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Applying Lean principles to a building refurbishment project: experiences of key stakeholders


  • David James Bryde
  • Ralf Schulmeister


Lean construction can be conceptualized as a process-oriented approach derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Elements of the approach include pull-driven scheduling, minimizing stock held on site, visual management, levelling workloads and teamwork. While there has been empirical study of Lean in relation to new-builds there is a need to analyse its applicability to other contexts, such as refurbishments. The effect of using Lean on the refurbishment of a municipal building in Germany is investigated in this study. Participant observation, archival project documentation and semi-structured interviews are used to collect data on the use of Lean. The findings indicate the difficulty of applying Lean to refurbishment projects, particularly operating pull-drive scheduling, and the experience of the project brings into question the practicalities of applying the fundamental Lean principle of having a smooth level flow of work to refurbishment projects. Minimizing stock held on site with JIT delivery of materials also proved problematic, which was exacerbated by the commercial arrangements between subcontractors and suppliers providing no incentive to Lean. The use of the visual management aspects of Lean, such as performance charts, coupled with weekly meetings, were easier to adapt to the project and generally had a beneficial impact.

Suggested Citation

  • David James Bryde & Ralf Schulmeister, 2012. "Applying Lean principles to a building refurbishment project: experiences of key stakeholders," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(9), pages 777-794, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:30:y:2012:i:9:p:777-794
    DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2012.700405

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