Posted by: JC Gatlin | November 1, 2009

I said 5S… And no, I didn’t stutter

5S on the jobsite

Walk your jobsite as if this is the first time you’ve ever been in your community and here’s what you’re going to find: Extra lumber spread out along the back of the lots. Inspection covers scattered across the slab. Boxes of hinges sitting in the corners. Small piles of broken concrete and block running along the exterior of the house. Excess rebar buried in the lot.

So where’s that ancient art of 5S?

When we talk about 5S, we tend to promote how the supply closet was organized or how the customer files on your desk are now in three neat stacks rather than accordion style. The purpose of 5S is not to simply clean shop. The purpose is to make it easier to stand still, watch, and see what is really happening around you.

5S organization on the jobsite allows the Construction Professional to immediately and easily identify waste. How do you count the number of rebars when they’re scattered and buried on the jobsite? You may not know how many there were, but your Homeowners will when they’re digging a flowerbed in the backyard.

Being a Construction Professional — as opposed to a “Construction Manager” — means that you have an organizational control over the work flow on your jobsite. Your blue print for organizational control is 5S.

The first step in bringing 5S to the construction jobsite is to become familiar with the methodology. Take a look through your Construction Manual, building schedule, community and jobsites. You’ll find we’re already practicing 5S in a lot of areas. List three examples of 5S on your jobsite and 3 examples of 5S in your community.

© November 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. I had to flip through the construction standards manual and look at some past Kaizens to come up with some examples of 5S. But after thinking about it, here’s what I came up with:

    5S in the community:

    1. The obvious example is the designated concrete washing area in the neighborhood. That’s common in every community with every builder.

    2. In my communities, I require the Building Partners to park on one side of the street so to not create a traffic jam. If I run into a problem with traffic, there’s a “Park on This Side of The Steet” bandit sign that I can post along the curb.

    3.I did a Kaizen about a year and a half ago when I had a surpluss of driveway barricades. Instead of piling the barricades on a vacant lot, I put three or four in a few driveways of inventories. This takes care of two problems: BPs aren’t likely to move that many barricades and park on a freshly poured drive, and two, it allowed me to keep 8 or 9 barricades in the community that were easily accessible when I needed them.

    5S on the jobsite:

    1. JC and I did a PDCA with the lumber company a couple of years ago. Lumber is banded together in a specific order so that the first used pieces are on top and the later used pieces are stacked further down. The bundles are also smaller, so less lumber is scattered when the framers are breaking the bands. And, since the lumber is organized in a specific order, it’s easier for us to count and confirm delivery.

    2. Along with that PDCA, we set a standard that lumber packs are to be delivered in the garage. This protects the wood and keeps the lumber from getting scattered across the jobsite.

    3. Adam Roller did a PDCA on keeping rebar caps in a bucket on the jobsite so that they’re easily accessible and can be transferred from jobsite to jobsite. (Sorry Roller — had to grab this one before you did.)

  2. Just like the volunteer in the Case Study, I would have answered No to using 5S as well. However, I see a number of examples of 5S in our jobsites/communities:

    -Permit board – constructing the same proven style movable board.
    – Permit board setup – all the necessary documents within the baord are the same(NOC, Permit placard, blueprint, etc.).
    – Homeowner walks – from precon to rewalk are all SWIS’d.
    – CM Critical checks – again, from formboard to QI, all have a SWIS.

  3. After walking through both of my communities I noticed quite a bit of things which applied to the 5S methodology. Here are some of the examples.

    5S in the community

    1. In Grand Hampton, all lots have silt fence down both sides and along the rear of each lot. It remains there until final grade when it is then removed by the grader.

    2. In Grey Hawk, each home under construction has a sign in the front yard attached to 2 white PVC posts with the floor plan, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, square footage, and contact information

    3. In all communities it is a standard to use metal trash bins as opposed to the wood ones the framer usually makes. This heps to keep the lot cleaner and they hold up better than the wood ones.

    5S in the homebuilding system

    1. Ivan and I did ( and are still improving on) a PDCA on standardizing the New Home Introduction with the homeowner. We found out that each CP was conducting it differently so we standardized the way it is to be done along with a certification process to ensure the SWIS is being followed.

    2. When the interior trim is delivered to the home, it is to be placed in the garage on the block wall. It is to be stacked neatly and covered with plastic to avoid getting any drywall overspray on the trim.

    3. When the drywall is delivered to the home, it is to be stacked neatly flat on the floor, dispersed evenly throughout the house, and placed at 2 feet off any walls.

  4. Our communities are our lots, we build in between neighbors who have lived in that house for 20+ years so 5S is vital to us selling houses and keeping neighbors happy throughout our build. some examples of 5s we use are:

    1. our block guy knows to stack any full excess block in a neat cube in front of the garage, and any broken or useless blocks be piled neatly next to it for the grader to haul off, he also know to put the lintel straps in the garage so they are easy to find for our lintel pump.

    2. the framer prior to lintel knows to retrieve the layout from the permit box

    3. tree barricades/silt fence is used to protect the root system of the tree in order to prevent deliveries on them.

    4. the framer at layout will designate how he wants the trusses to lay on the lot so he has the best chance at flying them without having them close to power lines or trees

    5. once all flooring has been laid (carpet, tile, wood, etc.) it is covered in order to protect the finish from the rest of construction

    6. and our build pro schedule is set to have a standard schedule that the building partners can become accustomed to and plan their business

  5. 5S in the community

    1. I have socks in all of my storm drains to prevent any and all illicit discharge of anything other than water from getting into stormwater drain.

    2. Directional signage in Nesslewood and Beaconsfield, where there is no model, is nice and big and clean and the contact information is very visible.

    3. Sign when pulling into Nesslewood that is a message to BP’s of what Inland’s expectation of BP behavior while in the community and on the jobsite.

    3 examples of on the jobsite.

    1. Rebar caps are kept in a plastic container so that they are organized and not left in a pile in the dirt.

    2. When countertop installers install Corian (scratches easily) BP places protection down on countertop so that it protects it from any damages.

    3. Hot spot sheet left in garage for Drywall punch guy. He sees that we expect all penetrations to be sealed and when he reads hot spot list it gets done. unlike previously when hot spot sheet was not in place.

  6. I have a unique perspective on all of this. Since I have been away from houses under construction for a couple of years, I found myself forgetting many detailed steps to the process. Luckily I have been able to draw on the experience of others with the Construction Manual.

    The manual itself is a great example of Sorting and Standardizing. My house is very early in its completion, but I have already been able to implement various standards and practices that contribute to efficient construction, sales appeal and safety.

    Although already mentioned by others I have on my site:

    Safety Caps for all exposed rebar- Standardize and Sustain

    Silt Fence protecting form dirt run off- Straighten and Sweep

    I also corrected some building partners to throw away material excess that was trash. I also had them consolidate all remaining materials to be saved for next activity. (There were left over tie loops and stakes from footers that would be needed for slab.) -Sort and Sweep

    Having been away I find myself appreciating how much of our job has been standardized and drained of waste. This is something I would not have appreciated as much probably numb to the slow changes. Now it is obvious to me the implementation of 5S’s and problem solving has helped in our efficiency. I hope to find many more examples with other starts.

  7. The Rebar Cap bin was my idea!!! lol

    The case study really shows how 5S is (as quotes in the IHBS) “a deceptive simple system.” Without 5S our lives would be about constantly chasing fires and never getting ahead.

    5S in the Community

    1. The Community Information Book is always made the same way to allow for model coverage by basically anyone who sits in. (PDCA)

    2. Workers comp boards in the Model Parking lots

    3. Location and organization of marketing materials to be able to promptly deliver information to prospects.

    5S on the Jobsite

    1. MY rebar cab bins!

    2. The morning and afternoon home walks to lock and unlock inventory

    3. The covers that are left over the carpet to protect it until Clean 2

  8. 5s in the community

    1. Directionals are kept maintained at the entrances and through out the community.

    2. Trash is constantly picked up in community and on empty lots and inventory homes

    3. Silt fences are maintained through out the course of construction to reduce construction material from being scattered to homeowners lots.

    5s on the job site.

    1. Rebar caps are place in designated bins for future use.

    2. Hot Spot Sheets are placed at point of issue to illustrate the importance of the FTQ program and the programs effects on the bottom line.

    3. Excess buiding materials in returnable condition are separated and set aside for pick up and proper take-off counts.

  9. 1. Sort, do away with unneeded storage. Lot of time spence looking for
    something we didn’t have in trailers.
    2. Straighten, put together safety books and materials need for safety in a
    standard place. Green bags.
    3. Sweep, clean up your job when done. Tile BP clean floor and barricad
    where to or where not to walk.
    4. Standardize, set standards and review @ construction meeting to keep
    king Murphy from ruling.
    5. Sustain, FTQ all working to sustain. Like review of Tyvek made a SWIS

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