50 Construction Terms Every Construction Manager Should Know

The construction industry has many specific construction terms and acronyms that can be extremely confusing at first. Being a technology-focused construction company, we put a heavy focus on ensuring our employees understand the ins and outs of construction terminology, as not all things can be taught in classrooms. Rather, the knowledge is acquired through spending time on the job working and learning first-hand. We have compiled a list of the top 50 construction terms we believe are extremely beneficial for construction managers to know.

Article Highlights

-Project delivery models & approaches (e.g., design-bid-build, integrated project delivery, lean, etc.)

-Construction document terms including purchase orders, daily reports, and RFIs. 

-Design terms such as BIM, blueprints, drawings, and specifications.

-Important accounting terms to know like cost codes, job costing, and pay applications.

Construction Industry
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Here are some helpful construction terms we have curated to help you gain a better understanding of the industry:

  1. All-in-rate – In the construction and finance industries, an all-in-rate is the total expenses of an item, including both direct and indirect costs. 
  2. Architect of Record – The architect of record refers to the person whose name is on the construction permits attached to a site. However, it is important to note that this is not necessarily the person who designed the project, but rather a person hired by that person to handle the on-site paperwork. 
  3. As-builts – Complete record of drawings of the final buildings, specifications, and work completed, accounting for errors and changes made during the construction process. 
  4. Bid – Price proposal, based on design documents and specifications.
  5. Bill of Quantities (BOQ) – Contract document which itemizes all workmanship and materials involved in a project, used for helping price a project.
  6. Blocking – construction workers use a “blocking” technique to fill, join, or reinforce building structures.

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  7. Blueprints – Used interchangeably with drawings. Before digital drawings were prevalent, the method of creating blueprints caused the paper to turn blue, hence the name. 
  8. Box Crib – Box cribs are makeshift elements used to add support and reinforcement to heavy objects during the construction phase of a project. 
  9. Building engineer – One of the most essential people on a construction site. Building engineers are responsible for the construction, technology, maintenance, and more on a construction site. 
  10. Building Information Modeling (BIM) – A digital representation of a building to assist in the lifecycle of constructing the building. BIM aids in the planning, design, and construction of a building and helps improve collaboration, reduce waste, and improve project delivery. 

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  11. Cant – An angled surface line of a building, commonly used in baroque architecture to create an uninterrupted feeling of the architecture design. 
  12. Catastrophic failure – Construction accidents that are severe enough to create a permanent loss that cannot be undone. 
  13. Change Order – A written document which specifies the plans and price of a construction contract.
  14. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) – Architecture software used to help create detailed models of buildings.
  15. Construction Management Software – Designed to assist construction project managers in running a project more efficiently and effectively, using tools such as documentation and mobile time-tracking.

    construction management software
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  16. Cost Codes – Codes based on labor activities that are often used to track expenses and budgets. 
  17. Course – A course is defined as a continuous row of masonries, such as bricks or concrete blocks. 
  18. Cross Bracing – A structural technique that is used to give a structure greater durability and endurance using X-shaped reinforcements. 
  19. Daily Report – Typically completed at the end of the day by a Foreman. Daily reports document job site activity such as crew information, materials installed, equipment used, work completed, safety incidents, and other relevant information. 
  20. Damp Proofing – A procedure that is used to prevent the absorption of moisture by the drywall interior of a building. 
  21. Design-bid-build – In a design-bid-build model, the owner contracts with a firm to design a building then solicits bids from the general contractor to oversee construction. The general contractor then solicits bids from many (trade) subcontractors to perform the labor. 
  22. Design-build – The concept that the team who designs a project is also the team that builds it. Design-build is intended to help reduce costs and improve deliverables because there is less diffusion of responsibility.

    construction terms
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  23. Diagrid – A diagrid is a type of reinforcement technique using steel beams which uses, as the name suggests, diagonal grids. This helps reduce the total amount of steel used. 
  24. Drawings – Construction drawings that are a graphic and written record of what is to be built. 
  25. Field Work Order – Document that general contractor gives to the subcontractor which includes directions to complete work which may not be in the original scope of the project. 
  26. Floorplan – Details the layout of a building when viewed from above (birds-eye view).
  27. HVAC – An abbreviation for the subsection of construction which includes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. 

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  28. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) – In an IPD model,  a single multi-party contract is entered into by multiple parties including the builder, architect, and owner. This contract has the benefit of allowing all stakeholders to share risk and incentives rewards. 
  29. Integrated Labor Delivery (ILD) – Brings labor close to the IPD framework, as subcontractors perform 80-100% of the labor on construction projects. In ILD, labor begins at the design phase, and ILD streamlines the process from design through prefab and assembly to provide a united framework.
  30. Job Costing – Cost accounting method which tracks work completed and measures if activity costs align with the overall budget. 
  31. Lean construction – Lean construction helps manage a project through relationships and shared goals among all key stakeholders and helps maximize total value and minimize wasted time and resources.

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  32. Lien – A claim on a property when contractors have not been paid on work for which they have completed. 
  33. Monocrete Construction – Method which uses precast concrete panels to create concrete structures. 
  34. Pay Applications – Document of application for payment which specifies how a contractor will be paid. Pay applications include services and materials which are incorporated in jobs. 
  35. Precast Concrete – Concrete elements that are created beforehand offsite and are transferred to the final building location to be assembled later on. 
  36. Punch List – Document listing items that have not been completed to the customer’s specifications, usually completed at the end of a project in order for the contractor to officially complete the job and receive payment. 
  37. Purchase Orders (PO) – Official offer issues to the seller from a buyer. Purchase orders generally indicate types, quantities, and agreed prices for products and services.

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  38. Request for Information (RFI) – A preliminary document to get general information from potential vendors.
  39. Request for Proposal (RFP) – A document a company requests from vendors to get an overview of offerings and costs for a specific service.
  40. Request for Quote (RFQ) – Similar to an RFP but focuses on the cost of the exact specifications which the company requires for a project. RFQs differ from RFPs in that they are not posing open-ended questions and looking for suggestions but rather have predetermined specs for the project they want the vendors to fulfill.
  41. Schedule of Values – A list of work items on a project which corresponds with their value and represents the entire amount of a construction project. Schedule of values are utilized by contractors to help with processing pay applications. 
  42. Section – Show views of buildings as if they were cut on a vertical plane.
  43. Shop Drawings – Show details of the fabrication of specific components.

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  44. Specifications – Detail the materials and quality of the building design. 
  45. Subcontract – An agreement made between the main contractor and a subcontractor or trade contractor to perform a specified set of construction services. 
  46. Submittal/TransmittalSubmittals in construction management include shop drawings, material data, samples, and product data, and are primarily required for architects and engineers to verify correct product installation.
  47. Target Value Design – All key stakeholders, including the owners, designers, contractors, and subcontractors, design to meet the budget and goals of the owner. 
  48. Time and Materials (T&M) – Method of contracting in which a contractor is paid strictly on actual costs, including time and materials, and is usually a mutually-agreed-upon profit and overhead. 
  49. Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) – Includes multi-disciplinary project models, such as engineering modeling, model-based designs, and visualizations.
  50. Zoning – Government regulation which decides how areas or districts of property can be used.

How eSUB Can Help

eSUB is a cloud-based project management platform built especially for subcontractors. It seamlessly integrates with leading construction software systems so you can easily switch from your current RFI process to a cloud-based system to upgrade RFI process.

eSUB organizes all of your project information in one place, allows for smooth collaboration, and streamlines communication through its intuitive interface. It also works on your mobile, so you can track projects on the go—no matter where or when—and stay up-to-date.