Now in a previous Blog I’ve said that “Lean Construction” is just a posh, academic way of saying we need to apply a bit of common sense to construction. That applies to the whole process from Conception to Handover. 

The Client’s Project Manager has to persuade their people to make sensible demands for whatever they need, not to keep coming up with silly, grandiose ideas! Then he has to beat their Architects and Engineers around their ears so that they design what is needed and don’t get too carried away by making it too “pretty”! Perhaps most importantly, to keep waste down, they have to design so that their dimensions actually fit in with the manufactured sizes of the materials that will be needed.

After all that messing about for 18-months, we come to the really interesting bit of the project; building it! The Main and Sub-contractors have to be forward thinking and get their orders in so that the materials – and the men -are available at the right time! Procurement periods can be very long! At the moment bricks are the problem! They have to be on site when they are needed or Delay is the result! Then materials have to be ordered in the right quantities and the right size. For example, having to cut 300mm off every steel stud for the walls would be a waste of time, money and material. Having a few boxes of ceramic tiles left for future repairs is good; having lots of boxes is bad! – same with ceiling tiles!

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Then, hopefully before the build starts, someone has come up with a Detailed Programme to Completion. If the site management has any sense, they’ll have discussions with the sub-contractors about it. That could well find ways of doing the job even quicker and amend the Programme. After that the cleverest of us will speak with the skilled tradesmen; they’ll find even better, quicker ways of doing the job! Always remember, they might have dirty finger nails but they know more about their trade than any professional does! They may well make suggestions for improving the design of the job whilst reducing costs! If they do it is back to the Client, Architect and Engineers to make rapid changes to the drawings and specifications!  That’s it! In 6 months we’ve stuck up the building it took “them” 18 months thinking about!

We have reduced build costs, reduced waste, increased our builders’ profits and done it quicker!

All it amounts to, this Lean Construction, is common sense. The trouble is that across the board it takes a lot of experience and intellectual humility to develop this “common sense” and then impose on everyone involved. The documentation on Lean Construction helps those who lack this experience to start thinking “common sense”!

This is Why We Love Lean Construction (And You Should, Too!)