Construction Industry/construction waste


Hi Alofe,

I started working in a construction company in india recently. I see that there is a lot of wastage of material or money (due to delays) in this industry in general because of which the cost goes up. Although there's a concept of Lean Construction which focuses mainly on the planning part is there any other way by which we can reduce the cost of any project like using some alternate materials for construction or using the same materials in some other efficient way. I am interested in doing some R&D in this construction processes and materials. So please help me to get to go in that direction with whatever info you have regarding this topic.



Dear Naveen,

Thanks for your inquiry.

With so many years of experience on construction site, I am aware of similar wastages though the wastages may not be attributed to delays alone but even to construction methodology, abortive works, improper planning and coordination and so on. If you are doing a research in that direction, i will view it that, you would need to first identify sources of wastages which then form basis of clue for solution to either reducing or averting the wastages or mitigating the unavoidable ones. I tend to believe that there may be link to an element of risk in the exercise which may need to be appropriated using risk management techniques.

The availability of the wastages may not be independent of the causation as well. I mean, measures to be adopted to control of client-caused wastages may differ from those caused by others or contractor's operations, activities and controls. Contribution of a third party may be another consideration.

Yes, the cost of construction could be reduced by several methods either prior to construction commencement or during the construction activities. I should think, the most effective ways would be prior to commencement. I mean at the design stage itself. Rather, if this fails due to any reason, then, it then leaves us with the option of "during the construction operation" being applicable.

Regarding materials usage to reduce cost, there is a system of design that is called; "dimensional coordination". In this system; proper attention is given to standard sizes of construction materials at production. For example; acoustic suspended ceiling tiles are commonly available in standard sizes of 600mm x 600mm. If then a designer would make ceiling designs in the dimensions with precision of multiples of 600mm width or length thereof; then, cost would be reduced on wastages due to cuttings; jointing etc and time to fix standard sizes would normally be easier than fixing "offcut" or offset units.

Another way would be summarised as follows:

1. E-prototype pre-construction execution - By this, i mean, an operation to be performed within the contractor's organisation using auto desk and renderings to carry out the construction works as per the methodology to be adopted and observe constraints and the output prior to actual carrying out of such methodology on the site. This would enable them to have a pre-knowledge of how the output of the work segments would look like and if already giving indication of unsatisfactory output at the e-prototype demonstration stage, then alternative method or appropriate remedy would already have been planned to avoid repetitive and abortive works that wastes time and resources.

2.Alternative designs without compromising the quality and functionality attributes of the project would also be a way particularly if this alternative designs could be constructed and achieved at a reduced cost. This is one part similar to Value Engineering sort of.

3. Another way close to the above in (2) is Usage of alternative materials.

These are just what i could put down now and i hope, it could help you to develop from there. You may have to go into case studies during your research to demonstrate a real-life experience and practice of these ways and how they have yielded convincingly reduced cost that proves their efficiency capability to minimize wastages and then resulting to reduce cost.

Thanks and kind regards.
'Femi Alofe

Construction Industry

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Femi Alofe


All questions relating to construction management, contracts management, contracts practice and standards and procedure compliance in contracts administration.


Contracts Administration, Construction & Commercial management within the Construction Industry.

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