Top 50 Construction Terms Construction Professionals Should Know
Top 50 Construction Terms Construction Professionals Should Know

Top 50 Construction Terms Construction Professionals Should Know


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For the construction professionals new in the field, it quickly becomes evident that what you learn in the university is not necessarily sufficient to become confident in the construction industry. Some things can’t really be taught in a classroom; they are acquired through years of working on-site and solving problems first-hand. Among the many things you understand on-site are the workers’ construction terminologies that can sound like nonsense to professionals at first.

Managing construction is difficult if you don’t possess the general knowledge of common terminology in the industry. Not being able to keep up the conversation with your clients and workers, especially during negotiations, will have a negative impact on your business. Mastering the construction industry jargon can take a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to.

In this blog, we’ve gathered the top 50 terms that every construction professional should know so you can begin to take your company to the next level.

Construction Industry Lingo

All in-rate – In both the construction and finance world, an all-in-rate is the total expenses generated by an item, already inclusive of the direct and indirect cost.

Architect of Record – The architect of record indicates the person whose name is written in the construction permits on a project site. This person is not necessarily the designer of the project, but rather the designer hired to handle all the on-site paperwork.

As-Builts – These are a complete record of the approved building plans or drawings, specifications, and work completed with a full account of changes made during the construction operations.

ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) – Refers to the International Standards Organization that offers technical standards for materials, products, services, and systems in a wide range of industries, including construction standards.

Bids – Bids are price proposals based on design plans are specifications.

Bill of Quantities (BoQ) – BoQ is a contract document that itemizes all materials and job tasks involved in a project used as a reference for cost estimation.

Blocking – Blocking is technique construction workers use to join or fill building components and reinforce building structures.

Blueprints – Before drawings were popular, blueprints, which are 2D technical drawings, was the standard reference for construction plans.

Box crib – A makeshift element used to provide additional support or reinforcement to heavy objects used throughout the construction process.

Building Engineer – Someone who is an expert in construction design, operations, maintenance, and assessment technologies.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) – A leading construction technology that shows a digital representation of a structure to assist in the lifecycle of constructing the building. BIM supports construction planning, design, and operations to streamline collaboration, reduce waste, and improve a project’s delivery.

Catastrophic Failure – An accident severe enough to create a permanent loss in the project that cannot be undone.

Construction Crew Management – An application used by project or construction professionals to efficiently manage a project team as it features documentation, task scheduling, and time tracking. One of the frontrunners of the industry is Pro Crew Schedule that also highlights its cloud-based technology.

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

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) – An architecture software used for creating detailed building models.

Cost Codes – Codes based on labor activities that are generally used to track budgets and expenses.

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

Cross Bracing – A structural technique that uses X-shaped reinforcements that provide enhanced endurance and durability.

Daily Report – A report that documents crew information, materials installed, safety incidents, and work complete typically created by the foreman before a crew member leaves the construction site. To streamline this essential end-of-the-day documentation, some companies incorporate construction scheduling software in their business to update their database in real-time whenever they update their records. 

Design-bid-build – A traditional project method where the owner contracts with a firm to design a building, then seek bids from the general contractors to oversee its construction. The general contractors then seek bids from trade subcontractors to perform the labor.

Design-build – A conventional project delivery method where the owner hires a single firm or company to handle both the design and the building’s construction operation.

Diagrid – A type of reinforcement technique that uses steel beams places in diagonal grids. This method helps reduce the total amount of steel used in a structure.

Drawings – Are written and visual records of how a structure is to be built. It can be architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing, etc.

Field Work Order – A document given by the general contractor to subcontractors providing instructions and directions on how to complete work may differ from the original scope. 

Floor Plan – These drawing of the building layout with details of each room space viewed from above (bird’s eye view).

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) – An abbreviation used to signify the construction subsection, which comprises heating, ventilation, cooling structures, and air conditioning systems.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) – A construction model where a single multi-party contract is enacted between the owner, designer, and builder. The contract specifies that all stakeholders will share both the risks and incentive rewards of the project. 

Integrated Labor Delivery (ILD) – This incorporated labor closer to the IPD framework, as subcontractors execute 80-100% of the laboring works on a construction project. While ILD requires labor at the design phase of the project, it also streamlines its process using prefab technology to provide a more united structure.

Job Costing – An accounting method used to track construction work completed and measures of the amount spent on activity aligns with the project’s overall budget.

Lean Construction – A construction methodology wherein all stakeholders share goals and relationships to maximize the project’s total value while minimizing waste.

Lien – A property claim issued by the general contractors against the owner when they are not adequately compensated for the completed work.

Pay Applications – A construction document that specifies how the contractor will be paid. Pay applications also include materials and services rendered in completing the works.

Precast Concrete – One of the most-widely used prefab construction components where concrete elements such as walls and slabs are created offsite and transported to the construction site for final assembly.

Punch List – A document listing all the construction work that the owner finds unsatisfactory. It is typically made before the project closeout and turnover as the contractor needs to complete the listed items before they receive the full payment.

Purchase Order (PO) – A document issued by the buyer indicates their intent to purchase products and services from the seller, such as a specific construction trade supplier. Purchase orders generally specify the type, quantities, and prices of products and services expected from a supplier.

Project Management Software  – A digital tool designed to help project managers run the project seamlessly using online documentation and time-tracking technology.

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

Request for Information (RFI) – A preliminary document that contains general information from potential suppliers and vendors who wished to be a part of the construction team.

Request for Proposal (RFP) – A document request to vendors and suppliers to acquire an overview of their offerings and costs for specific materials and services.

Request for Quote (RFQ) – A document similar to RFP, but focuses more on vendor’s cost with the predetermined specification of the project provided by the contractor.

Schedule of Values – A construction project’s work item list that corresponds to their costs or value as the list represents the full amount of the work project.

Section Drawing – A drawing plan shows the building’s view as if it were cut from a vertical plane.

Shop Drawings – A contractor’s drawings that present the details on the fabrication of construction components.

Specifications – Proves details regarding the works and materials quality expected for the building design.

Subcontract – An agreement made between the general contractor and the subcontractor summarizes the project’s specific work services. Some modern companies incorporate subcontractor scheduling software tools with their collaborations with the construction team to streamline the communication and efficiently implement tasks.

Submittal– Also called Transmittals, are shop drawings, material data, and product data for engineers and architects to verify that the appropriate products were installed.

Target Value Design – This is a design method that involves all the key stakeholders— owners, designers, contractors, and subcontractors— who will execute the project to meet the owner’s budget and goals.

Time and Materials Contracts – A contracting method where the contractor is paid for the actual costs rendered, including materials and time.

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) – Consists of all multi-disciplinary projects such as visualizations, analysis models, engineering modeling, and costs.

Zoning – Regulation implemented by the government that dictates the usage of project areas.

By further understanding the above standard construction terms, you can further understand project management’s essence for construction. You can also hear many of these words used in other industries such as architecture, engineering, procurement, and cost estimating.

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