When I first entered construction, it took a long time to get oriented and to figure out what was really happening on the project. One reason it was so difficult was because there were so many new terms in commercial construction terminology to learn that I had never heard before. Even when I had used a word before in the past it took on a slightly different meaning in the commercial construction world. This is a list of the most commonly used words in our industry during day to day activities or during our weekly coordination meetings. I am listing them to help you “decipher” what the general contractor is saying if you are having to sit in these meetings and can’t figure out exactly what they mean by certain words. This list is an ever growing list so if I am missing any commercial construction terminology words be all means comment below and I will get it added:
CO (or C of O)
Amount stated in the bid to be added or deducted from the base bid amount proposed for alternate materials and/or methods of construction.
Architects Supplemental Information (ASI)
An ASI is a form used by an architect to specify additional instructions and interpretations relating to a set of architectural plans. An ASI
is also issued to order minor changes in the architectural work to be accomplished, changes that may vary from the original plans.
As-Built Drawings (also known as Record Drawings)
Contract drawings marked up to reflect changes made during the construction process. It is good practice to make As-Built drawings
by marking the changes on reproducible drawings such as sepias for duplication purposes later
The published advertisement or written invitation to bid , instructions to bidders, the bid form and the proposed contract documents
including any acknowledged addenda issued prior to receipt of bids.
Building Envelope (Sometimes referred to as Building Shell)
1. The waterproof elements of a building which enclose conditioned spaces through which thermal energy may be transferred to or
from the exterior.
2. The outer structure of the building. (See Tenant and Leasehold improvements for building interiors)
The person responsible for monitoring the buildings to which they are assigned
Campus Master Plan
The document that comprises the policies, guidelines and development standards for the campus
Capital Construction Project
Any project in which the total budget exceeds $632K
A written document between the owner and the contractor signed by the owner and the contractor authorizing a change in the work or
an adjustment in the contract sum or the contract time. A change order may be signed by the architect or engineer, provided they have
written authority from the owner for such procedure and that a copy of such written authority is furnished to the contractor upon request.
The contract sum and the contract time may be changed only by change order. A change order may be in the form of additional
compensation or time; or less compensation or time known as a Deduction (from the contract) the amount deducted from the contract sum
by change order.
Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R)
Delivery method in which the Architect and Contractor hold separate contracts with the owner (CSU) but work as a collaborative team
The set of activities that must be completed on time for the project completion date to be met. Activities on the critical path have no
Date of Substantial Completion
The date certified by the architect when the work or a designated portion thereof is sufficiently complete, in accordance with the
contract documents, so the owner may occupy the work or designated portion thereof for the use for which it is intended.
Maintenance projects not included in the maintenance process nor in the capital repair process due to a lack of funding
Division of the State Architect (DSA)
The state architect and subordinates typically form an organizational unit named the Division of the State Architect. This entity oversees
the design and/or construction of public building within the state.
An approximation of the expected cost to complete the work/project as outlined in the scope of work
The organization that is responsible for overseeing the planning, development, operation, and maintenance of university buildings,
structures an grounds
A written portion of the contract documents set forth by the owner stipulating the contractor’s minimum acceptable performance
requirements including the rights, responsibilities and relationships of the parties involved in the performance of the contract. General
conditions are usually included in the book of specifications but are sometimes found in the architectural drawings.
Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP)
The agreed upon maximum price between the Contractor and Owner to build a project per the drawings and specifications developed.
A waste substance that may cause severe illness, death, or may cause a substantial hazard to health or the environment when
Job Ordering Contracting (JOC) is a way for organizations to get numerous, commonly encountered construction projects done quickly
and easily through multi-year contracts. JOC reduces unnecessary levels of engineering, design, and contract procurement time along
with construction project procurement costs by awarding long-term contracts for a wide variety of renovation, repair and construction
Minor Construction Project
Minor Capital Outlay (construction) projects are limited to those projects that correct deficiencies, provide new or improved facilities,
add access or provide equipment for a minor capital outlay project whose estimated total cost is $632,000 or less. Minor construction
does not include any work classified as maintenance or repair. Projects may not be grouped unless they are for similar work within one
building or complex.
Move Budget Estimate
As opposed to a Small Project Approval Form (SPAF), a Move Budget Estimate is for any small furniture reconfiguration, new furniture
order and/or furniture or box move. The move budget estimate can also include small electrical and cable work, patching/painting and
carpeting of an office or small area.
Notice of Completion (NOC)
Written notice issued by the owner of a project (or his or her agent) to notify concerned parties that all work on the project has been
completed. This notice also sets the period within which concerned parties may exercise their lien rights against one another.
A process in which your building plans are reviewed to make sure they comply with basic safety, engineering and planning rules.
The person, firm or corporation appointed by the Owner to provide a design, contract documents, and contract administration of
The person that coordinates and facilitates the project and project sponsors’ goals in accordance with the Project Review Team’s
recommendations and requirements
Project Review Team
A group of representatives involved in the project coordination effect, that cooperatively reviews and develops the scope of work as it
relates to the planning, development, long-term operation, and maintenance of campus buildings and structures.
A list of deficiencies, incomplete, or unacceptable work items compiled by the project manager during the final inspection of a project
Total or partial upgrading of a facility to higher standards of quality or efficiency. Under certain conditions a renovation may also be
classified as an improvement.
Request for Information (R.F.I.)
A written request from a contractor to the owner or architect for clarification or information about the contract documents following
Request for Proposal (RFP)
A request for proposal (RFP) is a solicitation made, often through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in
procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.
Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM)
Estimate of costs and time when requirements aren’t specified in early stages of project
Schedule of Values
A statement furnished by the contractor to the architect or engineer reflecting the portions of the contract sum allotted for the various
parts of the work and used as the basis for reviewing the contractor’s applications for progress payments.
A change to the written and agreed upon scope of work requested by the customer resulting from unanticipated occurrences during the
project. Scope changes may or may not involve a change in project cost or time on a change order.
Scope of Work
A written statement or list of tasks, reached through consultation with department personnel and defines the actual work to be done. It is
presented to the department either on a drawing or as a separate document.
Small Project Approval Form (SPAF)
A set of documents used by PDC to confirm funding for a small project from the initiating department and their VP/Provost.
State Fire Marshal (SFM)
The Office of the State Fire Marshal supports the mission of the CAL FIRE by focusing on fire prevention. The Office of the State Fire
Marshal provides support through a wide variety of fire safety responsibilities including: regulating buildings in which people live,
congregate, or are confined; by controlling substances and products which may, in and of themselves, or by their misuse, cause injuries,
death and destruction by fire; by providing statewide direction for fire prevention within wildland areas; by regulation hazardous
liquid pipelines; by developing and reviewing regulations and building standards; and by providing training and education in fire
protection methods and responsibilities.
A plan that projects programs five to ten years for most business functions. Some strategic facility management plans project three to
Time and Materials (T&M)
A written agreement between the owner and the contractor wherein payment is based on the contractor’s actual cost for labor,
equipment, materials, and services plus a fixed add-on amount to cover the contractor’s overhead and profit.
Evaluation of construction methods and/or materials to determine which have the net result of reducing costs, consistent with specified
performance, reliability, maintainability, aesthetic, safety, and security criteria.