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Building Terms: Construction and Definitions


Sometimes, the construction industry can be confusing, particularly for a would-be homeowner struggling to decipher the construction terminology used by builders and almost everyone else associated with the construction industry! So, to keep things simple for you, we’ve created a glossary of ten building terms you can use as your building dictionary to understand better what builders say when they’re talking about your home build. 

Having a well-rounded understanding of what builders say when using construction terminology will help you make better decisions about how your home is built and understand exactly what’s going on when builders discuss your build with various architects, planners and so on.

Below are some of the most common building terms in Australia.

The Terms

Certificate of Title & Title Date

A certificate of title is a legal document that certifies who owns a piece of land. The certificate of title is complemented by a title date that designates when the land was registered with the city council as being owned by you.

Soil Report

When builders, architects or city councillors discuss “soil reports”, they’re talking about the testing of the soil beneath your proposed building site that must take place before any building can begin. This test generally takes a couple of weeks from samples to results and will help builders determine the type of foundation that your home will need.


An easement is a parcel of your land sectioned off for use by service companies providing water, gas and electricity. It’s also where the city may put a fire hydrant. Easements are important because they play a key role in how you can use the land around them. For example, you’re not necessarily allowed to build over or near an easement. You should understand and research the rules around your property easements before building.


This term is used by concrete contractors and builders when discussing where your driveway will be placed. “Crossover” is a building term that essentially means ‘driveway’, which refers to where you “cross over” from your lot to the street. Crossovers are marked on your architectural plans.


Joists are supporting, structurally integral beams, typically wood or steel. During construction, joists will be called “ceiling joists” or “floor joists.” Joists are often supported by bracing with other wood using plates that are either nailed, screwed or hammered into each section. Steel joists are bolted together.

Damp-Proof Course

A damp-proof course is one of those construction words that you might not hear unless you live in a place where rising dampness is a problem. Cities like Melbourne experience rising dampness problems because of their buildings’ age. If your builder starts talking about Damp Proof Coursing, chances are your building also shows signs of rising dampness problems.


A “falsework” is a temporary measure put in place to assist a builder in performing a task. For example, a temporary beam is nailed or screwed into place to support a wall or ceiling while proper joists are put into place. If you hear building terms like “falsework” thrown around by builders, don’t worry; there’s nothing false about it! It’s only temporary!

Monocrete Construction

Monocrete construction is a building term in Australia used to denote a particular type of concrete construction whereby concrete panels are built off-site, transported to the site and bolted together. They’re a simple way to build a concrete structure on-site and put it into place quickly.


This is a simplified construction term for a list of items required to complete the build. This is presented to a client before the build begins, along with a cost estimate. This takeoff is not fixed and is subject to change based on material price increases and possible supply shortages.


Zoning is a set of federal, state and local government regulations that dictate how a lot or property can be used. Zoning is a word you’ll come across multiple times throughout your build, particularly if you’re transforming an existing property or are building in an area that wasn’t traditionally residential.

Each city and territory has its own set of zoning laws, so it’s best to contact your local council and thoroughly research the zoning laws in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions 

When it comes to building terms and Australian standard definitions for construction words, we get a lot of frequently asked questions. We’ve answered some of them below.

What Terms for Building Types Are There?

Typically, four different building types are used in residential construction. These construction terms are:

      Terraced houses: these are typically single-storey homes.

      Duplex: A duplex is a two-storey home, typically semi-detached, which shares one wall with the home next to it.

      Triplex: A triplex is a three-storey house that typically houses three families.

      Quadplex: A quadplex is a single building, typically two storeys, separated into four living spaces. These are typically rented to four individual families.

What is a General Term Used to Describe Buildings?

A term generally used to describe buildings can be called “architecture”, which is then broken down into its subtypes.

What Are Ten Words Associated With Building Construction? 



      Loading-bearing wall








Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever been on a job site of a friend’s construction project or have hung around your home’s building site, you may have heard various terms you were confused about. It can be disarming, particularly if it concerns your own home, so arming yourself with more knowledge of construction terms will help you play a more engaged role in the construction of your home and enable you to discuss your construction options with your builders better. 


Provincial Homes is happy to engage with its customers on every level and will inform you of any construction terms you may have heard on our building sites! Call us for your free lesson on what it all means and how we can help you move forward.