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How long do fabric structures take to build?

When starting a project, timelines are one of the most important considerations. Everyone wants to know how long a project will take and when it will be ready to use. You may even have to work around certain restrictions or want to get a structure up and running before a big event.

So how long does it take to cover a sports court, outdoor learning area or other space with a fabric structure?

These projects are usually a significant undertaking due to the size and scale of many fabric structures. At Greenline, we typically take 16-20 weeks to complete a structure from start to finish. A large portion of this time is spent in planning and design – at least 10 weeks – something Greenline does differently to many others.

This means everything is ready before we come to the site to minimise disruption and make sure the build is as smooth as possible. This includes designing the structure, site investigations, confirming permits and getting engineer approval.

It also involves sourcing materials and tradespeople for the build to get ready to be on-site. By spending more time in the design phase we’re able to plan appropriately for any issues or challenges that may arise – and make sure you can keep the site area in use for as long as possible.

There are, however, a range of factors that can influence the duration of your project. While we always factor these into a new structure and its timeline, here’s what you may need to consider when covering your outdoor space, such as a single or double sports court:


Obviously, the size of the structure being built will change the duration of your project. Larger fabric roof and steel roof projects will require more time to fabricate and coat the steel work as well as take longer on site. However, you may be surprised to learn that in the overall length of a project, size isn’t necessarily the biggest factor contributing to the project’s timeframe. 

Smaller projects

The exception to this is smaller projects like shade sails. These can typically be completed in a much faster timeline than a larger membrane or steel roof structure. This is for a number of reasons; the complexity and quantity of components and materials required, reduced need for permits, and shorter build time. Our shade sail projects usually take 8-10 weeks.

waterproof canopy for schools


Which state your site is in or whether it’s urban or regional has minimal impact on a project’s timelines. That said, the nuances of an individual site access can require extra time in the design phase. For example, if it’s a complex site with multiple services in a tight area the design process may take longer to ensure time on site is minimal and efficient. Again, this may only add a small amount of time in the overall project – usually a few days.

Bowling Green Canopy

Protecting the surface underneath the structure

Being able to work directly on the surface for your structure is the quickest and most efficient way to build – whether it’s grass, concrete or astroturf. To do this, Greenline can lay protection down to allow machinery to be brought in and used for construction. This can slightly change the lead times but over a two-week period it may only increase a day, which is generally absorbed within the broader project timelines.

In some situations, we may not be allowed on the surface to build, requiring specific machinery to be brought in. If this is the case the build time is extended, which could add a week or more to overall timelines. For example, we worked on a project where it was important to protect the delicate (and expensive!) netball court surface. This meant using larger cranes to build from outside the courts, however, only added a few extra days during the build. 

Roofing materials

The materials used, like steel, PVC or PTFE fabric, and shade cloth don’t have a massive role in structure lead time. Any additional time needed is factored into the planning and design process as sourcing materials is done right at the start. We account for these to arrive when we are due to get on site, so we’re all good to go!

Site activity

Understandably, many of our clients need their site to remain operational and normal activities continue while a project is underway. For example, schools will still have students on-site during the term or shopping centres continue to have patrons around. It doesn’t extend the lead time if we’re able to set up a secured site compound as the location can operate outside of it.

How? We schedule deliveries for outside of peak hours, ensure site management is well-brief and everyone on-site knows what the compound is – our fenced-off work area. Greenline has a long history of working in active sites, whether it’s shopping centres or schools, and the team understands what is required in these situations.

Permits and approvals

While we always factor approvals into a project timeline, it’s important to communicate what your internal processes may look like and how long a design needs to be signed off by relevant stakeholders.

At Greenline, we provide clients architectural drawings and ask they sign off on the design before engineering the structure. If you’re unsure at any step of the way or need to clarify, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team for a call or face-to-face catch up. The more frequent communication between project stakeholders, the faster the project can progress.

Basketball court shade structure


When we build new facilities or refurbish existing sites, we face various challenges, and weather is one of the biggest. Sometimes, we have to deal with excessive rain or high winds, which can cause delays in the build process. Even if the sky is clear, we might not be able to install roofing if the winds are too strong.

These weather-related delays can be frustrating, but they typically don’t cause significant setbacks in the overall project timeline. However, there are rare cases when weather events can lead to longer delays. For example, last year, we experienced two weeks of constant rain, which caused a delay in the project. We had to wait for the ground to dry out before we could use heavy machinery without it getting stuck in the mud.

While we cannot control the weather, we can plan for the unexpected. We allow for and include buffers into our timelines to account for weather-related delays and other unforeseen events. This way, we can manage the project timeline effectively and ensure that we deliver the project as close to the planned completion date as possible.

It’s worth keeping in mind that weather can impact your project, especially during wetter seasons. Our experienced team will communicate these challenges and work closely with you to ensure the project is delivered on your project timeframe.

How to get started

If you’re planning your next project and thinking about timelines, the best time to start is now! Reach out to set up a discussion with our Project Consultants (either in person or virtually) to find out how we can bring your project to life.