Alternative Solution vs. alternate solution

Recently I was talking to a fellow professional in the building industry who was lamenting the fact that all too often, people confuse the defined term Alternative Solution with the incorrect term "alternate solution".

In the Building Code of Australia, the defined term Alternative Solution means a Building Solution which complies with the Performance Requirements other than by reason of satisfying the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

The important word to note here is the term alternative where the dictionary definition means;

al·ter·na·tive (noun)

  1. The choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities.
  2. A situation presenting such a choice.
  3. Either of these possibilities.

The other (incorrect) term alternate definition is;

al·ter·nate (verb)

  1. to occur or cause to occur successively or by turns day and night alternate
  2. to swing repeatedly from one condition, action, etc., to another he alternates between success and failure
  3. to interchange regularly or in succession

Having read both definitions, it is obvious in regard to a Building Solution other than one satisfying the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of the BCA is an AlternativeSolution.

Sounds simple but all too often the wrong choice in words can lead to confusion!


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