Understanding the Lingo – Keys to Communication


If your child is having a surgery you will most likely search the internet and learn as much about the procedure as possible. The key to understanding what the doctor is saying is to know the terms so you can communicate intelligently. The same goes when you are building or remodeling a home. Some terms seems obvious, but your Webster’s Dictionary understanding of the word might not match up exactly with construction terms.

A specific dollar amount allocated by a contractor for specified items in a contract for which the brand, model number, color, size or other details are not yet known.

A proposal to work for a certain amount of money based on plans and specifications for the project.


Building Permit:
A document issued by a governing authority, such as a city or county building department, granting permission to undertake a construction project.

An informal term for a return visit by the contractor to repair or replace items the homeowner has found to be unsatisfactory or that require service under the warranty.

CGR – Certified Graduate Remodeler:
A professional designation program offered through the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers Council. To attain the CGR designation, a remodeler must take a specified number of continuing-education courses and must comply with a strict code of ethics.

Change Order:
Written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. The change order should reflect any changes in cost.

A designated payment that is “drawn” from the total project budget to pay for services completed to date. A draw schedule typically is established in the contract.

Lien Release:
A document that voids the legal right of a contractor, subcontractor or supplier to place a lien against your property. A lien release assures you that the remodeler has paid subcontractors and suppliers in full for labor and materials.

Mechanic’s Lien:
A lien obtained by an unpaid subcontractor or supplier through the courts. When enforced, real property — such as your home — can be sold to pay the subcontractor or supplier. If a subcontractor or supplier signed a lien release, then this lien cannot be enforced.

Plans and Specifications:
Drawings for the project and a detailed list or description of the known products, materials, quantities and finishes to be used.

Punch List:
A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.

A person or company hired directly by the contractor to perform specialized work at the job site — sometimes referred to as a trade contractor.

Let us know if you have experienced a situation while building a home where terminology was a communication barrier.

See other Millstone Tips, send us a message or give us a call to discuss anything about your home or future home.

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Source: nahb.org