Remember this term’s meaning by thinking back to the weekly “allowance” that your parents gave you in grade school. (You know, the one you blew on Twizzlers, Double Bubble, Jolly Ranchers instead of putting in your piggy bank?)
This A&D term also deals with money, and it is used during the construction bidding process. Frequently, in a rush to meet a deadline, a set of construction documents may not be 100% complete before it goes out to bid – i.e., not every single detail may be worked out or material specified. When this happens, contractors do not know how to price said missing information; therefore, the interior designer or architect on the project will determine a set sum for the contractors to plug in for the absent bits so that all bidders are on equal footing and don’t just plug in a random amount, which will throw the bids off.
For example, when carpet is not yet specified, the interior designer may instruct the bidder to put in an allowance of $28 per square yard for materials. In this way, they can still perform take-offs and estimate labor costs, but they won’t make the mistake of assuming cheapo, industrial grade carpet.