that is highly vulnerable to damage (like landscaping or exterior painting), should be put on hold until after the storm.

3. Exterior Site Preparation ? Any lose material like 2x4's, rebar, scaffolding, and roofing tile could become a dangerous projectile. Your general contractor should secure all of these items to protect your building and to protect surrounding businesses and homes. Larger jobsites might require an engineering consultation to properly secure materials. Additionally, your general contractor should verify any onsite construction trailers are securely tied down, dumpsters should be emptied or removed, portable toilettes should be removed and any deliveries of non-essential materials should be placed on hold.

4. Construction Documents ? The same way that you would want to protect insurance documents or a mortgage, your general contractor should be protecting the jobsite documentation in a waterproof container, or relocating it to the contractor's main office.

5. Builders Risk Insurance ? This is a policy that the general contractor purchases on your behalf. It is your policy to protect your investment, so make sure that you read it thoroughly and understand it. Specifically, you should be aware the following:

a. Last year, there were several disputes over who paid the insurance deductible for damage. Since then, some insurance companies have already written that clarification into the policy. If the insurance policy doesn't mention it, your contract with the general contractor should stipulate whether you or the general contractor is responsible for the deductible.

b. Several buildings that were damaged last year were under-insured, so make sure that your insurance covers the full value of the building.

c. If your project will be completed during hurricane season, consider purchasing a policy that covers an extra month or two so that you are locked into a lower premium rate if your project is delayed. Most insurance companies will allow you to drop the policy if the project is completed early.

d. Builders Risk Insurance does NOT cover flooding or mold. However, you can purchase separate policies.

You've prepared for everything else when the storm strikes, don't forget to plan for your construction project too.

Cyndee Woolley is the Marketing Coordinator for Professional Building Systems. http://www.pbscontractors.com/

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