Construction Terms


Fed up with all these acronyms and fancy sounding words? Well, we’ve got you covered….

Check out our comprehensive list of Construction terms lovingly compiled for you.

What are Variations?

Alterations or modifications to the design, quality or quantity of the contract works, to the site access or working conditions


Why Might Variations Arise?

  • Change to spec etc
  • discrepancy between contract documents
  • discrepancy with statutory requirements
  • errors and omissions
  • deficiency in employer’s requirements


What are Extensions of Time?

Adjusts the completion date and relieves the contractor’s liability to pay liquidated damages for the period of the extension


What are Liquidated Damages?

  • A genuine pre-estimate of the likely loss incurred by the employer should the completion date not be met.
  •  Payment for works (usually monthly)


Go For: The Ultimate Guide If You Want To Be Successfull Contractor


How Do You Evaluate Interim Valuations?

  • Go to site and conduct valuation
  • Check work done, materials on site, materials off site
  • Value preliminaries, agreed variations and any claims
  • Valuation amount is gross valuation, less retention, less previous payment.
  • Then send recommendation to A/CA.

What is the Date For Completion?

The date fixed and stated in the contract particulars.

How Does This Differ From the Completion Date?

This is the date for completion or any other date that is subsequently fixed (i.e. after an EOT)

What is Practical Completion (PC)?

When the employer takes back possession of the works.

What is Sectional Completion?

The completion and handover of the works to the employer in agreed stages.

What is the Rectification Period?

The contractor has an obligation to make good any defects, shrinkages or other faults that arise during this period of time.

How Long is It?

The default position is 6 months. BUT it is common to amend this to 12 months – so the building is observed in all seasons

How Can the Architect Get the Contractor to Fix the Defects That Arise During This Period?

No later than 14 days after the end of the Rectification Period the architect must issue a written statement to the contractor detailed all of the defects that have arisen and need to be made good.

What is The Certificate of Making Good?

Issued by the architect to certify that all of the defects that have been required to be made good by the contractor have been so.

What are the Consequences of the Issue of the Certificate of Making Good?

The remaining retention is released.

What is Retention?

It is a percentage of each interim certificate deducted and retained by the employer from each interim payment to the contractor.

What is the Purpose of Retention?

  • It provides an incentive for the contractor to complete the works promptly
  • It provides some financial cushion to the employer in the event of contractor default

What is the Final Account?

Detailed statement of all the adjustments to the contract sum and therefore the total amount that the employer is liable to pay, together with the basis on which it was calculated

What are the Usual Constituents of a Final Account?

  • Summary
  • Adjustments of prime costs
  • Adjustments of provisional sums
  • Adjustments of approximate quantities
  • Variations
  • Claims
  • Fluctuations


What does CDM stand for?

Construction Design and Management.

Why Were They Introduced?

To ensure Clients, designers, contractors and others consider the health and safety of those constructing, maintaining and demolishing the works within their role.

What is a Notifiable Project?

30 days or 500 man days duration

What are the Contractor’s Duties?

  • Preparation of the construction phase plan
  • Display the F10 on the site

What does RIDDOR stand for?

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations

What does COSHH stand for?

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

What does PPE stand for?

Personal Protective Equipment

What are Subcontractors?

Any person or business that agrees to carry out construction work.

What is Facilities Management?

  • The total management of all services that support the core business of an organisation
  • Large and complex sector made up of in house departments, specialist contractors and consultancies


What is Substructure?

All structure below the superstructure i.e. all structure below ground level including the ground floor bed


What is Superstructure?

  • All internal and external structure above the substructure
  • Made up of primary (ext walls, stairs, roof, structural walls) and secondary (suspended ceilings / raised floors, balustrades, doors) elements and finishes (tiles, paint, stair hosings)

What is the External Envelope?

  • The materials and components that form the external shell or enclosure of a building
  • May be load or non-load bearing

What are the Building Regulations?

  • Statutory instruments that sets out the minimum performance standards for the design and construction of buildings.
  • Supported by the Approved Documents A to P and other codes of practice

What are British Standards (BS)?

  • Publications issued by the British Standards Institution – prefixed BS
  • They give recommended min standards for materials, components, design and construction practices

Define what service the Building Inspector provides in a project?

  • The Building Inspector inspects work that is notifiable under the building regulations.
  • The building regulations cover the structural integrity of a home i.e. whether it is safe to live in.

NOW, how about something a bit more fun, eh? Check out our Construction Stupidity Hall of fame