• AIA: “American Institute of Architects” a professional organization for architects in the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach activities to support the architecture profession and enhance its public image. In close concert with other members of the design and construction team, the AIA also works to fulfill its commitment to help coordinate the building industry.
  • Audio-Visual: Those systems which deal specifically with the sound systems for a building. Some examples of these systems are: phones, paging systems, theatre equipment, security system etc.
  • Builders Risk Insurance: A special form of property insurance to cover work under construction.
  • Critical path method: A system of construction management that involves the complete planning and scheduling of a project, and the development of an arrow diagram showing each activity, in its appropriate place in the timetable, and its importance relative to other tasks, and the complete project.
  • Commissioning: Building commissioning is the systematic process of ensuring that a building’s complex array of systems is designed, installed, and tested to perform according to the design intent and the building owner’s operational needs. The commissioning of new buildings will be most effective when considered throughout the planning stages and as early as schematic design.
  • Contract Documents: All the written and graphic documents concerning execution of a particular construction contract. These include the agreement between the owner and contractor, all conditions of the contract including supplementary conditions, the specifications and drawings, any changes to the specifications and drawings, and changes to the original contract, and any other items specifically itemized as being part of the Contract Documents.
  • Design Development: The second phase of a designer’s basic services, which includes developing structural, mechanical, and electrical drawings, specifying materials, and estimating the probable cost of construction.
  • Erosion Control Plan: A systematic design intended to prevent and/or control erosion so as to limit unnecessary silt from leaving the project site. These are required as part of the NPDES permitting process.
  • Fast Track Construction: A building method in which construction is begun on a portion of the work for which the design is complete, while design on the other portions is underway.
  • FFE: Fixtures, Furnishings, & Equipment. These are typical items that are provided by the Owner and not the contractor. Some examples are window treatments, seating, desks, office systems (cubicles), medical equipment, computers etc. A good synopsis of all items required for the complete operation of a facility and a full understanding of who is to provide each item is important to the successful completion of a project.
  • Finishes: The final surface applied to a substrate i.e. paint, wallpaper, stucco etc.
  • Geotechnical investigations: are performed by geotechnical engineers or engineering geologists to obtain Information on the physical properties of soil and rock around a site to design earthworks and foundations for proposed structures and for repair of distress to earthworks and structures caused by subsurface conditions. A geotechnical investigation will include surface exploration and subsurface exploration of a site. Sometimes, geophysical methods are used to obtain data about sites. Subsurface exploration usually involves soil sampling and laboratory tests of the soil samples retrieved. Surface exploration can include geologic mapping, geophysical methods, and photogrammetric, or it can be as simple as a geotechnical professional walking around on the site to observe the physical conditions at the site. To obtain information about the soil conditions below the surface, some form of subsurface exploration is required. Methods of observing the soils below the surface, obtaining samples and determining physical properties of the soils and rocks include test pits, trenching (particularly for locating faults and slide planes), boring, and in situ tests.
  • Groundwater:   1. Naturally occurring water that moves through the earth’s crust, usually at a depth of several feet to several hundred feet.  2. Water contained in the soil below the level of standing water.
  • Impact fee: is a fee that is implemented by a local government on a new or proposed development to help assist or pay for a portion of the costs that the new development may cause with services to the new development within the United States.[1] They are considered to be a charge on new development to help fund and pay for the construction or needed expansion of offsite capital improvements.[2] These fees are usually implemented to help reduce the economic burden on local jurisdictions that are trying to deal with population growth within the area.
  • NPDES: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation’s water quality.
  • OAC: Abbreviation – Owner Architect Contractor. Typically used when referring to planning or coordination meetings.
  • Overhead Costs: the costs to conduct business other than direct job costs; included in bidder’s markup.
  • Payment & Performance Bond: A bond procured by a contractor from a surety as a guarantee to the owner that the labor and materials applied to the contract will be paid for by the contractor.
  • Planning Department: The local regulatory agency which has control over the zoning and design approval of a project.
  • Prairie Soil: A common term given to expansive clay. Otherwise known as “Gumbo clay”. Expansive or swelling soils, as their name implies, are soils that swell when subjected to moisture. These swelling soils typically contain clay minerals that attract and absorb water. Another category of expansive soil known as swelling bedrock contains a special type of mineral called claystone. When water is added to these expansive clays, the water molecules are pulled into gaps between the clay plates. As more water is absorbed, the plates are forced further apart, leading to an increase in soil pressure or an expansion of the soil’s volume.

Appearance – Soils containing expansive clays become very sticky when wet and usually are characterized by surface cracks or a “popcorn” texture when dry. Therefore, the presence of surface cracks is usually an indication of an expansive soil.

Drilling and Laboratory Analysis – In many cases, expansive soils are buried under a layer of topsoil or dense vegetation and cannot be identified at the surface. Therefore, collecting soil samples from various test holes each several feet deep is required. These test holes can be drilled by geotechnical and civil engineering firms or by some construction companies. After the samples are taken, they are sent to a laboratory where the swelling potential is determined. In areas where there is a high concentration of swelling soils, laboratory analysis of the soil is required by law. Consult the real estate agency to find out if a swelling soil report is available for your property.

  • Program: A written statement presenting design objective, constraints, and project criteria, including space requirements and relationships, flexibility and expandability, special equipment, and systems and site requirements.
  • Schematic Design: The phase of design services in which the design professional consults with an owner to clarify the project requirements. The design professional prepares schematic design studies with drawings and other documents illustrating the scale and relationship of the project’s components to the owner. A statement of estimated construction cost is often submitted at this phase.
  • Site Work: All construction activities not specifically related to the construction of the building. These include but are not limited to the following: clearing & grading, demolition, paving, sidewalks, landscaping, retaining walls, wetland mitigation etc.
  • Submittals: A sample, manufacturer’s data, shop drawing, or other such item submitted to the owner or the design professional by the contractor for the purpose of approval or other action, usually a requirement of the contract documents.
  • Sustainable Building: is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources —energy, water, and materials—while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better site placement, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal—the complete building life cycle.
  • Structural Design: All design aspects which deal with load-supporting members i.e. foundations, structural steel, walls, roof trusses etc.