Your comprehensive building glossary cheat-sheet

Your comprehensive building glossary cheat-sheet

Your comprehensive building glossary cheat-sheet

Posted on: 13th August, 2019

Last updated on December 10th, 2020 at 05:45 am

Building a new home involves a whole lot of industry-specific terminology that you may not be familiar with.

To help make your life a little easier, we’ve put together a quick building glossary that defines the most common terms.

Rock excavation

Rock excavation is not always necessary. However, it is important to put aside a rock allowance in case rock is detected in your land once we start excavating. This will allow us to remove the rock and make room for your property.

A bulldozer excavating an area in preparation for building a new home

Site cut

Site cuts level the land, so your home can be constructed on a stable flat or stepped surface.

Close-up of a site cut in preparation for building a home

Retaining walls

Retaining walls support loose soil. Without retaining walls, some sections of soil will break up and fall away.

Retaining wall running through a yard which is a consideration for new home building

Waffle slab/footing system

The waffle slab or footing system is the foundational support dug into the ground before the concrete and steel are installed. The footing system is one of the primary structural components of your home.

Waffle slab and footing during the building of a new home

Foil sarking in walls & roof

Foil sarking is an insulation wrap installed around the external walls and between the roof trusses and the roof covering of your home to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter.

Foil sarking on timber frames during building of new home

Frames & trusses

Think of the wall frames and roof trusses as your home’s skeleton. Constructed out of timber or steel, frames and trusses are some of the most imperative parts of your home’s structure.

Timber frames and trusses during building of a new home

Insulation batts

Insulation batts keep your home energy efficient. They ensure your home stays warm in winter and cool in summer.

Yellow insulation batts during the building of a new home

Gyprock plastering

Gyprock plasterboard is installed on the internal walls and ceilings. Once installed, plasterboard is painted.

A bright, white finished room after building a new home


Internal areas that may be subject to ongoing water usage need to be waterproofed. This protects these areas from water damage.

Plumber waterproofing bathroom floor during home building

Internal & external silicon joints

When silicon is installed, it gives joints flexibility, especially when internal temperatures change. Materials contract and expand in different ways, and silicon helps control the movement to minimise cracking.

Builder filling joints with silicon as part of building process

Soil classification

Soil classification is an engineering report that tells us what type of soil you have in your land. This allows the engineer to identify the most suitable footing system for your soil type.

Close-up of a segment of earth for soil classification before building a new home

Drainage plan

A drainage plan is created by a hydraulic engineer. This shows us where the stormwater and sewerage lines will be installed on your land.

Close-up of drainage plan with plumbing parts on top in preparation for building new home

Electrical plan

Electrical plans indicate where power points and light points will be installed throughout the home.

Close-up of electricity plan before building of home commences

Working drawing

Created by a building designer or architect, a working drawing shows what the inside and outside of your home will look like and includes all dimensions. Your home is built off these plans.

Close-up of a working drawing in preparation for building a new home

BASIX Report

In New South Wales, we are required to complete a BASIX report. This involves meeting certain criteria that demonstrate your home is up to the standards of energy and water efficiency.

Close-up of a shower head as part of the BASIC Report in new home building process

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) Report

An Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) Report is required when building a home in the ACT. The EER is measured in stars and all new homes must have a minimum star rating of 6 stars.

Close-up of eco setting on dishwasher after building new home

Engineering plans

Engineering plans are created by a structural engineer. These outline what is required for your footing system and any structural steel required in a two-storey home.

Close-up of engineering plans in preparation for building a new home

Asbestos removal

Many old homes contain asbestos which must be removed by a licensed asbestos contractor.

Removal of asbestos into truck which is a consideration of knocking down and building a home

Arborist report

Trees over 12m are referred to as ‘protected trees’. Trees which are over 12m require an arborist to assess them and prepare an arborist report indicating how to protect the tree roots and the tree itself during construction.

An arborist up in a crane assessing trees before building a home

Electrical disconnection

Another consideration is your electrical disconnection. If the current electrical connection is an overhead line, it will need to be disconnected then reconnected to the new home underground.

Close-up of an electrical switchboard, as part of home building process

Not sure? Just ask

It’s always better to be safe than sorry so if you’re not sure, please reach out and ask. The Achieve team will be more than happy to help.

Please fill the form below and we will get in touch shortly.

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