Revisiting the Three Peculiarities of Production in Construction

Ruben Vrijhoef1 & Lauri Koskela2

1Centre for Process Innovation in Building and Construction, Delft University of Technology; TNO Built Environment and Geosciences, PO Box 49, NL-2600 AA Delft, The Netherlands, Phone +31 15 2763138, Fax +31 15 2763024, E-mail [email protected]
2Salford Centre for Research and Innovation (SCRI) in the built and human environment, University of Salford, Bridgewater Building, Greater Manchester, M7 1NU, UK, Phone +44 161 2954622, Fax +44 161 2954587, E- mail [email protected]


Compared to many other industries, construction is a specific type of project industry with certain pe- culiarities influencing the characteristics of constructed products, ways of production, and the indus- try itself. Previously three major peculiarities of production in construction have been discussed, i.e. site production (i.e. organising the production around the product dependent on outdoor conditions), temporary production organisation (e.g. fragmented supply chain), and one-of-a kind product (e.g. de- sign-to-order project-based production). Many times, particularly within the realms of lean construc- tion, the basic hypothesis has been that these peculiarities lead to variability and thus to waste, and low performance levels in terms of productivity and value delivery to clients. Inversely, lean construction should be aimed at the banning of waste, thus reduction of variability, and thus the reduction or even resolution of peculiarities. In this paper, the peculiarities of production in construction are discussed and whether they always cause problems, whether they are always leading to waste, and whether they always can and need to be reduced or resolved. Some examples of solutions resolving or reducing certain peculiarities are given, such as modular housing, pre-engineered buildings and off-site production. Based on the examples, the effects and costs of reduction and resolution of peculiarities are discussed. To conclude it is discussed whether construction must and can always be improved by resolving the peculiarities, and at what cost. It is concluded that peculiarities should be resolved when they are not needed. However, before to decide to do so, the additional costs or even the potential value loss that may be caused by peculiarities must always be related to the whole life costs and value of the object built, and the extra costs and efforts for resolving the peculiarities. Finally, issues for future research are given.


Construction, Peculiarities, Repetitiveness, Resolution, Waste



Vrijhoef, R. & Koskela, L. 2005. Revisiting the Three Peculiarities of Production in Construction, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 19-27.

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