As Womak and Jones suggest in Lean Thinking the purpose of an organisation is to create and deliver value to customers and end users. Value is defined as a capability defined by the customer/end user and provided to them at the right time and cost.
As Ballard et al* note: Products have value only to the extent that they can be used to fulfil purposes. A product may be said to be more valuable either if it allows greater fulfilment of purpose or fulfils purpose at less cost. A product that does not fulfil purpose has no value regardless of its cost. The cost of products is what must be sacrificed in exchange for their use and can be divided between cost to acquire and cost to use.
What construction owners/clients want is somewhere for people to learn, live, play, work, shop—or whatever the capability/end-use/purpose of the new or refurbished structure is.
Waste is anything that creates no value for the owner/client/end-user. Notice that waste is defined in terms of value. We can only know waste by knowing value first. Thus, in theory at least, there is no absolute definition of waste, it is all relative.
eliminating waste creates no value
At first glance many disagree. But on second thoughts some will recognise that elimination of non-value creating activity (waste) does not itself create value. What it does do is allow the same value to be created with less effort, less time.
For example: Think of a bricklayer. If I eliminate bending, stretching and walking back and forth from the mortar board and pile of bricks from the bricklayer's work I do not create any value. What I do is enable the bricklayer to lay bricks faster - i.e. to create more value in a given period. But there is nothing inherent in the elimination of that waste that means that the bricklayer WILL create value faster. S/he may take more/longer breaks, spend more time in conversation ....
I spell this out in a different way in a Lean Construction Journal Forum Paper "Creating value: a sufficient way to eliminate waste in lean design and lean production"