Monday, 25 March 2019

More German construction terminology

Here are some more German terms used in the building trade.
Qualifizierung/qualifizieren – Leistungsphase
Gebäudetechnik / Haustechnik

The standard dictionary translation here is qualification or qualifications, and qualify when the word is used as a verb. In many cases that is a perfectly good translation, but the German terms sometimes have broader implications, so different translations may be needed. One such use is indicated by the dictionary alternative “classification/classify” (Langenscheidt). But sometimes it is a good idea to rearrange the sentence to use other equivalents such as “be interpreted as”, “constitute”, “amount to” or similar.

But there are other uses too. For example, company brochures sometimes claim that they pay great attention to “Mitarbeiterqualifizierung”. This usually involves offering training courses of various types. Such courses may end with some form of examination which gives the employees new qualifications, but often the term can best be translated as a staff training programme or similar.

There is another special case in the technical testing and acceptance of machines and buildings. German has a number of compound nouns for this process which include the term “Qualifizierung”: Installationsqualifizierung, Anlagenqualifizierung and similar terms. In essence this is a form of certification or validation, but the English technical term usually involves the concepts of “design qualification” or “performance qualification”. As always, the translator will need to consider what is actually being tested, verified or validated, how the term is actually being used in the specific test and how it can best be transposed into the flow of a clearly worded English sentence.

This term is used in a legal ordinance issued by the German government, the “Honorarordnung für Architekten und Ingenieure“ (Schedule of Services and Fees for Architects and Engineers, HOAI). This document defines 9 steps in the design and construction process, the “Leistungsphasen” which are often abbreviated as LP1, LP2 or LPH1, LPH2 etc.

A similar list of steps in the design and construction process is also used in the UK, the “RIBA Plan of Work” issued by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The current version of the Plan of Work (2013) defines 8 steps in the process, which it calls the “project stages”. The previous edition (2007) proposed 11 steps which it called “work stages”. So the German word “Leistungsphase” now normally indicates a “project stage” in British English.

There are of course differences. The German project stages only apply to the work of the architects and engineers and are allocated a proportion of the total project fee for such services. The costs of the land and the construction work are calculated separately.

The project stages in the RIBA Plan of Work are numbered from 0 to 7 as follows: 0 = Strategic Definition; 1 = Preparation and Brief; 2 = Concept Design; 3 = Developed Design; 4 = Technical Design; 5 = Construction; 6 = Handover and Close Out; 7 = In Use.

The project stages in the German HOAI regulations for buildings, with suggested translations, are LP1 Grundlagenermittlung (Appraisal/preparation); LP2 Vorplanung mit Kostenschätzung (Preliminary planning & estimate); LP3 Entwurfsplanung und Kostenberechnung (Design planning & cost calculation); LP4 Genehmigungsplanung (Planning for the planning approval process); LP5 Ausführungsplanung (Execution planning); LP6 Vorbereitung der Vergabe (Preparation for award of contracts); LP7 Mitwirkung bei der Vergabe (Cooperation in award of contracts); LP8 Objektüberwachung (Project supervision); LP9 Objektbetreuung (Project management).

Gebäudetechnik / Haustechnik
These terms refer to the infrastructure systems which provide services within buildings. “Gebäudetechnik” is normally more comprehensive, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, room cooling, sanitary facilities/plumbing, electrical fittings and building automation. The term “Haustechnik” is often more restricted and usually refers only to areas such as heating systems, sanitary facilities/plumbing and air conditioning.

The general English equivalent is “building services”. This term is comprehensive in scope and can include heating, electricity, sanitary facilities/plumbing, ventilation, air conditioning, cooling, building automation and more. You may also come across other terms such as “installations”, “facilities”, “technical building services”, “building systems” etc. I have also seen the translation “building technology”, although I suspect that this is often a mistranslation.

Technical construction documents often use abbreviations for such systems. Sometimes these are internal abbreviations used only within the company or in a project. Here are some of the general abbreviations in both languages:

German: TGA = Technische Gebäudeausrüstung (technical building services in general); ELT = Elektrotechnik (electrical systems); HLK = Heizung, Lüftung, Klima (heating, ventilation and air conditioning); RLT = Raumlufttechnische Anlagen (air circulation systems)

English: HVAC = heating, ventilation and air conditioning; HVAC&R = heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, MEP = mechanical, electrical, plumbing (mainly in USA); A/C = air conditioning.


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