Architectural Jargon

Architectural jargon – a glossary of terms

Demystify all the architectural jargon by reading this glossary of terms:

BriefA document provided by the client that describes the client’s requirements for a project including accommodation, cost and program.

ClientA person who engages an architect to provide architectural services.

ConsultantA person who is consulted for paid, expert advice and related services.

Consultant – primaryA consultant, often the architect, whose responsibilities include direction and coordination of the work of specialist consultants. The primary consultant is in contract with the client.

Consultant – secondaryA consultant whose work is subject to the direction and coordination of the primary consultant. The secondary consultant is in contract with the client.

Consultant – specialistA consultant who is a specialist in a particular field. Such consultants contribute to parts of the design but generally not the whole design. When engaged, the specialist consultant will become either a secondary consultant or a subconsultant.

Consultant – subconsultantA consultant whose work is subject to the direction and coordination of the primary consultant. The subconsultant is in contract with the primary consultant.

Contingency sumA sum of money included in a building contract or preserved outside it for expenditure, if necessary, on matters unforeseen at the time that the contract price was calculated.

Contingency sum – designA sum of money allowed in the project budget to cover the cost of matters that are unknown or unresolved at the time the budget is established. The design contingency will typically be proportionally high early in the design process and reduce as the design develops.

Contract documentsAll of the documents, which constitute a particular written contract, including the agreement between the owner and the contractor, any special conditions, the drawings and specifications, and any other relevant documents.

Contract priceThe total amount including GST paid or to be paid by the owner to the contractor.

ContractorA building contractor.

Cost of building workThe actual net cost of the works excluding any amounts for GST.

EstimateA judgement or forecast of the cost of a project based on knowledge, experience and available information.

Latent conditionA physical condition on, underlying or adjacent to the site which a competent contractor would not have anticipated if the contractor had reviewed the site information and inspected the site before executing the contract.

NovationThe transfer by agreement of contractual obligations. For example, the original contract between an architect and the client may be substituted at the start of construction by a contract between the architect and the contractor.

OwnerUsually, the owner of the land. However, in some building contracts such as for a tenancy fit-out, one party is called ‘the owner’ but they do not own the land. Instead they own the works as a leaseholder or tenant or a licensee of the land owner. In every case the owner has legally enforceable rights in connection with use of the land or a building on it.

Particular personA firm or person selected by the owner and specifically identified in the contract as the legal entity whom the owner wants to perform work or to supply and/or install an item forming part of the works in the building contract.

Prime-cost sumA sum included in the contract for a foreseeable ‘off the shelf’ item, the precise identity of which was not known or had not been decided at the date of the contract.

Project budgetAn amount established by the client which represents the total available funds for the project including building costs, provisional sums, escalation, contingency sums, consultant’s fees, GST, furniture and equipment, approval costs and any other cost, allowance or item defined by the client.

Provisional sumA sum included in the contract for foreseeable work, which could not be fully described at the date of the contract, because some details were unknown.

SubcontractorA firm or person (under contract to the main contractor) who performs work or who supplies and/or installs an item forming part of the works in the contract. The contractor is responsible for the selection, engagement, supervision, performance and payment of all subcontractors in accordance with the contract. Subcontractors do not include any firms or persons directly engaged and paid by the owner for work outside the contract. These are separate contracts.

VariationA change in the scope of works, the order of precedence of the contract documents, or to dimensions, levels, materials, details, workmanship or quality of any part of the works.

WorkThe activities, labour or processes involved in construction of the works.

WorksThe completed construction as set out in the contract documents. Generally works can be seen as the product of the work carried out under the contract.

The above is an extract from a publication by the Australian Institute of Architects. It states that the above glossary of terms has been prepared to clarify terminology and provide consistency of use. The definitions are closely based on those in Construction Industry Terminology , 4th edition, by David Standen, and where applicable, reflect definitions in the ABIC contract suite.