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GLOSSARY

Learn the jargon to be in the know!

GLOSSARY OF BASIC
CONSTRUCTION TERMS

Gravel

AGGREGATE

Coarse material such as crushed stone, gravel, sand etc used to mix into concrete, laying beneath paving or foundations. 

Globe

ARCHITRAVE

The framing around a door or window. 

Man Holding Pipe

BACKFILL

Refilling a hole in the ground with material that was previously dug out of it.
For example: after stormwater drains are laid into trenches, previously excavated soil is placed on top of the pipes as backfill.

Wooden Stairs

BALUSTRADE

A railing (consisting of a horizontal handrail and vertical balusters), for example surrounding a balcony or stairs.

Summer House

BARGE BOARD

Wide board (usually timber) attached to ends of roofing elements to protect and conceal them from weather and view.

Empty Room

BEAM

Horizontal structural element.

Brick Wall

BRICK VENEER

Layer of bricks on the outside of the building which is for cladding purpose only - it does not support the weight of the building. (Most New Zealand houses with brick on the outside are brick veneer - the inside is held up by timber framing).

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CAD (COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN)

Computer software used by architects, engineers, and others to create precision drawings or technical illustrations.

Bricks and Mortar

CAVITY (WALL)

Gap left intentionally between exterior cladding (such as brick) and interior (such as timber framing) to reduce the amount of moisture moving from outside of the building to the inside.

Roof Construction

CLADDING

The layer of material protecting elements beneath it, for example, corrugated iron sheets are cladding on roofs, bricks are cladding on walls.

 Supreme Court

COLUMN

Vertical structural element.

Construction Worker

DESIGN-BUILD

When the company that provides the design services is the same company that will construct the building.

Wood Frame of House

DWANG (AKA NOGS OR BLOCKING)

Horizontal pieces of timber framing used between vertical studs to provide the wall with rigidity.

Country House

EAVE

Edges of the roof overhanging the face of a wall.

Smoothing Concrete

EXPANSION JOINT

Line of separation between two adjoining elements that provides space to move
in response to temperature, earthquake, wind, etc without damaging the material itself. Very common in concrete.

Row of Houses

FASCIA

Board (usually timber) attached to the bottom of roof rafters - it provides a flat surface onto which drains for stormwater (ie spouting) can be attached.

Constuction Worker

FOUNDATION

Lower part of the building - it transfers the weight of the building onto the ground below. Most commonly concrete slab or timber piles.

Concrete Foundation

FORMWORK

Mould into which concrete is poured.

Volunteers on Construction Site

FRAMING

The fitting together of pieces to give structure support and shape. Most commonly timber, but can also be steel.

Modern House

GABLE 

Triangular part of the wall at the end of (or under) a ridged roof.

Cleaning the Filters

HVAC 

Short for heating, ventilation & air conditioning.

Insulation Installation

INSULATION

Material that prevents heat (or sound, or electricity - depending on function) from spreading from one building element onto another.

Clean Kitchen

JOINERY

Building elements constructed by a joiner (rather than a carpenter/builder) such as cabinetry, doors, built-in shelving, etc.

Insulation Installation in Room

JOIST

Horizontal element supporting floor or ceiling (usually made of timber or steel).

Wood Frame of House

LOAD-BEARING WALL

Wall that supports the weight of other building elements above it and, therefore, cannot be removed without putting other support mechanisms in place (otherwise it would risk the collapse of the building above it).

Brick House Wood Door

MASONRY

Stonework such as bricklaying.

roof-waterproofing

MOISTURE BARRIER (AKA VAPOUR BARRIER)

The material used to prevent moisture moving from one building element to another. For example: polythene sheet under concrete, or bitumen on roof.

House with Lawn

PENETROMETER TESTING

The method used to test ground conditions by dropping a specific weight onto it. (In soft soil, the weight penetrates the ground much easier than in hard ground.)

Venice

PILE

Type of foundation where series of long posts (timber, steel, or concrete) are dug into the ground to support the weight of the building.

Random fact: Venice in Italy is built almost entirely on piles!

Construction

PLANT

Another word for (large) tools, equipment, and machinery.

Home Construction

PLASTERBOARD

Board (commonly used on walls and ceilings) that is made of plaster and covered on both sides with heavy paper. Usually painted afterward.

Bedroom

PLYWOOD

Board made of thin sheets of timber glued together. Each layer is called "ply", so a 9-layer plywood is a "9-ply". Commonly used on walls, ceilings, and beneath floors.

Construction Crane

PRECAST CONCRETE

Concrete (usually wall panel or floor) that's manufactured entirely in a factory and then transported to the building site to lift in place (rather than pouring it on the building site itself).

Roof Construction

PURLIN

A horizontal beam along the length of a roof, either below rafters (underpurlin) or on top of them.

Open Window

PVC

Short for polyvinyl chloride - a type of plastic commonly used for pipes and windows.

Roofer at Work

RAFTER

Main support structure holding up a roof and giving it a common triangular shape.

Reinforcing Steel

REINFORCING

Steel embedded inside concrete to give it strength, usually in the shape of rods, bars, and mesh.

Switching Roofs

SARKING

Timber panels get attached to the roof surface, so that roofing tiles can be nailed directly onto it. Can also mean waterproof building material under roof tiles.

Scaffolding

SCAFFOLDING

Temporary structure on the outside of a building, made of wooden planks and metal poles, used by workmen while building, repairing, or cleaning the building.

Electrician

SERVICES

Another word for plumbing, electrical, heating, etc - systems used to make a building comfortable, functional and safe.

Interior Design

SKIRTING

Molding in the bottom of a wall to cover the joint between floor and wall.

Summer House

SOFFIT

Under-surface of something: most commonly, soffit is used to refer to the underside of roof eaves.

Home Construction

STOPPING

Filling of small blemishes (scratches, nail holes, gaps) in a surface that's about to be painted, for example, plasterboard.

Wooden Home Framing

STUD

A hunky man, or a vertical member in wall framing, between floor and ceiling.

Blueprint Design

TAKEOFF

Another word for measurement - counting and measuring of construction elements (floor area, doors, timber framing, etc) from architectural plans so an accurate estimate can be put together.

Wooden Home Framing

TRUSS

In construction, the truss is a common word for a partially pre-fabricated roof
structure that can be assembled on-site (rather than building the entire roof on-site).

College Campus

WEEPHOLE

A small opening left in brickwork to allow moisture to drain out and ventilation to get in behind bricks.