Construction Project Terminology

Early stages of construction on a large urban site


If your business is undergoing any type of construction project, you are probably hearing a lot of terminology about the project that may or may not be familiar to you. Below is a brief overview of five common terms that are used when talking about a construction project.


Site Preparation– Site work that is done prior to a construction project groundbreaking. This will include clearing a site of trees, existing buildings, removing any underground infrastructure and any other obstacles that might interfere with the construction project. The site is then surveyed to outline exactly where the structure is to be built. Soil testing must also be done so as to test the ability of the site’s soil composition to withstand the structure and absorb water. A geotechnical site investigation may also be performed in order to characterize soil, rock and groundwater condition of the proposed site.

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Pre-Cast Construction– A construction technique in which concrete panels are manufactured off-site and transported to the site for assembly into a building.

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Tilt-Up Construction– A construction technique in which concrete panels for structural support for the building are cast at the site and hoisted, or tilted, upright into vertical position. Although it is possible for pre-cast panels to be similarly tilted into position, the term tilt-up refers to panels cast on site.

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Retrofit- Refers to changes that modernize building systems and assemblies (HVAC, security, fire alarms, energy management systems, etc.). The tenant does not move out of the space during construction and the overall square footage of the space usually does not change. Adaptive re-use is a process of retro-fitting old buildings for modern use while retaining the building’s integrity.

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Slab on grade– A structural engineering practice where concrete slabs can serve as the foundation of a structure. The slab is formed from a mold set into the ground. The concrete is then placed into the mold, leaving no space between the ground and the structure.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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