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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 put together this cheat sheet of the top most typical building terms to keep you in the know!

Bushfire Attack Level (BAL): Indicates the construction requirements for building within a medium threat bushfire-prone area. For example, permits may require the installation of water tanks for fire brigade use.

Building Engineer: An expert in design, construction, and assessment technologies.

Certificate of Occupancy: Document issued by a building surveyor, which shows that the building is suitable for occupation.

Crossover: The section of the driveway on the Council nature strip, connecting your home to the street.

Change Order (Variation): A written document that modifies or changes the project’s plans, price, or specifications in the construction contract.

Construction Drawings: The final preconstruction drawings of the whole building. The entire construction team uses this document to build your home exactly to plan.

Easement:  A restriction on the title to your land, which means that part of the land must be left free. Generally, easements are placed over water and sewerage lines, electricity cables, and rights of way. – Read more on our blog.

Elevation Drawing: A drawing of a structure that shows the front or side facades of the building; it is a first angle projection.

Facade: The front (face) of a house.

Fittings: Items that can be removed without damaging property, such as garden ornaments, lighting, and drapes.

Fixtures: Items attached to the property that cannot be removed without causing damage, such as bathroom suites, built-in wardrobes, and kitchen stoves.

Floor Plan: Drawing of the building’s layout providing details of each room space from an overhead view.

Frame Inspection:  The act of inspecting the home’s structural integrity and its compliance to BCA (Building Codes Australia).

In Situ: “In position” – applied to work done in the position where it is finally required, e.g., concrete is pre-cast to create a drainage slope for an in situ shower, that is, a shower with a tiled base.

Niche: An alcove or indent in a wall often used in showers or as a feature in a hallway.

Panel lift doors:  Trade name for sectional lift panel garage doors. Doors roll up in 4-5 sections.

Retaining wall:  A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.

Specifications (or specs/specis):  A written document detailing every specific construction material and method applicable to the dwelling.

Setback:  How far from the front boundary a property can be built.

Soil test: A test that establishes how likely it is that the soil will move, expand and contract with different moisture content levels. It also determines the slab engineering and if structural piers are required.

Walkthrough: an inspection of a home during the construction phase to confirm finishes, selections, and construction status. Walk-throughs may also be an opportunity to discuss changes.

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