Posted by: JC Gatlin | June 27, 2010

The 7 Wastes on the Construction Site



Also known as delay, waiting refers to the periods of inactivity that occur because a preceding activity didn’t deliver on time or finish completely. Waiting waste increases cycle time during which no value-added activity is performed.


This term refers to the extra steps taken by people to accommodate inefficient process layout, defects, reprocessing, overproduction or excess inventory. Motion takes time and adds no value to the product or service. To move and add value is called work. To move and not add value is called motion.


This term generally refers to unnecessary steps in operations, such as reprocessing, double-handling, added communication and double-checking which adds no value to the product or service. Over-processing is often inserted into a process as a result of dealing with defects, overproduction or excess inventory.


Overproduction occurs when operations continue after they should have stopped.  It’s producing more than is needed, faster than needed or before it is needed. This results in product being produced in excess of what’s required, products being made too early, and excess inventory carrying costs.


This is unnecessary motion or movement of products or materials that does not directly support immediate production, such as materials being transported from one jobsite to another or materials being transported from the jobsite back to the Building Partner. Ideally transport should be minimized for two reasons: It adds time to the process during which no value-added activity is being performed, and the material is exposed to handling damage.


This refers to any supply (materials or goods) in excess of what is required to build the current homes under construction. Inventory includes raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods. Though not all inventory is unneccessary waste, excess inventory can quickly build-up and tie-up dollars and resources. All Inventory requires additional handling and space.


These are products, materials or services that do not meet expectation or conform to specification. Corrections and defects are anything not done correctly the first time and must be repaired, sorted, re-made or re-done, as well as materials which are scrapped due to defects.

© June 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo


  1. Now that puts the 7 Wastes specifically in the Construction vernacular – Very clear message communicated and of course – “A Picture is Worth 1000 Words” !

    Wikipedia: (The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the idea that complex stories can be described with just a single still image, or that an image may be more influential than a substantial amount of text. It also aptly characterizes the goals of visualization where large amounts of data must be absorbed quickly.)

    ….And this data does need to be learned quickly in the Construction environment of today.

    Thanks JC…

  2. Love it!!! 🙂

  3. Hi JC,
    Good cartoon images, I wondered if I could commission you to do the same for manufacturing and transactional processes if I gave you the themes?

    Let me know what you think.

  4. I do like the cartoons, because for all my colleagues which do not know anything about lean it is hard to see the explicit parallel to our construction sites. I think it is an ambitious thing to picture the situation for us more practical guys. Could you please also upload some pictures additional to the cartoons if you come across.

    Thank you!

    • I sometimes upload photos in addition to cartoons. I have to be careful though because since we’re a small company, my Teammates will know that I’m calling them out if I post pictures from their jobsites. But I will definitely post photographs when I can. Thank you, Tobias, for the compliment on the cartoons! I appreciate it.

  5. Hi, Can I use the above cartoons in my trainings sessions as examples ? pls let me know. These are wonderful..

  6. Hi, Can I use the above cartoons when I give Lean trainings, these are simply wonderful. Pls let me know asap.

  7. […] is one of the 7 Types of Waste and honestly one of the most common examples of waste on our jobsites. It refers to the extra steps […]

  8. Greetings JD,

    I am authoring a Lean Government e-Learning course. I really like your Lean cartoons. I would like to use them in the course. What arrangement can we make?


    Michael Jordan

  9. Can u tell me any method or technique briefly that how to eliminate the waiting time waste ?

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