Commercial Construction Terms

Commercial Construction Terms 101 (Part Two)

We covered many of the basic commercial construction terms and phrases in part 1, but there are even more useful terms to learn and apply when working on your projects. Hopefully you can learn some more words that you weren’t familiar with, or at the very least be reminded of some definitions for words you forgot about. Knowledge is power!

Acoustics: Room characteristics such as size, shape, or materials used, that affect the way sound is transmitted

Contingency: Cost built into a project budget that is intended to cover unexpected expenses

Easement:  Property owned by one party that another has the right to use, such as a utility easement.

Elevation: A drawing showing a building’s finished appearance and the vertical height dimensions.

Fenestration: Design and arrangement of a building’s windows, skylights & doors.

Fit out: Interior construction of a building to make it suitable for occupation, also known as a build-out.

Footings: The building’s foundation or support system that distribute the building’s load on the ground.

Grading: The act of shaping the site for purposes such as water runoff or aesthetics.

Lean Construction: Project management method that emphasizes shared goals of all stakeholders, maximizing value, and minimizing waste.

Lien: A legal claim on a property contractors may file when they have not been paid for their work on the property.

Load bearing: Any structural element that supports the weight of those above it.

MEP: Mechanical, electrical & plumbing.

NIC: “Not in Contract”, or things that were excluded from the job contract.

Pay Applications: A document that shows how a contractor is paid.

Punch List: A list made when the project is very near completion in order to address any fixes, tweaks, or finishing touches that need to be made. It gives the client/owner a chance to identify and request any final fixes.

Substantial Completion: Distinct from final completion, substantial completion is the point defined in the project contract where a building is fit for occupancy and ready to be used for its intended purpose. This is typically the stage when the owner becomes responsible for the building, but they still may not have received the certificate of occupancy. There may still be minor items left for the contractor to complete.

T&M: “Time & Materials”, or when a contractor is paid strictly on actual costs including time and materials.


We hope that you have a good understanding of more construction concepts than you knew before you read this post. Please let us know about any commercial construction-related words that we missed– Email us today or call us at 480-832-9808.