To help you better understand the process of building, we’ve put together a glossary of common building terms you might encounter throughout the process. If you have any further questions, check out our FAQs or call us on 13 74 22.

ACC - Authority to Commence Construction.

Architrave - Moulding surrounding a door or window opening to cover the join between the frame and the wall finish.
Bagging - A method of finishing brickwork involving the application of a thin mortar slurry using a hessian bag or sponge. Can be painted over or left to fade in an oxide finish. Usually completed by the bricklayer. Bagging varies in texture and colour greatly and is not uniform like render.

Boundary construction - Building on the boundary of the allotment and neighbouring allotment - usually a garage wall.

Brick veneer - A method of construction in which a single leaf of non-load bearing wall of brickwork is tied to a timber or metal framed load bearing structure to form the external enclosure.

Building envelope - The designated area on your land where you must build your house, normally set down by the council of encumbrance.
Caulking - Sealing, filling or blocking of a control joint.

Certificate of Title - Document issued by the Land Titles Office that confirms the registered owner of the land.

Compaction Certificate – A compaction report confirms the ground on which we are going to build your new home meets the minimum compaction requirements and is obtained from the developer of the land. Compacting the ground is important as it increases the density of the soil to withstand the loads that we will be placed on top of it – ground that is too soft can cause settlement and shifting which may affect the structural integrity of the building.

Contour Survey - A survey of the building site that identifies the amount of rise/fall represented by lines of equal level and relates to a datum (starting) point, normally the front corner.

Cornice - A moulding placed at the junction between a wall and ceiling.

Covenant – Also commonly referred to as the Design Guidelines, these are rules governing the style and design of the home to be built, usually set by the developer and/or council.

Crossover - The border or verge of the council boundary.

Cut and fill - The method often used to provide a level area on a sloping site, where part of the sloping surface is cut away and used to provide fill on the portion of the slope immediately to it.
Design guidelines - Rules governing the style and design of the home to be built, usually set by the developer and/or council.

DA/Development Application - The plans submitted to be approved by the local council. Usually approved with a large number of the conditions, all of which must be met by the builder and/or the owner and subject to the issue of a Construction Certificate before construction may commence.

Disclosure Plan - Sets out the proposed details about a block of land and contains information such as dimensions and area, planned earthworks during the development and proposed orientation.
Eaves - The lower part of a roof that overhangs the walls.

Easement - A restriction on the title to your land, which requires part of the land be left free for some purpose (usually drainage lines or electricity cables).

Ecologically sustainable design - The use of design principles and strategies to help reduce the ecological impact of buildings - e.g. by reducing the consumption of energy and resources, or by minimising disturbances to existing vegetation.

Encumbrance rules - governing the use of the land and structure to be built, usually determined by council and/or developer.

Energy/star rating - The minimum levels of water, energy and temperature performance required by the state government (and often, developers).
Facade - The outer front face of the home.

Fascia - Timber board to which the gutter is fitted (metal or timber edge capping) to the roof to which the rainwater gutter is fixed.

Footing - The part of a construction designed to transfer loads to the supporting foundation, usually constructed of reinforced concrete to support base brickwork.

Foundation - The natural or built up formation of soil, sub-soil or rock upon which a building or structure is supported.
Gable - The vertical triangular end of a building with a pitched roof, between the rafters from eaves level to the apex (ridge). It may be formed in brickwork or timber framed and clad with weatherboards.

Galley kitchen - A kitchen where appliances and cabinets sit against a single wall.

Grey water - Domestic wastewater from bathroom fixtures (such as basins, showers and baths), laundry fixtures (such as clothes washing machines and laundry troughs) and kitchen facilities (such as sinks and dishwashing machines).
Handover - The time when the owner accepts possession of the house and makes payment of the handover claim, plus any balance of the agreement price in full with no set off or reduction.

HIA Greensmart - A voluntary Housing Industry Association program that educates builders, designers, product manufacturers and consumers about the benefits of an environmentally responsible approach to housing and development. HIA GreenSmart aims to increase energy efficiency, reduce water consumption, minimise waste and encourage better environmental management at each stage in the construction.

Hip roof - The sloping end of a roof where the ridge line splits and terminates on the external corner.

Home Building Agreement – this is the term we use to identify the building contract. Your Home Building Agreement (HBA) confirms the cost of building and sets the terms for which we will build your new home.
Infill concrete slab - A concrete slab poured between base brick walls laid on concrete footings. An infill slab is supported by formwork or compacted filling.
Joist - A timber or steel beam supported by a bearer to which the flooring is fixed directly.
Nogging - A horizontal timber strut fixed between studs, joists or trusses to provide stiffening or to support ceiling lining.

Nominal size - The size of a timber that is used as a description but not an exact size. Also usually before the timber is dressed.
Panelled door - Door with sunken raised panel on its faces.

Panel lift door - Sectional lift panel garage doors where the doors roll up into four to five sections.

Parapet - A low wall to protect the edge of a roof, balcony or terrace. Many shops have a parapet at the front of the building for signage.

Piers - Usually a brick support pier to hold the weight of a porch, portico or carport roof, also known as brick columns.

Pitch roof - The angle of a sloping roof, usually expressed in degrees (e.g. 22 degree pitch).

Planking - Weatherboard type cladding used externally to cover the framing in lieu of bricks.

Planning Permit - An application for permission to develop or use land for a particular purpose in accordance with the Councils' restrictions on building activities in their jurisdiction.
Rafter - A sloping member in a roof providing the principal structural support for the roofing material.

Raked joint - A brick joint raked out by the bricklayer for a key for plaster or as a decorative finish.

Render - A wall finish where a cement mixture is plastered onto a wall surface. May be smooth or patterned.
Sarking - Aluminium foil material used under roof covering in high wind of bushfire prone areas. It is used to prevent wind driven rain from entering the roof as well as to prevent sparks from a bushfire from entering and igniting the roof timbers. It can also be used as a form of insulation in raked, sloping ceilings.

Setbacks – A setback represents the distance which the outer most projection of a building is set back from the boundary. This affects where we site the home on the block of land, and is set by the developer as per their plan of development approved by council.

Settlement - Completion of a sale when the balance of the contract is paid and the buyer becomes legally entitled to take possession of the property.

Skirting - A wooden board fixed to the bottom of a wall at the junction of the floor to prevent damage to the wall or to conceal small gaps.

Slab Class - Slab classes are based on a soil classification. 'S' class means stable ground – not much expansion or contraction; 'M' means moderately reactive soil - some expansion or contraction; 'H' means highly reactive - large measure of expansion and contraction.

Slip joint - A joint designed to allow movement between two members usually in the form of two layers of sheet metal with grease installed on top of a brick wall prior to installation of a concrete slab.

Soil Test - A system to gauge the reactivity of soil, conducted by engineers.

Specification level of inclusions - Specific details for fixtures, fittings, tiles, kitchen and bathroom selections included in your home.

Stud - A vertical, timber or steel support within the framing structure.

Structural modification - An alteration of the standard structure of the home.

Structural survey - A detailed survey of the structure of a building carried out by a structural engineer or chartered building surveyor.
Thermal mass - The ability of a material to absorb heat energy. A lot of heat energy is required to change the temperature of high density materials like concrete, bricks and tiles. They are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass.

Trap – This is a fitting, usually in the shape of the letter ‘P or ‘S’ which retains water to form a water seal, so as to prevent the passage of gases or foul air into a building. It can also refer to a fitting that intercepts silt, acids, grease, oils or fats.
Underpinning - The construction of new footings or concrete piers under an existing footing to prevent its collapse or failure.
Valley - The meeting line of two inclined roof surfaces at a re-entrant angle.
Waffle pod - An engineered slab design featuring a rid of internal beams created around polystyrene pod formers. It offers high strength and thermal efficiency.

WELS - Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme. The WELS Scheme labels a range of products (such as tap equipment showers and sanitary ware), for water efficiency helping Australian households to save water and money.

Got questions about our building terms?
Call 13 74 22 to speak with one of our experienced consultants. We’re here to help.