Construction Glossary of Industry Terms

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  Z

Commercial construction terminology can sometimes be confusing. Here is a list of terms and definitions:

Commercial Construction Glossary

– A –

Abatement – The process of removing asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous materials from a construction site.

Acoustics – The manner in which the size, shape, design and absorption of construction materials affect the sound level and noise transmission of a room.

Addendum – A supplemental document, typically added after an existing bid document has been distributed to bidders, that corrects, adds, or clarifies information before final bids are received.

All-In Rate – The total cost for a project, including all direct and indirect costs.

Allowance – The maximum amount of money allowed in the contract document for a specific item based on an estimated range. An allowance is not the final bid price.

Architect – A licensed design professional responsible for producing a project’s design documents, specifications and other documentation; reviewing shop drawings, samples, product data and other submitted documents; authorizing substitutions; and certifying payment.

Architect-In-Record – The architect or architectural company listed on issued permits, but not necessarily the individual or firm doing the actual design for the construction project.

Architect’s Supplemental Information (ASI) – A form used by an architect to denote additional instructions related to the architectural plan. Also submitted when minor changes in the architectural work must be made that differ from the original plan.

As-Built Drawings – Finalized and approved drawings and documents, complete with general contractor modifications; Includes exact drawings of the building; specifications; dimensions and locations of materials, utilities and fixtures; and work completed. Also known as As-Builts, Redline Drawings and Record Drawings.

Assignable Square Footage (ASF) – The sum of all usable physical space measured from finished wall to finished wall.

ASTM International – The international standard organization that develops and publishes technical standards, based on a voluntary consensus, for materials, systems, products and services used by the construction and other industries. Formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials.

– B –

Backfill – The process of refilling excavated holes, foundations, or trenches with the soil or material removed from them.

Balancing – A procedure performed in a finished building to test and adjust air ducts for mechanical control and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to ensure uniform or specified temperature, air flow and humidity, as well as acoustics and vibration isolation. Also known as Testing and Balancing.

Beam – A horizontal structural element used to support the weight of a vertical load.

Best Value Method – A procurement method in which an awarded bid is based on price and the contractor’s previous quality work portfolio.

Bid – The bottom-line cost given by the general contractor to complete the specified work based on design, project specifications and building documents. Also known as Base Bid.

Bid Alternate – The addition or subtraction of an item or material from the submitted bid. Also known as Alternate Bid.

Bid Bond – A guarantee that a contractor can legally submit a bid and finance the construction project.

Bid Document – A package comprised of construction documents, including the invitation to bid, the bid process, the bid submission requirements, the bid form, and project specifications and plans, put out for bidding.

Bid-Hit Ratio – The rate in which a firm successfully bids or proposes on construction projects.

Bid Selection – The process of reviewing and comparing submitted contractors’ bids to select the winning bid based on services provided and price.

Bid Solicitation – Notification of a bid opportunity, either in the form of a request for proposals or a request to submit a bid.

Bill of Quantities (BOQ) – A document itemizing all materials, parts, labor, and terms and conditions of the construction contract so that a contractor can price out the project and submit a bid.

Blocking – A construction technique used to fill, join, space, or reinforce a structure.

Blueprints – Technical drawings that illustrate a project’s details, including site, floor and ceiling plans, sections and elevations.

Box Crib – A temporary structure for supporting heavy objects during construction.

Bubble Diagrams – Paper sketches of circles or ovals drawn by architects to identify the location of rooms in a floor plan and determine their relationship within the building in order to devise the best layout option.

Building Codes – Rules and regulations that the commercial construction industry must follow pertaining to design, materials, construction, construction methods, building renovation, conditions of use and occupancy, etc., that are mandated by federal, state, local, or other authorities.

Building Engineer – A professional with expertise in the areas of assessment, design, and construction and maintenance technologies of commercial buildings and their impact on the surrounding areas.

Building Envelope – A physical, waterproof separator between the interior and exterior of a structure.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) – A digital representation of a building’s lifecycle and its components in relativity to each other and the entire project to help in its planning, designing, constructing, facility operations, maintenance, demolition and materials reuse.

Built-In – Permanently affixed or attached fixtures in a building. Also known as Casework, Case Goods and Millwork.

– C –

Cant – A line or surface that is angled to cut off the tip of a square corner at 45 degrees.

Cantilever – A beam that is supported at one end, but hangs freely at the other end.

Capital Construction Project – Any development with a budget exceeding $632K.

Cast in Place – The technique of pouring concrete into forms to set in its permanent location. Also known as Precast.

Catastrophic Failure – An accident during the construction process that results in severe damage, creating a permanent loss.

Change Order – A written document specifying modifications or changes to the project’s plans, specifications, scope, timeline, or pricing, thus amending what is stated in the original construction contract. The project owner, architect, contractor and other relevant parties must all approve the change order.

Charrette – One or more collaborative sessions, usually held during the schematic design phase, in which a group of designers participate in design or planning activities to draft a solution to a design problem. Also known as Design Charrette, Charette, and Charet.

Column – A vertical structural element that transfers the load from the top of a structure to its foundation.

Completion, Substantial – The point in a commercial construction project where a significant percentage is complete, enabling the building owner to take possession of or occupy the building for its intended use. Also known Date of Substantial Completion.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) – Software used by architects, construction managers, designers, or engineers to design and draft precise two- or three-dimensional drawings or illustrations for new buildings. Also known as Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD).

Conceptual Design – An early phase in the design process to illustrate a general layout of the building, the building’s footprint and site orientation. Also known as Concept Design.

Concrete Cover – Protects the reinforcing steel from corrosion due to environmental effects; in reinforced concrete, it is the smallest distance between the outer concrete surface and the reinforcement.

Concrete Slab – A structural element of a building, the flat, horizontal surface is made of cast concrete and often used to construct a building’s floor or ceiling.

Constructability Review – A review of construction plans and specifications by a contractor or a third-party consultant to verify accuracy and details.

Construction Build Out – Modifying or changing an existing commercial space to make it functional for a tenant. Also known as Tenant Improvements and TIs.

Construction Change Directive (CCD) – Written authorization from the owner to the contractor or from the general contractor to the subcontractor to go ahead and perform unexpected work not included in the original scope of the project and before an agreement is made on the additional cost, time and impact to the schedule. Also known as Construction Change Order (CCO), Field Work Order and Field Order.

Construction Contract – Legally binding agreement specifying the nature of construction, project details and responsibilities/commitments of all parties involved.

Construction Documents (CD) – The final set of specifications, drawings, procurement requirements, contracting requirements, resource drawings, modifications and addenda detailing all aspects of the construction project and its administration. Construction documents are used to get a building permit and to construct the actual building.

Construction Drawings – The final preconstruction drawings illustrating what is being built. Also known as Drawings.

Construction Estimate – An approximation of the construction costs for a project to determine its feasibility.

Construction Management – A professional service firm that oversees the planning, design and construction of a project and makes decisions on the owner’s behalf.

Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) – A project delivery method in which a professional service firm takes on all the risks, rather than the owner, to ensure the project is completed within the guaranteed maximum price. The firm acts as an adviser to the owner and serves as the sole construction manager, hiring all needed subcontractors.

Construction Management Software – An application containing documentation, accounting and team workloads that is utilized by construction managers to run a project more efficiently.

Contingency – A percentage of construction costs allocated for unforeseen expenses. Typically, both construction and design contingencies are allocated.

Contract Formation – A binding agreement that is signed by all involved parties to indicate their acceptance of the offer for the project.

Cost Codes – A system used to track budgets and expenses related to labor activities.

Cost-Plus Contract – A binding agreement in which the contractor receives a profit payment in addition to all allowed expenses.

Course – A continuous row of bricks, concrete blocks, stone, tile, shingles, or other masonry elements. Also, a layer of identical masonry units running horizontally in a wall.

Critical Dimension – The planned dimension that must be maintained during construction to avoid compromising the critical functions of the project.

Critical Path Method – A flowchart of many interdependent tasks and activities that shows the shortest time in which construction can be finished and the building occupied. General contractors use this method to stage which tasks need to be completed first to avoid project delays.

Cross Bracing – X-shaped reinforcements that provide increased durability to a structure.

CSI Master Format – A uniform system for organizing project information into a standard order or sequence using numbers and titles.

Curtain Wall – A non-load bearing exterior wall system used to frame the structure to either provide structural safety or protect the interior from exterior environmental elements, such as sun, wind, earthquakes, temperature changes, etc.

– D –

Daily Report – A document used to report daily construction site activity, including crew information, materials installed, equipment used, work completed, safety incidents and any important information that may delay progress. Typically completed at the end of the day by the foreperson.

Damp Proofing – A procedure utilized to ensure interior drywall remains dry to prevent moisture absorption.

Dead Load – The total weight of all permanently fixed items and installed equipment in a building, including the structure itself, building materials, lighting and partitions.

Demising Wall – A divider built from the floor to the floor or roof deck to separate a building’s common areas or one tenant’s area from another.

Demountable – A non-load bearing partition that can be installed, then removed and reinstalled elsewhere that is usually made from prefabricated dry components, such as drywall.

Design-Bid-Build – A traditional project delivery method that features an architect to design the building and a contractor to build it.

Design-Build – A type of project delivery method in which a single firm handles both the design and construction of the building.

Design Development – A step in the design stage in which design decisions are made and then get refined for the construction documents.

Design Documents – All documents, including plans and specifications, needed for the design stage of a construction project.

Design Intent Drawings – Conceptual representations of a project’s size, general details and basic relationship of components.

Detail – A section of an architectural drawing showing in detail the location, composition, materials and design elements.

Diagrid – A reinforcement technique in which a framework of concrete, metal, or wooden beams are placed in diagonal grids to construct a building or roof.

– E –

Easement – A piece of property owned by one person or entity, yet another person or entity has the right or privilege to use it.

Elevation Drawing – An architectural drawing showing the front-facing view of a structure, complete with vertical height dimensions.

Encasement – Covering or coating over all interior and exterior building components.

Estimate – An approximation of labor and material costs to complete a construction project.

Eyebar – A structural element typically made of metal that consists of a straight bar with a hole (“eye”) at each end so other components can be affixed to it. It is often used in structures when tension alone (never compression) is required.

– F –

Fabrication Work – Tasks performed at a factory and then brought to the jobsite.

Falsework – A temporary structure to support a permanent structure until it is constructed.

Feasibility Study – An analysis conducted prior to starting a commercial construction project to determine if it is viable and what will be necessary to move forward. It typically includes a site investigation, a conceptual design, cost estimating and an examination of other issues that might impact the project’s outcome.

Fenestration – The process of providing openings in the building envelope for the installation of doors, windows and skylights.

Field Measure – Taking measurements inside the structure instead of using blueprints to ensure all the components of a construction project will fit as planned.

Finish Work – The final stage of construction work in which final interior work, such as glazing, tile, plaster, acoustical materials, glass, etc., is added to floors, ceilings, surfaces, etc.

Fixed Price Contract – A legal agreement in which the contractor provides a set price for the entire construction project. Also known as Lump Sum Contract and Stipulated Price Contract.

Floor Box – An electrical, telecommunications, or shared box containing power and data terminations that is set flush with a floor.

Foot Candle (Ft-c) – A standard measure of illumination for construction areas to prevent hazards and enable workers to move around safely. It represents the level of light from one candle falling on an area. For example 1 Ft-c is the amount of light falling on one square-foot area one foot away.

Footings – Reinforcements, typically made of concrete, that support the structure’s foundation to prevent settling.

Footprint of Building – The perimeter of a building at grade level.

Foreperson – The individual who supervises the work crews at a construction site. Responsibilities include overseeing daily tasks to meet the established schedules and submitting documents showing completed work. Also known as Foreman.

Formwork – A set of forms used to hold wet concrete while it sets.

Foundation – The lowest load-bearing part of a building that transfers the weight of the structure to the ground beneath it.

Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) – Items that are movable and not fixed to the building. Also known as Furniture and Equipment (F&E) and Group II Furniture/Equipment.

– G –

General Conditions – Activities, such as site management, project management and material handling costs, incurred at the construction site, but not associated with construction activity.

General Contractor – The individual who oversees the entire construction project, including the budget, subcontractors and scheduling.

Grade – The lowest point of elevation of the ground’s surface between the property line and the building.

Gross Square Footage (GSF) – The sum of all unusable space within a building, such as utility spaces, corridors, inside walls and custodian closets.

Group I Equipment – Elements of a building that are part of the structure and not movable, such as lighting, HVAC equipment and cabinetry.

Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) – A contract in which the contractor is paid for actual costs incurred plus a fixed fee based on an agreed upon ceiling cap. With this type of contract, the contractor is responsible for overruns. Also known as Not-to-Exceed Price, NTE, NTX, and Open Book Contract.

Guy-Wire – A tensioned wire, rope, or cable designed to secure and stabilize all types of high, freestanding structures. Also known as Guy, Guy-Line and Guy-Rope.

– H –

Hardwire – An electrical item wired to a permanent electronic circuit versus plugging into an electrical receptacle.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) – Equipment that provides heat, ventilation and cooling to a building.

– I –

Inspector – A trained professional who examines and reports on various aspects in the construction phase to ensure they comply with contract documents and building codes.

Integrated Labor Delivery – A project delivery method aimed at providing greater efficiencies by involving subcontractors in the planning, budgeting and scheduling process and holding them accountable for delivery of labor.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) – A project delivery method in which the owner, architect and general contractor collaborate on all stages of the project and share in the risks and rewards of the contractual agreement.

Invitation for Bid (IFB) – A request to solicit contractors to submit a proposal for products and services needed for a construction project.

– J –

Job Costing – An accounting method that calculates the actual costs of a construction project by breaking down the overall project into detailed costs per specific tasks.

Job Meeting – The weekly meeting planned and presented by the project manager to provide a progress report on the construction project and discuss any concerns, change orders, or outstanding issues. The meeting is typically attended by the owner’s representatives, the general contractor, the project architect and representatives of the various trades. Also known as Project Meeting.

Job Ordering Contracting (JOC) – A method by which numerous, commonly occurring construction projects are performed through a multiyear contract to reduce procurement time and costs.

Joint – A type of bulkhead to allow for movement between building elements that may overlap or align with each other.

Joist – A horizontal structural member used in framing to transfer loads to main, load-bearing vertical structural members.

Junction Box – An enclosure that houses wiring or cable connections to protect against the elements and prevent fires and accidental electric shocks. Also known as a J-Box.

– L –

Labor and Material Bond – A type of surety bond issued by a bonding company or bank that guarantees subcontractors and material suppliers will get paid if the general contractor fails to meet contractual obligations.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – A sustainable design practice that promotes the use of efficient building design, materials and construction practices.

Lean Construction – A construction methodology in which all stakeholders work together to maximize the project’s value while minimizing waste.

Lease-Leaseback – A project delivery method whereby the owner leases the site to a developer who then develops the project and then leases it back to the owner. In this type of collaboration, the owner maintains design responsibilities.

Lien – A legal property claim filed against an owner who has not paid the contractor or other applicable parties for the completed work.

Life Safety Signs – Building code required construction signs that are placed within the building to denote emergency egress for police, fire, security and others in the building. Also known as Fire and Life Safety Signage.

Lift Slab Construction – A construction method that involves casting roof or floor slabs on top of each other on the ground level and then raising them into place using hydraulic jacks. Also called the Youtz-Slick Method.

Live Load – The total weight of items, equipment and occupants in a building that are movable and not fixed.

Load Bearing – A structural element that supports and withstands the weight above it.

Low Bid Procurement – A bidding method in which the lowest bidder of a construction project is awarded the job.

Low Voltage Wiring – An electrical network foundation distinct from standard electrical wiring and used for digital technology and communication equipment functions. Also known as Structured Wiring and Low Voltage Cabling.

Lump Sum Contract – A binding agreement in which one price is quoted for the entire construction project.

– M –

Masonry Veneer – A nonstructural outer layer, typically made of natural stone, brick, or manufactured stone, used as an exterior wall finish on commercial buildings and to transfer out-of-plane loads to the backing.

Maquette – A miniature model used for presentation purposes to illustrate construction detailing before fabrication.

Maximum Occupancy Load – The maximum number of people who can safely occupy a structure’s space.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) – Elements of building design, system selection and construction that are key to planning, documenting, estimating, constructing, operating and maintaining the structure.

Mock-Up – A full-size model that represents the proposed design and construction details of a commercial construction project. It is used to test scale, appearance, aesthetics, colors, etc., to avoid rework.

Moling – A trenchless construction method used to lay pipes. It utilizes a mole, a pneumatically-driven machine, that powers its way into the ground to create holes.

Monocrete Construction – A type of construction method whereby modular precast concrete wall panels are bolted together to form concrete structures.

– N –

Negotiated Bid – A common method of bidding in which project owners negotiate the price and terms of the commercial construction project directly with a general contractor of their choosing.

Negotiated Procurement – A method in which a contractor is selected without any formal advertising or price competition. This method is typically used by government agencies.

Not in Contract (NIC) – Items or activities not included in the job contract. NIC is used to denote this in construction documents and drawings.

Notice to Bidders – An announcement that is part of the bidding requirements to let potential bidders know about the project up for bid and the bidding procedures.

Notice to Proceed – Written authorization from the owner to the contractor indicating approval to begin the project and denoting the official start date.

– O –

On-Center (OC) – A dimension indicating the distance between the centers of two framing members on construction drawings.

Occupancy Permit – Written certification that authorizes occupancy of the building upon the completion of the construction project and after the building inspector, fire marshal and other applicable authorities and agencies have conducted their inspections. Also known as Certificate of Completion, Certificate of Occupancy and Substantial Completion.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – An agency under the U.S. Department of Labor created in 1970 to ensure safe and healthful working environments for workers by establishing and enforcing regulatory standards and providing training, education, outreach and assistance.

– P –

Paint Finishes – Architectural paints used to complete the interior of a commercial building. The type of paint finish is based on reflectivity and includes gloss, semigloss, satin, eggshell and matte.

Partition Wall – A divider built from the floor to a suspended ceiling to create work areas, such as conference rooms or offices.

Pay Applications – A detailed invoice, typically with supporting attachments, that outlines how and when the contractor will be paid.

Payment Bond – A type of surety bond that guarantees a contractor’s ability to pay laborers, subcontractors and material suppliers in the time frame specified in the contract.

Performance Bond – A type of surety bond used by a bank or bonding company to guarantee the contractor will perform the work outlined and agreed upon in the contract. The guarantee protects the project owner if a contractor fails to meet those obligations.

Performance Gap – An occurrence when the expected work progress is not in line with the provided results.

Performance Specifications – Standards that contain minimum acceptable standards that are used instead of material specifications to give the design/build team more flexibility in meeting the construction project’s goals.

Pillar – A vertical support with or without a load-bearing function.

Plan Check – A review process to ensure building plans comply with planning, safety and engineering rules.

Plans – Architectural and engineering drawings that accompany a project’s documents and include such details as vicinity maps, site and foundation plans, roof plans, exterior and interior elevations, cross sections, etc.

Plan View – An architectural drawing showing the downward-facing view of a structure from above the site.

Plenum – A separate space to facilitate air circulation for HVAC systems or to house the building’s communications cables that is typically found under a raised floor or between a dropped ceiling.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) – A detailed evaluation conducted one year after occupancy to determine how the finished building is meeting its original design and operational objectives. In addition to a cost analysis, technical performance, space usage and environmental monitoring, feedback is obtained by the owner from its occupants, often through interviews, questionnaires, or workshops.

Post-Tensioning – A method used to reinforce concrete or a masonry element by prestressing it to counteract the external loads that will be applied to it later on.

Precast Concrete – A type of construction product in which concrete is cast off-site in a reusable mold and then transported to the construction site and lifted into place for final assembly.

Profile Floor – Elevated structural flooring below the floor and subfloor that creates an accessible passageway for mechanical and electrical services and cables. Also known as Raised Floor, False Floor, Computer Floor and Raised Access Floor.

Programming Phase – The beginning stage of a commercial construction project conducted by the architect that covers information needed for the design professionals, such as the building’s size, functional requirements, number of rooms and their location, and space usage profile.

Project Design Phase – The step in the design stage in which extensive detailing is added to schematic design phase documents, including the design of doors and windows, the location of power and data receptacles and mechanical and structural systems, and other specifications.

Project Manager – The individual who manages the entire commercial construction project. Responsibilities include project coordination, responses to RFI, change order reviews, schedules, costs, deliverables, payments, inspection, reviewing all documentation from the general contractor, and client satisfaction.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP) – A type of project delivery method in which one or more private sector companies and public or government agencies partner to build and maintain a construction project. Examples include schools, hospitals, water systems and wastewater treatment plants. Financing is typically arranged through private capital. Also known as 3P P3.

Punch List – A document created near the end of a commercial construction project that details items that do not meet the client’s specifications. Payment and full project completion are withheld until items on the punch list have been completed satisfactorily.

Purchase Order (PO) – A legally-binding agreement used by a buyer to order construction materials or equipment from a supplier. It includes basic terms, such as item description and quantity, price, time requirements and payment terms.

Purlin – A horizontal structural member in a roofing system that supports the rafters. Also known as Purline.

– R –

R Value – A measurement of how well a layer of insulation or a window, ceiling, or wall performs to prevent heat transfer.

Rebrand – When a commercial building is renovated, such as a new color scheme, overall image, or new signage, for modernization, new branding perspective, or customer focus purposes.

Receptacle – An electrical outlet.

Reflected Ceiling Plan (RCP) – Drawings included in the construction documents that show overhead requirements, including ceiling grid, ceiling treatment, lighting fixtures, speakers, sprinklers, junction boxes and materials.

Rendering – An illustration, complete with people, automobiles, plants, etc., to depict the building and site area in detail for publication or presentation. A rendering is typically drawn in pencil, colored markers, ink, or watercolors.

Request for Information (RFI) – A formal written process, usually between the general contractor and the architect, to fill in the gaps or clarify specifications, drawings, plans and agreements in the construction documents.

Request for Proposal (RFP) – A formal document that solicits firms and/or vendors to submit their qualifications and offerings to execute the scope of work, a schedule of completion and their fees for specified services.

Request for Qualifications – A solicitation to firms and/or vendors that is part of the prequalification stages of the procurement process to gather interest and qualifications in a specific commercial construction project. The invitation seeks resumes for project team members, identification of subcontractors, details of similar projects, references and team availability.

Request for Quote (RFQ) – A document with predetermined specifications that is advertised or submitted to selected contractors, suppliers, vendors, etc., to request price quotes and bids. Also known as Invitation for Bid (IFB).

Request for Tender (RFT) – A formal invitation to contractors, vendors, suppliers, etc., to submit a sealed bid in the stated format for products and serviced needed on a construction project.

Retrofit – Adding a building system, equipment, or other component to a structure that was not included in the original build.

Rim Joist – Provides lateral support for the joists so they do not lean under the weight of the load-bearing walls resting on them. Also covers the open spaces at the end of the joists.

Roll Out – A project, such as franchises involving multiple storefronts, offices, or buildings, where the same construction elements are used for brand consistency across multiple sites.

Rough-In – The stage of the commercial construction project where various electrical, mechanical, plumbing, framing, ductwork, piping, cables, risers and connection boxes are installed before finished work is started.

Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) – An approximation of a project’s cost and level of effort prior to the project’s initiation.

Rubblization – A construction technique in which existing concrete is broken down into rubble at the job site and then used in the base for new surfaces instead of hauling it away. The technique is used to save costs and time.

– S –

Scale – The dimensional relationship between the architectural drawing and the actual measurements of the proposed structure.

Scale Drawing – Denotes that all elements on an architectural drawing are drawn to the same precise reduced proportion to reflect the real dimensions of the building. Also called

Drawing to Scale and

To Scale.

Schedule of Values (SOV) – A comprehensive list of all work items needed for the entire commercial construction project and their cost.

Schematic Design – A rough construction drawing that takes place during the first phase of the design process to illustrate the physical space of the commercial construction project, including a description of the building site, details of floor levels and each room’s space, the building’s systems, and exterior and interior finishes, as well as cost estimates. Also known as Floor Plan.

Scope Creep – Uncontrolled changes and continuous modifications to a commercial construction project’s scope that result in delays, additional work beyond the original scope and cost overruns. Also known as Requirement Creep.

Scope of Work (SOW) – A written agreement that details the work to be performed for the commercial construction project in order to track its progress. Also known as Statement of Work.

Section Drawing – An illustration that shows a view of the structure as if cut along a predetermined plane, such as vertically or a certain section, to show ceiling heights, floor elevations, fire separations and other construction details. Also known as Sectional Drawing and Section.

Shiplap – A type of wooden board used as siding material, typically on sides of buildings, barns and other structures.

Shop Drawing – An illustration produced by contractors and suppliers that provides more details about a specific installation or product than what is shown in the construction documents. Shop drawings are used by the production or installation crews when performing the work.

Shoring – A construction method used to temporarily support a structure that could be in danger of collapsing while being worked on.

Sign-Off – A formal process in which the owner provides a signature of approval indicating completion of a project phase or the entire project.

Site Plan – A two-dimensional construction drawing that depicts the entire property site to scale and includes a site analysis, site orientation, building footprint, sewer and water lines, topography, hardscape, roads, sidewalks and parking. Also known as a Plot Plan.

Skirting – Fiberboard, wood, or other material that runs along the border between the interior wall and floor for aesthetic purposes.

Soil Stockpile – A storage location for soil that was cleared out when excavating the construction site so it can be used later for grading or other purposes.

Sole Source Procurement – A noncompetitive procurement method used when there is only one vendor or company that can provide the products or services needed for the project. Also known as Direct Sourcing and No-Bid Contract.

Specifications – A written document that provides details about the work that must be completed in a commercial construction project. Such details include the scope of work, level of workmanship required, quality of the materials to be used, the installation process and the execution method. Also known as Specs, Spec Sheet and Cut Sheet.

Standard – Practices or technologies deemed acceptable by governing bodies, regulators and members of the commercial construction industry. Also known as Industry Standard.

Subcontract – The practice of using an outside trade professional or company to perform certain parts of a project.

Subcontractor – A licensed and insured professional who is skilled in a specialized field of construction, such as concrete, plumbing, or electrical, and hired by the project’s general contractor.

Submittals – Various construction documentation, such as shop drawings, samples, and product and material data, submitted by the general contractor for approval from the architect and/or engineer to ensure the correct equipment, products and materials are installed.

Substructure – A major component of a building that is built below the ground level and whose function is to transfer the loads of the above structure to the underlying soil.

Superstructure – A major component of a building that is built above the ground level and serves as the building’s intended use.

Sustainability – A practice that considers the social, economic and environmental aspects of the commercial construction project in order to reduce the building’s footprint through the use of renewable energy sources, materials that preserve natural resources, better insulation materials, efficient ventilation systems and energy efficient appliances and products.

– T –

Takeoff – The process of using construction documents and drawings to measure and/or count the amount of items and materials needed to complete the commercial construction project.

Target Value Design (TVD) – A management practice and culture in which the entire project team collaboratively agrees to defined goals and a budget, which then guide them to a successful conclusion.

Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOC) – A certification that allows the occupying staff to move in equipment, furniture and merchandise, but the building cannot be opened to the public until all remaining work is completed.

Tenant Improvements (TIs) – Customized alterations made by a building’s owner to rental space to configure the space for the needs of a tenant as stated in the lease agreement. Examples of TIs include changes to lighting, wall finishes or painting, and fixtures. Also known as Leasehold Improvements.

Tender – A submission response to a bid invitation indicating how much a contractor or supplier will pay for their services or supplies.

Tie – A linear structural component used to resist tension.

Tie Rod – A temporary structure used to hold together and secure the formwork during the concrete pouring process.

Time and Materials Contract – A formal written agreement that states the contractor of the commercial construction project will be paid solely for the costs of materials and the time spent doing the work.

Topographic Map – A detailed representation of the land area, providing horizontal and vertical measurements of both man-made and natural features and geographic positions.

– U –

Underpinning – A process by which more support is added below the ground level to strengthen an existing foundation. Types of support include concrete and beams.

Unit Price Contract – A formal written agreement in which the contractor is paid according to the total quantity of items needed for the commercial construction project and unit prices, such as hourly rates, rate per work volume, rate per unit, etc.

– V –

Value Engineering – A construction delivery method that focuses on building a commercial project at the most affordable cost without sacrificing quality or performance.

Verify in Field (VIF) – A construction document notation that signifies certain dimensions on a construction drawing need additional on-site verification because immediate access to the information was not available at the time of the drawing.

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) – A type of technology that creates all the multidisciplinary models for a commercial construction project so it can be evaluated collaboratively from start to finish before breaking ground.

Voided Biaxial Slab – A type of reinforced concrete block that contains air-filled voids inside to reduce the amount of concrete required while still maintaining its durability and strength, and carrying out its function of minimizing the load on structural members.

– W –

Walk-Through – A physical inspection of a building or site that takes place before the start of a project to verify field conditions and help prepare a bid and upon completion of the project to ensure all work is completed as specified in the contract.

White Box – A partially finished commercial space before tenant improvements and finishing that includes only the basics: concrete floors, white walls, plumbing, electrical, restrooms and emergency evacuation routes. Also called Vanilla Box, Vanilla Shell and Warm Shell.

Working Drawing – A two-dimensional orthogonal illustration of the building that includes information needed by the general contractor, subcontractor, or fabricator to construct the structure. The working drawing becomes part of the building project’s contract documents.

Wythe – A continuous vertical section of masonry that is part of the structure and can be either independent or interlocked with an adjoining wythe.

– Z –

Zoning – Government regulations that outline how land or property can be developed and used. The laws also may regulate the maximum height and features of buildings in certain areas or neighborhoods.