Tradie talk


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Build­ing a home is a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence that in­volves wad­ing into a pool of un­fa­mil­iar acronyms and lingo that is ut­terly for­eign to most of us. Can­tilever?

Cor­bel? What on earth are they? And while most of us are pretty savvy when it comes to kitchen trends and ba­sic DIY (thanks, Bun­nings), un­der­stand­ing the nitty gritty of a new build is an­other story.

Home-ren­o­va­tion tele­vi­sion shows have in­creased peo­ple’s build­ing vo­cab­u­lary to some de­gree, but as Kristin Brook­field, of the Hous­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia (HIA), points out, “it is the sort of area peo­ple only be­come truly well ed­u­cated in when they’re faced with it”.

In a bid to get bet­ter ed­u­cated, she rec­om­mends peo­ple visit the HIA site, hous­in­glo­, and down­load the guides and fact sheets to build­ing and ren­o­vat­ing.

Old-style build­ing man­u­als and the in­ter­net are also great places to look.

“I would also rec­om­mend peo­ple head to a hous­ing es­tate and just have a good look around at some of the dis­play homes,” she says. “They often have brochures and peo­ple to talk to and you will get a bet­ter sense of the ter­mi­nol­ogy.”

And re­mem­ber: “The only stupid ques­tion is the one you didn’t ask.”

To help you on your way, we have talked to the ex­perts and com­piled a list of com­mon build­ing terms and their def­i­ni­tions that you will need to get your head around.

Nail that builder speak

ARCHITRAVE A moulded frame around a door, arch or win­dow. Used for vis­ual ap­peal.

BALUSTRADE A rail­ing sup­ported by balus­ters that is de­signed to pro­tect peo­ple from fall­ing at an el­e­vated height. Often seen on bal­conies, bridges or ter­races.

BAY WIN­DOW A win­dow of vary­ing shapes, pro­ject­ing out­ward from the wall of a build­ing to form a re­cess in a room.

BI­FOLD DOORS Hinged doors that fold in and slide open. Often used to di­vide the liv­ing area and al­fresco zone. Can be tim­ber or alu­minium framed.

BOX GUT­TER An en­closed rain gut­ter that is usu­ally rectangular in shape. Usu­ally con­cealed deep within the struc­ture of the roof.

BULKHEAD A false wall be­tween the top of the cab­i­nets and the ceil­ing. Often used in kitchens to pre­vent hav­ing to clean the ‘dead air’ above cab­i­nets.

CAN­TILEVER A pro­trud­ing el­e­ment, such as a beam, that is seem­ingly sus­pended midair with­out a post. Often, it’s part of a roof that ex­tends past the main part of the build­ing.

CATHE­DRAL OR RAKED CEIL­ING A ceil­ing that matches the an­gle or line of the roof. This type of ceil­ing may or may not have the beams ex­posed, and it gives a feel­ing of space.

CAV­ITY WALL Two sep­a­rate walls that are built close to­gether with a space of be­tween 2.5cm to 5cm be­tween them. More ef­fi­cient at in­su­la­tion than a sin­gle wall.

CE­MENT REN­DER A layer of sand and ce­ment that is ap­plied to brick, ce­ment, stone or mud bricks to cre­ate a smooth fin­ish. It is usu­ally placed on the out­side of houses to help spruce them up.

CLERESTORY WIN­DOW A win­dow with no cross­piece, to al­low max­i­mum light or air in. Often used as high-level win­dows, they are a great way to il­lu­mi­nate large spa­ces.

COR­BEL A struc­tural piece of stone, wood, brick, or other build­ing ma­te­rial, pro­ject­ing from the face of a wall like a bracket. Gen­er­ally used to sup­port a cor­nice or arch, cor­bels can be quite elab­o­rate.

COR­NICE At­trac­tive mould­ing fin­ishes at the junc­tion of the

wall and ceil­ing, which can be quite sim­ple and stream­lined, or or­nate and flowery.

DOORJAMB The ver­ti­cal por­tion of the frame on to which a door is se­cured; it car­ries the weight of the door on its hinges.

FAS­CIA A vis­i­ble piece of roof trim or board that is mounted on the ex­posed ends of rafters to hold the gut­ter in place and cre­ate a layer be­tween the edge of the roof and the out­side. It cre­ates an at­trac­tive ex­te­rior and pro­tects the roof from weather dam­age.

GABLE The tri­an­gu­lar end of a house formed at the end of a pitched roof.

LINTEL The tim­ber, stone or con­crete sup­port above your door or win­dow.

LOU­VRES A set of an­gled slats, usu­ally hung to form win­dows, for air or light to pass through.

MEZ­ZA­NINE A low-storey plat­form sep­a­rat­ing two other lev­els, usu­ally the ground and first floor.

NEWEL POST Si­t­u­ated at the end of a stair­case, a newel post sup­ports a handrail.

PREFABRICATION The off-site man­u­fac­ture of parts of build­ings, such as in­di­vid­ual rooms, walls and roofs.

RE­TAIN­ING WALL A wall that is de­signed to re­tain soil, rock or other ma­te­ri­als in a ver­ti­cal con­di­tion be­hind it.

SKILLION A roof shape con­sist­ing of a sin­gle slop­ing sur­face.

SKIRTING BOARD A panel that runs along the base of an in­te­rior wall.

TRUSS Frame­work, usu­ally con­sist­ing of rafters, posts and struts, to sup­port a roof or other struc­ture.

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