Construction Glossary


Have you heard the word jargon? It means words or expressions that are used by a particular profession and are difficult for others to understand. Well, there’s plenty of construction jargon thrown around in our industry that can leave you feeling confused, even if you ARE a contractor. Don’t worry, STACK has provided a comprehensive list of construction terminology, from takeoff and estimating terms to general construction definitions, to act as your go-to resource!



Addendum – formal notification of a change in a construction project, part of the signed contract, and is a legal representation of the status of the project 

Architect – a person who designs buildings and advises in their construction 

CAD – Computer-Aided Design, a way to digitally create 2D drawings and 3D models of real-world products before they are manufactured 

Contractor – a person who works under a contractual agreement to provide services, labor or materials to complete a construction project 

Blueprints – a design plan, architectural drawings 

BIM – Building Information Modeling, plan and visualize construction projects during preconstruction using space-use simulations and 3D visualizations 

Bid – A hard number for job completion proposed during the competitive bidding process 

CSI MasterFormat – master list of numbers and titles classified by work results, primarily used to organize project manuals and detailed cost information 

Digital Plans – digital version of a blueprint 

Dimension – a measure in one direction, one of three coordinates determining a position in space or four coordinates determining a position in space and time 

Estimator – determines total cost of a construction project; responsible for takeoffs, markups, and overhead costs 

Floorplan – a scale diagram of a room or suite of rooms viewed from above 

General Contractor – GC, construction manager responsible for daily management of the job site, all vendors, and subcontractors, and the primary communicator to everyone involved during a building project 

Owner – owns the construction job site; responsible for liability, contracts, and approvals 

Subcontractor – businesses or individuals that carry out work for a contractor as part of the larger contracted project 

Trade Contractor – a type of subcontractor that specializes in a specific type of skilled construction (I.e., concrete, painting, electrical) 

Zoning – process of partitioning a city, town, or borough into zones reserved for different purposes 


Area – surface included within a set of lines (ex: a floor) 

Linear – a straight line, single dimension (ex: baseboards) 

Count – the number of units (ex: outlets) 

OC (On Center) – the distance between the center of one framing member to the center of the next member 

Pitched Area – degree of slope in an area (ex: a sloped roof) 

Pitched Linear – degree of slope in a pitched line (ex: a hip on a sloped roof) 

Surface Area – the amount of space covering the outside of a three-dimensional shape (ex: drywall) 

Takeoffthe process where contractors determine how much of each material they will need to complete a project 

Volume 2D – the amount of space occupied by the object or shape, which is in two-dimensional space (ex: a parking lot) 

Volume 3D – the amount of space occupied by the object or shape, which is in three-dimensional space (ex: a concrete footer) 


Assemblies – a prebuilt group of items for a takeoff (STACK Help Center: What is an Assembly?) 

Bid Leveling – the process of taking each bid and organizing information for the client to view and easily understand 

Invitation to Bid (ITB) – a solicitation for contractors to submit a proposal for a specific service to complete a project 

Items – a specific material, equipment, labor, or subcontracting cost (STACK Help Center: What is an item?) 

Net Profit – Selling price, less extended cost and overhead markup 

Non-Measured Costs – the cost of items not requiring measurement (ex: equipment rental and labor) 

Markup – The percentage difference between cost and the sale price for material and labor required for construction  

Overhead – The ongoing cost of running your business that can’t be easily traced back to a project, for example office space rent or payroll services 

Profit – The income generated for the business owner over and above the project cost, expressed as a percentage of the total project cost after adding overhead and markup  

Proposal – a written offer from a bidder to the owner to perform the work and to furnish all labor, materials, equipment and/or services for the prices and terms quoted 

RSMeans – a database of construction-related costs 

Tax – Mandatory charges imposed by the government 

Waste – a predicted percentage of materials added to a takeoff to cover unexpected issues 


As Builts – documents that allow a compare and contrast between the designed versus final specifications 

Budget – the amount of money designated for a specific building or remodeling project 

Building Code – a collection of regulations adopted by a city to govern the construction of buildings 

Building Permit – an official approval issued by the local government agency that allows you or your contractor to proceed with a construction project 

Building Inspector – a government employee who reviews plans and visits construction sites to ensure all local and national building codes and regulations are being met 

Change Order – an amendment to a construction contract that changes the contractor’s scope of work 

Certificate of Occupancy – a document that’s issued by a local zoning or building department stating that a home or property is suitable for occupancy 

Concrete Contractor– specially trained and experienced people who can handle concrete in its different stages starting from the unmixed combination to the hard-finished foundation 

Construction Management Software – a project management platform that helps companies with processes like budget management, communication, decision-making, and job scheduling 

Cost Code – a group of individual costs based on their nature or function 

Daily Construction Report – a record of field notes, including work completed, weather conditions, and materials delivered or used onsite 

Design-Bid-Build – Project delivery method where the project owner contracts two separate companies to design and build the project 

Design-Build – Project delivery method where the project owner hires one company to both design and build the project 

Document Control – controlled process for the creation, review, modification, issuance, distribution, and accessibility of construction documents 

Egress – an unobstructed path to leave buildings, structures, and spaces 

Elevation – the height of something 

Engineer – professionals who invent, design, analyze, build and test machines, complex systems, structures, gadgets and materials to fulfill functional objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety and cost 

Fabrication – item that is manufactured by a fabricator for installation on a building site as part of an ongoing construction project 

Footprint – the perimeter of a building at the outer edge of the outside walls of the building, including cantilevered portions of a building 

General Conditions – the costs incurred during a project that generally don’t involve swinging a hammer or installing something permanently in your home 

HVAC – HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning; HVAC refers to the different systems used for moving air between indoor and outdoor areas, along with heating and cooling both residential and commercial buildings 

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) – a type of project delivery method where there is a contract between the project stakeholders that outlines project risks and responsibilities of each part 

Interior Finish – the final part of an interior construction process, forming the final surface of an interior wall, ceiling, or floor 

Job Costing – an accounting method designed to track individual projects 

Lean Constructiona method of production aimed at reducing costs, materials, time, and effort 

Low Bid – a contract awarded to the lowest-priced, most responsive bid 

Lump Sum Contract – the project owner provides specific specifications for the work and the contractor provides a fixed price for the project 

Masonry – the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by mortar 

Meeting Notes – current status and track of entire project including important discussions, resolved issues and the people who attended the meeting can give a better view of your project 

MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) MEP engineering is the science and art of planning, designing and managing the MEP systems of a building 

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance 

Plumbing – the system of pipes, tanks, fittings, and other apparatus required for the water supply, heating, and sanitation in a building 

Potential Change Order – an informal change order to track a work condition that has potential to be over the contract 

Private-Public Partnership (P3)collaboration between a government agency and a private-sector company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects 

Project Management – directing and organizing each part of a construction project life cycle 

Punch List – a document showing work still needed to be complete on a construction project 

RFI (Request for Information) – a formal written process in which parties clarify information gaps in construction documents 

Roofer – a person who constructs or repairs roofs 

Sitework – the process in which a construction site is prepared for the construction job 

Submittals – refers to a document provided by a contractor to the architect for an approval of use 

Transmittal – a document or proof of what was sent, when it was sent, and who it was sent to, documenting the flow of information in a project 

Workers’ Compensation – a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment; expressed as a percentage of labor cost 

Now that you’re an expert in construction terminology, put it to use in the office and the field! Create your free STACK account today!


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