Self Build Glossary
Abutment - Wall rising above the roof slope, separating roof sections.

Airbrick - A brick with holes to provide ventilation.

Angle bead - Steel strips fixed to provide a continuous guide when plastering.

Architrave - A frame fitted around a door or window to hide the gaps between the lining and wall.

Article 4 - Allows the council, in certain circumstances, to restrict permitted development rights.

Backland development - Development of land such as back gardens and private open space, usually found in residential areas. This type of land is land-locked.

Baluster - Vertical rails supporting a handrail.

Balustrade - Collective term including hand-rail, baluster rails and sections of step on which they are mounted.

Barge boards - Fixed to the gable end of a roof to protect the roof timbers against wet and windy weather.

Barge foot - Additional section of timber under or behind a barge board.

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Base slab - A raft foundation or concrete slab under a structure.

Bat - Usually half the normal length of a common brick.

Batt - A slab of insulation.

Batten - Small section of timber to which sheet materials, slates and roof tiles are fixed.

Block - Masonry unit, which is larger than a brick and is designed to improve construction speed.

Blockwork - Wall built with blocks.

Bolster - Hardwood cap placed over a post to increase its load-bearing capacity.

Brandering - Battening to level ceiling joists prior to fixing laths.

Butt - To push or fit together.

Buttress - Additional bracing wall or projecting support. It is often set at right angles to the main wall and usually tapers towards the top.

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Cant - Angle between two walls, less or greater than a right angle.

Cantilever - Beam fixed at one end.

Capillary action - The process by which the surface of a liquid in a very narrow spaces such as porous masonry. Rising damp is created through this action.

Capital gains tax - Tax payable to the Inland Revenue from the sale of property or other assets.

Capital growth - The increase in value of a property over a period of time.

Capped chimney - A sealed chimney, to prevent birds and rain getting in.

Capstone - Coping on top of a wall.

Carcassing - Timber used in structural sections of a building, such as roof rafters and floor joists.

Casement - A window hinged on one of its vertical edges.

Casing - Boards fixed in door openings to hide the wall edges and support the door.

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Cavity - The gap between the internal and external walls of a building.

Cavity insulation - Ideally fitted when cavity walls are built with material usually consisting of sheets of expanded polystyrene.

Cavity ties - Galvanised metal fixings used to bond the external and internal structural walls together.

Cavity tray - A damp-proof crossing the cavity of a wall at an abutment, rising from the roof side upwards at least 150mm before passing through the wall.

Ceiling binder - A tie running between the joists or trussed rafters.

Charge certificate - If there is a mortgage on land, a charge certificate is issued instead of a 'land certificate' by the Land Registry.

Chase - Inscribing or cutting a groove into brick, plaster or other material, usually so that a cable or pipe can be embedded into it.

Cladding - The outermost weatherproof material fixed to a wall, designed to be decorative and/ or functional.

Cleared site - A plot of land that is now clear but which has previously had one or more industrial, manufacturing or other operations conducted upon it, resulting in potential contamination of the soil structure.

Completion certificate - A notice issued by the local authority after the final visit by the building inspector, confirming that the dwelling complies with building regulations.

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Completion notice - A certificate issued by the architect to authorise a payment to a main contractor. The completion certificate establishes the value of retention money to be held over a defects period and a copy can be sent with the VAT claim, to enable this to be processed.

Contaminated land - Land with a prior history in which residues of toxic substances, chemical waste or manufacturing by-products are contained within the soil structure.

Conveyancing - The legal process involved in buying and/ or selling land or property.

Coping - The topmost part of a wall, often designed with a sloping surface to throw off rainwater.

Corbel - A projection extending to support a load above it.

Cornice - A decorative addition to the top and projecting from the face of an internal or external wall.

Course - A single layer of bricks or blocks.

Covenant - An agreement to do or not do something contained in a deed. Covenants can be made by the current or any prior owner of the land, for example to maintain boundary walls or fences.

Coving -The concave decorative moulding that joins a ceiling to the walls.

Curtilage - a piece of ground (as a garden or courtyard) within the fence surrounding a house

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Dado - Panels fixed to the lower half of internal walls.

Dado rail - Decorative and/ or functional rails, usually made from moulded timber, fitted traditionally to internal walls to protect them from damage by chairs.

Damp-proof course - A waterproof membrane installed in walls and floors to pre- vent moisture causing damage by rising upwards through the structure. Also termed 'damp course' or 'DPC'.

DPC - The standard and widely used abbreviation for damp-proof course.

Dry joint - A brick or timber joint that is not bonded with mortar or adhesive.

Dry lined - An internal partition or cladding constructed usually with a timber frame and plasterboard.

Ducting - A system of shafts or tubes designed to carry and protect cables or pipes.

Dwarf wall - A low wall, for example one constructed to support joists under the ground floor.

Easement - A legal right to use or cross over land owned by someone else.

Eaves - The lowest section of a roof, overhanging a supporting wall.

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English bond - A method of building walls by laying bricks together in staggered alternating courses using headers and stretchers.

Escutcheon - A protective plate around a keyhole or door handle.

Fascia - Boards installed to a roof to protect the ends of trusses or rafters and on which gutters are attached.

Finial - Ornamental timber section added to the highest point of barge boards or hanging from stair newels on landings.

Flange - A flat plate at the end of a pipe or beam, through which a bolted joint can be made.

Flashing - Waterproof material covering joints between walls and roofs, usually shaped out of lead.

Floating coat - The first coat of thick plaster put on a wall to cover irregularities.

Floor plate - A plate constructed from steel or timber bedded in mortar and designed to withstand heavy loads.

Footings - The foundations of a structure.

Footprint - The 'footprint' of the building refers to those parts within the external walls.

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Formwork - Temporary boards used to keep wet mixtures, such as concrete, in a particular shape until it sets.

Framed construction - A structure built with a skeletal frame made of timber or steel, against which a an outer shell is added (ie brick, block, stucco, siding...).

Freehold - Property held until the end of time.

Gable - Triangular upper part of a wall at the end of a ridged roof.

Gable end - The gable shaped canopy over a door or window or a wall topped with a gable.

Hard landscaping - Elements include paths, driveways, garden walls and patios.

Header - Brick or block laid across a wall to bond together its two sides. It also means the exposed end part of a brick.

Herringbone strutting - The type of cross bracing used between floor joists to increase stiffness.

Hip - The sharp edge of a roof from ridge to eaves where the two sides meet.

Hipped roof - A roof with sloping ends instead of vertical ones.

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Infill site - The redevelopment of land that has adjacent buildings, for example along a row of terraced houses where one has been demolished or where a gap always existed.

Jamb - Vertical side post of a window or doorway.

Joist - A beam that supports a ceiling or floor.

Joist hanger - A fabricated metal slot installed in a wall to keep a joist securely in position.

Kite - The kite-shaped tread mostly used where stairs turn a comer.

Land bank - A supply of potential development plots purchased and retained by builders, which allows them to trade and construct on a continuous basis by moving on to the next plot as completion occurs on the current one.

Land certificate - A document issued by the Land Registry giving details of who owns the land. However, a land certificate should not be accepted as absolute proof of ownership as it may be out of date. 'Office copy entries' are accepted by solicitors to prove ownership.

Land-locked - A plot of land with no independent route providing access onto it and no obvious means of creating one. Examples include surplus areas of an owner's private garden.

Lath - A long slender piece of economical timber.

Lath and plaster - Old-fashioned method of plastering a wall or ceiling using slender timbers to construct a narrow gauge frame as a base for the wet plaster.

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Leaf - The inner or outer wall of a cavity wall construction.

Leasehold - Land ownership restricted to a number of years and with conditions written in a lease.

Line-boards - Timber boards laid on the ground and used to mark out the widths and position of inner and outer walls and the foundations (setting-out), prior to excavating.

Lintel - Horizontal section of timber, concrete or metal, installed to the top of a door- way or window opening, designed to support the structure above.

Massing - The outline of a dwelling's external shape and form.

Mullion - The vertical sections of material that divide a window frame into smaller lights.

Newel - The main post supporting the end of a balustrade.

Nog - A wooden peg.

Nogging - Short cross-pieces of timber used to brace studs.

Nose - The extending front edge of a staircase step.

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Office copy entries - Copies of the entries recorded at the Land Registry proving ownership.

Over-building - The term applies to building a structure that is inconsistent in size, quality and/ or style with other buildings nearby or has excessively filled the limited amount of land space available. Also known as an 'over development'.

P.A.R - Common abbreviation for 'planed all round'. Pane. A sheet of glass usually framed with timber.

Party wall - A wall shared between two properties, such as is the case with semi-detached houses.

Pile - A deep foundation. These are formed by creating a hole deep enough to locate solid sub-soil. The hole is usually filled with concrete and reinforced or a section of solid steel is installed.

Pink land - Land with a 'residential use class'. The term is used largely by local authority planners and originates from the ink colour used to identify residential development areas on maps and plans.

Pitch - The angle or slope of a roof or staircase.

Planning permission - Authority granted by the local council for land to be developed or additions made to an existing property, usually with certain conditions attached.

Plate - A length of timber or steel placed either on top of a wall to support the roof trusses (a wall plate) or fixed to a floor so that studs or a timber-framed partition can be installed (a floor plate).

Precast concrete - Concrete components cast in a factory or on site prior to being placed in their final positions.

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Profile boards - Boards of about a metre long used to transfer the plan outline of a building onto the ground. They are held securely in place by timber stakes. Lines are stretched between saw-cuts or marks, so the position of a wall can be fixed.

Property register - One of the three parts of a land or charge certificate describing the property and rights associated with it.

Purlin - Positioned half-way up the slope of a roof, purlins are timber beams installed to support the rafters.

Raft - A firm slab, usually made from concrete, designed to spread the weight of a structure on soft ground.

Rafter - Timbers that form the main part of the roof frame going from the wall plate up to the ridge.

Ranging rod - Section of timber marked to identify the position of brick and block courses or any other part of the construction - basically a measuring stick.

Ransom strip - A small strip or area of land needed to be crossed to access to the building land. The land is owned by a third party who will demand money to allow access over the strip or for its purchase.

Reinforced concrete - A process of installing steel rods inside concrete beams to help them withstand stress along their length without collapsing.

Reject - Materials that do not come up to the required standard, for example, 'reject engineering brick'.

Reserved matters - The fine detail required following approval of outline planning permission. The aspects include design, layout, access, orientation and landscaping of the dwelling.

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Retrospective design - An interior scheme that reflects the immediate past and uses colours, materials and objects pertinent to that period.

Ridge - The topmost line of the roof.

Ridge tile - Preformed angled tile covering the apex of the roof.

Roll-over relief - A way of delaying the payment of capital gains tax by reinvesting profit from the sale of one business asset to another.

Sarking - Boards placed between the rafters and the roof (sometimes called the 'soffit').

Screed - A thin level layer of material usually applied to floors.

Section 106 agreement - A binding agreement regarding matters linked to the pro- posed development, made between the council and a developer when planning permission is granted.

Septic tank - A tank constructed or manufactured to accept sewerage when no mains system is available.
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Setting-out - The use of profile line-boards to mark a plan on the ground.

Signing off - Formal completion of the dwelling.

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Sleeper wall - A wall to support the ground floor, usually honeycombed in construction to provide ventilation.

Snagging - When a builder attends the site to resolve outstanding matters after the main construction has been completed.

Soffit - The underside of an architectural element, for example an arch or the eaves.

Soft landscaping - Topsoil, plants, shrubs and trees.

Soleplate - A substantial horizontal section of timber or metal, fixed to the floor slab.

Stamp duty - A duty payable on certain documents involved in the transfer of land and property ownership. The liability falls on the buyer.

Stanchion - A vertical supporting beam usually made from steel.

Stretcher - Brick or block laid lengthways in a wall.

String or stringer - One of the parallel boards supporting the treads

Structural indemnity insurance - Insurance policy usually required by mortgage lenders that guarantees the dwelling against structural defects for a specified term after completion.

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Staged mortgage - Mortgage for self-builders - funds are released in stages (usually between three and seven) as the house is constructed.

Strip foundation - Concrete filled trenches to support a building.
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Strut - An upright roof timber connected to the rafter above it or sloping to connect another post to the rafter.

Stud - One of the smaller uprights in the framing of the walls of a building to which sheathing, paneling, or laths are fastened

Tabling - The term used when roof verges are capped with stone slabs.

Tanalised timber - Timbers used in construction, typically for floor joists, which have had tanalith-oxide preservative driven into their cellular structure under pressure.

Tandem garage - A garage long enough for two vehicles to park one behind the other.

Taper relief - A sliding-scale allowance for capital gains tax available from April 1998 based on the principle that the longer a property is owned the less tax is payable.

Tie-beam - The main horizontal roof beam just above the wall that connects the bases of rafters.

Title deeds - Legal documents proving ownership of a property.

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Trussed - Timber planks framed together to bridge a space.

Tree preservation order - Made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by the local planning authority to protect trees of importance for amenity, landscape and nature conservation.

Turnkey - A self-build 'turnkey project' is one that is entirely managed by an individual or a company (such as an architect or timber frame company), with your own involvement limited to providing funds and design guidelines.

Underpinning - The installation of strong foundations underneath primary foundations when the latter have failed or have been found to be inadequate to support the structure above.

UPVC or PVC-U - A type of stable plastic used in the manufacture of double-glazed window frames, doors and cladding. The letters 'PVC' stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride, which is a chemical compound of chlorine, carbon and hydrogen. The components of PVC originate from the naturally occurring raw materials of petroleum, or natural gas and common salt. The 'u' stands for unplasticised, (sometimes called unmodified), and it means that the material has not been softened by the addition of chemicals known as plasticisers.

Use class - Designation of land use by the local authority, for example as 'residential'. The 'use class' determines how specific plots of land can be developed, if at all.

Vendor - The person selling land or property.

Verge - The edge of a roof at the gable.

Wall tie - A galvanised metal tie used to bond the inner and outer walls of a cavity wall together.

Winders - Triangular stair treads sometimes used when a staircase turns a comer.

Yield - The annual return on property investment expressed as a percentage.

Zero rated - Non VAT able items

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