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BACK BLOCKING- A piece of board that's attached behind a joint to reinforce it.

BACKFILL - The replacement of excavated soil back into a trench, hole or against a structure.

back fill illustration

BACKFLOW - The unintended reverse flow of a liquid that can lead to contamination of the source.

BACKFLOW PREVENTER - A device or means to prevent back flow into the potable water supply. (RPZ Valve)

BACKLIT AWNING – An awning made of a translucent material that has its illumination from behind.

BACKLIT AWNING SIGN – A sign made of a translucent material with illumination from behind. Many times backlit awnings are considered the same as any other backlit sign and is subject to the same regulations. 

BACKLIT LETTER – An illuminated reverse channel letter where the light from the letter is directed against and reflected off the surface behind the letter, thereby creating a glowing effect around the letter (a halo effect)

BACKLIT SIGN – A sign where the sign face is lit from behind (also referred to as an illuminated sign or internally illuminated sign).

BALANCE POINT-The lowest outdoor temperature at which the refrigeration cycle of a heat pump will supply the heating requirements without using supplementary heat source.

BALLAST – A florescent lighting fixture component whose primary function is to provide sufficient starting voltage for the lamp. A ballast may also serve to heat the florescent lamps electrodes and to control the amount of power to the lamp once it is operating.

BALLOON PAYMENT – A large payment during the term of a mortgage, often at the end of the financial obligation.

BALLOON SIGNS – As the name implies, it is a sign or visual message displayed on an inflated non-porous object filled with air or other gas for the purpose of attracting attention.

Balloon SignInflatable Sign

(Typical Balloon Signs)


BALLPOINT BRAILLE- Small plastic or metal beads that are placed on the face of a sign to accommodate Braille information for the benefit of the visually impaired.

BANKRUPT - A person who, through a court proceeding, is relieved for the payment of all his debts after surrender of all assets to a court appointed trustee.

BANNER – A sign made of non-rigid materials (i.e., vinyl, canvas, etc) and having no enclosure or supporting framework. Typically intended for use as a temporary sign, Banner Signs are usually painted, printed, silk screened and hung from poles or buildings

BANNER SIGN - Any piece of cloth, plastic or other flexible material used as a sign. Usually temporary in nature, a Banner Sign can be used to advertise festivals, specials or events.

BARGAIN AND SALE DEED – A deed that coveys the ownership of a property but contains no warranties as to the validity of its title.

BARRIER – An impediment (whether physical or psychological) that prohibits or restricts traffic flow or movement. (also referred to as a Traffic Barrier).

BASE AND MERIDIAN - Imaginary lines used by surveyors to find and describe the location of private or public lands.

BASE RENT – Usually refers to the rent at commencement of a lease. It is subject to annual increases unless otherwise negotiated in the lease. In some markets around the country, it refers to the rental rate minus a buildings operating expenses.  

BASE YEAR OPERATING EXPENSES - The cost an owner of a property or building pays to cover the cost of operating the building during a given year (i.e., Base Year 2009 expenses would reflect the cost to operate the subject building during fiscal 2009). In subsequent years you would pay the difference in the amount it costs to operate the building, based on the percentage of the building you occupy.

BASELINE - Imaginary east-west lines that intersect meridians to form a starting point for the measurement of land.

BASIS - The original cost of a property, plus capital expenditures for improvements, minus depreciation. Basis is the means by which the Internal Revenue Service determines taxable gains, losses and annual depreciation.

BATTEN - Narrow strip of material used to conceal an open joint.

BEAM - Load bearing member spanning a distance between supports.

BEARING A structural or mechanical device designed to support the weight of an object.

BEARING WALL OR PARTITION - A wall or partition that is designed to support a vertical load in addition to its own weight. Also know as a “Load-Bearing Wall”.

BED- To set something firmly and permanently in place.

BELOW GRADE – That portion of a building or structure that is located below ground level.

BENCH SIGN – A sign or advertisement mounted onto or incorporated into a public bench.

BENCHMARK - A mark on a permanent object indicating elevation and serving as a reference mark for land surveys.

BENEFICIARY - A person who is entitled to receive the benefits or proceeds of a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement, etc.

BEQUEATH - To leave personal property to another by will, as in a bequest. To give or hand down by will.

BEQUEST - That which is given by the terms of a will.

BETTERMENT - An improvement to a property which increases the properties value and considered a capital asset (as opposed to normal repairs and/or replacements where the original character or cost remains unchanged).

BID – A written offer prepared by a party to enter into a contract with another (see Letter of Intent or Offer Letter).

BID DOCUMENTS - Written and graphic documents prepared by an architect or owner used in the preparation of bid. Typical bid documents may include; the construction drawings, material and fixture specifications, as well as instructions to bidders and other information to be used in the preparation of a bid.

BID PACKAGE – The full set of Documents for the project under bid.

BID SECURITY - A sum of money (whether through a bond, cash, etc) used to warrant that the approved bidder will execute the construction contract and, if required, furnish a performance bond, within a given period of time.

BILL OF SALE - A written instrument by which one person transfers or conveys right, title or interest in personal property (a Vendor) to another (a Vendee).

BILLBOARD (OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGN) – A large free-standing advertising sign which directs attention to a business, community service or entertainment not exclusively related to the premises where such sign is located.

Billboard Sign

(Typical Billboard Sign)


BINDER - (Real Estate) A written agreement that covers the down payment for the purchase of a piece of property usually used as evidence of good faith on the part of the purchaser. (Insurance) A temporary insurance policy meant to cover the insured while the policy is drafted.

BIOREMEDIATION - Any process where organic wastes are biologically degraded under controlled conditions to an innocuous state, or to levels below concentration limits by using enzimes, bacteria or other plant life.

BLACKLINE – Refers to the highlighted proposed changes made to a contract for purposes of negotiation.

BLADE SIGN – A type of double-faced sign the projects outward  from a building or structure to capture the attention of either pedestrians or vehicular traffic traveling perpendicular to a sidewalk or roadway.

Blade SignBlade Sign

(Typical Blade Signs)


BLANKET MORTGAGE – A mortgage that covers more than one property. Commonly used in sub-division financing.

BLIGHTED AREA - A declining area in which real property values are seriously affecting by destructive economic forces, such as encroaching inharmonious property usages, infiltration of lower social and economic classes of inhabitants, and/or rapidly depreciating buildings.

BLOCK – The smallest form of a census area.

BLOCKBUSTING – The illegal or immoral practice of scaring owners in a particular area to sell their properties quickly, often at below market prices by creating fear that the entry of a minority group or groups of people into the neighborhood that will cause a large and sudden decline in property values.

BOARD FOOT (Bd. Ft.) - The equivalent of a board, 1 foot wide by 1 foot long and 1 inch thick.

BOCA (Building Officials Conference of America) - A nonprofit organization that publishes the National Building Code.

B.O.M.A - Refers to The Building Owners and Manager’s Association, an International Organization made up of Building Owners, Building Managers and suppliers of the same. Because of its size and influence the organization establishes a variety of recommended guidelines, such as the B.O.M.A. method of measurement. (

B.O.M.A. Method of Measurement - Is generally accepted throughout the building industry as the standard method of measuring space where the Usable Area of a space, is measured from the inside finished surface of the corridor wall and the dominant portion of other permanent walls to the center of the wall that separates a space from an adjoining office.

BONA FIDE – Meaning “In good faith”, without fraud.

BOND - A written obligation by which a bonding agency agrees to pay a specified amount, or complete specified work, in the event a contract is not completed.

BORROWER NET WORTH - The value of all assets (including cash), less total liabilities. For underwriting purposes, this is used as a guideline to indicate creditworthiness and financial strength. The net worth of a business is represented by the amount that its assets exceed liabilities.

BOX SIGN – A common name for a self-enclosed internally illuminated sign that generally square or rectangular in shape.

Box Signbox sign
(Typical Box Signs) (Typical Box Sign with insert removed)

The breaking of a law, or failure to not perform a duty owed to another, either by omission or commission.

BRICK VENEER – A non-load bearing facing that is applied to a wall to give it the appearance of being of solid-brick construction.

BRIDGE LOAN – A short-term mortgage that covers the time between the termination of one loan and the beginning of another.

Braces attached between floor joists meant to distribute concentrated loads over more than one joist and to prevent rotation. Solid bridging is joist-size lumber installed perpendicular to and between the joists; Cross-bridging consists of pairs of braces set in an "X" form between joists.

wooden bridging

(Typical Wooden Cross-Bridging)


BRITISH THERMAL UNIT (BTU) - The amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. A BTU is a common measure of heating value for different fuels. Prices of different fuels and their units of measure (dollars per barrel of crude, dollars per ton of coal, cents per gallon of gasoline, cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas) can be easily compared when expressed as dollars and cents per million BTUs.

- A person employed by another, for a fee, to carry on any of the activities listed in the license law definition of a broker, including selling, buying, leasing or negotiating the sale of real property.

BTU (British thermal unit) -
The amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. A BTU is a common measure of heating value for different fuels. Prices of different fuels and their units of measure (dollars per barrel of crude, dollars per ton of coal, cents per gallon of gasoline, cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas) can be easily compared when expressed as dollars and cents per million BTUs.

BTU/hr - The abbreviation for British thermal units per hour. The amount of heat required to raise one pound of water, one degree Fahrenheit per hour, a common measure of heat transfer rate.

BUFFER - A buffer is a designated area of land that is controlled by local regulations to protect an adjacent area from the impacts of development.

BUILDER’S ACRE – An unofficial - old school measurement equal to 40,000 square feet.

BUILDER'S RISK INSURANCE - Property insurance which indemnifies against damage to buildings while they are under construction. Typically purchased by the owner of the building or land but the general contractor constructing the building may buy it if it is required as a condition of the contract.

BUILDING - Any man-made structure or the actual act of creating or constructing one.

BUILDING AMENITIES - Features of the building that add to the “creature comforts” for the benefits of the tenants and their invitees (i.e., coffee shop, health facility, covered parking, break rooms, conference rooms, Fed Ex Machines, UPS Machine, etc).

BUILDING AREA - The total allowable square footage of a property that can be built on.

BUILDING CODES - A set of laws enacted by local government authorities that regulate the construction and operation of all buildings within their jurisdiction.

BUILDING FACE – Any singe-side exposure of a building.

BUILDING HEIGHT – The vertical distance of a building or structure measured from the grade level to the highest point of the roof.

BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS– The upgrading, augmentation, or enhancements made to a building in order to increase its desirability or value.

BUILDING INSPECTOR - An employee (or agent) of a governmental authority, empowered to conduct inspections of building projects to insure that they are constructed according to code

BUILDING LINE - Lines on a plot plan, site plan or survey that delineates how close to the edges of a property a structure may be built. Setback lines are defined in building codes, deed restrictions, and zoning regulations. (Also known as a Setback Line).

BUILDING OFFICIAL - The municipal official responsible for enforcement and interpretation of the building code (see Building Inspector).

BUILDING OPERATING HOURS - The normal operating hours of a building as set forth in a lease.

BUILDING PERMIT – A written approval granted by a governmental agency that allows for the construction of a building or improvements according to approved plans.

BUILDING PLANS - A collection of detailed drawings meant to be used by a contractor for the construction of a building or improvements.

BUILDING SIGN – Any type of sign that is attached solely to a building and not attached to or supported by the ground (Includes can-signs, awning signs, blade signs, etc).

BUILD-OUT - Refers to the construction of a proposed space.

BUILD TO SUIT - An agreement where by a Landowner constructs a building or use for the specific benefit of a Tenant. In return for shouldering the up front financial costs, the Landlord usually enjoys a higher rental and the depreciation of the assets.

BUILT-UP ROOF - Composite roofing generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs that is composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt, laminated with tar, pitch, or asphalt and usually finished with crushed slag or gravel.

BULK REGULATIONS - The controls in a zoning district that governs the size, location, and dimensions of buildings and improvements on a parcel of land.

BULK VARIANCE -  See "Area Variance."

BUNDLE OF RIGHTS - The legal rights or interests that an owner holds in a property (to use, enjoy and dispose of).

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (BLM) - The government agency in charge of surveying and administering public lands.

BUY DOWN – Extra “points” (money) paid to lower an interest rate.

BUY OUT - The ability to pay money or something of value in order to be released from the obligations of a lease.

BUYER’S BROKER – A Broker or agent who takes on the buyer  as a client, and is obligated to represent their interest before all others, and owes specific fiduciary duties to the buyer (See: Tenant Representative).


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