Learn the meaning of some of the most common terms in
architecture and construction in our glossary of terms. The terms listed
below came from a number of sources and represent the most common terms in
performing the design and construction process.
A line drawing showing plan
and/or elevation views of the proposed building for the purpose of showing
the overall appearance of the building.
Blueprints (or prints)
Reproduction of architectural
drawings used by contractors and workers to guide the building process.
Budget (Construction Budget)
(1) An itemized summary
of estimated or intended expenditures for a given period of time; (2) The
total sum of money allocated for a specific project.
The legal requirements set up by the
prevailing various governing agencies covering the minimum acceptable
requirements for all types of construction. (See Codes)
A written document issued by the
appropriate local governmental authority permitting construction to begin
on a specific project in accordance with drawings and specifications
approved by the governmental authority.
Prevailing regulations, ordinances or
statutory requirements set forth by governmental agencies associated with
building construction practices and owner occupancy, adopted and
administered for the protection of public health, life safety and welfare.
(1) The direct contractor costs
for labor, material, equipment, and services; contractors overhead and
profit; and other direct construction costs. Construction cost does not
include the compensation paid to the Designer and Engineer and
consultants, the cost of the land, rights-of-way or other costs which are
defined in the contract documents as being the responsibility of the
A term used to represent all
drawings, specifications, addenda, other pertinent construction
information associated with the construction of a specific project.
(1) An agreement between two or more
parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law; (2) The
writing or document containing such an agreement.
A term used to represent all
executed agreements between the owner and contractor; any general,
supplementary or other contract conditions; the drawings and
specifications; all addenda issued prior to execution of the contract; and
any other items specifically stipulated as being included in the contract
A properly licensed individual or company
that agrees to furnish labor, materials, equipment and associated services
to perform the work as specified for a specified price.
Drawings that show details of the house as though it were cut in slices from the roof to the
foundation. The cross sections specify the home's construction, insulation,
flooring and roofing details.
A graphical representation consisting of plan
views, exterior elevations, sections, and other drawings and details to
depict the goal or purpose for a building or other structure.
Design Development Phase
The second phase of the
Designer's basic services wherein the Designer prepares drawings and other
presentation documents to fix and describe the size and character of the
entire project as to architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical
systems, materials and other essentials as may be appropriate; and
prepares a statement of probable construction cost.
(1) To calculate approximately the
amount, extent or value of something; (2) To form an opinion of estimated
Estimate of Construction Cost, Detailed
calculation of costs prepared on the basis of a detailed analysis of
materials and labor for all items of work, as contracted with an estimate
based on current area, volume or similar cost units.
Drawings that show the front, rear and sides of a building, including exterior
materials and measurements. Elevations are drawn at the same scale as the floor
The exterior face of a building which is the
Plans showing the placement of interior
walls and the dimensions and locations of rooms, doors, windows,
stairways, etc. of each level of the house.
A detailed drawing showing all dimensions needed to construct the
foundation. It includes drawings for a standard, daylight or partial basement,
crawlspace, pole, pier or slab foundation. All necessary notations and
dimensions are included.
A drawing that shows the underlying structure of the
ceilings and floors.
Properly licensed individual or
company having primary responsibility for the work.
A detailed statement of particulars that provide general instructions and information regarding structure, excavating and
grading, masonry and concrete work, carpentry and wood, thermal and moisture
protection, and specifications about drywall, tile, flooring, glazing, caulking
Drawings that show the general location of cabinets (kitchen, bathroom and
utility room), fireplaces, built-in units, and other special features, depending
on the nature and complexity of the item.
A term used to represent the visible
elements, materials and applications applied to building's interior
excluding furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The composition of the different geometrical
forms that make up a house or building.
A written form of contract
between the designer and the client for professional design services.
The drawings that precede the
final approved drawings
Drawings that show the slope, pitch and location of dormers, gables and other roof
elements, including clerestory windows and skylights. These details may be shown
on the elevation sheet or on a separate diagram.
Roof Framing Plan
The drawing that shows the layout of the roof
framing details and materials.
Schematic Design Phase
Diagrammatic drawings done
early in the design process of an architectural project in preparation for
construction, usually drawn to scale and showing the entire project.
A preliminary sketch or diagram
representing the proposed intent of the designer.
Schematic Design Phase
The first phase of the
Designer's basic services in which the Designer consults with the owner to
ascertain the requirements of the project and prepares schematic design
studies consisting of drawings and other documents showing the scale and
project components for the owner's approval.
Schematic Floor Plans
The floor plans
conceptualized or designed
to create the layout of the house. This is considered as the most
essential part of the design process, wherein a creative functional
solution is produced to meet all the client's requirements and
specifications. Schematic Floor Plans are
floor plans for planning purposes alone although they may be sufficient to
be used as models for a construction document set. They do not constitute
buildable plans. Further development is necessary, which may include
civil, structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical engineering,
Schematic Electrical Layout Templates
allow your contractor to show the suggested locations for
switches, fixtures and outlets. These details may be shown on the floor plan or
on a separate diagram.
The place where a structure or group of
structures was, or is to be located (a construction site).
Refers to drawings or diagrams laying out
the precise arrangement of a structure on a plot of land. For example, a
house site plan shows the property, garage, existing building, locations,
easements, utility connections, etc. It may also refer to plans for
gardens, groups of buildings, or developments, where the layout of
buildings, roadways, utilities, landscape elements, topography, water
features, and vegetation may be depicted. A site plan is drawn at a large
scale to show a large area (1"= 50'-0" or 1"=200'-00",
A detailed, exact statement of
particulars, especially statements prescribing materials and methods; and
quality of work for a specific project. The most common arrangement for
specifications substantially parallels the CSI (Construction Specification
A term used to represent the
proportioning of structural members to carry loads in a building or
A drawing sufficiently complete with
plan and section views, dimensions, details, and notes so that whatever is
shown can be constructed and/or replaced without instructions but subject
Restrictions of areas or regions of land
within specific geographical areas based on permitted building size,
character, and uses as established by governing urban authorities.
Important Copyright Notice...
The following statement is provided by the Council of Publishing Home Designers,
an affiliation of the American Institute of Building Design.
Home plans are copyrighted: Just like books,
movies, and songs, federal copyright laws protect the intellectual property
of architects and home designers. These legal protections exist to protect
all parties. Copyright laws respect and support the intellectual property of
the original architect or designer, and prevent anyone from using the design
without written permission.
Don't use plans to build more than one house: All
home plans include a copyright release and a license to use the documents to
construct a single home. When you purchase construction documents, we, as
licenser, are granting to you, as licensee, the right to use the documents
to construct a single unit. This is an exclusive license, which may not be
resold, duplicated, published or distributed without written permission of
the designer, architect or publisher.
Reproducing Blueprints: Construction blueprints
may not be reproduced without prior written consent of the designer. If
additional sets are required for estimating or construction, please contact
us for additional sets at a nominal cost. Copy shops and blueprinters are
prohibited from making copies of these copyrighted documents.
Home Plans (Mylars, Vellums, Sepias): With the
purchase of a reproducible (mylars, vellums, or sepias), a license and
copyright release are also provided. In this case, as licensee, you are
allowed to make up to 12 copies of the design, but such copies may only be
used for the construction of a single home. For the construction of more
than one unit, it is necessary to obtain an additional release or multiple
licenses from the architect or designer.
Making Design Modifications: As a plan
licensee, you may customize the design to fit your personal preferences, but
you must understand that the modification of the plan is done at your own
risk and should be reviewed by a professional architect, home designer or
engineer prior to the start of construction. Modified plans are considered
'derivative works' of the original, and it is critical that you understand
that these 'derivative works' as well as the original work, still retain
copyright protection. Any 'derivative work' or revised design, even if
completely redrawn, may not be sold, duplicated, distributed or used to
construct any units without the purchase of a license from the architect or
Don't Copy Designs: It is illegal to copy home
designs found in any plan book, on a CD-ROM or on the internet. It is a
common misunderstanding that it is permissible to copy, adapt or change a
floor plan or a design found in any book. It is not! It is also illegal to
copy an existing home that may have been built, that is protected by
copyright, even if you have never seen the plans for the home. If a
particular home plan or existing home is desired, a set of plans must be
purchased from an authorized source.
Using the Home Plans: As a plan licensee, you
may lend the plans to third parties (builders, contractors, subcontractors,
inspectors, government agencies, etc.) as necessary to assist in the
construction of the dwelling involved. All such lent plans must be retrieved
and destroyed, except for the owner's reference sets, and those sets
required by government agencies, after such assistance has been completed.
Who is responsible for Copyright Infringement? All
parties, including the purchasers, designers, drafters, homeowners,
builders, contractors, subcontractors, copy shops and blueprinters may be
responsible if a copyright is violated. It does not matter whether an
individual knows that a violation is being committed. You've heard it
before: ignorance of the law is not a valid defense! To avoid legal
complications and damages, it is critical that you be certain of the original
plan source, and refuse to be a party to any illicit copying or borrowing of
designs, derivative works, prints, and design features.
Please respect Home Design Copyrights: In the
event of any suspected violation of a copyright, or if there is any
uncertainty about the plans purchased, the publisher, architect or designer
should be contacted before proceeding. If a violation of a home designer's
copyright is suspected, the designer or architect, and the Council of
Publishing Home Designers should be contacted. Awards are sometimes offered
for information about home design copyright infringement.
Penalties for Infringement: Penalties for
violating a copyright may be very severe. The responsible parties are
required to pay the designer or architect's actual damages (which may be
substantial), plus any profits made. The copyright law also allows the
designer or architect to recover statutory damages, which may be as high as
$100,000. Finally, the infringer may be required to pay the architect or
designer's reasonable legal fees, which often exceed the damages.