21 Common Building Terms You Need to Know

You’ll learn a whole new language of construction-related terms during your new home build journey. We have compiled this cheat sheet of the top most typical building terms to keep you informed! Understanding these common building terms will help you communicate effectively with professionals involved in your new home construction project. If you encounter unfamiliar terms, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

What does BAL stand for?

BAL stands for Bushfire Attack Level. It indicates the construction requirements for building within a medium threat bushfire-prone area. This may involve installing water tanks for fire brigade use, among other measures.

What is a Building Engineer?

A Building Engineer is an expert who specialises in design, construction, and assessment technologies related to building projects.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued by a building surveyor indicating that a building is suitable for occupation and meets the necessary safety and regulatory requirements.

What does “crossover” refer to in construction?

In construction, the term “crossover” refers to the section of the driveway on the Council nature strip that connects your home to the street.

What is a Change Order or Variation?

A Change Order or Variation is a written document that modifies or changes the plans, price, or specifications in a construction contract for a project.

What are Construction Drawings?

Construction Drawings are the final preconstruction drawings of the entire building. They serve as a reference for the construction team to build the home according to the intended plan.

What is an Easement?

An Easement is a restriction on the title to your land that requires a portion of the land to be left free. Easements are typically placed over water and sewerage lines, electricity cables, and rights of way.

What is an Elevation Drawing?

An Elevation Drawing represents a structure that shows the front or side facades of the building. It provides a visual perspective of the exterior appearance.

What does “facade” refer to in construction?

In construction, the term “facade” refers to the front (face) of a house or building.

What is the difference between fittings and fixtures?

Fittings are items that can be removed without causing damage to the property, such as garden ornaments, lighting, and drapes. On the other hand, fixtures are items attached to the property that cannot be removed without causing damage, such as bathroom suites, built-in wardrobes, and kitchen stoves.

What is a Floor Plan?

A Floor Plan is a drawing that provides an overhead view of a building’s layout. It shows the details of each room space and the overall arrangement of the building.

What is a Frame Inspection?

A Frame Inspection is the process of inspecting a home’s structural integrity and ensuring its compliance with the Building Codes Australia (BCA).

What does “in situ” mean in construction?

“In situ” refers to work done in the final position or location where it is required. For example, concrete is pre-cast to create a drainage slope for a tiled shower.

What is a niche in construction?

In construction, a niche refers to an alcove or indent in a wall. It is often used in showers or as a feature in a hallway.

What are Panel Lift Doors?

Panel Lift Doors, also known as sectional lift panel garage doors, are garage doors that fold up in multiple sections (usually 4-5 sections).

What is a Retaining Wall?

A Retaining Wall is a structure built to hold back soil or prevent erosion. It provides support and stability to slopes or changes in ground elevation.

What are Specifications (or specs/specis)?

Specifications, often called specs, are written documents that detail the specific construction materials and methods applicable to a dwelling. It outlines the standards and requirements for the project.

What does “setback” mean in construction?

In construction, setback refers to the minimum distance a property must be built from the front or other specified boundaries.

What is a Soil Test?

A Soil Test is a test conducted to determine the soil’s characteristics, including its ability to move, expand, and contract with varying moisture levels. It helps determine appropriate foundation engineering and the need for structural piers.

What is a Walk-through in construction?

A Walk-through is an inspection of a home during the construction phase. It is an opportunity to review finishes, selections, and construction status. It may also be a chance to discuss any desired changes or modifications.

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