Building Materials Industry Terms & Information

1. All-In Rate: Total expenses for a project that includes all direct and indirect costs.

2. Architect-in-Record: The name of the architectural company that is listed on the issued permits, yet who may not actually do the design for the construction project.

3. ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials): An International standards organization that offers technical standards for products, materials, systems and services in a range of industries, including construction standards.

4. Best Value Method: A construction procurement method where contractors are awarded the bid based on prices and quality measurements from previous work performance.

5. Bid: Price proposal typically based on the design specification and documents.

6. Bid Package: Construction documents where the pertinent portions of information are placed into a suitable bidding package by the contractor.

7. Bid-Hit Ratio: Ratio involving where you have successfully bid on a construction project.

8. Bid Package: Construction documents where the pertinent information is placed into a bidding package by the contractor.

9. Bid Selection: The process of examining and comparing contractors’ bids to select the right one based on price and services provided.

10. Bid Solicitation: Notifying potential bidders regarding a bid opportunity as it may be a request to submit a bid or obtain a request for proposals.

11. BIM (Building Information Modeling): A 3-D modeling process that feature the details of the building.

12. Blocking: A construction technique to join, fill or reinforce the building structure.

13. Blueprints: A 2-dimensional technical drawing that has all of the project’s details.

14. BOQ (Bill of Quantities): An itemized contract document featuring all the materials and workmanship used to help price out the project.

15. Box Crib: A temporary structure used to add support or to reinforce heavy objects that are used during the construction process.

16. Building Engineer: An expert in design, construction and assessment technologies.

17. CAD (computer-aided design): Architecture software used to create detailed building models.

18. Cant: An angled surface or line that cuts a corner off.

19. Catastrophic Failure: An accident in the construction process that causes severe damage that creates a permanent loss.

20. Change Order: A written document that modifies or changes the project’s plans, price or specifications in the construction contract.

21. Concrete Cover: Reinforced concrete as it is the least distance between the outer concrete surface and the reinforcement.

22. Concrete Slab: A horizontal platform used to construct the ceiling or the floor of the building.

23. Construction Build Out: Changing or modifying the existing commercial space to make it usable for business functions.

24. Construction Drawings: The final preconstruction drawings of the whole building.

25. Construction Estimate: Forecasting the construction costs for the building as it may be used to determine the feasibility of the project.

26. Construction Management at Risk (CMAR): Project delivery method where the construction manager commits to delivering the project at within the guaranteed maximum price.

27. Construction Management Software: An application used by construction managers to efficiently run the project as it features accounting, documentation and team workloads.

28. Contract Formation: A contract in the construction industry that indicates the offer and the acceptance between to agreeing parties as the agreement is signed.

29. Cost Codes: Codes used to track budgets and expenses of labor activities.

30. Cost-Plus Contract: A contract where the contractor is paid for all of their allowed expenses as well as an additional profit payment.

31. Course: Concrete blocks, stones or bricks in a continuous masonry row.

32. Cross Bracing: Reinforcements in an X-shape that provides enhanced durability to a structure.

33. Daily Report: A report that documents materials installed, crew information, safety incidents and work completed as the document is created by the foreman at the end of each day.

34. Damp Proofing: A procedure used to keep the drywall interior dry and to prevent moisture absorption.

35. Design-Bid-Build: A traditional project delivery method where the owner or agency contracts separate firms to design and construct the building.

36. Design-Build: A project delivery method where the owner or agency hires a single firm or company to handle both the design and construction of the building.

37. Diagrid: Structure reinforcement technique using steel beams placed in diagonal grids.

38. Encasement: The encasing of underground pipes in concrete or when encasing hazardous materials that have been installed.

39. Falsework: A temporary structure used to support an arch or bridge during the construction or repair process.

40. Field Measure: Measurements taken inside the structure that do not rely on the blueprints.

41. Field Work Order: The general contractor’s document given to the subcontractor regarding the completion of work that is not included in the original scope of the project.

42. Floor Plan: Drawing of the building’s layout as it provides details of each room space from an above view.

43. Foreman: The leading supervisor at the construction site who is in charge of the work crews. He ensures workers perform daily tasks based on established schedules while creating documents regarding completed work.

44. Elevation Drawing: A drawing of a structure that shows the front or side of the buildings facades; it is a first angle projection.

45. General Contractor: The main contractor for the building construction. Their main responsibility is the oversight of the project as they manage subcontractors, handle scheduling and monitor the budget.

46. GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price): A contract where the contractor is paid for the actual costs that are incurred in addition to a fixed fee that has a price ceiling cap.

47. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning): Abbreviation used to signify the heating, ventilation and cooling structures and systems of the building.

48. IFB (Invitation for Bid): Request given to contractors for them to submit a project proposal regarding their provided services and products.

49. Integrated Labor Delivery: A construction model where the project labor is brought in at the design phase as subcontractors perform roughly 80% to 100% of the labor.

50. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD): A construction model where a single multi-party contract is established between the owner, architect and builder. The contract outlines that all stakeholders will share both the risks and incentives of the project.

51. Job Costing: Accounting method used to track construction work that is completed and measures whether the amount of activity aligns to the project budget.

52. Joint: A construction interface between two separate building elements that do not have a physical connection to each other but may overlap or align to the other element.

53. Joist: Horizontal elements that are connected to beams perpendicularly to provide load transfer functions.

54. Lean Construction: A construction methodology where all stakeholders share relationships and goals to manage the project so as to reduce waste while maximizing the project’s value.

55. Lease-leaseback: A project delivery method where a school will lease a site to a contractor who will construct a building to be used by the school. The contractor will then lease the constructed building back to the school. At the end of the lease, the title of the building would be vested to the school.

56. Lien: A property claim made by the contractor against the owner when they are not paid for the completed work.

57. Lift Slab Construction: Construction method where concrete slabs are cast on the ground level and then are lifted into place using hydraulic jacks.

58. Low Bid Procurement: A construction bedding method where the lowest bid is automatically accepted and awarded the job.

59. Lump Sum Contracts: A contract where a single price is quoted for the entire construction project.

60. Moling: A pneumatically-driven device inserted into the ground to create holes for construction elements such as pipes and heat pump systems.

61. Monocrete Construction: A construction method that uses precast concrete panels which are bolted together to make concrete structures.

62. Negotiated Procurement: A government procurement method where a contractor is chosen without formal price competition or formal advertising.

63. Pay Applications: A construction document that details how the contractor will be paid.

64. Performance Gap: A performance gap is an instance where the expected work progress does not match to the results that are given.

65. Precast Concrete: Concrete elements created offsite that are transported to the construction site for final assembly.

66. Project Manager: The project manager handles the entire management of the construction project. They oversee project deliverables, schedules and budgets.

67. Public-Private-Partnership: A project delivery method where a government agency and a private sector company collaborate to fund, build and maintain construction projects as the private generates income from the project.

68. Punch List: A document listing construction work that does not meet the customer’s specifications. It is made at the end of the project as the contractor needs to complete the job to receive the payment.

69. Purchase Orders (PO): In construction, a purchase order is a document from the buyer that indicates their intent to purchase services and products from the seller, such as a supplier.

70. Purlin: A horizontal and longitudinal beam used on the roof structure to support the rafters.

71. RFI (Request for Information): This preliminary document contains general information about the capabilities provided by potential vendors or suppliers.

72. RFP (Request for Proposal): A document request to vendors to obtain an overview of their costs and offerings for specific services.

73. RFQ (Request for Quote): A document featuring predetermined specifications for the project as it requests the vendor’s costs to fulfill these specifications.

74. Rim Joist: In flooring, a rim joist is attached to the end of the main joists to give lateral support.

75. RTT (Request for Tender): A formal invitation to vendors to submit their bid to supply products and services to the construction project.

76. Rubblization: During the construction project, unwanted concrete is broken down into small pieces that are used in the base for new surfaces.

77. Schedule of Values: A project’s work item list that corresponds the items to their value as the list represents the entire amount of the work project.

78. Scope Creep: Scope creep involves when continuous changes and modifications are made or when the work grows uncontrollably beyond the original scope of the project.

79. Scope of Work (SOW): A detail in the agreement outlining the work that will be performed for the project.

80. Section Drawing: A drawing that shows the building’s view as if cut on a vertical plane.

81. Shiplap: Wood panels on the sides of buildings, barns and other structures.

82. Shop Drawings: A contractor’s drawings that details the fabrication of components.

83. Shoring: A construction method that uses wood or metal props to support the structure while it is worked on.

84. Soil Stockpile: A pile of soil created when bulldozers excavate the site as the soil may later be used for grading purposes.

85. Soul Source Procurement: A procurement method where only one contractor is selected without a competitive process to fulfill all the project’s requirements.

86. Specifications: The specifications provide details regarding the materials and work quality desired for the building design.

87. Subcontract: An agreement made with the contractor and subcontractor that outlines the specific work services for the project.

88. Subcontractor: The subcontractor is specialized in a specific construction or building trade, such as electrical or plumbing. They are contract workers who are hired by the general contractor.

89. Submittals: Material data, shop drawings, and product data for architects and engineers so they can verify that the correct products were installed.

90. Superstructure: A structure that is built on top of another structure.

91. Takeoff: A document that lists the types and quantities of materials that will be required for the construction project.

92. Target Value Design: This design method involves all key stakeholders — including the owner, subcontractors, designers and contractors — who will design the construction project to meet the owner’s goals and budget.

93. Tender: A contractor’s or supplier’s submission response about the supplies and services that they can offer to the project when receiving a bid invitation.

94. Tie: Construction elements used to tie to separate materials together inside cavity walls.

95. Time and Materials Contracts: A contract method where the contractor is paid for the actual costs, which include time and materials.

96. Underpinning: Construction technique to strengthen the foundation of an existing structure with the use of beams, concrete or base pining.

97. Unit Price Contracts: A contract where the contractor is paid based on the estimated quantity of items for the project and their unit prices.

98. Virtual Design and Construction (VDC): All of the multi-disciplinary project models which can include the analysis model, visualizations, costs, and engineering modeling.

99: Voided Biaxial Slab: Concrete blocks with voids inside that maintain their strength and durability while using less concrete.

100. Zoning: Government regulations that dictate how property areas can be used.

Diving Deeper – More Industry Terms

An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.

A/C Condenser
The outside fan unit of the Air Conditioning system. It removes the heat from the freon gas and “turns” the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.

The science of sound. In construction, acoustical materials used to keep down noise within a room or to prevent it from passing through walls.

1. A scheduling term
2. The smallest work unit within a project; the basic building block of a project.

The Americans with Disabilities Act which gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.

(Addenda) Written information adding to, clarifying or modifying the bidding documents. An addendum is generally issued by the owner to the contractor during the bidding process and as such, addenda are intended to become part of the contract documents when the construction contract is executed.

One authorized by a client (principal) to act in his/her stead or behalf and owes the client a “fiduciary duty” (Trust). Example: Construction Manager for fee but classified as an independent contractor for tax purposes. A construction manager for fee does not have any financial responsibility whereas a construction manager at-risk does have financial risk similar to a general contractor.

A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.

An arrangement between the parties regarding a method of action.

A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items which have not been selected and specified in the construction contract. For example, selection of tile as a flooring may require an allowance for an underlayment material, or an electrical allowance which sets aside an amount of money to be spent on electrical fixtures.

1. A term used to describe partial construction work performed within an existing structure
2. Remodeling without a building addition.

Alternate Bid
Amount stated in the bid to be added or deducted from the base bid amount proposed for alternate materials and/or methods of construction.

Application for Payment
Contractor’s written request for payment for completed portions of the work and, for materials delivered or stored and properly labeled for the respective project.

A series of arches supported by a row of columns.

A curved structure that will support itself by mutual pressure and the weight above its curved opening.

One who designs and supervises the construction of buildings or other structures.

Architects Basic Services
A recognized series of phases performed by an architect as follows: 1st Schematic Design Phase, 2nd Design Development Phase, 3rd Construction Document Phase, 4th Bidding or Negotiated Phase, 5th Construction Phase.

An individual or firm offering professional services as both architect and engineer.

Architectural Drawing
A line drawing showing plan and/or elevation views of the proposed building for the purpose of showing the overall appearance of the building.

Area wells
Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth.

As-Built Drawings (also known as Record Drawings)
Contract drawings marked up to reflect changes made during the construction process. It is good practice to make As-Built drawings by marking the changes on reproducible drawings such a sepias for the duplication purposes later.

A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.

An open court within a building.

Back Charge
Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. Owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general contractors bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something damaged by another subcontractor.

The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.

Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall.

A partial blocking against the flow of wind or sound.

A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.

Balloon Framed Wall
Framed walls (generally over 10′ tall) that run the entire vertical length from the floor sill plate to the roof. This is done to eliminate the need for a gable end truss.

The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.

Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.

Barge Board
A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a fascia board.

Base or Baseboard
A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.

A half-brick.

A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another. Sometimes called a “girder”.

Bearing Partition
A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

Bearing Point
A point where a bearing or structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation

Bearing Wall
A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

Bearing Header
1. A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening.
2. A wood lintel.
3. The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.

1. An offer or proposal of a price
2. The amount offered or proposed. (see RFP)

Bid Bond
A written form of security executed by the bidder as principal and by a surety for the purpose of guaranteeing that the bidder will sign the contract, if awarded the contract, for the stated bid amount.

Bid Date/Time
The due date and time set by the owner, architect or engineer for receiving bids.

Bid Form
A standard written form furnished to all bidders for the purpose of obtaining the requested information and required signatures from the authorized bidding representatives.

Bid Opening
The actual process of opening and tabulating bids submitted within the prescribed bid date/time and conforming with the bid procedures. A Bid Opening can be open (where the bidders are permitted to attend) or closed (where the bidders are not permitted to attend). (see Bid Date/Time, Open Bid, Closed Bid)

Bid Price
The stipulated sum stated in the bidder’s bid.

Bid Tabulation
A summary sheet listing all bid prices for the purpose of analysing the bid results. Bid tabulations include the required items of the invitation to bid and usually include bid amount, completion time, addendas included, contract exclusions, bonding rate, etc. Often times, the apparent low bidder is not the low bidder. (see Bid Form )

Bid Shopper
A buyer or client who seeks to play one proposed supplier or subcontractor against the other for the purpose of reducing a purchase price.

Bidding Documents
The published advertisement or written invitation to bid , instructions to bidders, the bid form and the proposed contract documents including any acknowledged addenda issued prior to receipt of bids.

Bidding Period
The calendar period allowed from issuance of bidding requirements and contract documents to the prescribed bid date/time. ( see Bid Date/Time)

Bidding Requirements
The written minimum acceptable requirements set forth by the owner to the contractor during bidding process. The owner usually reserves the right to reject a bid if the Bidding Requirements are not met. (see Bidding Documents)

Blue Print(s)
A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction.

Blue Stake
Another phrase for Utility Notification. This is when a utility company (telephone, gas, electric, sewer and water, etc) comes to the job site and locates and spray paints the ground and/or installs little flags to show where their service is located underground.

Bonding Company
A properly licensed firm or corporation willing to execute a surety bond, or bonds, payable to the owner, securing the performance on a contract either in whole or in part; or securing payment for labor and materials.

Breaker Panel
The electrical box that distributes electric power to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.

A roofed walkway with open sides.

Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists or rafters at mid-span for the purpose of bracing the joists/rafters & spreading the load.

Budget (Construction Budget)
1. An itemized summary of estimated or intended expenditures for a given period of time
2. The total sum of money allocated for a specific project.

1. To form by combining materials or parts
2. A structure enclosed within a roof and within exterior walls housing, shelter, enclosure and support of individuals, animals, or real property of any kind.

Building Code
The legal requirements set up by the prevailing various governing agencies covering the minimum acceptable requirements for all types of construction.

Building Envelope (Sometimes referred to as Building Shell)
1. The waterproof elements of a building which enclose conditioned spaces through which thermal energy may be transferred to or from the exterior.
2. The outer structure of the building.

Building Inspector/Official
A qualified government representative authorized to inspect construction for compliance with applicable building codes, regulations and ordinances. Courts have ruled that building inspections are exempt from errors and omissions liabilities.

Building Permit
A written document issued by the appropriate governmental authority permitting construction to begin on a specific project in accordance with drawings and specifications approved by the governmental authority.

Building Process
A term used to express every step of a construction project from it’s conception to final acceptance and occupancy.

Built-up Roof
A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.

Butterfly Roof
A roof with two sides sloping down toward the interior of the building.

Vertical masonry or concrete support, usually larger at the base, which projects from a wall.

Abbreviation for British Thermal Unit; a standard unit for measuring heat gain or loss.

A 10″ or 12″ diameter hole drilled into the earth and embedded into bedrock 3 – 4 feet. The structural support for a type of foundation wall, porch, patio, monopost, or other structure. Two or more “sticks” of reinforcing bars (rebar) are inserted into and run the full length of the hole and concrete is poured into the caisson hole.

An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall.

Cantilevered Void
Foundation void material used in unusually expansive soils conditions. This void is “trapezoid” shaped and has vertical sides of 6″ and 4″ respectively.

Cavity Wall
Double masonry wall having an air space between the wyths.

Ceiling Joist
One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.

CFM (cubic feet per minute)
A rating that expresses the amount of air a blower or fan can move. The volume of air (measured in cubic feet) that can pass through an opening in one minute.

Change Order
A written document between the owner and the contractor signed by the owner and the contractor authorizing a change in the work or an adjustment in the contract sum or the contract time. A change order may be signed by the architect or engineer, provided they have written authority from the owner for such procedure and that a copy of such written authority is furnished to the contractor upon request. The contract sum and the contract time may be changed only by change order. A change order may be in the form of additional compensation or time; or less compensation or time known as a Deduction (from the contract) the amount deducted from the contract sum by change order.

Change Order Proposal (See Change order)
A change order proposal is the written document before it has been approved and effected by the Contractor and Owner. A change order proposal can be issued by either the contractor or the owner. The change order proposal becomes a change order only after it has been approved and effected by the Contractor and Owner.

Change Order Request
A written document issued by the owner requesting an adjustment to the contract sum or an extension of the contract time; generally issued by the architect or owners representative.

Check Valve
A valve that permits passage through a pipe in only one direction.

The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.

Circuit Breaker
A device which looks like a switch and is usually located inside the electrical breaker panel or circuit breaker box. It is designed to (1) shut of the power and (2) to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit (measured in amperes). 110 volt household circuits require a fuse or circuit breaker with a rating of 15 or a maximum of 20 amps. 220 volt circuits may be designed for higher amperage loads.

Class “A”
Optimum fire rating issued by Underwriter’s Laboratories on roofing. The building codes in some areas require this type of roofing for fire safety.

Class “C”
Minimum fire rating issued by the Underwriters’ Laboratories for roofing materials.

Closed Bid/Estimate
A service where only invited bidders or estimators are given access to the project specific RFP (Request for Proposal) information. This option is for those seeking bids/estimates from a prequalified and selected list of professionals or service.

An abbreviation for “Certificate of Occupancy”. This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy a space. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.

Prevailing regulations, ordinances or statutory requirements set forth by governmental agencies associated with building construction practices and owner occupancy, adopted and administered for the protection of public health, life safety and welfare.

Cold Air Return
The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room air back to the furnace for re-heating.

Collar Beam
Nominal 1- or 2-inch-thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.

A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.

Combustion Air
The duct work installed to bring fresh, outside air to the furnace and/or hot water heater. Normally 2 separate supplies of air are brought in: one high and one low.

A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat to be removed or added. A compressor is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners. In an air conditioning system, the compressor normally sits outside and has a large fan (to remove heat).

The mixture of Portland cement, sand, gravel, and water. Used to make garage and basement floors, sidewalks, patios, foundation walls, etc. It is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening (mesh).

Condensate Line
The copper pipe that runs from the outside air conditioning condenser to the inside furnace ( where the a/c coil is located).

Condensing Unit
The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.

Conduit, electrical
A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.

Construction Documents
All drawings, specifications and addenda associated with a specific construction project.

To assemble and combine construction materials and methods to make a structure.

The act or process of constructing.

Construction Cost
The direct contractor costs for labor, material, equipment, and services; contractors overhead and profit; and other direct construction costs. Construction cost does not include the compensation paid to the architect and engineer and consultants, the cost of the land, rights-of-way or other costs which are defined in the contract documents as being the responsibility of the owner. (see Soft Costs)

Construction Documents
A term used to represent all drawings, specifications, addenda, other pertinent construction information associated with the construction of a specific project.

Construction Documents Phase
The third phase of the architect’s basic services wherein the architect prepares working drawings, specifications and bidding information. Depending on the architects scope of services the architect may assists the owner in the preparation of bidding forms, the conditions of the contract and the form of agreement between the owner and contractor.

Construction Document Review
The owners review of the borrowers construction documents (plans and specifications), list of materials, and cost breakdowns for the purpose of confirming that these documents and estimates are feasible and are in accordance with the proposed loan or project appraisal.

Construction Management
Organizing and directing men, materials, and equipment to accomplish the purpose of the designer.

Construction Management Contract
A written agreement wherein responsibilities for coordination and accomplishment of overall project project design and construction are given to a construction management firm. The building team generally consists of the owner, contractor and designer or architect.

Construction Phase
The fifth and final phase of the architect’s basics services, which includes the architect’s general administration of the construction contract(s).

One hired by the owner or client to give professional advise.

1. An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law
2. The writing or document containing such an agreement.

Contract Administration
The contractual duties and responsibilities of the architect and engineer during the construction phase of a specific project.

Contract Bond
A written form of security from a surety company, on behalf of an acceptable prime or main contractor or subcontractor, guaranteeing complete execution of the contract and all supplemental agreements pertaining thereto and for the payment of all legal debts pertaining to the construction of the project.

Contract Documents
A term used to represent all executed agreements between the owner and contractor; any general, supplementary or other contract conditions; the drawings and specifications; all addenda issued prior to execution of the contract; and any other items specifically stipulated as being included in the contract documents.

Contract Over-run (under-run)
The difference between the original contract price and the final completed cost including all adjustments by approved change order.

Contract Payment Bond
A written form of security from a surety company to the owner, on behalf of an acceptable prime or main contractor or subcontractor, guaranteeing payment to all persons providing labor, materials, equipment, or services in accordance with the contract.

Contract Performance Bond
A written form of security from a surety company to the owner, on behalf of an acceptable prime or main contractor or subcontractor, guaranteeing the completion of the work in accordance with the terms of the contract.

Contract Period
The elapsed number of working days or calendar days from the specified date of commencing work to the specified date of completion, as specified in the contract.

Contract Sum
The total agreeable amount payable by the owner to the contractor for the performance of the work under the contract documents. (see Change Order)

Contract Time
The time period set forth established in the contract documents for completing a specific project; usually stated in working days or calendar days. The contract time can only be adjusted by valid time extensions through change order.

Contractual Liability
The liability assumed by a party under a contract.

A properly licensed individual of company that agrees to furnish labor, materials, equipment and associated services to perform the work as specified for a specified price.

Contractor’s Option
A written provision in the contract documents giving the contractor the option of selecting certain specified materials, methods or systems without changing in the contract sum.

Contractor’s Qualification Statement
A written statement of the Contractor’s experience and qualifications submitted to the Owner during the contractor selection process. The American Institute of Architects publishes a standard Contractor’s Qualification Statement form for this purpose.

Contracting Officer
An official representative of the owner with specific authority to act in his behalf in connection with a specific project.

Control Joint
Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to “control” where the concrete should crack.

Cooling Load
The amount of cooling required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the summer, usually 78° F, regardless of outside temperature.

The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds a mantel or horizontal shelf.

Corner Braces
Diagonal braces at the corners of the framed structure designed to stiffen and strengthen the wall.

Overhang of a pitched roof , usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.

Cost Codes
A numbering system given to specific kinds of work for the purpose of organizing the cost control process of a specific project.

Cost of Work
All costs incurred by the contractor in the proper performance of the work required by the plans and specifications for a specific project.

Cost Plus Fee Agreement (Cost-Plus)
A written agreement with the owner under which the contractor or the architect and engineer is reimbursed for his/her direct and indirect costs and, in addition, is paid a fee for his services. The fee is usually stated as a stipulated sum or as a percentage of cost.

Counter Flashing
A metal flashing usually used on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and used to prevent moisture entry.

A foundation wall section that strengthens (and generally perpendicular to) a long section of foundation wall.

Crawl Space
Shallow space below the floor of a building built above ground, generally surrounded with a foundation wall.

A second roof built on top of the primary roof to increase the slope of the roof or valley. A saddle-shaped, peaked construction connecting a sloping roof with a chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away from the chimney joint.

Critical Path
The set of activities that must be completed on time for the project completion date to be met. Activities on the critical path have no slack time.

Critical Path Method (C.P.M.)
A planning scheduling and control line and symbol diagram drawn to show the respective tasks and activities involved in constructing a specific project.

Cross Bracing
Boards nailed diagonally across studs or other boards to make framework rigid.

Cross Bridging
Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the center of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.

Cross Tee
Short metal “T” beam used in suspended ceiling systems to bridge the spaces between the main beams.

Construction Specification Institute

CSI Master Format
The CSI Master Format is a system of numbers and titles for organizing construction information into a regular, standard order or sequence. By establishing a master list of titles and numbers Master Format promotes standardization and thereby facilitates the retrieval of information and improves construction communication. It provides a uniform system for organizing information in project manuals, for organizing project cost data, and for filing product information and other technical data.

Building material rejected as below standard grade.

A small structure built on top of a roof to provide ventilation.

To allow concrete to dry slowly by keeping it moist to allow maximum strength.

Current Date Line
A vertical line on the chart indicating the current date.

Curtain Wall
An exterior wall that provides no structural support.

Daily Construction Report
A written document and record that has two main purposes:
1. they furnish information to off-site persons who need and have a right to know important details of events as they occur daily and hourly, and
2. they furnish historical documentation that might later have a legal bearing in cases of disputes. Daily reports should be as factual and impersonal as possible, free from the expression of personal opinions and feelings. Each report should be numbered to correspond with the working days established on the progress schedule. In the event of no-work days, a daily report should still be made, stating “no work today” ( due to rain, strike, or other causes). The report includes a description of the weather; a record of the total number of employees, subcontractors by name, work started and completed today, equipment on the job site, job progress today, names and titles of visitors, accidents and/or safety meetings, and a remarks column for other job related information.

Date of Agreement
1. Usually on the front page of the agreement
2. If not on front page it may be the date opposite the signatures when the agreement was actually signed
3. or when it was recorded
4. or the date the agreement was actually awarded to the contractor.

Date of Commencement of the Work
The date established in a written notice to proceed from the owner to the contractor.

Date of Substantial Completion
The date certified by the architect when the work or a designated portion thereof is sufficiently complete, in accordance with the contract documents, so the owner may occupy the work or designated portion thereof for the use for which it is intended.

Dead Load
All the weight in a structure made up of unmovable materials.

Demising Walls
The boundaries that separate your space from your neighbors’ and from the public corridor.

A graphical representation consisting of plan views, interior and exterior elevations, sections, and other drawings and details to depict the goal or purpose for a building or other structure.

Design-Build Construction
When a Prime or Main contractor bids or negotiates to provide Design and Construction services for the entire construction project.

Design-Construct Contract
A written agreement between and contractor and owner wherein the contractor agrees to provide both design and construction services.

Design-Development Phase
The second phase of the architect’s basic services wherein the architect prepares drawings and other presentation documents to fix and describe the size and character of the entire project as to architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical systems, materials and other essentials as may be appropriate; and prepares a statement of probable construction cost.

1. An individual part or item
2. A graphical scale representation (drawing at a larger scale) of construction part(s) or item(s) showing materials, composition and dimensions.

Direct Cost (or expense)
All items of expense directly incurred by or attributable to a specific project, assignment or task. Direct Costs, Hard Costs, and Construction Costs are synonymous.

An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.

A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof’s horizontal gutters.

The amount of progress billings on a contract that is currently available to a contractor under a contract with a fixed payment schedule.

1. A term used to represent that portion of the contract documents that graphically illustrates the design, location and dimensions of the components and elements contained in a specific project
2. A line drawing.

Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheet rock or Plasterboard)
Wall board or gypsum- A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2″ thick and 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 12′ in size. The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a ‘joint compound’. ‘Green board’ type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other “wet areas”.

The length of an activity, excluding holidays and other non-working days.

The right to use land owned by another, such as a utility company’s right-of-way.

The horizontal exterior roof overhang.

A means of exiting a space. Normally a 4′ X 4′ window is the minimum size required.

Electrical Rough
Work performed by the electrical contractor after the plumber and heating contractor are complete with their phase of work. Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation).

Electrical Trim
Work performed by the electrical contractor when the project is nearing completion. The electrician installs all plugs, switches, light fixtures, smoke detectors, appliance “pig tails”, bath ventilation fans, wires the furnace, and “makes up” the electric panel. The electrician does all work necessary to get ready for and to pass the electrical final inspection.

The drawings of the front, sides, or rear face of a building.

Engineer (see Professional Engineer)

1. To calculate approximately the amount, extent or value of something
2. To form an opinion of estimated costs.

Estimate of Construction Cost, Detailed
A calculation of costs prepared on the basis of a detailed analysis of materials and labor for all items of work, as contrasted with an estimate based on current area, volume or similar unit costs. *195

A process of calculating the amount of material, labor and equipment required for a given project necessary to complete the work as specified.

Cavity or pit produced by digging the earth in preparation for construction.

Expansion Joint
Fibrous material (@1/2″ thick) installed in and around a concrete slab to permit it to move up and down (seasonally) along the non-moving foundation wall.

Work done on parts of a structure at the factory before delivery to the building site.

Face or front elevation of a building.

Facility or Site Analysis
A visual inspection of a building and on-site improvements for functional or physical deterioration; prepare optional Replacement Cost Estimate for making recommendations to improve functional and physical deficiencies to increase market value; AND/OR prepare a Reserve Study over five (5) years to increase Net Operating Income (NOI) for the facility.

Fast Track Construction (Fast Tracking)
A method of construction management which involves a continuous design-construction operation. When a prime or main contractor starts the construction work BEFORE the plans and specifications are complete. (See Design-Build Construction)

1. An abbreviation for furniture, fixtures and equipment
2. Items classified as personal property rather than real property
3. An abbreviation generally associated with interior design and planning of retail stores or office facilities.

Field Order
A written order effecting a minor change or clarification in the work not involving an adjustment to the contract sum or an extension of the contract time.

Field Report (see Daily Construction Report)

Field Work Order
A written request to a subcontractor or vendor, usually from the general or main contractor, site for services or materials.

Final Acceptance
The action of the owner accepting the work from the contractor when the owner deems the work completed in accordance with the contract requirements. Final acceptance is confirmed by the owner when making the final payment to the contractor.

Final Inspection
A final site review of the project by the contractor, owner or owner’s authorized representative prior to issuing the final certificate for payment.

Final Payment
The last payment from the owner to the contractor of the entire unpaid balance of the contract sum as adjusted by any approved change orders.

Finish Date
The date that an activity or project is completed.

Fire-Resistive or Fire Rated
Applies to materials that are not combustible in the temperatures of ordinary fires and will withstand such fires for at least 1 hour.

Fire Retardant Chemical
A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce the flammability of a material or to retard the spread of flame.

Tight closure material or blocking to prevent the spread of flame or hot gases within framing.

Fixed Fee
A set contract amount for all labor, materials, equipment and services; and contractors overhead and profit for all work being performed for a specific scope of work.

Fixed Limit of Construction Costs
A construction cost ceiling agreed to between the owner and architect or engineer for designing a specific project. (See Budget)

Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.

The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when you smooth off the job and bring water to the surface by using a hand float or bull float.

Floating Wall
A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down. Normally built on basements and garage slabs.

Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.

The outline of a building’s foundation; used for site planning.

The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.

Foundation Ties
Metal wires that hold the foundation wall panels and rebar in place during the concrete pour.

The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.

Gambrel Roof
A roof with two slopes on each side, the lower slope steeper than the upper.

Gantt Chart
The schedule of activities for a project. A Gantt Chart shows start and finish dates, critical and non-critical activities, slack time, and predecessor relationships.

General Conditions
A written portion of the contract documents set forth by the owner stipulating the contractor’s minimum acceptable performance requirements including the rights, responsibilities and relationships of the parties involved in the performance of the contract. General conditions are usually included in the book of specifications but are sometimes found in the architectural drawings.

General Contractor
Properly licensed individual or company having primary (prime) responsibility for the work.

General Contracting (the traditional method)
When a prime or main contractor bids the entire work AFTER the final design, plans and specifications are complete and have been approved by the owner.

A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also the work of leveling dirt. Also the designated quality of a manufactured piece of wood.

The completed assembly of main and cross tees in a suspended ceiling system before the ceiling panels are installed.

Heating Load
The amount of heating required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the winter, usually 65° F, regardless of outside temperature.

Heat Rough
Work performed by the heating contractor after the stairs and interior walls are built. This includes installing all duct work and flue pipes. Sometimes, the furnace and fireplaces are installed at this stage of construction.

Heat Trim
Work done by the heating contractor to get ready for the Final Heat Inspection. This includes venting the hot water heater, installing all vent grills, registers, air conditioning services, turning on the furnace, installing thermostats, venting ranges and hoods, and all other heat related work.

A roof with four sloping sides. The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.

A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter I. It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings when wall and roof loads bear down on the opening.

Independent Contractor
One free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others and does not owe a “fiduciary duty”. Example: architect, engineer, prime or main contractor, construction manager at-risk.

1. A term sometimes used to describe TI’S or Tenant Improvements.
2. Improvements can be in the form of new construction or remodel work. (see TI’S)

1.The act of indemnifying.
2. The condition of being indemnified.

Indirect Cost (or expense)
A contractor’s or consultant’s overhead expense; expenses indirectly incurred and not chargeable to a specific project or task. The terms Indirect costs and soft costs are synonymous . (see Soft Costs)

1. The act of inspecting.
2. An official examination or review of the work completed or in progress to determine its compliance with contract requirements.

Inspection for Disbursement of Funds
An independent vehicle for the disbursement and accounting of construction funds allowing construction obligations to be paid (progress payments) when work is completed, inspected and approved. Job Costs are reviewed prior to making disbursements to establish that the actual construction payments are within the confines of the original estimate confines or schedule of construction values.

Inspection List (punch list)
A list prepared by the owner or his/her authorized representative of items of work requiring immediate corrective or completion action by the contractor.

Inspection Report
Sometimes used to describe an Inspection List. (see Inspection List)

One who is appointed or employed to inspect something.

Interior Finish
A term used to represent the visible elements, materials and applications applied to a building’s interior excluding furniture, fixtures and equipment. (see FF&E)

A list sent to a purchaser containing the items and charges of merchandise. (see Statement)

Structural member which directly supports floors or ceilings adn is supported by bearing walls, beam, or girders.

Labor and Material Payment Bond
A written form of security from a surety (bonding) company to the owner, on behalf of an acceptable prime or main contractor or subcontractor, guaranteeing payment to the owner in the event the contractor fails to pay for all labor, materials, equipment, or services in accordance with the contract. (see Performance Bond and Surety Bond)

Leasehold Improvements
A term used to mean Tenant Improvements. Generally, this term is used when building in retail stores as contrasted with the term Tenant Improvements which are generally associated with office buildings. The terms are often used interchangeably. (see TI’S)

Lien, Mechanic’s or Material
The right to take and hold or sell an owner’s property to satisfy unpaid debts to a qualified contractor for labor, materials, equipment or services to improve the property. (see Preliminary Lien Notice)

Lien Release
A written document from the contractor to the owner that releases the Lien, Mechanic’s or Material following it’s satisfaction.

Lien Waiver
1. An written document from a contractor, subcontractor, material supplier or other construction professional(s), having lien rights against an owner’s property, relinquishes all or part of those rights.
2. Lien waivers are generally used for processing progress payments to prime or main or subcontractors as follows: Conditional Lien Waiver, Unconditional Lien Waiver, and Final Lien Waiver.

A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

Live Load
The total of all moving and variable loads that may be placed upon a building.

Load Bearing Wall
Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder.

A roofed open gallery, often on an upper level.

Unit of measure for total light output. The amount of light falling on a surface of one square foot.

Lump Sum Bid
A single entry amount to cover all labor, equipment, materials, services, and overhead and profit for completing the construction of a variety of unspecified items of work without the benefit of a cost breakdown.

Lump Sum Contract
A written contract between the owner and contractor wherein the owner agrees the pay the contractor a specified sum of money for completing a scope of work consisting of a variety of unspecified items or work.

Mansard Roof
A roof with two slopes on each side, with the lower slope being nearly vertical and the upper slope nearly horizontal.

Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.

Meeting Attendance Form
A form consisting of three columns (individuals name, individuals title, and company the individual represents). This form is given to all persons attending any meeting. Each person attending the meeting will complete their respective information. The date of the meeting should be included for reference.

Meeting Notes
A written report consisting of a project number, project name, meeting date and time, meeting place, meeting subject, a list of persons attending, and a list of actions taken and/or discussed during the meeting. Generally, this report is distributed to all persons attending the meeting and any other person having an interest in the meeting.

An activity with a duration of zero (0) and by which progress of the project is measured. A milestone is an informational marker only; it does not affect scheduling.

Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in millwork plants. Includes all doors, window and door frames, blinds, mantels, panelwork, stairway components (ballusters, rail, etc.), moldings, and interior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.

Term used for concrete work poured and cast in one piece without joints.

Adjustable metal column used to support a beam or bearing point.

Plastic, transparent copies of a blueprint

NEC (National Electrical Code)
A set of rules governing safe wiring methods. Local codes—which are backed by law—may differ from the NEC in some ways.

Nonbearing Wall
A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

OC- On Center
The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.

Open Bid/Estimate
A service where any bidder or estimator is given access to project specific RFP (Request for Proposal) information. This option is for those seeking bids/estimates from any interested professionals or service with out prequalifying them.

The positioning of a building on a lot in relation to the sun, wind, view, and noise.

An extension of a rafter beyond the wall line. Usually a smaller member nailed to a larger rafter to form a cornice or roof overhang.

An individual or corporation that owns a real property.

Owner-Architect Agreement
A written form of contract between architect and client for professional architectural services.

A term used to describe an Owner who takes on the responsibilities of the general contractor to build a specific project.

Owner-Construction Agreement
Contract between owner and contractor for a construction project.

Owner-Construction Management Agreement
Contract between construction manager and client for professional services.

A wall placed at the edge of a roof to prevent people from falling off.

A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.

Performance Bond
1. A written form of security from a surety (bonding) company to the owner, on behalf of an acceptable prime or main contractor or subcontractor, guaranteeing payment to the owner in the event the contractor fails to perform all labor, materials, equipment, or services in accordance with the contract.
2. The surety companies generally reserve the right to have the original prime or main or subcontractor remedy any claims before paying on the bond or hiring other contractors.

Performance Specifications
The written material containing the minimum acceptable standards and actions, as may be necessary to complete a project. Including the minimum acceptable quality standards and aesthetic values expected upon completion of the project.

Open, structural framework over an outdoor area, usually covered with climbing vines to form an arbor.

An abbreviation for Program Evaluating and Review Technique. (see Activity; Critical Path Method)

PERT Schedule
A diagram that illustrates, charts and reports a projects estimated start and completion times; and work in progress.

A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members. (Also see Caisson)

The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width, i.e., a 6-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-fourth pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise, per foot of horizontal run.

1. A line drawing (by floor) representing the horizontal geometrical section of the walls of a building. The section (a horizontal plane) is taken at an elevation to include the relative positions of the walls, partitions, windows, doors, chimneys, columns, pilasters, etc.
2. A plan can be thought of as cutting a horizontal section through a building at an eye level elevation.

Plan Checker
A term sometimes used to describe a building department official who examines the building permit documents.

Plan View
Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.

A person who forms a scheme or method for doing something; an arrangement of means or steps for the attainment of some object; a scheme, method, design; a mode of action.

A term used to represent all drawings including sections and details; and any supplemental drawings for complete execution of a specific project.

Plumbing Rough
Work performed by the plumbing contractor after the Rough Heat is installed. This work includes installing all plastic ABS drain and waste lines, copper water lines, bath tubs, shower pans, and gas piping to furnaces and fireplaces.

Plumbing Trim
Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get ready for a final plumbing inspection. Includes installing all toilets (water closets), hot water heaters, sinks, connecting all gas pipe to appliances, disposal, dishwasher, and all plumbing items.

A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with stud framing.

Concrete shapes made separately before being used in a structure.

Pre-Construction Planning and Team Building
A process used for the purpose of establishing below market dollar budget(s), overall project scheduling and design criteria; also identification and selection of the most feasible project design and construction team.

An activity that must be completed before another activity can begin.

Preliminary Drawings
1. The drawings that precede the final approved drawings.
2. Usually these drawings are stamped or titled “PRELIMINARY”; and the “PRELIMINARY” is removed from the drawings upon being reviewed and approved by the owner.

Preliminary Lien Notice
A written notice given to the property owner of a specific project by the subcontractors and any person or company furnishing services, equipment or materials to that project. The notice states if bills are not paid in full for the labor, services, equipment, or materials furnished or to be furnished, a mechanic’s lien leading to the loss, through court foreclosure proceedings, of all or part of the property being so improved may be placed against the property even through the owner has paid the prime contractor in full. The notice explains how the owner can protect himself against this consequence by 1. requiring the prime contractor to furnish a signed release by the person or firm thus giving the owner notice before making payment to the prime contractor or 2. any other method or device which is appropriate under the circumstances. The state of California mandates that a Preliminary Lien Notice must be given to the property owner not more than 20 days after starting the work on the specific project.

Pre-qualification of prospective bidders
A screening process wherein the owner or his/her appointed representative gathers background information from a contractor or construction professional for selection purposes. Qualifying considerations include competence, integrity, dependability, responsiveness, bonding rate, bonding capacity, work on hand, similar project experience, and other specific owner requirements.

Building Materials Dictionary