Purpose – Given increasing user aspirations for comfort, connectivity, health, safety and security, the building services subsector now plays an even greater role in construction. It also contributes heavily to construction debris. Hypothesising that improved materials control can help reduce construction debris considerably, this paper aims to investigate relevant critical production shortcomings that generate construction debris in building services works. Design/methodology/approach – Relevant previous research studies on main causes of waste are first reviewed. Findings from a brainstorming exercise at a focus group meeting provide the basis for a series of structured face-to-face interviews with experienced site supervisors. Subsequent analysis of the interview findings, together with deductive reasoning, leads to the development of the proposed improvement strategies. Findings – The most significant causes of production shortcomings identified in the study are poor coordination of processes or trades, inappropriate site storage and inadequate protection of materials. Industrial management principles help to develop suitable building services storage principles and to propose an industrial flow pattern incorporating barcoding and RFID tracking technologies. Research limitations/implications – These findings are a useful comparative reference for other countries, where the study methodology may be replicated to generate region-specific findings. Originality/value – By applying the suggested proposals at the material control stage, this important but little studied subsector can both reduce production shortcomings and help lessen the burden on local landfills by reducing “conflicts” between competing resources and storage areas, and by the early mobilisation of specialist contractors to resolve uncertainties and reduce rework.
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