Work-Time Waste in Construction

Bo Terje Kalsaas1

1Associate Professor, Dr Ing, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Working Life and Innovation, University of Agder, 4846 Grimstad, Norway. Phone +47 37 25 30 00; e-mail:


Purpose: To develop a method for measuring time waste in construction. A second aim is to quantify the wasted time, as it is assumed that some of the figures in the existing literature might be exaggerated for political purposes. Research method: Theoretically informed case study and literature review. Research findings: According to the ―boss method‖ developed for this study, 5% of working time was classified as waste, whereas a more limited and detailed study identified waste as amounting to 17% of working time. However, if ―personal time‖ is taken out of the equation, the detailed study shows 7% waste. Clearly, the more subdivided the data, the greater the amount of uncovered waste. The detailed study also shows that directly value-adding work amounted to 49% of the working time, and that supportive work amounted to up to 34%. The analysis based on the primary data is compared to a Swedish and an American study, whose figures for waste as a proportion of the working time are considerably higher. The figures for directly value-adding work are also radically lower in both of these studies. Some of the differences can obviously be ascribed to the type of work involved in the studies, and the applied methods of measurement. Comparisons to another Norwegian study as well as a Finnish one showed fairly good correspondence in terms of the uncovered proportion of directly value-adding work. The main contribution of this paper: Contributes to the conceptualisation of time waste and gives empirical examples of waste.


Lean Construction, Waste, Work-time waste



Kalsaas, B.T. 2010, 'Work-Time Waste in Construction' In:, Walsh, K. & Alves, T., 18th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Haifa, Israel, 14-16 Jul 2010. pp 507-517

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