Clear and Simple
We love clear and simple communication. It’s not rocket science, and it’s our job to help make the process easy for our clients. So, this is a Glossary of Architectural Terms that you will find used in most small architectural projects.
And if you’ve got any questions, or think we should add anything to the list, please let us know.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – A
Architects Instruction / AI
During the building work we use Architect’s Instructions (or AIs) to instruct the builder to make any changes that are needed.
An Approved Inspector checks that building work complies with the Building Regs. They are an alternate choice to using the Council for this.
Architects Registration Board / ARB
The Architect’s Registration Board (or ARB) hold a register of all architects in the UK. You can search the register on the ARB website. If someone is not on the list, they are not an architect.
Article 4 Direction
Councils can make Article 4 directions to remove Permitted Development rights from a site. This is most usual in a Conservation Area or in the Green Belt.
Do you want to know more about Article 4 directives and how they affect PD rights?
Glossary of Architectural Terms – B
Basement Impact Assessment / BIA
A Basement Impact Assessment (or BIA) is a report that looks at the site and ground conditions. A good BIA can help with design the structure and method of building. Some London Boroughs require a BIA as part of a planning application.
Building Information Modelling / BIM
We use Building Information Modelling (or BIM) software to design in 3D and 2D at the same time. 2D drawings are simply slices through the 3D model. These means that they are always super accurate and up to date.
A BIMx file is a version of the BIM model that can be opened on an iPad or computer. This means that a client can fly through the model in 3D and open drawings to explore the design. We send all of our clients a BIMx file. You can even use a BIMx file with Google Cardboard to see the design in Virtual Reality!
Build Over Agreement
If you are building close to a public sewer then a Build Over Agreement will be needed. This includes most shared drains. In London Thames Water are responsible so they will need to check the design and give their approval. You can apply online on the Thames Water website.
Building Control will check that the work conforms to the Building Regulations. Either the Council or an Approved Inspector can do this. It includes a check of the plans, some inspections on site, and a certificate.
All building work must comply with the Building Regulations. The Building Regs are split in to a series of Approved Documents. Each Approved Document shows ways to comply with the Regs. You can get all the docs from the Gov.UK website.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – C
Contract Administrator / CA
We will be CA during the building work. It is important to check that the work on site is in accordance with the contract. We also issue any AIs and certificates that are needed for the smooth running of the work.
Computer Aided Design / CAD
Almost all architects work in Computer Aided Design (or CAD). It is very rare to find technical drawings done by hand. CAD software can be 2D or 3D. Advanced 3D types are more often referred to as BIM.
Construction (Design and Management) / CDM
The aim of the The Construction (Design and Management) Regs (or CDM) is to improve health and safety in construction. CDM places a duty on designers, the contractor and the client. The HSE publish guidance on the CDM requirements on their web site.
A Chartered Practice is accredited by the RIBA and is a mark of quality. They are endorsed to provide the best standards and service. The RIBA keep a list of these practices on their web site. 2PM Architects are proud to be an RIBA Chartered Practice.
Community Infrastructure Levy / CIL
The Community Infrastructure Levy (or CIL) is a planning charge that can be payable if the work will create more than 100 square metres of new space. In London there may be two CIL charges, one by the local Council and one by the Mayor.
A Council may designate some parts of a borough that are felt to be of an historic interest. These are known as Conservation Areas. Extra planning rules can then apply to any work to protect the area. This can include an Article 4 to remove some PD rights.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – D
Design and Access Statement
A Design and Access Statement is a report that explains a design in planning terms. It covers the way that the design relates to the site and the area, and how access is dealt with. They are part of most planning applications.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – G
It is not easy to get planning permission in Green Belt land. On the whole Government policy sets out the view that new building is not appropriate in the Green Belt. However, there are exceptions and in some parts PD rights still exist.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – H
Health and Safety Executive / HSE
The Health and Safety Executive (or HSE) publish guidance on CDM which applies to the building industry. The HSE must be notified about most construction projects, and they may check to see that the CDM Regs are being followed.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – I
Interim Payment Certificate / IPC
An Interim Payment Certificate (or IPC) is used to show to amount of money due to the builder during the work. We will issue an IPC every 4 weeks. This will show our valuation of the work that has been done on site, so that the contractor can be paid the right amount.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – J
Joint Contracts Tribunal / JCT
The Joint Contracts Tribunal (or JCT) produce standard forms of construction contract that are used on most projects. They are designed to be fair and clear to both the client and the builder. Most JCT contracts require a CA such as the architect to administer its terms.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – L
If a building is very old or of special interest it may be Listed by Historic England. Most houses that are on the list are Grade II. It is possible to do work to a listed building, but planning and listed building consent is needed.
The London Plan sets out the strategy for planning in London. Councils will refer to the London Plan when they form their own local policies, and when they make planning decisions. You can read the London Plan on the Mayor Of London website.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – N
National Building Specification / NBS
The National Building Specification (or NBS) is a standard specification system for building work. The NBS system is designed to be detailed but clear. We use the NBS system on all of our work to ensure high quality. The NBS system is endorsed by the RIBA.
National Planning Policy Framework / NPPF
The National Planning Policy Framework (or NPPF) sets out the strategy for planning in England. It informs local policy such as the London Plan. And design guides set by each Council.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – O
An Ordnance Survey map needs to be used to show the site location as part of a planning application.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – P
A Party Wall is a wall that stands on the shared boundary. It is necessary to get a Party Wall Award to build near a shared wall. The government have a useful guide to Party Walls on their website, or you can read our post with our simple 6 step plan to get a party wall award for a house extension
Passivhaus is an energy use standard can be apply to all new buildings. The aim is to use less energy through solar gain and air tight building. When energy use is very low, it is not necessary to have a heating system.
Permitted Development / PD
Most homes in the UK will have Permitted Development (or PD) rights. These allow certain types of extension and other work. In Conservation Areas there are less Permitted Development rights.
If the Council do not decide an application within the time limit then you can appeal. You can also appeal if you believe that the decision is wrong. The Planning Inspectorate will then take over the case and make a new decision.
The planning officer will decide most planning applications. But some times a Planning Committee will decide. This normally only happens if the application is controversial. The Planning Committee Councillors decide applications at committee.
Planning Use Class
The allowed use of a site falls in to a class as set under the Town and Country Planning (Use Class) Order. A planning application can be made for Change of Use, and in some cases a change of use is PD.
Practical Completion / PC
When the work on site is complete and is free of defects then we will issue Practical Completion (or PC). This certifies that the work is complete and is usually when our client will move in to the new space. After PC the builder is still liable for any defects that come up.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – Q
Quantity Surveyor / QS
A Quantity Surveyor (or QS) is an expert in build costs. They can be part of the project team to help in giving an estimate of the build cost at an early stage. When the build is on site the QS can help to give extra cost control.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – R
Royal Institute of British Architects / RIBA
Royal Institute of British Architects (or RIBA) is one of the most respected professional bodies in the world. The RIBA sets a high standard of service from its members.
Rights of Light
It is possible for building work to affect a right of light. This tends to be when the window is question has been there for a long time, and the building work would be very close. The RICS have a good guide to Rights of Light on their website.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – T
Tender is the process of getting prices for the work from builders. It can be a lot of work for a builder to tender so it is important to follow a clear process. All builders must tender on the same basis so that costs can be compared. We follow the NBS Guide to Tendering for Construction Projects on all our work.
Glossary of Architectural Terms – U
A U-Value is a measure that shows how well a material acts to stop heat loss through it. The U-Values of all parts of the design are important to pass the Building Regs. The lower the U-Value the better at stopping heat loss.