Home Building Terms
Building Construction Jargon.
Adjudication — A quick and inexpensive method of dispute resolution resulting in an immediately enforceable,
non-binding dispute settlement by an Adjudicator.
Arbitration — The main alternative to the court system where the parties have the power to decide many of the
procedures that will govern the conduct of their arbitration. The decision is binding in law.
Architrave — Moulding around openings such as doors or windows.
Barge Board — Wide board fitted on edge of tiles following the slope of the roof.
Batten — timber strips to which roof tiles are fitted.
Bead (or Beading) — Small moulding to cover a join.
Blown or Live — Plaster that has lost its bond with the wall.
Bond — Arrangement of bricks to ensure stability of brickwork.
Conciliation — The main difference between mediation and conciliation is that in conciliation the agreement
reached is binding in honour only.
Consumer Unit — like a fuse box; the mechanism by which circuits are protected from overload.
Cooling off period — Period of time allowed to change your mind about a purchase decision. Currently, goods and
services that are sold unsolicited are subject in law to a seven day cooling off period.
Coping — Protective capping to the top of a wall.
Corbelling — Successive projecting courses of brickwork.
Damp proof course — An impervious membrane laid about two brick courses above ground level to prevent damp from
Distemper — Wall paint made from water, pigment and glue (traditional)
Distribution Board — An assembly containing switches or protective devices (e.g. fuses, circuit-breakers,
residual current operated devices).
Drip — Moulding or groove in external sill to prevent water creeping back
Eaves — Overhang of roof beyond wall below.
Efflorescence — Unsightly powdery white salts brought to surface of brickwork.
Estimate — An informed guess, a rough price.
First fix — joiner, plumber and electrical carcassing prior to plaster
Flashing — Metal sheet used to deflect water at junction between roof and wall.
Flaunching — Cement mortar filler round the top of a chimney stack.
Flush Door — Door with completely flat faces.
Frog — Indent on bed face of a brick.
Gable or Verge — Upper part of an outer wall at the end of a pitched roof
Glazing Bar — Thin bar shaped to receive pane of glass
Grout — Material used to fill the joints in wall tiles.
Header — The end face of a brick
Header Tank — Small open cistern (tank) that feeds water to central heating system
Herringbone — Zigzag pattern of brickwork
Hip — Line of adjoining sections of pitched roof at external angle of building
Hipped Roof — Pitched roof, the ends of which are also sloped
Hip Tile — Roof tile shaped to cover hip of roof
In situ — to work on an item where it is sited rather than take it offsite
Jamb — The side of an opening in a wall for a door or window
Joist — Support for floor and ceiling
Knotting — Varnish to stabilise knots in wood
Lean-to Roof — Sloping roof supported along its highest part by a taller adjoining wall
Light — Subdivision of a window
Lintel — Concrete, timber or steel beam over opening to support wall above
Loose-Fill Insulation — loose material for insulating cavity walls and lofts
Making good — The finishing touches that bring work up to scratch.
Mansard Roof — Form of pitched roof designed to provide more space for rooms
Mediation — A voluntary, non-binding 'without prejudice' process in which trained third party negotiators
attempt to bring people together to reach settlement.
Mezzanine — Extra floor
Mitre — Angled joint (similar to joint in picture frame)
Muck — A bricklayer's slang term for mortar
Mullion — Upright post in window
Newel — Vertical post at top and bottom of staircase
Nogging — Short wooden stiffeners inserted between joists
Nosing — Rounded edge of a stair tread projecting beyond the riser
Parapet — Low wall at the edge of a roof
Pebble Dash — Roughcast wall finish with stones bedded in rendered wall
Pitch — Slope of roof
Plain tile — Rectangular 'flat' roofing tile
Plasterboard — Prefabricated sheets of plaster for walls and ceilings
Purlin — Horizontal beam, part way up a rafter to prevent sagging
Quote — A fixed price that is binding.
Rafters — Series of structural timbers rising from eaves to ridge to support pitched roof covering
RCD — Residual Current Device, a protective device on an electric circuit.
Render — External sand-cement coating for walls
Reveal — Vertical side of door or window opening
Ridge — Top of a pitched roof
Ring Main — Power circuit for sockets.
Rise — Vertical distance between two adjacent stair treads
Riser — Upright part of a stair OR vertical water pipe from the mains
Roof Truss — Prefabricated structural timber framework to support roof
RSJ — Rolled steel joist
Sash — Framework for glass
Screed — Layer of fine concrete used to provide smooth surface prior to floor finish
Sarking Felt — Waterproof felt under roof tile battens
Second Fix — Items fitted following plastering
Sill — Bottom horizontal member of a door or window frame
Skim — Finishing coat of plaster
Skirting — Horizontal board at junction between floor and wall
Soil pipe — vertical pipe to take waste water and sewage out of a building
Soffit — Visible underside of a projecting surface
Span — Horizontal distance covered by a beam or lintel etc.
Spoil — Material dug out during excavation
Stack — Vertical pipe carrying waste from sinks and toilets
Stretcher — The side face of a brick
String — Sloping board carrying the treads and risers of a staircase
Trap — A curved section of drain that holds water, providing a seal that prevents odours from escaping.
Tread — Horizontal part of a stair
T&G boarding — Tongue and Groove, traditional softwood floor boards
TRV — Thermostatic radiator valve
Verge tile — edge of a roof which runs from eaves to ridge at a gable.
NOTE - These are general discussion articles