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Construction vocabulary

Construction means the erection or assembly of large structures, mainly those which provide shelter, such as commercial and residential buildings.

air-conditioning; foundation; heating (=chauffage); lighting ; partitions (=cloisons); structure ; walls (=murs); waste (=déchets)

The major elements of a building include:

- the foundation, which supports the building and gives it stability.

- the structure, which supports all the imposed loads and transmits them to the foundation.

- the exterior walls, which may or may not be part of the primary supporting structure.

- the interior partitions, which also may or may not be part of the primary structure.

- the environmental-control systems, including the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, lighting, and acoustical systems.

- the power, water supply, and waste disposal systems.

Jobs in construction are many and varied, ranging from architects to painters. However, every building needs a solid foundation on which the structure can be erected, paying special attention to the exterior walls which will need to withstand (=supporter) the elements.

Jobs in construction :

  • plasterer : plâtrier
  • roofer : couvreur
  • architect : architecte
  • carpenter : charpentier
  • electrician : électricien
  • mason : maçon
  • painter : peintre
  • plumber : plombier
  • quantity surveyor : mètreur

Vocabulary in construction :

  • deep $\neq$ shallow : profond $\neq$ peu profond
  • reinforced concrete : béton armé
  • spread footing : semelle
  • beam : poutre
  • girder : poutre principale
  • truss : combles
  • column : colonne
  • floor : sol
  • roof : plafond
  • wall : mur
  • curtain wall : mur-rideau
  • load-bearing wall : mur porteur
  • nonload-bearing wall : mur non porteur
  • exterior skin : paroi extérieure
  • roofing felt : feutre bitumé
  • sound-deadening material : matériau phonique
  • vapour barrier : pare-vapeur 

The management of a construction project can be divided into 3 phases:

  • before construction (feasibility studies, site investigations and design)
  • during construction (dealing with clients, consulting engineers and contractors)
  • after construction (maintenance)

Any major project starts with a feasibility study to assess both financial and engineering aspects. During the feasibility study a preliminary site investigation is carried out. Once a scheme has been approved, a more extensive investigation is usually necessary to evaluate the load-bearing qualities and stability of the ground. This field is called soil mechanics.

The design of works may require the application of principles of hydraulics, thermodynamics, and physics. During the construction phase, a consulting engineer is often employed to be responsible for design of the works, supplying specifications, drawings,  and legal documents to get competitive tender prices.

In a turnkey or package contract the building contractor undertakes to finance, design, specify, construct and commission the whole project. Maintenance is normally carried out by the contractor as part of the agreement: if there are maintenance problems, it is the responsibility of the contractor to pay for any necessary work.

Preliminary feasibility study

A series of steps by which all the attributes of each proposal are marked, resulting in two or three being selected.

Secondary feasibility study

A process to determine the best of the two or three remaining schemes. Rough dimensions are put onto the structure at this stage, so that a more accurate costing system can be implemented.

Feasibility study factors

  • cost

  • aesthetic appeal

  • maintenance

  • ecology

  • disruption

Preliminary design

Dimensions and quantities of materials are roughly analysed and calculations are performed to estimate prices and construction needs.

Detailed design

At this stage of the design other factors are considered, such as the exact geology of the area. To determine this, boreholes and trial pits are sunk.

After all calculations have been worked out exactly and checked, detailed technical drawings are done. The result of these calculations is a finished design which can be built from the drawings produced. Once the detailed design is complete, construction can begin.

Vocabulary

Word/expression

Definition
feasibility study investigation to assess both financial and engineering aspects of a project
site investigation study of the proposed location to assess geology of the area
maintenance activities carried out after the project to ensure problems are solved
soil mechanics

extensive investigation to evaluate the load-bearing qualities and stability of the ground

specifications dimensions and measurements
technical drawings detailed plan of proposed structures
commission a project to order a plan to be carried out
costing system procedure to monitor the costs of a project so that management can get information on development
tender offer of a bid for an engineering contract
turnkey building or installation which is built, supplied, or installed complete and ready to operate
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