The Glossary of Construction Words You Need to Know
Are you familiar with the term “homographs”? Simply, homographs are two words, spelled the same but have different meanings. A few contextual examples include, “just in case” over “he is a just person” or “she wrote a novel” versus “what a novel concept.” While we could just go on and on, it wouldn’t be just to bore you with a novel of not so novel homographs. Wordplays aside, the point is that certain terms can sound familiar or the same, but without proper knowledge and context, the right meaning could easily get lost. While not many homographs exist for construction terms, similar confusion can occur on a jobsite when there is no standard or common understanding, and as a result, implicate your project’s success.
To help you avoid fatal communication problems, we’ve compiled a glossary of top construction terms. From the greenest rookie to the most grizzled veteran, this glossary is a general resource for all in the construction industry. This resource has been created not only to introduce you to the common terms that are being used in construction projects around the world but also to help you stay ahead of changes to these terms—allowing you to communicate clearly and work and collaborate easily with teams from anywhere.
How will this glossary help you? Below, we’ll discuss why communication matters and how you can use our glossary to improve project collaboration and productivity.
Why Projects Fail: Communication Gone Wrong
What causes projects to fail? In one-third of all project failures, communication shortfalls are listed as the primary cause of failure, according to Project Management Institute (PMI)’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications. The report also claims that over half of all funds for a project are put at risk due to poor or substandard communications.
According to PMI President and CEO Mark A. Langley, “Stakeholders should understand how projects and programs connect to the overall organization strategy and be speaking a common language that facilitates collaboration and clearly identifies evolving expectations for project outcomes. Companies that cut corners on communications are unnecessarily incurring extra risk.”
Four years after the 2013 report, the 2017 Pulse of the Profession still found that communication problems were thought to be responsible for 37% of project failures, between lack of communication from senior management and poor communication in general. The report noted the dire need for industry leaders to embrace strong communication skills.
“[It’s important] to get the right people with the right skills and capability well positioned right from the start.” Some key competencies Caterpillar is seeking includes heightened business acumen, great initiative, strong communication and interpersonal skills, and solid leadership abilities,” according to Jeff Zircher, Manager of Global Program Management, Caterpillar Inc.
It’s surprising how many projects fail due to communications issues. From construction delays to contract issues, communications can be a huge problem when working on a construction project. When lack of communication occurs with commonly used construction terms, it’s easy to see why lack of collaboration is considered a serious issue in projects.
An Understanding of Fundamentals: How to Decrease Communication Problems
How do you avoid the pitfalls of poor communication can cause on your project? It takes a range of tools to make it work. Most importantly, the right use of field collaboration software can certainly help get your team on the same page. Another option is to create a thorough communications plan to streamline collaboration. Furthermore, using mobile with your owner’s representative can also help improve and speed up communications on the project. But at the core of it, all of these tools and processes first require a basic understanding of complex construction terms.
Nonetheless, construction terms are evolving on a regular basis and a firm understanding of how they are changing is necessary to be competitive. Consider all the terms that you wouldn’t have heard just a few years ago. A decade ago, terms like drones, mobile and geopositioning weren’t really part of the industry’s vocabulary, unless you were referring to the mindless motion of a worker’s weekend daze, getting in your truck to go back to the office or the GPS you used to get to a jobsite. But with the advancement of digitization and the inclusion of more technology on the jobsite, choosing the correct term is becoming more important as the industry becomes increasingly connected.
For construction novices, it’s fairly easy to mix up submittals with as-built drawings and specifications, because they all refer to visual representations of how the project goes together. But specifications are drawn up by the engineer or architect, submittals are drawn up by the contractor to show how the project is planned to go together, and as-built drawings are provided by the contractor to the client to show how the project was actually put together after the fact.
Today’s connected contractor has cloud-based plans to work with, digital punch lists to complete and mobile devices to share information with the rest of the crew. They may have Bluetooth-enabled power tool batteries that stop working once they pass the digital fence to prevent losses from theft. They stay in touch through digital notes on the plans from their estimating department to ensure that vital aspects of the specifications are not missed in the busy operations of daily construction life. While contractors have many new tools now at their disposal, communication is still the most important one–and it starts with knowing and understanding the fundamentals of construction.
Understand Construction Terms; Improve Project Communication
Communications on and around a project are vital to its success, and part of that communication includes choosing the right construction terms to convey exactly what you’re trying to say. Using the wrong terms, or insufficient understanding of where it plays a role in the phases of construction can lead to serious consequences for your company, preventing you from being as successful as you need to continue operating in the future. Study up and download our Glossary of Construction Terms so you can use the right words on the field and provide additional context and tips to improve your team’s productivity.
If you’re ready to get your copy, you can download it for free today.