Common Construction Terms you Need to Know



Added by Housebuild

Over 2 years ago

Filed in Your Build Project

For a rookie, entering the construction industry can be complicated. There are thousands of terms to learn for anyone new to the industry.

If you’re just getting involved in construction management, or are starting your own self build project, it’s helpful to understand some of the jargon used in the industry.

Below is a handy construction list that identifies 40 of the most common terms you’re likely to come across on your building ventures:

1. Aggregate:

A particulate material made of sand or crushed stone. Aggregates are used in materials like concrete and are a fundamental part of building foundations.

2. Backfilling:

The process of refilling trenches or holes created during excavation, especially around foundations.

3. Batter

: This is an inward inclination or slope of a wall or structure. Some architects choose this design to provide structural strength while others choose it for decorative purposes.

4. Beam:

Beams run horizontally along the walls of a building at ceiling level to support the structure.

5. BIM

(Building Information Modelling):

The process of creating a computer model of a building that includes all of the details of that structure, from its basic layout to the smallest measurements.




: This term relates to the use of short pieces or off-cuts of lumber in wooden-framed construction. This technique is used for filling, spacing, joining, or reinforcing structures.

7. BOQ (Bill of Quantities):

A contract document containing a list of materials and professionals involved in a construction project. Necessary for properly pricing a project.

8. CAD (Computer-Aided Design):

Refers to using architecture software to create detailed models of buildings to speed up the design process, allow for more creativity, and ensure greater accuracy in measurements.

9. Caulking:

A flexible, rubbery type of material that is used to seal gaps in a joint against leakage.

10. Ceiling Joist:

Parallel framing members that support ceiling loads and are themselves supported by load-bearing walls.

11. Circuit Breaker:

An electrical switch in the electrical panel that shuts off power to certain parts of the building when a fault is detected. Can be reset, unlike a fuse.

12. Concrete Cover

: The concrete cover has several vital purposes, including protecting the reinforced steel bars from corrosion, providing thermal insulation, and providing sufficient embedding for the steel bars to function as reinforcement.

13. Construction Management Software:

The software is designed for construction managers to support the efficient running a construction project. It can include features to manage accounting and financials, documentation, and team workloads.

14. Dimension:

Used in the planning stage and refers to a measure between two points.

15. Drywall:

A panel made from calcium sulfate dihydrate/gypsum plaster that is wrapped in cardboard. It is commonly used as a fundamental material for framing a building.

16. Ducts:

A tube or passageway that carries air throughout a structure.

17. Falsework

: Mostly used for large arch structures and bridges, falsework is a temporary structure constructed to support and hold the span during construction or repairs.

18. Field Measure:

Taking measurements within the structure itself rather than relying on blueprints. It improves the overall accuracy of installation.

19. Floor Plan:

This is the layout of the building. It is a drawing of the horizontal section that shows the arrangement of the rooms.

20. Girder:

A large horizontal support of a structure that supports smaller beams. 

21. HVAC:

An abbreviation that stands for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning. A HVAC system regulates the temperature and air in buildings or homes.

22. I-beam:

A beam that has a cross-section that looks like the capital letter I. It is a long, sturdy piece of squared timber or metal used to support the roof or floor of a building.

23. Insulation:

Material that’s designed to keep heat in a building. Insulation material is placed within the walls, ceiling, or floor of a structure.

24. Joint

: Joints are inserted between two distinct materials in a structure which do not have any physical connection to one another but are either aligned next to each other or overlap.

25. Joist:

The location where the surfaces of two components are joined. They are connected perpendicularly to the beams (horizontally) and joined (vertically) to the columns.

26. King Stud:

A framing member that runs from the bottom to the top of a panel or sheet.

27. Lath:

A metal wire on the frame of a building that serves as a foundation for laying down stucco or plaster.

28. Load-Bearing Wall:

Also known as a partition, this carries the load of the structure above it. As a result, it cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the structure.

29. Mortar:

Mortar is the paste that is used to bind stones, bricks, and other similar types of units used to construct the walls of a building. Mortar can be made up of a variety of things, and is usually mixture of lime with cement, sand, and water.

30. Plywood:

A strong, thin panel of wood that is made from multiple layers of veneer, compressed together.

31. Particle board:

A substitute for plywood that is composed of sawdust mixed with resin.

32. PVC:

Short for polyvinyl chloride, this common plastic is a tough chemically resistant synthetic resin used most commonly for water pipes and sometimes for flooring.

33. Rafter:

A series of roof frame pieces that are connected to the supports and hold up the internal framework of a roof.

34. Reinforced concrete:

Concrete that is strengthened by adding steel bars or mesh within the concrete.

35. Section:

This is a drawing or model that shows what it would look like if you sliced vertically through a building and were able to see its various layers, showcasing exactly how a building is designed from top to bottom.

36. Skirting:

A wooden board that covers up the joint between the floor and a wall in the interior of a building, for aesthetic purposes. 

37. Stucco:

A material made from aggregates, a binder, and water. It is often used as a decorative coating on walls and ceilings or moulding into architectural decorations.

38. Trim:

The materials used to provide a clean finish of the building, such as mouldings around window and door openings, or the baseboards in rooms.

39. Veneer:

A very thin, decorative sheet of wood. It is typically a finer wood that is used as a decorative cover for coarser wood.

40. Warping:

A distortion of material, which can be a sign of water damage. This can happen when the moisture content of different parts of a piece of wood changes unevenly.

We hope that this has given you a better understanding and that these terms will come in handy in the day-to-day running of your project management or build process!