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Architecture has an entire language unto itself. Terms range from construction to office to arcane lingo and it can be easy to be baffled for those who lack a degree in architecture. To help avoid confusion, the following list has important words with which to be familiar before discussing features with an architect.

BIM: This abbreviation is a short version of Building Information Modeling, which is a 3D process that is model-based and used by architects for the reduction of errors and to help clients envision their projects. It is used to digitally help design, plan, and construct infrastructure and buildings.

Building Envelope: Also known as the building skin, this includes things like floors, walls, roofs, doors, and windows or other fenestrations. It is the physical separation element between the exterior and interior of a building.

Cantilever: This is a beam type that is anchored only at one point. Architects frequently refer to this term when discussing planes that are overhanging, such as decks or roofs.

Cladding: Building cladding refers to the application of one particular material over another for the addition of an extra layer or skin to a building. Any material can be used, but it must be waterproof.

Diagram: This drawing outlines, explains, or clarifies various elements of a building in the way it relates to the entire design. It need not be drawn precisely to scale.

Facade: The building’s face, the facade is the exterior looking out onto an open space or a street.

Fenestration: This blanket term covers the construction, design, and simple presence of openings within a building. This applies to windows, vents, doors, wall panels, louvers, and skylights.

Floorplan: This is the actual building layout and contains notes, dimensions, and other details that are necessary for construction.

Scale: This term can refer to one of a few things. First, it’s a ruler-like device that is triangular and used for the determination of dimensions. More often, it is used to refer to the manner in which the sizes of various architectural elements are relating to each other.

Tectonics: Tectonics is the process of ornamenting, assembling, or shaping materials during the construction time. It is the science and art behind the construction of a building.