The A to Z of Building Terms Part One

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Learn the language of building with our guide to common building terms. This is not an exhaustive list – we have chosen a selection of common terms you may come across in the course of building, buying, selling or renovating a property.

An ARCH is a curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening, typically supporting the weight of a bridge, roof, or wall above it.

An ARCHITRAVE is the moulded section covering the joint between window and door frames, and the wall lining.

A BALUSTRADE is a row of small columns topped by a handrail. The columns are referred to as ‘balusters’ and can be made of timber, glass, steel mesh or other durable material.

A BRACE is a piece of framing lumber that is applied diagonally to the wall or floor to strengthen the structure. It is often used on walls as temporary support until the frame has been completed.

A CANTILEVER is a projecting beam supported at one end, or a large bracket for supporting a balcony or cornice.

A CORNICE is horizontal decorative moulding located at the meeting point between walls and a roof or ceiling. Cornices can be found on either the exterior or interior of a building.

A DAMP PROOF COURSE (DPC) is a barrier, usually physical, built into masonry such as chimneys and walls to prevent moisture migrating up from the ground or down from above.

A DORMER is an opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall, suitable for windows or other openings. A dormer window is a window built into the structure of the dormer.

An EAVE is the lower part of a roof that overhangs the walls. The purpose of the eave is to keep rainwater away from the house and to prevent it entering through gaps. Eaves also help to cool a home, providing a perimeter of shade around the house. The underside of eaves is called the soffit.

EFFLORESCENCE is a white or coloured powder sometimes formed on the surface of masonry by the deposit of soluble salts.

Stay tuned for Part Two as we continue through our ‘A to Z’!

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