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What are Common Acronyms in the Plan-Design-Build Industries?

The planning, design, and construction industries are often required to seamlessly integrate for a successful project. From big-picture planning through design and into the physical construction details, these professionals need to be able to efficiently and effectively communicate between different professional cultures. This is made possible by a common language. Below are some acronyms that are frequently used to bridge the gap throughout the planning, design, and construction worlds:

  • AIA (American Institute of Architects): The professional organization for Architects in the United States

  • BIM (Building Information Modeling): An intelligent, 3D model-based design and analysis tool that provides a digital representation of a facility’s physical and functional aspects; used by the industry to design buildings, analyze their systems, and coordinate construction

  • CFCI (Contractor Furnished, Contractor Installed): Items in the scope of the project, e.g. appliances, that are to be purchased and installed by the contractor as part of the contract

  • CPM (Critical Path Method): A project management tool used for scheduling project activities; this tool identifies the longest stretch of dependent activities and measures the time required to complete them from start to finish

  • FFL (Finished Floor Level): The height at which the finished floor of a building or structure is proposed to be built; finished floor refers to the top layer of flooring, or the layer that is walked on

  • GC (General Contractor): The contractor who oversees and manages the construction project

  • GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price): A contract type under which a maximum price is set for a construction project, beyond which the contractor absorbs additional costs

  • NIC (Not In Contract): An item or area that is not part of the work to be performed under the project scope

  • NTS (Not To Scale): Usually a drawing by the architect or engineer which is not drawn to a specific reference scale

  • OAC (Owner-Architect-Contractor): Typically referring to a recurring meeting in which the owner, architect, and contractor meet to discuss project progress

  • OFCI (Owner Furnished, Contractor Installed): Items in the scope of the project, e.g. appliances, that are to be provided by the owner and installed by the contractor

  • RFI (Request For Information): A process used in construction to request clarification about documents, drawings, specifications or other project conditions, usually initiated by the contractor and responded to by the design team

  • RFP (Request For Proposal): A document that solicits proposals by a company or agency interested in procurement of services, typically referring to design or construction services

  • VIF (Verify In Field): An existing condition, such as a dimension, to be verified at the project site by the contractor

  • WBS (Work Breakdown Structure): A project management tool that takes a step-by-step approach to larger projects by breaking down the project into smaller components


These represent only a small sample of the hundreds of acronyms that are used daily to aid in the communication between Plan-Design-Build teams. What acronyms did we miss that you run into in the planning, design, or construction industry? 

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