Construction Dictionary

New to Construction? We've got you covered. Here’s a list of construction words to help you navigate through the terminology in the day-to-day lingo.

Office Space Conditions

1st Generation Space
New office space that has been constructed on a floor that has never been customized for a tenant, or the prior constructed improvements were demolished and consists of wide open space with support columns, concrete floor and restrooms.

2nd Generation Space
Office space that was previously occupied by a tenant and therefore has some improvements that are reusable by a subsequent tenant, such as some walls, doors, ceiling treatments and light fixtures.


Building Type Definitions

Class A buildings
The highest quality buildings in their market - generally the best looking buildings with the best construction, and possess high-quality building infrastructure. Class A buildings also are well located, have good access, and are professionally managed with rents above average for the area and include state of the art building systems.

Class B buildings
Class B buildings usually have good quality management and tenants and are decently maintained, but tend to be a little older and a little more moderate in design, aesthetic and finishes.  Typically the building does not compete with Class A Buildings at the same price.

Cold Shell
A building with an unfinished interior that lacks heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and usually has no existing lighting, plumbing (no bathrooms) ceilings or walls included in the space.

Warm Shell
A warm shell is typically considered ready to lease and ready to receive tenant improvements (TI). A warm shell building will have a minimally finished interior, a heating and cooling (HVAC) system, drop ceilings, plumbing and restrooms, and interior lighting.  For this study, we defined a warm shell as a space with completed bathrooms and elevator lobbies, an installed HVAC system (or at least fire smoke dampers), perimeter window drywall, and code-compliant sprinklers, fire alarm and electrical panels that can be tied into for lighting and power distribution.


Contracting / Delivery Methods

Construction Manager At Risk (CMR)
Client hires a contractor for preconstruction and construction services that does not self perform any trade work.

General Contractor
Client hires a contractor that may or may not self perform trade work for preconstruction and construction services.

Client provides complete drawings and specifications to receive a lump sum bid from a contractor.

Client contract with a contractor to lead the design and build team via a single source contract.

Agency Construction Manager or Project Management
The client hires a company to administer all aspects of the project, including preparing an RFP for all design services, construction services and all owner fixtures, furniture and equipment.  The Agency CM will then manage all of these contracts on behalf of the client.



Tenant Improvement (TI)
Changes made to the interior of a commercial or industrial property by its owner to accommodate the needs of a tenant such as floor and wall coverings, ceilings, partitions, air conditioning, fire protection, and security.

Demising Wall
The wall which separates a tenant's suite from another tenant's suite, or building common areas. In most cases, a demising wall will be constructed from floor to either the building roof deck or floor deck. The wall may also be a fire rated wall (see "partition wall").

Partition Wall
A wall constructed to create work areas such as offices or conference rooms. Depending on security needs, a partition wall may not be constructed to the roof or floor decking, but may terminate at lower point such as a suspended ceiling.

Punch List
A list of incomplete or unacceptable construction items which upon remedy and completion will usually complete the obligations of the contractor under a construction contract.

Substantial Completion
The point during construction at which the contractor is ready to turn the property over to the tenant or client for acceptance and final punch list. Usually occurs upon the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.

Lump-Sum Contract
A type of construction contract requiring the general contractor to complete a building or project for a fixed cost normally established by competitive bidding. The contractor absorbs any loss or retains any profit, in excess of the lump sum.

Second Generation or Secondary Space
efers to space which has been previously occupied and then becomes available for lease, either directly from the landlord or as sublease space.



COMMON Abbreviations

APM - Assistant Project Manager

PM – Project Manager

CM – Construction Manager

ACES – Accurate Construction Estimating Service

HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning

MEP – mechanical, engineering and plumbing

RFI – request for information

DD – Design Drawings

CD – Construction Drawings