Every industry has its own lingua franca—verbiage filled with commonly understood and used phrases specific to the line of work. While this facilitates quick communication on the job site, it can cause confusion when interacting with clients who may not be familiar with engineering vernacular.
To help with that, we’ve compiled a list of the most common engineering terms clients should at least be aware of. Armed with that information, they’ll be better prepared and informed.
Engineering and Design Terminology
Some basic terminology to familiarize yourself with includes:
- Addendum – Written documents provided as a modification or revision to the bidding documents before the contract can be executed.
- Assignable square footage (ASF) – Usable space within a physical area, typically measured from one finished wall to the other.
- AutoCAD – Computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs enable designers and engineers to build models and prints in either 2- or 3-dimensional planes.
- Change order – The written document between the contractor and client. The client must sign to validate changes in the work, the contract sum, or contract time.
- Construction documents – Detailed prints that show how a building’s physical space is to be constructed.
- Critical path – The detailed timeline of activities that must be satisfied to complete the project on time.
- Estimate – The approximate cost to finish the project according to the scope of work.
- Feasibility study – Preliminary studies done at the early stages of construction to identify or address any potential difficulties or geological hazards. The purpose of this is to ensure that the project is viable, if another location would be better, or if site remediations must be completed prior to scoped work.
- General conditions – A portion of the written contract wherein the owner dictates the contractor/engineer’s baseline requirements to satisfy the job. This includes:
- Gross square footage – The total square footage, including unusable space, such as utility spaces, wall interiors, etc.
- Hazardous waste – Any type of waste or substance that could cause harm—whether illness, health issues, or death to a person, or environmental impacts to a community.
- Purchase order (PO) – The documentation required to purchase a vendor's materials, supplies, or equipment.
- Notice of Completion (NOC) – A written notice issued by the project owner to announce the completion of the project to any potential concerned parties, particularly those who may exercise their lien rights.
- Project manager – The person charged with coordinating and facilitating the construction project and ensuring that the final product matches what was initially promised.
- Scope of work – A written document that delineates the tasks and work needed to complete a project.
MFS Engineers & Surveyors
The terms discussed above are just a few of the important phraseology you should at least be passingly familiar with. Knowing them, you’ll be better able to understand and communicate with your engineering team.
Do you want to work with someone who speaks plainly?
Then you've come to the right place. MFS Engineers & Surveyors provide concrete solutions for any challenge you may face. Whether land survey, geotechnical, civil, or structural engineering, or construction management, our consulting firm is multi-discipline, MBE/DBE/SBE certified. We'll provide you with clear expertise and guidance, no matter your specific requirements.
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