Builders Glossary - 40 Easy to understand building terms and common phrases to know as you work through your construction or home build project.
If you’re just getting involved in construction management, or are trying your hand at your own home build project, it’s helpful to understand some of the basic terms used by construction industry professionals. Take a moment to learn these industry terms and jargon so you are well equipped with any specific terms thrown your way - before, during and even after your project is completed.
Check out our handy glossary of construction industry terms that identifies some of the most common phrases & names you may encounter as you work through your construction project. We have done the research for you, utilising a mix of easy to understand yet accurate definitions in order to find the most appropriate answer for our clients & readers to grasp. Happy reading!
Aggregate: A particulate material which is made up of sand or crushed stone. Aggregates are used in materials such as concrete and are a fundamental part of building foundations.
Backfilling: The process of refilling trenches or holes created during excavation, especially around foundations.
Balustrade: The infill parts of a barrier (typically between floor and top rail).
Beam: Beams run horizontally along the main walls of a building at ceiling level, supporting the structure.
BIM: (Building information modelling) is the process of creating a computer model of a building that includes all of the details of that structure, from its basic layout to the smallest measurements.
BOQ: The bill of quantities is a contract document that contains a list of materials and workmanship involved in a construction project. It is necessary for properly pricing a project.
Caulking: A flexible, rubbery type of material that is used to seal gaps in a joint.
Ceiling joist: Parallel framing members that support ceiling loads and are themselves supported by load-bearing walls.
Circuit breaker: A switch in the electrical panel that shuts off power to certain parts of the building.
Concrete: A building material created by a hardened mixture of cement, gravel, sand, and water. It is used for slabs, columns, and other types of structures.
Cavity System: A formed gap between building elements.
Dimension: A dimension is used in the planning stage and refers to a measure between two points.
Drywall: A panel made from gypsum plaster that is wrapped in cardboard. It is commonly used as a fundamental material for framing a building.
Ducts: Piping that carries air throughout a structure.
Eaves/Eves (cave): The lower part of a roof projecting beyond the face of a wall.
Egress: A way of exiting a structure, such as a window or door. Laws require a certain number of egress windows in certain parts of a home.
Field measure: Taking measurements within the structure itself rather than relying on blueprints.
Floor plan: The floor plan refers to the layout of the building. It is a drawing of the horizontal section that shows how the different spaces relate to each other.
Footing: That portion of a foundation bearing on the ground and any adjoining portion that is reinforced so as to the ground the bearing forces. It may be spread out to provide an increase in bearing area or an increase in stability.
Foundation: Those parts of a building or structure such as piles, piers or footings which transmit and distribute loads to the ground.
Girder: The main horizontal support of a structure that supports smaller beams.
HVAC: An abbreviation that stands for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning.
Insulation: Material that’s designed to prevent heat from leaving or entering a building. Insulation material is placed within the walls, ceiling, or floor of a structure.
Joist: The location where the surfaces of two components are joined.
King stud: A framing member that runs from the bottom to the top of a panel or sheet.
Lath: A metal wire on the frame of a building that serves as a base for laying down stucco or plaster.
Load-bearing wall (partition): A partition or load-bearing wall carries the load of the structure above it. As a result, they cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the structure.
Plaster: Cementitious material or combination of cementitious materials and aggregate that when mixed with water forms a plastic mass which sets or hardens after application to a surface.
Plywood: A panel of wood that is made from multiple layers of veneer, compressed together.
PVC: Short for polyvinyl chloride, this common plastic is used most commonly for water pipes and sometimes for flooring.
Rafter: A series of roof frame pieces that are connected to the supports and hold up the roofing and sheathing.
Reinforced concrete: Concrete that is strengthened by adding steel bars or mesh within the concrete.
Render: Refers to an image, video or plan developed using architecture software to create detailed models of buildings. This allows for more creativity, and ensures greater accuracy in measurements while also speeding up the design process.
Section: This is a drawing or model that shows what it would look like if you sliced vertically through a building and are able to see its various components or layers, showcasing exactly how a building is constructed top to bottom.
Skirting: Material that covers up the joint between the floor and a wall in the interior of a building, for aesthetic purposes.
Soffit: The lower face or under surface of anything, such as the underside of eaves of a roof.
Trim: The materials used to provide a clean finish of the building, such as mouldings around window and door openings, or the baseboards in rooms, for example.
Veneer: A very thin sheet of wood. It is typically a finer wood that is used as a decorative cover for lower-quality wood.
Warping: A distortion of material, which can be a sign of water damage.
Zoning: A government regulation that involves restricting how a property is used. For example, industrial buildings cannot be constructed in areas zoned solely for residential.
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