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Glossary of terms

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Access Audit

A part of the process of designing a building or site, which considers how disabled people will be able to access the building or site. You can get publications and information about accessibility and audits from: 

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality House
7-9 Shaftesbury Square

Phone: 02890 500600

Disability Action
(Offices in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Newry, Carrickfergus and Dungannon

Belfast Office:

Portside Business Park
189 Airport Road West

Phone: 02890 297880

Employers’ Forum on Disability (NI)

Banbridge Enterprise Centre
Scarva Road Industrial Estate
BT32 3QD

Phone: 028 40624526

Administration Order

An order made in a county court to arrange and administer the payment of debts by an individual; or an order made by a court in respect of a company that appoints an administrator to take control of the company. A company can also be put into administration if a floating charge holder, or the directors or the company itself file the requisite notice at court.

Adverse Entries

Anything appearing on the documents which prove the landowner’s title to the land: 

  • which might affect the landowner’s ability to use all or part of the land for the grant purposes or
  • which might limit the use of certain parts of the land for a specific purpose or
  • which might have an adverse impact on the value of the land. 

Agreement For, or To, Lease

Before the tenant takes a lease (confirming his leasehold ownership), the landlord may confirm in a written document called an agreement for lease that they will give the tenant a lease if certain conditions are met. If they are not met the tenant will not get the leasehold ownership. Therefore, you must be sure that you can meet the conditions of an agreement for lease if the grant depends on you having a leasehold ownership. 


A person who designs and supervises the construction of buildings. Within the UK they will appear on the Register of Architects held by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). 


Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral product that is strong, durable and non-combustible.  It is has therefore been commonly used for insulation purposes and protecting structures from the effects of fire. When disturbed the smallest sized fibres may be inhaled, causing a risk of developing a fatal disease that usually affects the lungs. These diseases take a long time to develop, usually between 15 and 60 years so no immediate effects are noticed should fibres be inhaled.

If discovered asbestos must only be handled and disposed of by suitably qualified persons in accordance with legal guidelines. 

Asbestos Survey Type

Management survey

The Management Survey purpose is required to manage ACMs (Asbestos Containing Materials) during the normal occupation and use of premises.  The duty holder can make a Management Survey where the premises are simple and straightforward.  Otherwise, a surveyor is needed. 

A Management Survey aims to ensure that: 

1. nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment;
2. that the ACM remain in good condition; and
3. that nobody disturbs it accidentally 

The Survey must locate ACM that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or by installing new equipment. It involves minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance to make a Materials Assessment. This shows the ability of ACM, if disturbed, to release fibres into the air. It guides the client, e.g. in prioritising any remedial work. 

Asset Monitoring Period

It is the time during which we will monitor your project to ensure that the grant purpose is being met and the period during which we will hold you responsible for the condition and use of the land and buildings funded by the grant, starting from the date that the capital works are completed. 

Assignable Lease

A term used for leasehold land and buildings to show whether the land and buildings can be sold to or given to another owner. The lease will say whether the land and buildings can be given to or sold to another owner and therefore if they are assignable. Often the lease will contain a number of conditions that have to be met before the lease is assignable. These conditions may include obtaining the consent of the landlord. 

Assignment (Contract)

Is a transfer of a right or obligation of one person to another. Assignment differs from novation in so much that the parties to the contract do not change – privity of contract still exists between the parties. The consent of the third contracting part is not necessary.


Bill of Approximate Quantities

Contract document prepared and used similarly to a bill of quantities but where the quantities are approximate because the design and specifications are not yet complete. All work then needs to be re-measured as designed and constructed.

Bill of Quantities

 A list of numbered items (usually prepared by the project quantity surveyor), each of which describes the quantity of some work to be done in a civil engineering or building contract. 

Break Clause

A provision in a lease that allows the landlord or the tenant or both to bring the lease to an end before the full period of years has elapsed. 

Building Control Approval

Confirmation from the local authority building control service that project proposals and plans comply with the building regulations. 

Building Professional

A professional adviser or consultant with specialist training and knowledge employed by you to act for you.

Building Regulations

Rules made under powers provided within The Building (Amendment) No.2 Regulations (NI) 2006 Act, which cover the technical aspects of building projects (for example structural, fire safety, ventilation, conservation of fuel and power). You or your professional advisers will need to obtain approval that your proposals meet the regulations from the local authority or the approved agent. For further information on building regulations refer to the Department of Finance and Personnel, website at

Buildings Insurance Certificate

Certificate to show that there is insurance for the building and its use. This should be for replacement value and not open market value.


Capital Assets

Assets that have a large monetary value such as land, buildings, computer equipment, and vehicles.

Cashflow Forecast

Produced by linking the data from the constructions costs and project programme allowing client and contractor to forecast payments due as the project progresses. 

CDM Coordinator

A CDM Coordinator advises the client in respect of construction health and safety risk management matters. They assist the client when appointing designers and contractors to ensure competency and advise on the adequacy of management arrangements. Within the design process they will ensure proper co-ordination of all aspects of health and safety. They facilitate good communication and cooperation between project team members and co-ordinate the preparation of the health and safety file. 

CDM Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. These cover health, safety and welfare regulations through all stages of a construction project.

Certificate of Practical Completion

Formal document issued under the building contract (by the contract administrator) to show that the building work is complete apart from any defects, which will be corrected by the making good defects certificate. 

Certificate of Title

A written document from a solicitor confirming that the grant recipient is the leasehold or freehold owner of the land and buildings to which the grant relates and that there is nothing about the land and buildings which might stop the grant being used for the grant purpose. 

Change Control

The process by which changes to the building contract are managed and recorded. 


Security interest taken over property by a creditor to protect against non-payment of a debt (such as a mortgage). 

Clerk of Works

Client’s site inspector, responsible for monitoring standards of workmanship and materials, reporting to the contract administrator. 

Construction Team

The builder’s site organisation headed by a site agent or project manager comprising programmers, planners, quality controllers, surveyors, general and trades supervisors. 

Contaminated Land

‘Contaminated land’ is used in general terms to describe land polluted by:

  • heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead
  • oils and tars
  • chemical substances and preparations, eg solvents
  • gases
  • asbestos
  • radioactive substances

Contaminated land also has a legal definition as land where substances could cause:

  • significant harm to people or protected species
  • significant pollution of surface waters or groundwater

This definition refers to contamination caused by past uses of a site, such as former factories, mines, steelworks, refineries and landfills.


An amount of money (usually expressed as a percentage) built into the total project costs in case part of the project costs more than you thought or for unforeseen works which are essential and directly relevant to completion of the original scheme design approved. 

Contract Administrator

The person or organisation (e.g. architect, architectural technologist or technician, engineer or building surveyor) named within a building contract to manage the terms of the contract between you and the contractor.


The organisation carrying out building work for a pre-agreed cost.

COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health)

Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put people's health at risk, so the law requires employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health. They have to protect both employees and others who may be exposed by complying with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (as amended by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 and 2005.  For more information please refer to 

Cost Plan

An analysis, element by element, of the proposed building agreed by the design team as a distribution of the client’s budget and against which the cost of the developing design is monitored.


A formal acknowledgement of a legal responsibility to another person.


Deed of Dedication

If the grant recipient does not own the land or buildings to which the grant relates the landowner might be able to sell the building before the purpose of the grant has been met. The deed of dedication is a document the landowner must sign to confirm that the land or buildings will be used for the grant purpose and will not be sold without the consent of the Big Lottery Fund.

Deed of Undertaking

If we ask for a restriction but the land is not registered then we require the landowner to complete a deed of undertaking confirming that, if at any time in the future the land is registered, at that time that they will register a restriction at the land registry.

Defects Liability Period

A pre-agreed period, commonly 12 months starting from practical completion, during which the builder is required to remedy, at his own expense, all genuine defects appearing in the building. The contract administrator issues a certificate of making good defects when the final list is cleared.

Design and Build

Procurement system in which a single organisation takes responsibility not only for construction work but also for the detail design. It is usual that an architect, with the client will design the building up to planning submission, and then be novated  to the appointed contractor to complete the process. Primarily used to reduce the project time.

Design Team

The term usually used to describe the consultants (Architect, structural Engineer, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, Quantity Surveyor etc) employed by a client, and who are responsible for the design of a building.

Domestic Sub Contractor

Sub-contractor provided and employed by the builder.  Under standard forms of contract the contract administrator has the opportunity to approve all such sub-contractors.



Rights over property that is owned by someone else e.g. rights to cross land with vehicles or by laying pipes and cables.

Elemental Cost Estimate

Estimate of project costs (usually prepared by the project quantity or building surveyor), broken down into a series of elements such as external works, preliminaries, contingencies, inflation, etc.


Also referred to as the ‘Client’ or building owner- is the person or organisation who commissions a constructions project and pays the cost of the works.

Employer’s Agent

Normally a building professional who is appointed by you to fulfil your duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (NI) 1995.


Additional space built on to an existing building.

Extension of Time

Addition to the contract period granted by the contract administrator on application by the contractor that the works are being delayed by one or more specified events set out in the contract as being beyond his control. Enables contractor to claim all genuine loss and expense incurred.

External Works

The works on or in the land surrounding a building for example drainage work, roads and paths and landscaping.


Final Account

The agreed adjusted contract sum allowing for the cost of all variations and other instructions including remeasurement of work covered by approximate quantities and provisional sums. 

Final Certificate

A document usually issued six to 12 months after the Certificate of practical completion and following the Making good defects certificate. It confirms the end of the builder’s liability and marks the end of the Contract administrator’s authority under the contract. 

Fixed Price Contract

A contract where the contractors prices are fixed for the duration of the works. The tender includes amounts the contractor considers will cover inflation in the prices of labour, materials and plant. 

Fixtures and Fittings

Items inside a building that are attached to the walls/ceilings/floors or built in as part of the building for example electrical sockets and light fittings. 

Fluctuating Price Contract

A contract where the builder’s prices are adjusted for inflation; usually by the application of a formula and published prices. 


A form of ownership of land or buildings where ownership cannot be taken away from the owner unless they agree. This is the most permanent way in which someone can own land or buildings. The owner owns the property forever, or until they sell it or give it away. They do not have to pay anyone for the use of the land and buildings.


Gantt Chart

A pictorial representation of a project plan, showing activities (usually as shaded bars); milestones (usually as black diamonds); and dependencies (usually as lines linking the relevant ends of the activity bars). 

Good and Marketable Title

This means that the current owner has complete freedom to sell you the property and no other party has a legal interest in it. 

Grant Purpose

What our grant must be used for.

Gross Internal Floor Area (GIFA)

The area inside a building, measured to the inside face of the outer walls. This is prepared by measuring each floor of the building (or plans) and adding them together to give the total. 

Ground Investigations

A detailed technical investigation of the ground on which a building will be constructed to determine the type of soil and sub soil, how suitable it is for building on and whether it contains any old structures that need preserving, contaminated areas or existing pipes, cables or other services.



Procedure by which the client takes over the building following issue of the practical completion certificate.  The method should be specified in the contract documents. 

Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI)

HSENI (The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland) is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI). HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.


Interim Certificate

Certificate issued by the contract administrator stating the amount of payment due under the building contract and which must be honoured by the client.  Usually issued monthly or on completion of pre-agreed work stages.


Land Registry

The national land database where landowners can record their ownership. If they do so their land is registered Land. Anyone can find out who owns a piece of land if it is registered at the Land Registry. 

Latent Defects

Building defects which appear after practical completion and which are subject to the Limitations Act. 

Lead Building Professional/Project Manager

The member of the design team (normally the architect or architectural technologist or building surveyor) who takes overall responsibility for coordinating of the design process and client contact. 


A document containing the rules that show how a particular piece of leasehold land or a leasehold building is owned. The lease will contain rules about how long the tenant’s ownership is for and how much rent is paid and when it is paid (among other things).  The lease is given to the tenant by a landlord. The tenant pays the landlord rent for the use of the land and building.


A form of land ownership in which someone (known as the tenant) owns the land and buildings for a limited number of years. The rules of ownership will be dealt with in a document known as a lease (see above). Often the ownership under the lease will be for many years and the tenant will pay a sum of money to “buy” the leasehold ownership from a previous tenant or from the landlord and then will pay a small rent to the landlord each year during it’s ownership. 

Legal Charge

A document that contains rules about how land and buildings may be used. An owner of land gives a legal charge to someone who lends or grants them money. If the owner goes bankrupt or fails to keep to the rules about how the money must be used, the legal charge should mean that some or all of the money could be recovered. The legal charge will also stop the owner from selling the land without the consent of the person who lent or granted the money. 

Legal Opinion

A written document from a solicitor in which the solicitor confirms that they believe the recipient has the legal power to sign the terms and conditions of grant and any legal charge or other document that we may ask the grant recipient to sign. 


Permission to occupy or use land, which may otherwise be a trespass. Does not confer any legal estate or interest and does not provide security of tenure. 

Licensed Conveyancer

A person qualified to prepare the legal documents and carry out the legal process of transferring ownership of property (as an alternative to using a solicitor). 


The Official Receiver or an insolvency practitioner appointed to administer the liquidation of a company or partnership.

Listed Building and Listed Building Consent

A building which, because it has special historic or design features that require protection, has been given ‘listed’ status by the Environment and Heritage Service and requires special approval if it is to be altered or extended. Refer to Northern Ireland Buildings Database at


Making Good Defects Certificate

Once practical completion has been certified, the defects liability period begins (sometimes called the 'rectification period').  Typically, the defects liability period is six to twelve months.

During this period, the client reports any defects that arise in the works to the contract administrator who decides whether they are in fact defects (i.e. works that are not in accordance with the contract), or whether they are maintenance issues. If the contract administrator considers that they are defects, then they may issue instructions to the contractor to make good the defects within a reasonable time.

At the end of the defects liability period, the contract administrator prepares a schedule of defects, listing those defects that have not yet been rectified, and agrees with the contractor the date by which they will be rectified. Defects must be made good within a 'reasonable time', and at the contractor's cost.

NB. It is the contractor's responsibility to identify and rectify defects, not the client's or the contract administrator's, so if they do bring defects to the contractor's notice, they should make clear that this is not a comprehensive list of all defects.

When the contract administrator considers that all items on the schedule of defects have been made good, they issue acertificate of making good defects. This has the effect of releasing the remainder of any retention and brings about issuing of the final certificate.

Management Committee

Members of your organisation’s governing body (who may be called trustes, directors, members of the management committee). 


Negotiated Tender

Procedure for appointing a contractor and agreeing a contract sum on the basis of negotiation rather than a competitive tendered amount. The negotiation may be based on a previous competitive price, for example, for a similar and successfully completed contract, which the contractor had won in competition.

Nominated Sub Contractor

Specialist sub-contractor nominated by the contract administrator following selection, usually through competitive tendering, and with whom the builder, as ‘main contractor’ is required to enter into formal subcontract agreements. The standard forms of contract enable the client to make separate agreements with nominated sub-contractors with particular reference to design warranties.

Non-Recoverable VAT

VAT charged on buying goods, services or transactions that you are not recoverable from the HM Revenue and Customs.

You should seek guidance and obtain written confirmation of the VAT position in relation to your proposed project. Unexpected VAT bills can add significantly to the total cost of your capital project.


A mechanism where one party transfers all its obligations and benefits under a contract to a third party. The third party effectively replaces the original party as a party to the contract.  When a contract is novated the other contracting party must be left in the same position as he was in prior to the novation being made.

Essentially, a novation requires the agreement from all three parties. So a deed of novation, or an agreement to novate, usually includes a letter to be sent to the third party, explaining the situation and requesting their acceptance by signature and return of the letter.


Parent Company Deed of Guarantee

Where a building company is a subsidiary of another, the deed of guarantee states that the parent company must fulfil the contractual obligations where the subsidiary fails or is closed down.

Party Wall

Statutory Instrument that enables an owner of land or buildings to carry out certain, specific works on, or adjacent to adjoining properties while protecting potentially affected neighbours.

Planning Permission or Planning Consent

The approval decision made on a planning application by a planning committee.

Planning Supervisor

A person or organisation appointed to oversee compliance with the CDM regulations.

Practical Completion

When the construction works are, in the opinion of the architect or contract administrator to be practically complete they shall issue a Certificate of Practical Completion. There may still be minor works to be completed, but the contractor completed the works to a stage where the building is safe and usable. A Certificate of practical completion does not release the contractor from his remaining duties.

Pre-qualification (Contractor)

A process intended to ensure that, before being included on a tender list, all contractors are assessed to ensure that they are equally capable of delivering a construction project.


Costs of work that needs doing before the main building work can start e.g. the contractor setting up the site office.


The process of obtaining building works, from deciding to proceed with construction to accepting the completed work.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Insurance covering building professionals from civil law claims arising from advice or services provided.

Project Manager

Manages and controls all construction operations.  A project manager will plan, organise, and control  construction operations and may be involved at all  stages of the process from initial feasibility studies  through to design, construction, maintenance, refurbishment, and demolition.  The primary role is to ensure that construction projects are completed on time within budget, to the appropriate quality standards, and to exacting safety requirements.

Provisional Sum

A sum set aside in the tender documentation to provide for work whose scope cannot be clearly foreseen or quantified, e.g. builder’s work in association with mechanical and electrical installations.


Quantity Surveyor (QS)

 Traditionally the person who ‘measures’ that is quantifies, building works and has developed skills of estimating prices, negotiation and cost analysis of buildings. Will usually advise design team and client on contractual and financial arrangements for a project.  Administers financial aspects of the building contract.



The commonly used name for an administrative receiver. The term can also mean a person appointed by the court or with the power to receive the rents and profits of property.


To renovate, re-equip, or restore a building.


Land or buildings are Registerable if the ownership of them can be registered at the Land registry. Freehold ownership is always Registerable. Leasehold ownership is Registerable where the tenant still has seven years or more of ownership according to the Lease.

Registered Land

Land and buildings registered at the Land Registry. If they are registered they will be given a “title number”, which is unique to the land and buildings, and which the recipient or its solicitors should know and be able to produce. A title number can prove whether a recipient owns the land and buildings.

Restriction (on title)

A document entered into by a landowner, which confirms that they will obtain our consent before selling their land and or buildings or leasing them to someone else.

The restriction is a document that will be registered at the Land registry so that anyone looking at the recipient’s ownership of the land will know that our consent is required. If the land is not registered land at the time of the grant offer then the recipient will complete a deed of undertaking instead. Statutory bodies will usually be asked to enter into a Restriction in the form of a deed of dedication.

Restrictive Covenant

A covenant acknowledged in a deed or lease that restricts the free use or occupancy of property.


A percentage of project costs not paid to the contractor until the works are completed satisfactorily and the making good defects certificate has been issued.

RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)

This is the qualifying body for British architects.

RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)

Worldwide body promoting best practice, representing consumers’ interests and providing impartial advice to society, businesses, governments and global organisations.



Questions asked before land or buildings are bought to check if there are any rights, restrictions, covenants or other matters affecting the property that may cause the new owner a problem.

Security of Tenure

A good, strong and usually well documented right to own or use a property for a period of time.

Selective Tendering

Inviting competitive tenders from a short list of contractors selected for their suitability, considering the size and type of project.

Site Plan

This is a plan of your site where your project will be based.

Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs)

SWMPs are an important tool for construction companies and their clients, of all sizes, to improve their environmental performance, meet regulatory controls and reduce rising costs of disposing of waste.  These Site Waste Management Plans should be used in accordance with guidance contained in the Sustainable Construction Group's Guidance Note 3: Construction, Demolition and Excavation Waste Materials.  For information and help please go to

Snag List

A snag list is a list of defects or incomplete works compiled by members of the design team. The list is compiled upon inspection by the design team when the contractor is presenting the works as complete.


A description of the type of materials or service to be used in the building works.


Specialist contractors, usually employer by the main contractor to carry out a particular aspect of building or related work, eg. internal decoration.



The holder or owner of a lease who pays rent to the landlord for the use of the property.


A formal process that allows contractors to bid to supply a service or carry out work at a stated cost.

Tender Review Report

A written report by your lead building professional to report on the tenders received, the work undertaken to check them and the final result after checking.


The form of right (title) under which land or a building is held or occupied (freehold or leasehold or licence).

Termination (contract)

The cancellation of a contract. Usually, the terms for cancellation are spelled out in the contract as part of a termination clause. This clause protects both parties, since the desire to terminate by one party will severely affect the other. Contract termination is a serious step and one that should only be taken following careful consideration and professional advice.


The legal right by which property is owned or occupied.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

The Department of the Environment is responsible for the making and enforcing of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).  TPOs may be used to protect trees, groups of trees or woodlands, which add to the character and appearance of an area.  For a guide to protected trees and a TPO Maps and Order Register, please go to


Unregistered Land

 Land and buildings not registered at the Land Registry. It is not so easy to prove land ownership as it is with registered land; instead, a recipient will need to show that they own the land by producing legal documents and will usually need their solicitor’s help to do so. 


Variation (Contract)

A variation is a change to the project requirements. Care should be taken that only an instruction issued by the contract administrator to the contractor for additions or alterations to the works causes a variation within the contract.