Building Terminology, commonly used

  • AC (asbestos cement): A product manufactured from cement and asbestos fibers commonly used in the building industry before the early 1980’s mainly in the form of sheeting. No longer used because of its asbestos content.
  • Anchor-bolt: A bolt attached to the stumps and bearers of the sub-floor structure also known as a tie-down or holding-down bolt to secure the building structure firmly to the stumps. Anchor-bolts can also be a threaded rod secured to concrete and the timber structure of a building for the purpose of tying down the structure.
  • Ant cap (ant capping or termite shield): A metal shield placed at the top of stumps, piers and walls to help stop termite entry also bring them to the surface so their tracks are visible and can therefore be appropriately treated.
  • Architrave: Moulding surrounding a door- or window-opening to cover the joint between the frame and the wall finish used internally and sometimes used externally.
  • Basement: Generally a storage area below the building and ground level. Usually not a legal living area.
  • Barap bolt: A rod with a thread to each end with prop(s) fitted between the ends, midway or evenly spaced. When tensioned it achieves support to parts of a roof structure where support is not possible (off internal walls). Used by some builders in the 1970’s era.
  • Barge or gable-boards: A board attached to the raked section of a gable roof to finish it off and cover the end of the roof sheeting or tiles.
  • Batten (roof): A metal or  timber member of which roof sheeting, tiles or other cladding is attached.
  • Batten (ceiling): A metal or timber member of which ceiling lining or other is attached.
  • Bearer: Sub-floor structural timber member supporting floor joists.
  • Binder: Beam placed at 90 degrees to the ceiling joists extending from wall plate to wall plate of which purlin struts are sometimes supported off.  Also used to bind the bottom chords of roof trusses.
  • Booker-rod: Threaded rod attached to both stringers of stairs below the treads with nuts and washers, to prevent the stringers from spreading apart.
  • Box gutter: A horizontal concealed gutter, usually with reliefs holes to ends or sides.
  • Brick veneer: Where the outer wall of the building is brick/masonry (usually not load-bearing) has a cavity of approximately 50 mm between it and the internal load-bearing wall, usually constructed with a timber or steel frame. The brick/masonry walls are secured with ties between the brick/masonry and timber or steel frame.
  • Cantilever: A beam projecting out past a wall or post supporting it and being substantial enough to support a load above it without sagging and without being supported to the end. Roof trusses can also be designed to support an overhang without support to its end.
  • Cathedral Ceiling: A combined roof and ceiling structure that follows the rake or pitch of the roof. Sometimes with the structure exposed and the ceiling lining on top of the beams.
  • Cavity Brick: Where two brick or masonry walls are constructed with a cavity of approximately 50mm forming the external walls of a building, usually the inner wall is load bearing. The walls are tied together with wall ties.
  • Chamfer-board: External wall lining with a chamfer (bevel) edge to the top portion of the board. A form of weather-board with a particular profile.
  • Concrete Cancer: Refer to Spalling.
  • Damp-course: A water impervious material laid between the horizontal course of bricks to the lower external walls of a building to prevent rising damp. Also used in upper walls and above a roof to stop moisture travelling down the cavity between walls.
  • Dutch gable: A combination of two types of roof structures, hip and gable with the main supporting section being the hip at the lower and gable to upper section.
  • Dormer: A window protruding from a roof usually providing light and ventilation to an attic within the roof space.
  • Eaves: Lining attached to framing below the rafters where they extend past the external walls, sometimes referred to as the soffit.
  • Fascia-board: Horizontal board attached to ends of trusses or rafters of which guttering is attached.
  • Flashing: Water impervious material formed using iron sheeting, aluminium, copper or lead to cover the gap between roof sheeting, tiles, walls, vent pipes and chimneys, to prevent water entry to the interior of the building.
  • Footing: Concrete reinforced with steel, supporting the structure of a building.
  • Foundation: Soil or rock below the footings of the building, upon which the whole building is supported.
  • Gable: Vertical end of a pitched roof in the shape of a triangle.
  • Granny flat: A self-contained building on the property or part of the house.
  • High-set house: A house built off the ground supported by piers, stumps or columns with storage, workshop, garage area below it. Usually not suitable for use as a  habitable area, due to the method of construction without damp-course barriers also a rebate to edges of the slab. Rising damp and/or seepage is usually a problem with this type of construction other problems may also develop. These are not purpose-built two-storey houses, and have not been designed or built for use as habitable areas to the lower floor.
  • Joist (floor): Horizontal beams supported by the bearers (usually at 90 degrees) at close intervals, with attached to the top of them.
  • Joist (ceiling): Horizontal beam supported by the internal walls at close intervals with ceiling linings or attached to the underside of them.
  • Mezzanine floor: An upper floor level overlooking another room, sometimes referred to as a loft.
  • Mortar: A mixture of sand and cement (sometimes with lime and additives) placed horizontally and vertical a trowel between the bricks or masonry blocks to form a wall and help bond the bricks together.
  • Parapet: A wall that extends up past the roof line, sometimes between units or to the perimeter or part of a roof.
  • Patio roof structure: A structure usually secured to a building with roof sheeting attached, for use as an outdoor protected entertainment area.
  • Pergola: Usually an exposed timber structure without roof sheeting attached, either on its own or attached to a building. Often used with plants growing over or hanging from them.
  • Pier: A column of bricks or concrete supporting a floor or roof structure such as roof beams or bearers.
  • Pointing: The finishing of mortar joints between bricks or bedding cement below the hip and ridge capping tiles or gable tiles of a tiled roof. Common types of pointing are flush and recessed pointing.
  • Queenslander: Traditional style of older house built in the early 1900’s unique to the state of Queensland.
  • Rafter: Structural member used in the construction of a roof. Being the main supporting beams, attached to plates (at close intervals) of the external walls at 90 degrees and extending up to and attached to the ridge-beam. The lower section of the rafter extends past the external walls to form part of the eaves, fascia-boards and then the gutters are attached to the end of the rafters. Battens are attached to the top of the rafters to support the roof sheeting or tiles. The main rafters are called common rafters.
  • Raked ceiling:Ceiling following the same line or angle as the roof, sometimes with the roof beams (structure) being exposed. Refer also to cathedral ceiling.
  • Ridge-beam:Horizontal beam at the apex of a roof, with common rafters attached both sides at their highest point.
  • Sarking:Sheeting used in a roof area (usually under the tiles or roof sheeting) to prevent water entry from the roof to the building interior in the event of a severe storm. Sometimes referred to its manufacturers product name, sisalation.
  • Sash:Framed window unit with glass fitted which can be moved,  identified as top and bottom sash in a double-hung window.
  • Sill:The horizontal member at the bottom of a window or door frame.
  • Spalling: Fracturing to concrete from moisture penetration causing rusting of the reinforcing within. Also commonly called Concrete Cancer. Most common occurrence is to buildings in seaside areas due to close proximity to sea water.
  • Stud:Vertical member between the top and bottom plates of a wall, usually transferring the roof load to the slab or sub-floor structure. Wall sheeting or linings are attached to the studs.
  • Stump:A vertical structural member supporting the bearers of a sub-floor structure. Consisting of reinforced concrete or timber supported at its base below ground level by a sole plate or concrete. With ant-capping to the top and secured by means of anchor-bolts to the bearers.
  • Sub-floor:Area below a timber floor structure or suspended slab.
  • Truss:A prefabricated structural frame supported at each end, designed to span large openings, usually without additional support. A standard truss consists of a top chord to the raked section with a horizontal bottom chord attached at each to the top chard with webbing running diagonally between the top and bottom chords, joints are usually secured by means of a steel plate known as a gang nail. Used mainly in the construction of roofs and usually constructed from timber or steel. Different types of trusses of varying shapes are used to form a particular style of roof.
  • Two storey house: As opposed to a high-set house this has been designed and built for both levels to be suitable for habitation.
  • Under-purlin: Horizontal beam placed and secured at 90 degrees below the rafters at the mid-way point between the top plate and the ridge-beam in the construction of a roof.
  • Weep hole: Vertical gaps to external brick walls of a building at floor levels to allow moisture seepage through walls to escape. Also to lower section of retaining walls to avoid build-up of pressure behind the wall.