Facilities, Learning Environments, Transportation, and Technology Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms provides explanations of technical and construction language. This resource can be used by program directors and members of the local program's facility planning team.

Listed below are terms, phrases, and definitions used by architects, engineers, contractors, and managers in the performance of a construction project. This listing may be used by non-construction professionals as a guide of understanding the terminology of a construction/renovation project.

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Abate or Abatement: To remove material.

Abstract of Title: An outline history of the ownership of a parcel of land, from the original grant, with changes in title, and with a statement of all mortgages, liens, encumbrances, affecting the property.

Acceptance Test: A test conducted by a purchaser (or his or her agent) to determine if the material, devices, or equipment delivered conforms to the purchase contract specifications or the product supplied by the vendor.

Access: A means of approach, e.g., a road, street, or walk.

Accessible: Allowing physical contact, as by means of an easily removable cover or door, or a part of the building structure or finish materials. Providing access to a fixture, appliance, or piece of equipment; removal of a cover, panel, plate, or similar obstruction may be required.

Accident: A sudden, unexpected event identified as to time and place.

Acre: A unit of land measurement equal to 43,560 square feet or 4046.85 square meters; 1 square mile (2.59 square kilometers) equals 640 acres.

Activity: In CPM terminology, a task or item of work that must be performed in order to complete a project.

Activity Duration: In CPM terminology, the amount of time estimated as required to accomplish an activity.

ADD.: On drawings, an abbreviation for addendum.

Addendum: A supplement to bidding documents, issued prior to the submission of bids, for the purpose of clarifying, correcting, or adding to the specifications previously issued.

Addition: A floor (or floors), a room, wing, or other expansion to an existing building. Any new construction which increases the height or floor area of an existing building or adds to it (as a porch or attached garage). An amount added to the contract sum by a change order.

Additional Services: The professional services may, upon the owner's request or approval, be rendered by the architect in addition to the basic services identified in the owner-architect agreement.

Additive Alternate: An alternate bid resulting in an addition to the same bidder's base bid. Same as alternate bid.

Administration of the Construction Contract: Same as construction phase; administration of the construction contract.

Administrative Authority: The individual, official, board, department, council, or leader established and authorized by a political subdivision created by law to administer and enforce the provisions of the code.

Advertisement for Bids: The published public notice soliciting bids for a construction project. Most frequently used to conform to legal requirements pertaining to projects to be constructed under public authority, and usually published in newspapers of general circulation in those districts from which the public funds are derived.

A/E: Abbreviation for architect-engineer.

Agency: A relationship by which one party, usually the agency, is empowered to enter into binding transactions affecting the legal rights of another party, usually called the principle, as for example, entering into a contract or buying or selling property in someone's name or on someone's behalf. An administrative branch of government.

Agent: One who is empowered to enter into binding transactions on behalf of another.

Agreement: An arrangement indicating the intent of a contract but not necessarily fulfilling all the enforceable provisions of it. A meeting of minds. A legally enforceable promise or promises between two or among several persons. On a construction project, the document stating the essential terms of the construction contract which incorporates by reference the other contract documents.

Agreement Form: A document setting forth in printed form the general provisions of an agreement with spaces provided for insertion of specific data relating to a particular project.

AIA: Abbreviation for "American Institute of Architects."

All-in Contract: Same as turn-key job.

Alterations: Remodeling.

Alternate Bid: The amount stated in the bid to be added to or deducted from the amount of the base bid if the corresponding change in project scope or alternate materials and/or methods of construction is accepted.

American Bond: Same as common bond.

Application for Payment: The contractor's written request for payment of amount due for completed portions of the work; may include, if the contract so provides, materials delivered and suitably stored pending their incorporation into the work.

Appraisal: An evaluation or estimate (preferably by a qualified professional appraiser) of the market or other value, cost, utility, or other attribute of land or other facility.

Approved: Referring to materials, devices, or construction accepted by the authority having jurisdiction, by reason of tests or investigations conducted by it or by an agency satisfactory to the authority, or by reason of accepted principles or tests by national authorities or technical or scientific organizations.

Approved Equal: Materials, equipment, or method approved by the architect for use in the work as being acceptable as an equivalent in essential attributes to the material, equipment, or method specified in the contract document.

Approving Authority: The individual agency, board, department, or official established and authorized by a political subdivision which is created by law to administer and enforce specified requirements.

Arbitration: The binding resolution of disputes by one or more neutral persons, as a substitute for judicial proceedings; may be invoked only by agreement of the parties to the dispute, but such agreement may be arrived at before there is an actual dispute, for example, through a clause in a contract.

Architect: A person trained and experienced in the design of buildings and coordination and supervision of all aspects of the construction of buildings.

Architect-Engineer: An individual or firm offering professional services as both architect and engineer; terms generally used in government contracts, particularly those with the federal government.

Architect's Approval: The architect's written or imprinted acknowledgment that materials, equipment, or methods of construction are acceptable for use in the work.

Architect's Scale: A scale having graduations along its edges so that scale drawings can be measured directly in feet.

Architectural: Pertaining to architecture, its features, characteristics, or details.

Architectural Drawing: One of a number of drawings prepared by an architect for a construction project, e.g., plans, elevations, and details.

Architecture: The art and science of designing and building structures, or large groups of structures, in keeping with aesthetic and functional criteria.

Area Method: A method of estimating probable total construction cost by multiplying the adjusted gross floor area by a predetermined cost per unit of area.

Article: A subdivision of a document.

Assessed Valuation: The value of a property as determined by a recognized legal entity for real estate tax purposes; often this valuation is less than the true market value of the property.

Assessment: A tax, charge, or levy on property.

Assessment Ratio: Of a property, the ratio between its market value and its assessed value.

Assignment: The transfer of a legal right.

Attorney-in-Fact: A person authorized to act for or in behalf of another person or organization, to the extent prescribed in a written instrument known as a power of attorney.

Authority: Same as administrative authority.

Authority Having Jurisdiction: A federal, state, or local entity having statutory authority. In many instances, the delegated agent assumes the role of the authority having jurisdiction.


Base Bid: The amount of money stated in the bid as the sum for which the bidder offers to perform the work, not including that work for which alternate bids are also submitted.

Base Bid Specifications: The specifications listing or describing only those materials, equipment, and methods of construction upon which the base bid must be predicated, exclusive of any alternate bids.

Base Services: The services performed by an architect during the following five phases of a project: schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding or negotiation, and contract administration.

Bid: An offer to perform the work described in a contract at a specified cost. A complete and properly signed proposal to do the work. Competition for a job based on lowest cost to do the work. Bids are generally cost specific, based on the cost of labor, materials, profit, and overhead. Bids are normally not negotiated and cannot be changed once accepted by the owner. Bids are time sensitive and are generally good for 30 to 60 days after the bid opening.

Bid Bond: A form of bid security executed by the bidder as principal and by a surety.

Bid Date: The date established by the owner or the architect for the receipt of bids.

Bidder: One who submits a bid for a prime contract with the owner, as distinct from a sub-bidder who submits a bid to a prime bidder. A bidder is not a contractor on a specific project until a contract exists between him/herself and the owner.

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

Bidding or Negotiation Phase: The fourth phase of the architect's basic service, during which competitive bids or negotiated proposals are sought as the basis for awarding a contract.

Bidding Period: The calendar period beginning at the time of issuance of bidding requirements and contract documents and ending at the prescribed bid time.

Bidding Requirements: Those documents providing information and establishing procedures and conditions for the submission of bids. They consist of the notice to bidders or advertisement for bids, instructions to bidders, invitation to bid, and sample forms.

Bid Forms:A form furnished to a bidder to be filled out, signed, and submitted as his or her bid.

Bid Guarantee: Same as bid security.

Bid Letting: Same as bid opening.

Bid Opening: The opening and tabulation of bids submitted by the prescribed bid time and in conformity with the prescribed procedures.

Bid Price: The sum stated in the bid for which the bidder offers to perform the work.

Bid Security: The deposit of cash, certified check, cashier's check, bank draft, money order, or bid bond submitted with a bid and serving to guarantee to the owner that the bidder, if awarded the contract, will execute such contract in accordance with the bidding requirements and the contract documents.

Bid Time: The date and hour established by the owner or the architect for the receipt of bids.

Bona Fide Bid: A bid submitted in good faith, complete and in prescribed form which meets the conditions of the bidding requirements and is properly signed by someone legally authorized to sign such bid.

Bond: A financial guarantee by a surety company that work will be completed as described in a contract.

Bonding Capacity: An indication of a contractor's credit rating.

Bonus and Penalty Clause: A provision in a construction contract for payment of a bonus to the contractor for completing the work prior to a stipulated date, and a charge against the contractor for failure to complete the work by such stipulated date.

Boundary Survey: A mathematically closed diagram of the completed peripheral boundary of a site, reflecting dimensions, compass bearings, and angles.

Builder's Risk Insurance: A specialized form of property insurance to cover work in the course of construction. Also called property insurance.

Building Area: The total area of the site which is covered by buildings as measured on a horizontal plane at ground level.

Building Code: A collection of rules and regulations adopted by authorities having appropriate jurisdiction to control the design and construction of buildings, alteration, repair, quality of materials, use and occupancy, and related factors of buildings within their jurisdiction.

Building Inspector: A member of a building department, usually of a municipality, who inspects construction to determine if it conforms to both the requirements of the building code and the approved plans.

Building Permit: A written authorization to an applicant for a specific project allowing him or her to proceed with construction; granted by the authorized agency, a tribe, or local municipality, having jurisdiction after plans have been filed and reviewed.

Building Rehabilitation: The returning of a building to a useful state by repair, alteration, and modification.

Building Restoration: The accurate re-establishment of the form and details of a building, its artifacts, and the site on which it is located, usually as it appeared at a particular time.

Building Restriction: Any one of a number of restrictions, imposed on the construction of a building or the use of land. Also known as restrictive covenant.

Building Services: The utilities and services supplied and distributed within a building generally related to the building environment.

Building Site: Same as site.


Cash Allowance: An amount established in the contract documents for inclusion in the contract sum to cover the cost of prescribed items not specified in detail, with provision that variations between such amount and the finally determined cost of the prescribed items will be reflected in change orders appropriately adjusting the contract sum.

Certificate for Payment: A statement from the architect to the owner confirming the amount of money due the contractor for work accomplished or materials and equipment suitable stored, or both.

Certificate of Insurance: A memorandum issued by an authorized representative of an insurance company stating the types, amounts, and effective dates of insurance in force for a designated insured.

Certificate of Occupancy: A document issued by governmental authority certifying that all or a designated portion of a building complies with the provisions of applicable statutes and regulations, and permitting occupancy for its designated use.

Certification: A declaration in writing that a particular product or service complies with a specification or stated criterion.

Change Order: A written order to the contractor signed by the owner and the architect issued after the execution of the contract, authorizing a change in the work or an adjustment in the contract sum or the contract time as originally defined by the contract documents; may add or subtract from or vary the scope of work. A change order may be signed by the architect alone (provided he or she has written authority from the owner).

Changes in Work: Changes ordered by the owner consisting of additions, deletions, or other revisions within the general scope of the contract, the contract sum, and the contract time being adjusted accordingly.

Clerk of The Works: Same as project representative.

Closed List of Bidders: Same as invited bidders.

Closed Specifications: Specifications stipulating the use of specific products or processes without provision for substitution. Same as base bid specifications.

Code: A legal instrument adopted within a political jurisdiction that prescribes the minimum acceptable levels of the design, construction, installation, and performance of materials, components, devices, equipment, appliances used in a building, or building system and/or subsystem.

Code of Practice: A technical document setting forth standards of good construction for various materials and trades.

Community: A people having common rights, privileges, or interests, or living in the same place under the same laws and regulations.

Compensation:Payment for services rendered or products or materials furnished or delivered.

Completed Operations Insurance: Liability insurance coverage for injuries to persons or damage to property occurring after an operation is completed but attributed to that operation; does not apply to damage to the completed work itself.

Completion Bond, Construction Bond, Contract Bond: The guarantee of a bonding company that a contractor will perform and deliver the work contracted for free of all encumbrances and liens.

Completion Date: In the contract documents, the date of substantial completion of the work.

Completion List: Same as inspection list.

Comprehensive General Liability Insurance: A broad form of liability insurance covering claims for bodily injury and property damage which combines under one policy coverage for all liability exposures on a blanket basis and automatically covers new and unknown hazards that may develop; automatically includes contractual liability coverage for certain types of contracts.

Comprehensive Services: Professional services performed by the architect in addition to the basic services in such related areas as project analysis, programming, land use studies, feasibility investigations, financing, construction management, and special consulting services.

Conditions of the Bid: Conditions set forth in the instructions to bidders, the notice to bidders or advertisement for bids, the invitation to bidders, or other similar bid documents prescribing the conditions under which bids are to be prepared, executed, submitted, received, and accepted.

Conditions of the Contract: Those portions of the contract documents which define, set forth or relate to contract terminology, the rights and responsibilities of the contracting parties an of others involved in the work, requirements for safety and for compliance with laws and regulations, general procedures for the orderly prosecution and management of the work, payments to the contractor, and similar provisions of a general, non-technical nature.

Consent of Surety: Written consent of the surety on a performance bond and/or labor and material payment bond to such contract charges as change orders or reductions in the contractor's retainer, or to final payment, or to waiving notification of contract changes.

Construction: All the on-site work done in building or altering structures, from land clearance through completion, including excavation, erection, and the assembly and installation of components and equipment.

Construction Bond: A completion bond.

Construction Budget: The sum established by the owner as available for construction of the project; the highest acceptable bid.

Construction Cost:The cost of all the construction portions of a project; generally based upon the sum of the construction contracts and other direct construction costs; does not include the compensation paid to the architect and consultants, the cost of land, right-of-way, or other costs which are defined in the contract documents as being the responsibility of the owner.

Construction Documents: The working drawings and specifications.

Construction Documents Phase: The third phase of the architect's basic services. In this phase, the architect prepares from the approved design development documents for approval by the owner, the working drawings and specifications and the necessary bidding information. In this phase, the architect also assists the owner in the preparation of bidding forms, the conditions of the contract, and the form of agreement between the owner and the contractor.

Construction Inspector: Same as project representative.

Construction Loan: A loan to builder for a short-term, financing construction prior to permanent financing.

Construction Management: The special management services performed by the architect or others during the construction phase of the project, under separate or special agreement with the owner. This is not part of the architect's basic services, but is an additional service sometimes included in the comprehensive services.

Construction Phase - Administration of the Construction Contract: The fifth and final phase of the architect's basic services, which includes the architect's general administration of the construction contracts.

Construction Survey: Same as engineering survey.

Consultant: An individual or organization engaged by the owner or the architect to render professional consulting services complementing or supplementing the architect's services.

Contingency Allowance: A sum designated to cover unpredictable or unforeseen items of work or changes subsequently required by the owner.

Contingency Agreement: Any agreement under which the rights or obligations of a party are subject to the happening of stated contingency.

Contract: A legally enforceable promise or agreement between two or more persons.

Contract Administration: The duties and responsibilities of the architect or consultant during the construction phase.

Contract Bond: Same as completion bond.

Contract Date: Same as date of agreement.

Contract Documents: Those documents that comprise a contract: owner-contractor agreement, conditions of the contract, plans and/or drawings, specifications, all addenda, modifications, and changes together with any other items stipulated as being specifically included.

Contracting Officer: The person designated as the official representative of the federal government with specific authority to act on behalf of the government in connection with the project.

Contractor: One who undertakes responsibility for the performance of construction work, including the provision of labor and materials, in accordance with plans and specifications and under a contract specifying cost and schedule for completion of the work; the person or organization responsible for performing the work and identified as such in the owner-contractor agreement.

Contractor's Affidavit: A certified statement of the contractor, properly notarized, relating to payment of debts and claims, release of liens, or similar matters requiring specific evidence for the protection of the owner. Same as non-collusion affidavit.

Contractor's Estimate: A forecast of construction cost, as opposed to a firm proposal, prepared by the contractor for a project or a portion of a project.

Contractor's Liability Insurance: Insurance purchased and maintained by the contractor to protect him or her from specified claims which may arise out of or result from his or her operations under the contract, whether such operations be by him/herself or by any subcontractor or by anyone directly or indirectly employed by any of them, or by anyone for whose acts any of them may be liable.

Contractor's Option: A provision of the contract documents under which the contractor may select certain specified materials, methods, or systems at his or her own option, without change in the contract sum.

Contractor's Proposal: Same as bid.

Contract Sum: The price stated in the owner-contractor agreement, which is the total amount payable by the owner to the contractor for the performance of the work under the contract document; can be adjusted only by a signed change order.

Contract Time: The period of time established in the contract documents pursuant to other agreement between the parties, or by operation of law, within which the work must be completed.

Contractual Liability: Liability assumed by a party under a contract by express language, implication, or operation of law. A "hold harmless" clause.

Cost Breakdown: Same as schedule of values.

Cost-Plus-Fee Agreement: An agreement under which the contractor or the architect is reimbursed for his or her direct and indirect costs and in addition, is paid a fee for his or her services. The fee is usually stated as a stipulated sum or as a percentage of cost.

CPM: Abbreviation for Critical Path Method.

Critical Path Method:CPM, a system of project planning, scheduling, and control, which combines all relevant information into a single master plan, permitting the establishment of the optimum sequence and duration of operations; the interrelation of all the efforts required to complete a construction project are shown; and indication is given of the effort which is critical to timely completion of the project.


Damages: Same as liquidated damages.

Date of Agreement: The date stated on the face of the agreement. If no date is stated, it may be the date on which the agreement is actually signed, if this is recorded, or it may be the date established by the award; also referred to as the contract date.

Date of Commencement of the Work: The date established in a notice to proceed or, in the absence of which notice, the date of the agreement or such other date as may be established therein or by the parties.

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 for the use for which it is intended.

Debt Service: The periodic payment of a loan, including both accrued interest and a portion of the principle.

Deduction: The amount deducted from the contract sum by a change order.

Deductive Alternate: An alternate bid resulting in a deduction from the same bidder's base bid. Same as Alternate Bid.

Deed: Any duly attested, written document executed under seal and delivered to effect a transfer, bond, or contract, such as a conveyance of real property or interest therein.

Deed Restriction: A limitation on the use of land, which is set forth in a deed conveying the restrictions.

Defective Work:Work not complying with the contract requirements.

Demolition: The systematic destruction of a building, all or in part.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: Same as HUD.

Deposit for Bidding Documents: Monetary deposit required to obtain a set of construction documents and bidding requirements, customarily refunded to bona fide bidders on return of the documents in good conditions within a specified time.

Design: To compose a plan for a building. The architectural concept of a building as represented by plans, elevations, renderings, and other drawings.

Design Development Phase: The second phase of the architect's basic services. In this phase, the architect prepares the design development documents consisting of drawings and other documents to fix and describe the size and character of the entire project as to structural, mechanical and electrical systems, materials, and such other essentials as may be appropriate; the architect also submits to the owner a further statement of probable construction cost.

Design Documents: Same as structural design documents.

Detailed Estimate of Construction Costs: A forecast of construction cost 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.

Developed Area: An area of land upon which improvements have been made.

Development: A tract of previously undeveloped land which is subdivided and provided with all necessary utilities, such as roads, water, electricity, and sewers.

Direct Personnel Expense: Salaries and wages of principals and employees engaged on a project, assignment, or task, including mandatory and customary benefits.

Document Deposit: Same as deposit for bidding documents.


Educational Occupancy: The use of a building or buildings for the gathering of groups of six or more persons for purposes of instruction.

Eminent Domain: The power or right of the nation or state to take private property for public use, usually with reasonable compensation to the owner.

Employer's Liability Insurance: Insurance protection for the employer against claims by employees for damages which arise out of injuries or diseases sustained in the course of their work and which are based on common law negligence rather than on liability under worker's compensation acts.

Engineer: A person trained and experienced in the profession of engineering; a person licensed to practice the profession by the authority in the area.

Engineering Survey: A survey conducted to obtain essential information for planning an engineering project or developing and estimating its cost.

Environmental Design Professional: The professions collectively responsible for the design of the physical environment for humans.

Environmental Impact Statement: A detailed analysis of the probable environmental consequences of proposed federal legislation, major federal actions, or large-scale construction making use of federal funds, likely to have significant effects on environmental quality; such a statement is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

Estimate: Same as detailed estimate of construction costs. Same as statement of probable construction costs. Same as contractor's estimate.

Extended Coverage Insurance: Same as property insurance.

Extra Services: Same as additional services.

Extra Work: Any work not included in the contract documents; an extra.


Facility: The building(s), playground(s), parking area(s), and campus where the program or construction site is located.

Fee-Plus-Expenses Agreement: Same as cost-plus-fee agreement.

Field Representative: Same as project representative.

Field Supervision: That portion of the architect's supervisory work which is done at the construction site.

Final Acceptance: The owner's acceptance of a project from the contractor upon certification by the architect that it is complete and in accordance with the contract requirements; final acceptance is confirmed by the making of final payment unless otherwise stipulated at the time of making such payment.

Final Completion: The completion of work and all contract requirements by the contractor.

Final Inspection: The final review of the project by the architect prior to issuance of the final certificate for payment.

Final Payment: Payment made by the owner to the contractor, upon issuance by the architect of the final certificate for payment, of the entire unpaid balance of the contract sum as adjusted by change orders.

Fire and Extended Coverage Insurance: Same as property insurance.

Fixed Limit of Construction Cost: The maximum allowable cost of the construction work as established in the agreement between the owner and the architect. Same as construction budget.

Force Account: A term used when work is ordered to be done without prior agreement as to lump sum or unit price cost thereof and is to be billed for at cost of labor, materials and equipment, insurance, taxes, etc., plus an agreed percentage for overhead and profit.


General Conditions: That part of the contract documents which sets forth many of the rights, responsibilities, and relationships of the parties involved. Same as conditions of the contract.

General Contract: Under the single contract system, the contract between the owner and the contractor for construction of the entire work.

General Contractor: The prime contractor who is responsible for most of the work at the construction site, including that performed by the subcontractors.

Generally Accepted Standard: A specification, code, rule, guide, or procedure in the field of construction, or related to construction, recognized and accepted as authoritative.

General Requirements: The title of division 1 of the AIA's uniform system for construction specifications, data filing, and cost accounting.

Guarantee: A legally enforceable assurance of the quality or duration of a product or of work performed.

Guaranteed Maximum Cost: An amount estimated in an agreement between the owner and contractor as the maximum cost of performing specified work on the basis of cost of labor and materials plus overhead expense and profit.

Guaranty Bond: Same as bid bond. Same as labor and material payment bond. Same as performance bond. Same as surety bond.


HUD: The abbreviation for "Department of Housing and Urban Development."


Instructions to Bidders: Instructions contained in the bidding requirements for preparing and submitting bids for a construction project. Same as notice to bidders.

Invitation to Bid: A solicitation of competitive bids. The term usually is employed in connection with private construction projects, but also may be used for government projects, for the purchase of supplies or other goods, or in connection with the sale of property. Same as advertisement for bids.

Invited Bidders: The bidders selected by the architect and the owner as the only ones from whom bids will be received.


Job: Same as project. Same as work.

Job Captain: A member of the architect's staff normally responsible, on a given project, for the preparation of drawings and their coordination with other documents.

Job Site: The site of the construction project.

Job Superintendent: Same as superintendent.


Labor and Material Payment Bond: A bond of the contractor in which a surety guarantees to the owner that the contractor will pay for labor and materials used in the performance of the contract. The claimants under the bond are those having direct contracts with the contractor or any subcontractor.

Landscape Architect: A person trained and experienced in the design and development of landscapes and gardens.

Land Survey: A survey of landed property establishing or re-establishing lengths and directions of boundary lines. Land boundaries are usually defined by ownership, commencing with the earliest owners through successive ownerships and partitions.

Latest Event Occurrence Time: In CPM, the latest point in time by which no further work must be done on an activity if the project is not to be delayed.

Latest Start Date: In CPM, the latest possible point in time by which an activity must be started if the project is not to be delayed.

Letter Of Intent: A letter signifying an intention to enter into a formal agreement, usually setting forth the general terms of such agreement.

Liability Insurance: Insurance which protests the insured against liability on account of injury to the person or property of another.

Licensed Architect: Same as architect.

Licensed Contractor: A person or organization certified by governmental authority, where required by law, to engage in construction contracting.

Licensed Engineer: Same as professional engineer.

Lien: A right enforceable against specific property to secure payment of an obligation.

Lien Waiver: Same as waiver of lien.

Life Cycle Cost: The cost of a building or equipment based not only on the initial expenditure, but also on its maintenance and operating cost over its entire lifetime.

Liquidated Damages: A sum specified in a contract whereby damages in the event of breach are to be determined. In a construction contract liquidated damages usually are specified as a fixed sum per day for failure to complete the work within a specified time.

Listed: Equipment, materials, or products included in a list published by an organization acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.

Loss of Use Insurance: Insurance protecting against financial loss during the time required to repair or replace property damaged or destroyed by an insured peril.

Lowest Responsible Bidder, Lowest Qualified Bidder: The bidder who submits the lowest bona fide bid and is considered to be fully responsible and qualified to perform the work for which the bid is submitted.

Lowest Responsive Bid: The lowest bid which is responsive to and complies with the bidding requirements.

Lump Sum Agreement: Same as stipulated sum agreement.


Main Contractor: Same as general contractor.

Maintenance Bond: A bond that provides a guarantee to an owner that the contractor will rectify defects in workpersonship or materials reported to the contractor within a specified time period following final acceptance of the work under contract.

Measured Drawing: An architectural drawing of an existing structure, drawn to scale.

Mechanic's Lien: A lien on privately owned real property created by state statute in favor of persons supplying labor or materials for a building or structure or improvements thereof, generally for the value of the labor or materials supplied by them.

Model Code: A proposed building code that is written and published by building official associations available for adoption by states, counties, and municipalities.

Modification: A written amendment to the contract document signed by both parties. A change order. A written order for a minor change in the work issued by the architect.

Modular Construction: Construction in which a selected unit or module, such as a box or other sub-component , is used repeatedly in the aggregate construction.

Mortgage: A loan in which property is used as security for the debt.

Mortgagee: The lender from whom a mortgage is obtained.

Mortgage Lien: A charge against property as security for the payment of a loan.

Mortgagor: The borrower who obtains a mortgage.


Negligence: Failure to exercise that degree of care which a reasonable and prudent person would exercise under the same circumstances.

Negotiation Phase: Same as bidding or negotiation phase.

Non-Collusion Affidavit: A notarized statement by a bidder that he or she has prepared his or her bid without collusion of any kind.

Nonconforming Work: Work that does not fulfill the requirement of the contract documents.

Notice to Bidders: A notice contained in the bidding requirements informing prospective bidders of the opportunity to submit bids on a project and setting forth the procedures for doing so.

Notice To Proceed: Written communication issued by the owner to the contractor authorizing him or her to proceed with the work and establishing the date of commencement of the work.


Observation of the Work: A function of the architect in the construction phase, during his or her periodic visits to the site, to familiarize him/herself generally with the progress and quality of the work an to determine in general if the work is proceeding in accordance with the contract documents. Same as certificate of occupancy.

Opening of Bids: Same as bid opening.

Ordinance: A law or rule adopted by a local governmental authority.

Orientation: The placement of a structure on a site with regard to local conditions of sunlight, wind, and drainage.

OSHA: The abbreviation for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Labor.

Over Design: As applied to structural design, a design based on requirements higher than service demands, usually as a means of compensating for unknown and/or anticipated deficiencies.

Owner: The architect's client and party to the owner-architect agreement.

Owner-Architect Agreement: A contract between the architect and the client for professional services.

Owner-Contractor Agreement: A contract between the owner and contractor for a construction project.

Owner's Inspector: A person employed by the owner to inspect construction on the owner's behalf.

Owner's Liability Insurance: Insurance which protects the owner against claims arising from his or her ownership of property and which may be extended to cover claims which may arise from operations of others under the construction contract.


Package Dealer: A person or organization assuming responsibility under a single contract for the design and construction of a project to meet the specific requirements of another.

Parcel: Of land, a contiguous land area which is considered as a unit, which is subject to a single ownership, and which is legally recorded as a single piece.

Partial Occupancy: Occupancy by the owner of a portion of a project prior to final completion.

Partial Payment: A progress payment.

Payment Request: Same as application for payment.

P.E.: The abbreviation for professional engineer.

Penal Sum: The amount named in a contract or bond as the damages or penalty to be paid by a signatory in the event he or she failed to perform his or her contractual obligations or does not do so within the time prescribed by the contract.

Penalty-and-Bonus Clause: Same as bonus-and-penalty clause.

Penalty Clause: A contract provision setting forth the damages a party must pay in the event of his or her breach. If such a clause is regarded by the court as too harsh to be regarded as a fair estimate of probable damaged, it will normally be held invalid. Same as liquidated damages.

Percentage Agreement: An agreement for professional services in which the compensation is based upon a percentage of the construction cost.

Percentage Fee: Compensation based upon a percentage of construction cost. Same as fee.

Performance Bond: A bond of the contractor in which a surety guarantees to the owner that the work will be performed in accordance with the contract documents; frequently combined with the labor and materials payment bond; except where prohibited by stature.

Permit: A document issued by a governmental authority having jurisdiction to authorize specific work by the applicant.

Personal Injury: In insurance terminology, injury or damage to the character or reputation of a person, as well as bodily injury. Person injury insurance usually covers such situations. Same as bodily injury.

Personal Property: Movable and other property not classified as real property.

PERT: Acronym for "project evaluation and review technique."

PERT Schedule: A PERT chart of the activities and events anticipated in a work process. Same as critical path method (CPM).

Planning: The process of studying the layout of spaces within buildings and of buildings and other facilities or installations in open spaces in order to develop the general scheme of a building or group of buildings.

Post-Completion Services: Additional services rendered after issuance of the final certificate for payment, such as consultation regarding maintenance, processes, systems, etc.

Power of Attorney: An instrument authorizing another to act as one's agent. Same as attorney-in-fact.

Preliminary Drawings: Drawings prepared during the early stages of the design of a project.

Preliminary Estimate: Same as statement of probable construction costs.

Premises: Land and/or its appurtenances.

Pre-Bid Conference or Pre-Bid Walk-Through: A meeting of any interested bidder, at the job site, giving an opportunity to review the project, and discuss any unclear design or programming issues.

Pre-Qualification of Prospective Bidders: The process of investigating the qualifications of prospective bidders on the basis of their competence, integrity, and responsibility relative to the contemplated project.

Prime Contract: A contract between the owner and contractor for constriction of a project or portion thereof.

Prime Contractor: The contractor on a project having a contract directly with the owner.

Prime Professional: Any person or firm having a contract directly with the owner for professional services.

Principal: One on whose behalf or in whose name binding transactions may be entered into by another, usually called the agent.

Production Drawings: Same as working drawings.

Professional Adviser: An architect engaged by the owner to direct an authorized design competition for the selection of an architect.

Professional Engineer: A designation reserved, usually by law, for a person or organization professionally qualified and duly licensed to perform such engineering services as structural, mechanical, electrical, sanitary, civil, etc.

Professional Liability Insurance: Insurance designed to insure an architect or engineer against claims for damages resulting from alleged professional negligence. Also know as errors and omissions insurance.

Professionals Practice: The practice of one of the environmental design professional in which services are rendered with the framework of recognized professionals ethics and standards.

Program: A statement prepared by or for an owner, with or without an architect's assistance, setting forth the conditions and objectives for a building project including its general purpose and detailed requirements, such as a complete list of the rooms required, their sizes, special facilities, etc.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT): A management control technique applied to building construction; determines what must be done to complete construction by a given date.

Progress Chart: A chart prepared by a contractor, brought up-to-date monthly; the principal trades of the project are tabulated vertically and the scheduled construction time shown horizontally.

Progress Payment: A partial payment made during progress of the work on account of work completed and/or materials suitably stored.

Progress Schedule: A diagram, graph, or other pictorial or written schedule showing proposed and actual times of starting and completion of the various elements of the work.

Project: A construction undertaking, composed of one or more buildings and the site improvements, planned and executed in a fixed time period.

Project Budget: The sum established by the owner as available for the entire project, including the construction budget, land costs, equipment costs, financing costs, compensation of professional services, contingency costs, and other similar established or estimated costs.

Project Cost: The total cost of a project, including the professional compensation, land costs, furnishings and equipment, financing, and other changes as well as the construction cost.

Project Manager: A third party consultant or employee of the owner that works for the owner and coordinates the activities of the project. Assists with the development of specific strategies of the project (including bidding and contracting), establishing time frames and benchmarks for the project, assisting the owner in hiring other professional services, reviews plans and drawings and makes recommendations to the owners, monitors the budget of all phases of the project, works with all consultants, monitors the day-to-day work progress of the contractor, assists the owner in close-out, and prepares for occupancy.

Project Manual: The manual prepared by the architect for a project, including the bidding requirements, conditions of the contract, and the technical specifications.

Project Representative: The architect's representative at the project site who assists in the administration of the construction contract.

Property: Any asset, real or personal.

Property Damage Insurance: Part of general liability insurance covering injury to or destruction of tangible property, including loss of use resulting from, but usually not including property which is in the custody and control of the insured.

Property Line: A recorded boundary of a plot.

Property Survey: Same as boundary survey.

Proposal: In construction terminology, could be the same as bid.

Request for Proposals: A document used by the owner to evaluate the professional capabilities of a business, agency, or individual against a set of pre-established criteria that may be weighted on a numerical scale using a set of questions that allows the owner to determine the best business, agency, or individual to hire for their specific job. Normally, the proposal does not include the cost of services, cost is generally a negotiated amount after the competing proposals have been evaluated and ranked. The proposal, however, is designed to evaluate such criteria as previous work experience, work with the organization, and specifically your program; preference can be given to local or in-state business; the qualifications of the lead professional and the qualifications of the team that will be working on the project; and if their previous work has been completed on time and within budget.

Proposal Form: Same as bid form.

Public Liability Insurance: Insurance covering liability of the insured for negligent acts resulting in bodily injury, disease, or death of others than employees of the insured, and/or property damage.


Quality Assurance: The inspection, testing, and other relevant action taken to ensure that the desired level of quality is in accordance with the applicable standards or specifications for the product or work.

Quality Control: The inspection, analysis, and other relevant action taken to provide control over what is being done, manufactured, or fabricated, so that a desirable level of quality is achieved and maintained.

Quality Survey: A detailed analysis and listing of all items of materials and equipment necessary to construct a project.

Quitclaim Deed: A written instrument whereby the seller conveys only whatever interest he or she has in property, but makes no warranties or representations as to the nature of that interest or as to the absence of any limitations or restrictions thereon, or even that he has any right to the property at all.

Quotation: A price quoted by a contractor, sub-contractor, material supplier, or vendor to furnish materials, labor, or both.


Real Estate: Property in the form of land and all its appurtenances, such as buildings.

Real Property: Land, everything growing on it and all improvements made to it.

Realty Officer: An employee who assists the governments in realty issues including, but not limited to, disputes, developments, and assignments.

Record Drawings: Construction drawings revised to show significant changes made during the construction process, usually based on marked-up prints, drawings, and other data furnished by the contractor to the architect.

Record Sheet: On a construction job, a sheet or printed form for keeping a record, usually of materials delivered, number of people working at the various trades, hours worked, etc.

Regulation: Any rule prescribing permitted or forbidden conduct, whether found in legislation or in the actions of an administrative agency or federal agency.

Release of Lien: Instrument executed by one supplying labor, materials, or professional services on a project which releases his or her mechanic's lien against the project property. Same as mechanic's lien.

Render: To give a mechanical drawing, as in elevation, a more or less complete indication of shades and shadows.

Resident Engineer: A person representing the owner's interests at the project site during the construction phase; term frequently used on projects in which a governmental agency is involved.

Resident Inspector: Same as owner's inspector.

Responsible Bidder: Same as lowest responsible bidder.

Restricted List of Bidders: Same as invited bidders.

Restriction: On land, an encumbrance limiting it use.

Restrictive Covenant: An agreement between two or more individuals, incorporated within a deed which stipulates how land may be used.

Retainage: A sum withheld from progress payments to the contractor in accordance with the terms of the owner-contractor agreement.

Retention: The withholding of a portion (usually 10%) of a periodic payment to a contractor, by prior agreement, for work completed. The retention is held in escrow for a stipulated time period after the acceptance of the completed work by the architect and owner.

Retention Money: Same as retention.

Right-of-Way: Any strip of land, including surface and overhead or underground space, which is granted by deed or easement for the construction and maintenance of specified linear elements such as power and telephone lines.


Satisfaction: Cancellation of an encumbrance on real property, usually by payment of the debt secured by it.

Schedule: A detailed tabulation of components, items, or parts to be furnished.

Schedules of Values: A statement furnished by the contractor to the architect reflecting the portions of the contract sum allotted for the various parts of the work and use as the basis for reviewing the contractor's application for progress payment.

Schematic Design Phase: The first phase of the architect's basic services. In this phase, the architect consults with the owner to ascertain the requirements of the project and prepares schematic design studies consisting of drawings and other documents illustrating the scale and relationship of the project components for approval by the owner. The architect also submits to the owner a statement of probable construction costs.

Schematic Drawing: Same as schematic design phase.

Scheme: The basic arrangement for an architectural composition. Primary sketch for a design.

Selected Bidder: The bidder selected by the owner for discussion relative to the possible award of the construction contract.

Selected List of Bidders: Same as invited bidders.

Setback: The minimum distance between a reference line and a building, or portion thereof.

Shop Drawings: Drawings, diagrams, illustrations, schedules, performances charts, brochures, and other data prepared by the contractor or any subcontractor, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor, which illustrates how specific portions of the work shall be fabricated and/or installed.

Single Contract: A contract for construction of a project under which a single prime contractor is responsible for all the work.

Site: An area or plot of ground with defined limits on which a building or project is located or proposed to be located.

Site Investigation: An examination of the subsoil and surface of a site to obtain complete information necessary for the design of foundations and structures on them.

Site Plan: A plan of a construction site showing the position and dimensions of the building to be erected and the dimensions and contour of the lot.

Special Conditions: A section of the conditions of the contract, other than general conditions and supplemental conditions, which may be prepared for a particular project. Same as conditions of the contract.

Special Hazards Insurance: Additional perils insurance to be included in property insurance.

Specifications: A written document describing in detail the scope of work, materials to be used, method of installation, and quality of workpersonship for a parcel of work to be place under contract; usually utilized in conjunction with working drawings in building construction.

Specifications: A part of the contract documents contained in the project manual consisting of written descriptions of a technical nature of materials, equipment construction systems, standards, and workpersonship.

Standard: A document prepared by a recognized standard-setting organization that prescribes methods and materials for the safe use and consistent performance of specific technologies.

Standards of Professional Practice: Statements of ethical principles promulgated by professional societies to guide their members in the conduct of professionals practice.

Statement of Probable Construction Cost: Cost forecasts prepared by the architect during the schematic design, design development, and construction documents phases of basic services for the guidance of the owner.

Statute of Limitations: A statute specifying the period of time within which legal action must be brought for alleged damage or injury. The lengths of the periods vary from state to state and depend upon the type of legal action.

Statutory Bond: A bond, the form and contents of which is prescribed by statute.

Stipulated Sum Agreement: A contract in which a specific amount is set forth as the total payment for performance of the contract.

Structural Design Documents: The plans, design details, and job specifications prepared by the structural designer.

Structural Drawings: Drawings, usually prepared by a structural engineer, of the design and working drawings of a building's structure.

Structural Engineering: That branch of engineering concerned with the design and construction of structures to withstand physical forces.

Sub-Bidder: One who tenders to a bidder on a prime contract a proposal to provide materials and/or labor.

Subcontract: An agreement between a prime or general contractor and a subcontractor for the execution of a portion of the contractual obligation of the prime contract to the owner.

Subcontractor: A person or organization who has a direct contract with a prime contractor to perform a portion of the work at the site.

Subcontractor Bond: A performance bond given by a subcontractor which guarantees performance of a contract and the payment of bills for labor and materials.

Substantial Completion: Same as date of substantial completion.

Substitution: A materials or process offered in lieu of, and as being equivalent to, a specified material or process.

Successful Bidder: Same as selected bidder.

Superintendent: At a construction site, the contractor's representative who is responsible for continuous field supervision, coordination, and completion of the work and unless another person is designated in writing by the contractor to the owner and the architect for the provision of accidents.

Supervision: The observation and inspection of construction work in order to ensure conformity with the contract documents, direction of work by the contractor's personnel.

Supplemental Conditions: Same as supplementary conditions.

Supplementary Conditions: A part of the contract documents which supplements and may also modify provisions of the general conditions.

Surety: A person or organization who, for a consideration, promises in writing to make good the debt or default of another.

Surety Bond: A legal instrument under which one party agrees to answer to another party for the debt, default, or failure to perform of a third party.

Survey: A boundary and/or topographic mapping of a site.


Tender: A proposal or bid for a contract to perform work, often on a form, completed by a contractor giving estimated price and time to complete a contract.

Terminal Expense: An expense incurred in connection with the termination of a contract.

Time: Time limits or period stated in the contract.

Timely Completion: Completion of the work or designated portion thereof on or before the date required.

Time of Completion: The date established in the contract, by name or by number of days, for substantial completion of the work.

Title Insurance: Insurance, offered by a company, that the title to property is clear or that it may be cleared by curing specified defects.

Title Search: An inquiry into the historical ownership record of a property.

Topographical Survey: The configuration of a surface including its relief and the locations of its natural and human-made features.

Trade: A person's occupation or craft, usually involving manual skill.

Turn-Key Job: A job in which the contractor completes all work and furnishing of a building so that it is ready for immediate use.


Variation Order: Same as change order.

Visual Inspection: Inspection by examination without the use of testing apparatus.


Waiver of Lien: An instrument by which a person or organization who has or may have a right of mechanic's lien against the property of another relinquishes such right. Same as mechanic's lien and release of lien.

Work: All labor necessary to produce the construction required by the contract document.

Working Drawings: Drawings, intended for use by a contractor, subcontractor, or fabricator, which form part of the contract documents for a building project.

Worker's Compensation Insurance: Insurance covering liability of an employee to his or her employees for compensation and other benefits required by worker's compensation laws.


Zoning: The control by a municipality of the use of land and buildings, the height and bulk of the buildings, the density of population, the relation of a lot's building coverage to open space, size and location of yards and setbacks, and the provision of any ancillary facilities.

Zoning Permit: A permit issued by appropriate governmental authority authorizing land to be used for a specific purpose.