Glossary of Terms

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities from performing everyday public activities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

As-built drawings are contract drawings marked up by the contractor showing on-site changes and/or added information not originally included.

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 for the stated bid amount if the contract is awarded.

Building Information Modeling (BIM): 
A digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as from earliest conception to demolition.

Building Code:
A set of rules that specify the minimum standards for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. The building code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate governmental authority.

Building Permit:
A written document issued by the jurisdiction having authority permitting construction to begin on a specific project in accordance with drawings and specifications approved by the authority. Your design and construction team should advise you on what permits are required and at what juncture of development they are processed, be familiar with the building codes in your area and assist in obtaining the necessary permits.

Change Order:
A written, signed document between the owner and the contractor that authorizes a change in the work, an adjustment in the contract sum or the contract time. The contract sum and the contract time may be altered only by change order. Change orders occur for a variety of reasons including those initiated by the owner to modify materials or redesign if needs change during the course of construction, or as a result of unforeseen conditions like discovering an unmarked utility, unsuitable soil conditions, or the unknown preexistence of hazardous materials to name a few.

Constructability Reviews:
The process of the contractor evaluating the construction documents for clarity, consistency, completeness, and ease of construction to achieve overall project objectives.

Construction Cost: 
The contractor’s costs for labor, material, equipment, services, contractor’s overhead and profit, and other direct and indirect construction costs. Construction cost usually does not include the compensation paid to the architect, engineer, and consultants, cost of the land, rights-of-way or other costs which are defined in the contract documents as being the responsibility of the owner.

Construction Documents:
Documents that  are listed in the contract agreement that usually include the architectural and engineering plans, specifications, addenda, general and supplementary conditions, and any other documents that the owner and contractor agree to be listed in the agreement for a specific construction project.

A sum of money, which may be a percentage of the bid value, that is included in the construction budget to cover any additional costs that may arise during construction as a result of unknown events.

Divisions of Work: 
An indexing system for organizing construction data, particularly construction specifications. The Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) MasterFormat is the most widely accepted index. The MasterFormat is a list of Divisions, and Section numbers with associated titles within each Division, to organize information about a facility’s construction requirements and associated activities.

Due Diligence – Commercial Property:
The process through which a potential purchaser evaluates a target property for acquisition. When purchasing property, due diligence should include the geotechnical soils report and environmental assessments. Environmental due diligence during commercial real estate transactions will include phase I and phase II environmental site assessments.

Building Elevation:
A scale drawing of the side, front, or rear of a given structure.

Environmental Assessment:
A procedure to ensure that the environmental implications of the decision to construct a building on a specific parcel of land are taken into account. The process involves an analysis of the likely effects on the environment, undertaking a public consultation exercise and incorporating any public comments in a final report.

Experience Modifier Rate (EMR): 
Based on company payroll, as well as the history of worker’s compensation claims over a three-year period, an industry specific formula calculates expected loss rates for the average company. In the case of EMRs, the lower a company’s number, the better that company has performed. The industry standard EMR is 1.0.

Fast Track:
The process of dividing the design of a project into phases in such a manner as to permit construction to start before the entire design phase is complete. The overlapping of the construction phase with the design phase is intended to expedite building completion.

General Conditions (of the contract):
A written portion of the contract documents agreed to by the owner and contractor stipulating the parties minimum acceptable performance requirements including the rights, responsibilities and relationships of the parties involved in the performance of the contract.

General Conditions Costs:
These costs can include project staffing, computers, software, communication costs, jobsite trailers, etc.- all the specific project-related costs for the construction firm to perform their contracted duties. When project general conditions costs are required to be separated from other costs, a specific list of items to include as general condition cost needs to be agreed to by the contractor and owner. See project requirements for other project costs that can be tracked separately when needed.

Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP):
A contractual form wherein the construction manager/contractor and owner agree to  a maximum price for the cost of the work based on an agreed-to scope. The owner is provided all invoices for the cost of the work and if the project is completed at a cost less than the GMP, the savings can be shared between the parties.

Owner’s Agent or Representative:
The individual representing the owner on the project team. The designated owner’s representative can be given a wide range of authority in making decisions for the owner, all of which needs to be established in the project agreement.

Partnering is a formal management process in which all parties to a project voluntarily agree at the outset to adopt a cooperative, team-based approach to project development and problem resolution to eliminate – or at least reduce – conflicts, litigation, and claims, and to commit to mutually agreed to goals and objectives for the success of the project.

Performance/Payment Bond:
A written form of security from a surety (bonding) company on behalf of a contracted party (contractor or subcontractor – ‘obligor’) to the other contracted party (owner or contractor – ‘obligee’), guaranteeing payment in the event the ‘obligor’ fails to perform all labor and services, or pay for all materials and equipment, in accordance with the contract/subcontract.

Plan View:
Line drawings that represent the horizontal geometrical section of a building. The horizontal section is taken at an elevation to include the relative positions of the walls, partitions, windows, doors, columns, etc.

Preconstruction services are a range of activities performed prior to actual construction. Activities may include value analysis, constructability, cost and schedule studies, procurement of long lead time items and staffing requirements.

Prime Contractor:
Any contractor having a contract directly with the owner. 

Project Management:
A delivery system wherein the project manager provides comprehensive management services to the owner from the programming stage through occupancy, serving as the owner’s representative, providing all the procurement and coordination of design, construction, closeout and move-in services.

Project Requirements Costs:
These costs can include material/equipment hoisting, trash removal, project site layout, permits, temporary roads/facilities and other associated costs required to complete the terms and conditions of the contract that are not included in the general conditions cost or a subcontract.

Program Management:
The practice of professional project management applied to a capital improvement program of one or more projects from inception to completion.

Public Purpose Bond Program:
An often tax-exempt bond issued by a city, county, state, or other governmental agency for the financing of public projects. The approval for a bond program is typically obtained through a vote of constituents.

This list is prepared by the contractor and/or project designer prior to substantial completion or final completion of a project. It includes items of work that require corrective action or completion to meet the contract requirements. Also known as a deficiency list.

Record Drawings:
Record drawings are usually prepared by the architect and reflect on-site changes and added information the contractor noted on the as-built drawings. They are often compiled as a set of on-site changes made for the owner per the owner-architect contract.

Request for Information (RFI) relates to a formal process of asking for additional information from the designer regarding construction documents. RFIs generally come from contractors requiring additional information during the bidding process or during construction

RFQ and RFP:
Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP) are requests from an owner for a document that demonstrates the firm’s qualifications to undertake a specific project. These requests generally include instructions regarding format, content and/or assembly of the document.

A plan for performing the work that contains a breakdown of work activities into increments of estimated time for completion of divisions of work that can be easily tracked. All entities involved in the project should participate in the development of the schedule. The reason for this is that a schedule itself is an estimate: each date in the schedule is estimated, and if those dates do not have the buy-in of the people who are going to do the work, the schedule will be inaccurate.

Scope of Work:
A document that describes in detail the work to be performed and specifies the exact nature of the tasks to be accomplished in connection with a designated project or portion of a project. A contractor’s or subcontractor’s SOW is a document that spells out what is necessary to achieve completion of a project, or a portion thereof, that is the sum of all tasks and activities required for construction.

Self-performed Work:
 Tasks or elements of work conducted by a prime, general or main contractor that, in some instances, might otherwise be bid and awarded to a subcontractor.

A detailed, exact statement of particulars, especially statements prescribing materials, methods, and quality of work for a specific project. See Division of Work for further information.

A subordinate contractor to the prime, general or main contractor.

Substantial Completion:
The stage when the project, or a designated portion, is sufficiently complete in accordance with the contract documents so that the owner can occupy or utilize the project for its intended use.

A project delivery type where a company performs all the activities from design to operational testing before the project is turned over to another company to occupy.

Value Engineering or Value Analysis:
Value Engineering (performed by Registered Professionals) or Value Analysis is not a design/peer review or a cost-cutting exercise. The process is a creative, organized effort, which analyzes the requirements of a project for the purpose of achieving the essential functions at the lowest total costs (capital, staffing, energy, maintenance) over the life of the project. Through a group investigation, using experienced, multi-disciplinary teams, value and economy are improved through the study of alternate design concepts, materials, and methods without compromising the functional and value objectives of the client.

One that sells materials or equipment not fabricated to a special design.

Restrictions of areas or regions of land within specific geographical areas based on permitted building size, character, and uses as established by governing urban authorities.