Deciphering Building Jargon

Essential Guide to Builders’ Jargon

Like any industry, we builders use a lot of our own builders’ jargon.  We know how confusing this can be for home owners.  Some people can be too shy to ask or think that they should already know what we’re talking about.  So we will explain some of the common builders’ jargon we use so that you can feel confident when you are dealing with your builder, you’ll know exactly what’s being discussed and your home will be exactly what you’re after.

Also, we have a BONUS TIP that will save you thousands of dollars on your build – so stay tuned for that, you can’t afford to miss it!

Some Common Builders’ jargon

raftersRafters – are supporting timbers that span between walls or other supports and carry the roof which ceiling battens or the ceiling itself can be attached to.  You can see the rafters here on this image.  



battensBattens – are a length of squared timber or metal used to hold something in place or as fastening against a wall.  In this picture, the roof battens have been installed ready for the roof tiles to be laid on top.




Joists – are supportive timbers which the flooring is fixed to.  You can see the joists here on this image – they run horizontally at floor level.



studsStuds – are a vertical framing usually made of timber or steel which forms part of a wall or partition.  Also known as wall studs, they are a fundamental component of frame construction and are typically made of timber but can also be steel.


Studs come in different sizes – the minimum that can be used in a specific place is specified by the engineer – generally they are 90mm wide x 35mm thick and 90mm wide x 45mm thick  but they can go up to 240 x 45 for passive houses. This is because you need more insulation in a passive house wall so the wall needs to be wider. Studs are places either at 450mm or 600mm centres. This means they are 450 or 600mm apart. Good builders use 90 x 45 at 450mm centres as this makes the home stronger and gives it a more solid feel and sound.

nogginNoggin – or a nogging is a strut used to give rigidity to framework.  Noggins are fixed between joists or studs to increase the strength and stiffness of the framework.  You can see the noggins here – they are the horizontal pieces of timber between the studs.



lintelsLintels – are a structural item, such as a steel or timber beam that carries loads over an opening, i.e. a timber beam over an opening in a wall that supports the weight of the roof above it. In this image, you can see the lintel over a garage door opening.



trussTruss – is an assembly of beams or other elements that creates a rigid structure. Typically they are used to build roofs.  In this image, you can see a roof constructed using trusses.



door jambsDoor jambs (also sometimes doorposts) – are the vertical portion of the door frame onto which a door is secured.  You can see the door jamb marked on this image, along with some other common terms used when discussing doors.

Your builder may also refer to architraves.  Architraves are the trim that goes around door frames and are sometimes known as Casings (as shown here).



corniceCornice – an ornamental or decorative moulding along the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling.

An alternative to a cornice is a ‘square set’ finish, which gives a modern square edge look.




Eaves – are the lower portion and edge of a roof that overhangs the walls.

You may also hear your builder talking about Tails. Tails are the ends of the exposed rafters in the Eaves and are part of the Eaves.

The roof line in this image is a Gable End.  A Gable End is a triangular end to the roof where it meets the vertical wall.

fasciaFascia: is a board fixed horizontally to the lower ends of the rafters, which guttering can be fixed to. Also in this image, the Soffitt is marked.  A Soffitt is the same as an Eave.

Barge boards are the same as Fascia boards but they run up the angle of a Gable End.


pelmetPelmet – is a box-type cover over the top of a window used to conceal curtain rods and fastenings.  They are very effective at reducing heat loss through the windows, so are highly recommended for improving energy efficiency and reducing heating bills.



window revealsWindow reveals – are the depth of wall internally or externally from the edge of the wall to the face of the window.  The depth of the window reveal is governed by the thickness of the wall – the thicker the wall the wider reveal you can have.  T


If your builder is using builders’ jargon that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s absolutely essential that you understand what is being discussed so that you can make fully informed decisions and get the home you’re after & are paying for.

If it’s not clear, and you are confused by builders’ jargon, ask more questions. If it’s still not clear, then find another builder who will happily explain everything to you.

bonus tip

At the beginning, we promised a bonus tip that will save you thousands on your building project.

You may have seen some of our other blogs where we explain the benefits of involving a builder in your building project from the outset.  Now, we are going to share with you one of the ways we save our clients thousands of dollars when we are part of the team working on the design of their new home.

It’s simple.  Use standard sized materials and build according to standard sized openings – so that you can direct your budget to custom big-ticket items like the kitchen.

For example, plaster board comes in widths of 1200 mm or 1350mm wide.  Typically – floor to ceiling will be 2400mm or 2700mm high (which means 2 sheets of 1200mm plasterboard or 2 sheets of 1350mm plasterboard).  If you were to go up to 2800mm high, the cost is twice as much labour and quarter as much materials – just for an extra 100mm – which will become very expensive very quickly.

Doors are another great example.  Standard door sizes are 720, 770, 820, 870 and 920 wide and 2040 mm high or 2340 mm high, these standard sized doors generally cost between $100 and $300.

If you were to go to a door 950mm wide and 2400mm high – this could easily cost between $500 to $1,000 each.  So, if you have 10 doors in your home, this could easily be an extra $6,000 or $7,000.  Also, if your doors are bigger than standard sizes, your architraves will be more expensive.  Architraves generally come in lengths of 5.4 m – enough for a standard 820 x 2340 door.  If you increase the door size to 850 x 2400 you would need an extra length of architrave – most of which will be waste.

It is always best to ask the builder about standard sizes as they work with them every day.  We are always happy to work with you and recommend standard sizes if they are not specified.

If you are thinking about doing some building work, download our free guide on the 7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home. It includes lots of useful tips to help you save time and money when designing a new home and renovation.

Download it now to learn how to save time & money and ensure that you are on track to your perfect home.

The Key Things to Know Before Designing Your New Home

7 things you must know book



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Sue Davidson

The highlight of Sue's job at Gaia Construction is handing over beautifully crafted homes to excited clients. In her spare time, Sue is passionate about the environment & the outdoors, enjoying time hiking, sailing, walking her dog Lulu and travelling around Australia with her husband Jeremy & Lulu in their small campervan.
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