Last edited 09 Jun 2021

Meanings of level in the construction industry

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In relation to the built environment, the term ‘level’ can have several different meanings.

It can be used as another term for a building’s storey or floor, i.e. ‘level 3’, or 'finished floor level'.

It can be a term to refer to degrees of implementation of building information modelling, i.e. ‘BIM level 2’, or the information itself, i.e. ‘level of detail’.

In surveying, levelling is a process of determining the height of one point (or level) relative to another. It is used in surveying to establish the elevation of a point relative to a datum, or to establish a point at a given elevation relative to a datum. There are several different surveying instruments that can be used, all of which are loosely referred to as ‘levels’, for example, a spirit level.

The term is also used in relation to ground preparation and excavation, i.e. ‘level an area’. This means that the ground is made flat and of an even grade. This is important if works are to be carried out on uneven or sloping ground. In this context, the terms ‘level’ and ‘flat’ can be interchangeable, however, in other contexts they should be distinguished from one another. For example, when laying floor tiles; a level surface needs to be parallel to its perfectly horizontal plane, whereas a flat surface is one that does not have significant high or low spots.

In terms of project management, it be used in the context of ‘resource levelling’ which is a technique whereby the demand for limited resources is accommodated by adjusting the project programme. In construction, this can be used to analyse the large variations in resource usage that can occur over time, and which can be inefficient and costly. For more information, see Resource levelling.

It can also be used to refer to an amount of something, such as; water level, sound level, light level, and so on.

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