Building Terms

We all know building or extending  a new home can be a little confusing, especially when you start talking to professionals and they are using words you have no idea about. You almost need a note book to research them later! We’ve compiled a few of the main ones for you here in order to demystify what should be straight forward. If there are any we’ve missed, let us know and we’ll add them here.


Consent: A process by the local council to review the documentation pertinent to your building project. When it is approved they issue consent documentation with or without conditions to be met during and after the build.

ConceptDrawings: Plans drawn by the architect that consist of a site plan, a floor plan and elevations (the view from each side of the building as if complete)

CostingDrawings: Plans drawn by the architect that contain enough detail for the builder to give an estimate of the cost to build (note: not all architects do these plans and not all builders can cost these plans)

WorkingDrawings: Drawings that are completed, submitted to council for consent consideration and used in the building of the home

Proposal: A document with a proposal of the how, when, why and cost of the home

Estimate: An educated best guess at the cost of a project

Quote: A fully considered, complete cost for the home

CodeofCompliance – CoC: Approval from the council that the house has been completed as per the spcifications and requirements approved in the consent process

DoorHardware: this means the door handles

Soffit: this is the part of the building that is the underside of the roof overhang. If you step outside a door or look up out a window, it’s the (often) white underside of the roof you can see.

Joinery: Aluminium, thermally broken, Low E, Argon gas, uPVC, timber

Reveals: This is the window sill but it goes all around the whole window

Skirting: A continuous piece of timber that runs around the bottm of the wall.

Architrave: A frame around the doors and windows, often matching the skirting

Foundation: The perimeter ring of concrete that the house sits on

Slab: The concrete and material that is inside the fondation and the house sits on

Tanking/WaterProofing: a special material that is painted on to certain areas to ensure they are impermeable to water. Often used in bathrooms, retaining walls

Gutter: is the cupped piece of metal that collects water and other material flowing off the roof

Fascia: is the piece of metal (often but not always) that sit directly below the gutter parrallel with the house

Downpipe: is the tube like pipe connected from the roof down into the drains on theground

GeotechicalReport: a report created by a Geotechnical (Land) Engineer after carrying out a land assessment which may include a scala pentrometer test (hand drilling holes) or a bore hole test (using a machine to drill holes). This is a mandatory report required by the council for any building consent.

SquareStop/SoftCorners/Coving: These are all types of finishes for the edges and corners of the gib insde the house

PlainConcrete/Asphalt/ExposedAggregate:  these are all different types of finishes for driveways and paths outside your home

Frames: 90x45, Structurally Insulated Panel’s, 140x90 – there are lots of different types of framing to choose from and these arebest discussed with your architect or builder to determine which is right for your home’s goal

Landclassification: Each property is listed in one of the following:

  • TC1 is where future land damage from liquefaction is unlikely. Standard residential foundation assessment and construction is appropriate.
  • TC2 is where liquefaction damage is possible in future significant earthquakes. Shallow ground investigations may be required when repairing or replacing foundations. There are foundation repair and rebuild options in the MBIE Guidance.
  • TC3 is where liquefaction damage is possible in future large earthquakes. Geotechnical engineering assessment may be required to select the appropriate foundation repair or rebuild.