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Construction Industry Definitions

Some of you who know me know that
I’ve been put on this earth to help those
in the construction field who are less
fortunate than I am. You’re welcome.
The rest of you who know me deliver
my medications.

On that note, I hereby offer the following
“official” Important Construction
Industry Definitions.

A/E: Architect/Engineer,

A/E/EYOKFLTSWADD: Architect/Engineer/

Addenda: Written changes to bidding
documents occurring once architectural
plans and specifications hit street and
it becomes crystal clear that project
entitled “Springville Nuclear Power
Plant: Reactor #3 Renovation” is really
recycled “Chuck E. Cheese’s: New Funa-
Rama Maze” plan with title-block

Architect: Design professional and
(often) owner-representative for the
building industry. Gets money up front,
denies any and all responsibility from
there on out, and charges for revision
of own mistakes. When cornered will
often feign knowledge of the English
language. No idiots these architects.

Architect’s Project Budget: Greatest
amount of money owner is willing to
pay for project to go ahead and for
architect to get contract. No relation to
actual cost of project.

Bid Letting (closed): Bid award procedure
wherein the project owner secretly
chooses a contractor for his project.
He then holds open bid process anyway
to (1) appear fair, (2) make sure
contractor he’s selected isn’t screwing
him; and (3) to waste valuable time and
resources of other (losing) bidding contractors.
Busy owner then sets off for 3
p.m. meeting on business ethics.
They’re serving those little cocktail
weenies in barbecue sauce he likes so

Bid Letting (open): Gathering held
upon completion of bid period wherein
all competitors’ blind proposals are
opened and read aloud with the (virtually
always) lowest bid receiving the
contract. This is akin to awarding
upcoming, delicately intricate procedure
to repair elusive brain aneurysm
to Yosemite Sam.

BOO-HAH-HAH!!: Gleeful sound emitted
by owner as you sign his contract.

BOO-HAH-HAH-HAH (Snort!): Gleeful
sound emitted by owner as you sign his
contract with liquidated damages

Change Order (Owner): “I forgot this,
and I’d like you to do it for free.”

Change Order (Contractor): “Yeah,
right . . .” (see “Cha-thing!!‘).

Closeout: Moment in time when everything
catches up to contractor.

Contract Retainage: Carefully calculated
“witholding” of money from contractor;
generally a percentage of entire
contract amount. Used to cover cost to
force contractor into fixing screw-ups by
A/E firm.

Construction Foreman: Person in
charge of construction operations in the
field. Often seen driving field workers
over edge of cliff for consumption later.
Notably disturbed and disheveled, foreman
may resemble Jack Nicholson in “The Shinning” but can
actually be a “softy” at heart. Once observed compassionately
allowing one last phone call before beheading painter.

Construction Management Firm: Organization of college-educated,
white-collared men with electronic organizers who really
want to be in construction but can’t seem to get past the
nasty thought of actually associating with construction workers
(see “Suits”).

Design/Build: Construction arrangement with project owner
wherein GC finally makes up money for all those blind, loser,
competitive-bid wastewater projects he’d been giving away in
order to keep crews working.

Design/Build (Competitive bid): Used moments after project
owner proclaims, “There is no way in hell I’m paying $250,000
in design fees for a damn dog house!!”

GC: Angels of the construction industry Just really, really good
guys (see “About the Author”),

Lien Waiver: Legal affidavit releasing project owner from threat
of lien by contractor/supplier in simultaneous exchange of payment
for work rendered—virtually eliminating any leverage
whatsoever that contractor/supplier may own to collect said
money should owner default. Commonly collected two months
prior to anyone seeing one red cent.

Lump-sum Proposal: Fixed-cost proposal wherein contractor
may not adjust his cost except through owner/AE-approved
change contract modifications—which works out OK, because
the contractor made tons of profit
in panic-laden, post-bid VE process
(see “Value-Engineering”),

Patriarch—Construction Firm: The person
who sweated, toiled, sacrificed and
worked day and night for 35 years to
grow a fledgling, home-based remodeling
company into the highly respected,
multimillion-dollar commercial-construction
company the success that it is
today. Once sold own blood to make

Son(s)—Construction Firm: Unskilled,
undisciplined, pathetically ill-equipped
little weenie(s) who God saw fit to
spring from the loins of the patriarch.
God thought it was really funny at the
time. Son(s) often observed purchasing
box seats over the Internet with
company credit card, golfing and calling
it “networking,” diverting company
workers to house to finish sauna, and
driving daddy’s dream into ground
(see “Chapter 13 – Bankruptcy”).

T&M (Time and Material): Work where
contractor is paid only for the labor
man-hours and material costs actually
incurred on job. Does not denote Torture
& Masochism, as many believe.

Value-Engineering (VE): Period of time
after bids have been received for project
in which owner realizes he’s been
had by A/E. Occurring on approximately
100 percent of all construction
projects, VE is when the
“team” (i.e., the contractor) explores
avenues for bringing $1.5 million project
down “into the $400,000 range.”
Since time is always of the essence,
during VE, A/E may accept a check to
revise own mistakes. Since contractor
is no dummy, he’ll make 30 percent on
all VE changes, thereby transforming
base bid P&O line-item from 4.5 percent
to 12 percent.

Your Boss: (See “sociopath.”)

Zero: Your profit, self-esteem, prospects
and social life one month after
entering building industry.

Well … it’s more of an art than a science.

About the Author

S.S. Saucerman is a full-time commercial
estimator/project manager for a
general contracting company that is
based in Illinois.

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