On this page you will find a list of construction terms mentioned in our checklists and on the website as well as commonly used terms specifically in relation to Australian Standards and their application.

Last Updated: 04-04-2024


Abbreviations on building plans and drawings include:

  • GL – Ground level
  • CL – Ceiling level
  • FL – Floor level
  • AS – Australian standard
  • BK – Brick
  • BV – Brick veneer
  • CW – Cavity wall
  • Conc – Concrete
  • D – Door
  • G – Gas
  • HW – Hot water unit
  • AH – Overhead
  • PG – Plate glass
  • R – Roof
  • VER – Veranda
  • WBD – Wallboard
  • W - Window
  • FRR - Fire Resistance Rating

ABCB means the Australian Building Codes Board.

Above ground rainwater tank: A rainwater tank that is not in any way set into the ground.

Absorption: The ability of a material to accept within its body, quantities of vapour or liquid, such as moisture.

Access way: A continuous accessible path of travel (as defined in AS 1428.1) to, into or within a building.

Acrylic Membranes: water-based membranes, are Dispersion Membranes DM and are air cured. 2-part acrylics are cementitious membranes with polymer modification

Active Water Flow: surface water flowing against a below ground wall

Adhesive: Proprietary bedding material other than sand/cement bedding mortar.

Adhesive, cement-based: An adhesive in which the principal bonding component is a hydraulic cement, e.g., Portlandcement, modified by the inclusion of such other admixtures as may be necessary in order toachieve satisfactory bonding of ceramic tiles and mosaics.

Adhesive, organic-based: An adhesive, which may be supplied as either a one-part or a two-part mix, in which theprincipal bonding component is an organic material. The term includes only those organicadhesives capable of application by either the thin-bed or the thick-bed fixing technique.

Adhesive, thick-bed: Adhesive bedding exceeding 3 mm in thickness.

Adhesive, thin-bed Adhesive bedding not exceeding 3 mm in thickness.

Aggressive soils: Soils where walls are expected to be attacked by salts in the groundwater.

Air Barriers: Control the unintended movement of air into and out of a building enclosure.

Air Change Rate: Abbreviated ACH (air changes per hour) or ac/h, it is a measure of the air volume added to or removed from a space (normally a room or house) divided by time (i.e., 2ACH = the volume of air in the room is fully exchanged by an equivalent volume of air coming into or out of the room in 30 minutes.

Air Le akage : Sometimes called infiltration and exfiltration, it is the unintentional or accidental introduction of air into a building assembly, typically through gaps in the building envelope.

Air-entraining agent: An admixture used to form discrete, non-coalescing, small air bubbles, up to 1 mm in diameter. In mortar, it is used to improve workability and thus allow a reduction in fine aggregate and/or water. NOTE: An air-entraining agent is not the same as ‘methylcellulose-based’ water thickener.

Air Permeability: The unintended leakage of air through gaps and cracks in the external envelope of a building. It is measured as the volume of air leakage per hour per square metre of external building envelope (m3/h.m2 ) at a tested pressure of typically 50 pascals (Pa).

Airtight: Not permitting the passage of air or gas either inward or outward

AIW: Australian Institute of Waterproofing - LINK https://waterproof.org.au/

Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP): Flat or profiled aluminium sheet material in composite with any type of materials.

Amenity: An attribute which contributes to the health, physical independence, comfort and well-being of people.

ANTIPONDING BOARD: Anti-ponding board ensures water drains away correctly and does not pool under the roof edge tiles. Anti-ponding boards sit underneath the sarking between the fascia boards and the rafters.

Appropriately qualified person: A person recognised by the appropriate authority as having qualifications and/or experience in the relevant discipline in question.

Articulated masonry: Masonry construction in which special provisions have been made for movement by articulation.

Articulation: Provision for movement in walls through incorporation of permanent control joints

Assembly Drawings: Assembly drawings provide precise, detailed information as to the construction of buildings, including matters such as the fixing of materials, components and elements.

Austenitic (Stainless Steel): When nickel (Ni) is added to stainless steel in sufficient quantities, the crystal structure changes from ferrite to austenite, hence the term austenitic stainless steels. The basic composition of austenitic stainless steels is 18% chromium (Cr) and 8% nickel (Ni). Austenitic grades are the most commonly used stainless steels accounting for more than 70% of production (304 is the most commonly specified grade by far).

Australian Fenestration Rating Council (AFRC): The Australian Fenestration Rating Council (AFRC) is a not-for-profit organisation referenced by the National Construction Code (NCC). It is the custodian of protocols and procedures for the energy rating of all fenestration products. It develops, administers, and approves methods and systems unique to Australia and ensures a uniform rating and labelling system for energy performance for windows, glazed doors, and skylights as well as attached products such as film and secondary glazing.

AS: Australian Standard.


Background A substrate requiring some form of surface treatment in readiness for the bedded finish.

Background (ALT): structural support wall or floor prior to preparation as a substrate.

Backing Rod: A section of closed cell foam made from flexible plastics or open cell polyurethane foam.

Ballasted Membranes: Membrane systems that are held down by ballast or other finish

Base The material on which bedding or the separating layer is laid

Bath: as defined in clause 3B.19 of AS/NZS 3500.0 Plumbing and drainage – Part 0: Glossary of terms: a fixture for containing water, in which the human body may be immersed for ablutionary or treatment purposes.

Bathroom: as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms: a room fitted with a bath or shower or both, a basin, and sometimes a water closet suite.

Bedded finish The tile finish including its bedding

Bedding A layer of specified materials in which the tile is set and which bonds the tiles to a substrate

Bill or schedule of quantities: A complete listing of the quantities of material, labour and any other items required to carry out a project, based on the specification, drawings and schedules. 

Bioresistance: Resistance to degradation by biological attack

Bond breaker: A material used as part of a waterproofing system that prevents the membrane bonding to the substrate, bedding or lining.

Bond breaker A system that prevents the membrane bonding to the substrate, bedding or lining.

Bond Breaker – Bandage: a proprietary impermeable bandage specified by the manufacturer to release from the substrate and allow free movement of the membrane

Bond Breaker – Release zone: Release Zone be provided to allow for independent membrane release and movement off the bond breaker.

Bond Breaker – Tape: Impermeable, self-adhesive vinyl, polypropylene, polyethylene, or silicone impregnated tape can be used as a bond breaker, matching the elasticity class of the membrane.

Bonding agent (bond coat) A material used to improve the adhesion of the bedding material, background or tile to its respective substrate

Bored Pier: Cast in place concrete cylindrical load support element

Bored Pier (ALT): A pier that is tired of waiting for things to happen onsite.

Brick veneer: This is for external walls only, consisting of a timber framed lined internally with plasterboard and an external skin or veneer of brick. The brick skin and the timber frame are separated by a gap (cavity) of around 40mm (25mm min – 60 mm max.) to allow for ventilation and prevent contact between the timber and the bricks. The timber wall is load-bearing, carrying the roof and ceiling, while the outer skin of brick is used for weathering, security, and visual effect. The brick skin is tied to the timber frame by veneer ties built into the brickwork and nailed to the frame.

Builder: Undefinable.

Builder (ALT): Generally overweight, multiple marriages, smokes, drinks heavily, pessimistic, dismissive, gambles, loves a free lunch, supplier breakfasts, supplier "golf days", knows everything but says nothing preferring to grumble, must attend sporting games only viewing from corporate boxes they didn't pay for - drink everything before "hitting the town" - strippers, brothels - then giggle like a 12-year-old girl when asked "how was the game on Friday night?" by co-workers, wakes up from a night out and says "variation" then "extension of time" before passing out in the work car, fills up the Jerry cans, jet ski and trailer boat while filling up the work vehicle using a company fuel card.

Building development approval as defined in Schedule 2 to the Building Act 1975: a development approval to the extent it approves a building development application.

Building Paper: An absorbent permeable membrane made from treated kraft paper placed under roof or wall cladding. Also known as Permeable Underlay.

Building thermal performance: How well that building maintains a comfortable temperature - within the zone of thermal neutrality1 for the climate and season – without the use of mechanical heating or cooling.

A house with good thermal performance is more comfortable to live in, has lower energy bills and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a house with poor thermal performance.

Definition of a specification: A specification is a description of work to be done, materials to be used and quality standards required so that, in conjunction with the drawings and other details, the job can be constructed as the designer intended. The specification is a means of communicating to a number of people a description of the works which could not possibly be described graphically.

Building Specifications A specification sets out the technical requirements of the work. It is a direct explanation of the drawings and with them serves three purposes:

  • First, as a full description of the project
  • Second, as mandatory requirement for materials and quality of workmanship during construction
  • Third, as legal evidence in the event of litigation The specifications also form part of the tender documents both of which are part of the Contract Documents.

The specification being a communication tool is to convey clearly and concisely to the reader the intentions of the writer, without ambiguity. Its format should be suited to quick and easy reference and it must form a complete and cohesive document, without discrepancies between the various parts, and yet contain adequate information to perform its task.

A specification is defined as a detailed description of the criteria for the constituents, construction, appearance, performance etc., of a material, apparatus etc., or of the standard of workmanship required in its manufacture.

A specification defines what is wanted, the materials used in manufacture or construction and/or the required performance.

A good specification is one that is complete, concise and unambiguous.

When should specifications be read by the Inspector or Supervisor? • Before the job commences: Look through the Specification and see what is in it and where to find things. Note the Standard Specification which have been changed since the last job and find out what changes have been made. • In planning any section of the works: Make sure that what you have planned will meet the specified requirements. For example, does your programme for placing concrete and reuse of forms allow for the stripping times specified? • Before a particular type of work commences: read those clauses applying to this work.

On contract jobs the contractor agrees, when he signs the contract, to carry out the work in accordance with the specification.

Building work as defined in section 5 and Schedule 2 to the Building Act 1975:

  1. (1)  Building work is—
    1. (a)  building, repairing, altering, underpinning (whether by vertical or lateral support), moving or demolishing a building or other structure; or
    2. (b)  excavating or filling—
      1. (i)  for, or incidental to, the activities mentioned in paragraph (a); or
      2. (ii)  that may adversely affect the stability of a building or other structure, whether on the land on which the building or other structure is situated or on adjoining land; or
    3. supporting, whether vertically or laterally, land for activities mentioned in paragraph (a); or
    4. other work regulated under the building assessment provisions.
  2. (2)  For subsection (1)(d), work includes a management procedure or other activity relating to a building or structure even though the activity does not involve a structural change to the building or structure.Examples–
    1. a management procedure under the fire safety standard relating to a budget accommodation building
    2. a management procedure under the fire safety standard relating to a residential care building.

Bulk Pier: Cast in place concrete load support element excavated by backhoe or similar machinery

Buoyancy: Rising water tables lifting the structure.

Butter To spread an adhesive or bedding material on the back of a ceramic tile just before the tile is placed.


Capillarity: occurs when water moves through tubes of open voids between particles through attraction by surface tension. The size and length of the capillaries will determine the extent of water movement.

Carbon neutral building: A building is described as carbon-neutral if the amount of CO2 produced through its construction and use is offset by other activities that reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere.

Carbon positive building: A carbon positive building takes the concept of carbon neutral one step further – rather than simply aiming to offset the carbon emissions involved in a building's construction and use, a carbon positive project will aim to remove more carbon and possibly make other positive contributions to the environment.

Carrier: usually a liquid holding a solute in suspension as a solution

Cavity: A void between 2 leaves of masonry, or in masonry veneer construction, a void between a leaf of masonry and the supporting frame.

Cavity (ALT): A horizontal inclined or vertical space within the roof or wall that provides a drained air gap separation between the protected insulated zone and the external cladding.

Cavity brick: External walls are constructed of two skins of brick, separated by a gap (cavity) of 50mm and held by wire galvanised cavity ties with a drip groove to prevent moisture travelling from the outer skin of brick to the inner skin when the outer skin becomes wet. The inner skin of brick is the load bearing wall, and the outer skin is for weathering, security, and visual effect.

Cavity Drain Membrane: Dimpled, flexible, high-density polymer sheet, which can be placed against the internal face of a structure after construction and is designed to intercept water penetrating the structure and direct it to a drainage system to be conveyed to a legal point of discharge.

Cavities (Masonry): in cavity walls and masonry veneer walls, cavities with a width of at least 40mm, shall be reagrded as being resistant to the passage of moisture from the exposed face through to the inner exposed face of the wall.

Cavities (ALT): What happens if you don't brush your teeth often enough. Your mum was right!

Cavity Wall: for the purposes of NCC FV1.1 in Volume One and V2.2.1 in Volume Two, means a wall that incorporates a drained cavity.

Cementitious Membranes (CM): Cement based membranes are a mix of Portland, alumina or other specified cements, fillers and many are polymer modified with acrylics and other additives. Mixed with water which hydrates the cement and cures the membrane by chemical reaction and water evacuation as the membrane shrinks and air dries.

Cementitious Negative Pressure Membranes: These membranes rely on crystallization and forming a matrix with the substrate beneath, blocking pores and capillaries as the crystals grow forming a matrix and resist negative hydrostatic pressure.

Certificate of Conformity: means a certificate issued under the ABCB scheme for products and systems certification stating that the properties and performance of a building material or method of construction or design fulfil specific requirements of the NCC.

Collar: a device to seal a sleeve to the substrate

Cooler Side: The side of a structure with a lower temperature compared to the warmer side. The cooler side usually has a lower vapour pressure compared to the warmer side.

Component Drawings: A component drawing provides detailed information about the nature and manufacture of a specific item incorporated in a building. The purpose of a component drawing is to:

  • (a) show the nature, shape, assembly method and further details of components required by the manufacturer and others; and
  • (b) provide additional information which cannot be conveniently given on location or assembly drawings.

Competent person: person, who has acquired, through training, wualification or experience or a combination of these, the knowlwedge and the skill enabling that person to perform the required task correctly.

Concrete A mixture of cement, aggregates, and water with or without the addition of chemical admixtures.

Concrete Surface Profile (CSP): Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) is the measure of the average distance from the peaks of the surface to the valleys as seen through a cross-sectional view of the concrete surface.

Condensation: The process by which a gas or vapour changes to a liquid form.

Condensation (ALT) Condensation occurs when moist air is cooled or when it meets cooler objects. The water vapour in the air condenses to a liquid form on cooler objects, and then can pool or drip within the space.

Condensation (ALT): means the formation of moisture on the surface of a building element or material as a result of moist air coming into contact with a surface which is at a lower temperature and at or below the dew point.

Connectors: Any components, other than wall ties, lintels and shelf angles, used in masonry construction to aid the structural integrity of the building or to provide support or stability to building finishes.

Connector sealants: Connector sealants are used as compatible bonded termination points of the membrane or to form junctions between materials.

Constructed means assembled or complete part of construction works that results from work on-site.

Contact coverage The proportion of the tile back or background that is in contact with the adhesive after the tile has been set into position.

Construction drawing: is a means of showing in a graphical form the shape, size and position of a building on a site, together with the composition of the materials used and the way the building is to be constructed or put together. The information on construction drawings has to be presented in a precise, way so that it can be understood by anyone with knowledge of draughtsmanship and construction.

Contour plan A contour plan shows the shape and slope of the land at a site and may be used to calculate the overall finished height of the building, which is significant when determining the amount of sun exposure and shading the building will receive.

Control joints: Joints or gaps constructed in masonry to control and absorb movements in the masonry. Control joints include the following:

  • (a)  Contraction joints (or opening control joints), which open as the masonry contracts or shrinks.
  • (b)  Expansion joints (or closing control joints), which close as the masonry expands and/or associated concrete shrinks.
  • (c)  Articulation joints, which move to compensate for movements in the supporting structure.

Controlled Fill: Fill that will be required to support structures or associated pavements, on for which engineering properties are to be controlled.

Controlled Fill (ALT): Fill that is ruled by an oppressive overlord. Not free to move.

Conventional roofing: the timber roof framing is cut out and assembled (pitched) on-site. Structural framing members used in conventional roofing are rafters, ridge boards, hips, purlins, struts and collar ties. Ceiling framing consisting of ceiling joists, hanging beams, strutting beams and trimmers combine with and tie the roof framing to the walls. Sectional size and spacing of structural members are determined by the Timber Framing Code.

Counter Batten: A spacer of timber or steel fixed to a purlin or batten, which provides an air space between the cladding and any insulation or sarking.

Crack, Active: a dynamic crack in concrete subject to active movement.

Crack, Static: a shrinkage or plastic crack in concrete not subject to active movement

Creep A slow inelastic deformation or movement of material under stress.

Creep: (ALT): When you were here before, Couldn't look you in the eye | You're just like an angel, Your skin makes me cry, You float like a feather, In a beautiful world | I wish I was special, You're so fuckin' special | But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, What the hell am I doin' here? I don't belong here | I don't care if it hurts, I wanna have control, I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul, I want you to notice, When I'm not around | So fuckin' special, I wish I was special | But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, What the hell am I doin' here?, I don't belong here | She's running out the door (run), She's running out, She run, run, run, run | Run | Whatever makes you happy, Whatever you want | You're so fuckin' special, I wish I was special | But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, What the hell am I doin' here?, I don't belong here, I don't belong here.


Damp: where the material contains a high interstitial relative humidity relative to ambient conditions and does not have seepage or surface water.

Dampness: The degree of ambient relative humidity in relation to the intended use of the space. Undue dampness is where the surface and ambient moisture content are not suitable for the intended use of the space.

Damp-proof course (DPC): means a continuous layer of impervious material placed in a masonry wall or pier, or between a wall or pier and a floor, to prevent the upward or downward migration of water.

Damp Proof Course Injection: will arrest water movement through capillary action by densifying the porous material, reducing the available voids and capillaries.

Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions: means provisions which are deemed to satisfy the Performance Requirements .

Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution: means a method of satisfying the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions .

Deflector means a strip positioned at the bottom of a shower screen that controls the spread of water from the shower area.

Defined Flood Event (DFE): means the flood event selected for the management of flood hazard for the location of specific development as determined by the appropriate authority .

Defined flood level (DFL): means the flood level associated with a defined flood event relative to a specified datum.

Demolition as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms:

  • the complete or partial dismantling and removal of a building or other complex asset by pre-planned and controlled methods or procedures, and normally carried out prior to redevelopment work.

Densifiers: penetrating concrete sealers that penetrate into the capillaries of a porous cementitious surface, chemically react with it, and then create a new chemical solid that serves as a breathable barrier just below the surface being sealed but do not coat the top of the surface.

Detail: An Auxiliary view removed from its true projected position in order to provide added clarity. It may be drawn as a full or partial view and the scale may be the same as that of the main view or larger. 

Design Wind Speed: means the design gust wind speed for the area where the building is located, calculated in accordance with AS/NZS 1170.2 or AS4055

Development permit as defined in section 49(3) and Schedule 2 of the Planning Act 2016: the part of a decision notice for a development application that authorises the carrying out of the assessable development to the extent stated in the decision notice.

Dew Point: The temperature at which water vapour condenses, which varies with the relative humidity and the air pressure.

DFT: Dry film thickness of cured membrane. S/DFT is the Sample DFT taken from site after curing to Overlay Stage.

Dimensioning: Dimension lines should be unbroken lines. They can be terminated at their ends by open arrowheads, solid arrowheads, oblique strokes, dots or circles.

Thin lines called projection lines, or projectors, should extend from about 2 mm away from the part of the object being dimensioned to just beyond the dimension line termination.

If any dimension is not drawn to scale, the letters "NTS" (not to scale) should be written after the dimension.

Dimensioning by levels: Different members of the building team tend to follow different practices regarding the measuring points for vertical dimensions. The client is concerned with clear storey heights i.e. the dimension between the finished floor level and the finished ceiling levels. Architects will invariably give the finished floor level (FFL) on their drawings. Site staff work initially to the structural floor level (SFL). Structural engineers need to know the structural floor level (SFL), and their vertical dimensions will generally be measured from SFL to SFL.

Dimension Lines: Dimension lines are used to indicate measurements on a drawing. They are sharp, clear, and clean lines that will be part of the final drawing. Dimension lines usually end in arrow heads that touch the extension lines. They may be broken to allow room for the measurements. Dimension lines can take any of the following forms. Only one method would be used on a drawing. Methods are never mixed.

Dip fixing The fixing of a tile by dipping it in water and buttering it with mortar.

Direct bedding The application of a bedded finish to a substrate.

Dispersion Membrane (DM): is a liquid applied membranes that cures through carrier (solvent) dispersion.

Drainage: means any sanitary drainage , liquid trade waste drainage or stormwater drainage system.

Drainage cell: a durable material used to overlay the membrane to protect it from physical damage and allow the transfer of moisture to relieve hydrostatic pressure. Note: timber and timber based products are not acceptable for use as drainage cells

Drainage flange: A flange connected to a waste pipe, at the point at which it passes through the floor substrate, to prevent leakage and enable tile bed drainage into the waste pipe.

Drainage Riser: A waste pipe between the floor waste and the drainage system.

Drawings: Architects use two types of sketches, floor plans and elevations, to show the shape of a house or building. A floor plan sketch is similar to a top view with the roof removed and shows interior walls, windows, doors, appliances, fixtures, built-in cabinetry and stairways. An elevation is similar to a front view and shows the height of the structure plus exterior materials like siding, doors, windows, trim and roofing.

Drawing Lines: Lines vary in thickness and form according to their purpose and importance. Along with line weight and quality, there are standards for different types of lines. Each has a definite meaning and is recognized as a typical symbol or object within the building trades industry. Listed below are the standard types of lines that will typically be used in design drawings. 

Solid Line: Solid lines are used to indicate visible objects that can be seen in plan, elevation or 3D views. Solid lines are also used for leader lines and dimension lines. 

Dashed Line: Hidden objects or edges are drawn with short dashed lines. These are used to show hidden parts of an object or objects below or behind another object. Dashed lines are also used to indicate shelving or cabinets above a counter. These lines should be in contact at corners and when perpendicular to another line.

Movement, Ghost or Phantom Line: These lines are a series of dashes and very short dashes and are used to show movement or imply direction. These typically are used instead of a dashed line to show an alternate position of an object that can be moved.

Leader Line: Leader lines are used to connect notes or references to objects or lines in a drawing. Leader lines start as a solid line and end in an arrow. Leader lines may be drawn at an angle or curved.

Break Lines: Break lines are used when the extents of a drawing cannot fit on the size of paper being used for the drawing. It can also be used when you only need to illustrate a portion of a design or a partial view

Centre Line: Centre lines are used to indicate the centre of a plan, object, circle, arc, or any symmetrical object. Use a series of very long and short dashes to create a centre line. If two centre lines intersect use short dashes at the intersection.

Door jamb as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms: one of the two vertical side members of a door frame.

Door & window schedules A door and window schedule describes the size and characteristics of each window and each door that will be included in the building.

Doorway as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms: an access way to a space opened or closed by a door.

Downpipes: shall not serve more than 12 m of gutter length for each downpipe; and, be located as close as possible to valley gutters; and, Be appropriately sized due to location and rainfall intensity.

Drawings are classified as follows: 

Drawings at design stage: These drawings may also be referred to as concept drawings. Design (or concept) drawings are as follows: 

  • (i)  Schematic drawing A preliminary design drawing, sketch or diagram showing, in outline form, the designer’s general intention.
  • (ii)  Development drawing A design drawing developed to show the building and site as envisaged by the designer and from which production drawings can be produced.
    NOTE: These drawings are intended for client decision-making and are non-technical.

Drawings at production stage: Production stage drawings are as follows:

(i) Location drawing A drawing produced in order to— 

  • (A)  gain an overall picture of the layout and shape of the building;
  • (B)  determine setting-out dimensions for the building as a whole;
  • (C)  locate and identify the spaces and parts of the building, e.g. rooms, doors, cladding panels, drainage; and
  • (D)  pick up references that lead to more specific information, particularly about junctions between the parts of the building.

Each group of location drawings will almost always include site plans, floor plans, elevations, sections and very often, drainage plans, but there may be occasions where further categories such as joist layouts, reflected ceiling plans or the enlargement of complex areas may be necessary. 

The location drawings may also be commonly referred to as architectural drawings, especially in the residential construction industry. 

Construction (or structural) detail drawing: A drawing to show details necessary for the construction phase of the project. Such drawings show how a given item relates to the other items around it (for example, detailed brickwork layout for feature brickwork, sheet flooring layout). 

Component drawing: A drawing to show the information necessary for the manufacture and application of components. Information on basic sizes, and system or performance data are often also shown.

Assembly drawing: A drawing to show in detail the relationship of buildings and junctions in and between elements and components.

Drawing Scale: The scale of a drawing shows the relationship between dimensions on the plan and dimensions in real-life or in the finished building. For example, if the scale of a plan is 1:10, this means that a measurement of 1mm on the plan would be equivalent to 10mm in reality. Similarly, if the scale is 1:500, 1mm on the plan would be equivalent to 500mm or 50cm in reality.

Plans are called large scale plans when they use a scale from full size to 1:50, and small scale plans when they use a scale from 1:100 and upwards.

The recommended scales for different types of building plans and architectural are:

  • Site plans = 1:500
  • Floor plans = 1:100
  • Elevations = 1:100
  • Sections = 1:50
  • Detail drawings = 1:50.
  • If the detail being drawn is very small, the scale could be 1:5 or 1:2 or even 1:1, meaning actual size.

Dry: where the material has equalized with the ambient humidity. A category 3 Dry Space may require the ambient humidity to be conditioned by assisted de-humidifying, heating, and ventilation.

Dry fixing The fixing of a dry tile by buttering with a ‘wet’ mortar mix.

Drying time The period of continuous air-drying at the end of concrete curing before tiling can commence.


Earth Liquifaction: ground liquified through seismic action applying pressure on the wall.

Edge Beam: Footing at the edge of a footing slab

Efflorescence: accumulation of calcium and/or other soluble salts that stains or etches surface finishes after evaporation of the solvent (water).

Elevation: The projection on a vertical plane of any object, such as a building or component, viewed at right angles to the plane of projection. 

Elevations An elevation is a flat drawing of the front, back or side of a building. An elevation is like a picture that has been taken facing directly at the wall so that you see all the details of the wall in front of you. There is usually one elevation for each compass direction, giving a total of four elevations for each building. In other words, you would normally find a north elevation, a south elevation, an east elevation and a west elevation in each set of building plans.

Elevations (ALT): An elevation is a view you get if you look in a horizontal direction at the vertical side, or face, of a building or object.

Expanded metal Mesh that acts as a key and reinforcing agent for the scratch or mortar coat.

Exposed systems: systems designed to be exposed to the weather and/or mechanical and/or chemical damage

Exposure environments

  • Severe marine: Areas up to 100 m from a non-surf coast and up to 1 km from a surf coast. The distances specified are from the mean high-water mark.
  • Marine: Areas from 100 m to 1 km from a non-surf coast and 1 km to 10 km from a surf coast. The distances are from the mean high-water mark.NOTE: Sheltered bays such as Port Phillip Bay and Sydney Harbour are considered to be non-surf coasts.
  • Industrial: Environment within 1 km of industrial areas producing significant acidic pollution. NOTE: The only areas within this category are around major industrial complexes. There are only a few such regions in Australia, for example, around Port Pirie.
  • Moderate: Area with light industrial pollution or very light marine influence, or both.NOTE: Typical areas are suburbs of cities on sheltered bays such as Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart (except those areas near the coast) and most inland cities.
  • Mild: Environment that is remote from the coast, industrial activity and the tropics.NOTE: Sparsely settled regions such as outback Australia are typical examples, but the category also includes rural communities other than those on the coast.

Extension Lines. Extension lines are used to visually extend an edge or side so that measurements may be included on the drawing. They are sharp, clear, and clean lines that will be part of the final drawing. An extension line does not physically touch the edges of the object, but is drawn close enough so that it is obvious which edge it is associated with.

External waterproofing membrane system: A combination of membrane-associated products used in the membranes installation such as primers, mechanical fasteners, waste outlets and flashings that form a waterproof barrier.


Fabric: means the basic building structural elements and components of a building including the roof, ceilings, walls, glazing and floors.

Fall: the difference in level over a given length in the direction of flow.

Fast Cure (FC) Polyurethane: a compatible connector sealant or bonded fillet for liquid applied water-based polyurethane and solvent based polyurethane membranes

Fill Depth: For a slab, depth measure from the underside of the footing to the natural surface level. For a strip or pad footing system, depth measured from the finished ground level to the natural surface level.

Fillet: a triangular or curved profile used at internal intersections to assist the membrane to accommodate the transition from horizontal to vertical surfaces.

Finished Floor Level (FFL): the final finished level of floors in an internal or external wet area.

Finished Ground Level: for the purposes of Part 3.2 in Volume Two, means the ground level adjacent to footing systems at the completion of construction and landscaping.

Fixative Bedding material other than sand/cement bedding mortar.

Fixture as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms:

  • fixed or permanently attached items in a building that cannot be removed without causing damage and would remain upon a change in occupancy, such as a bath, water closet suite, stove, built-in cupboards, etc.

Flashing: A strip or sleeve of impervious material dressed, fitted or built in, or a liquid-applied product, to provide a barrier to moisture movement, divert the travel of moisture, or cover a joint where water would otherwise penetrate.

Flashing (ALT): The Builders actions at 12.13am Saturday at the end of the third quarter (in the coporate box).

Flashing, perimeter: A flashing used at the floor-wall junction.

Flashing, vertical: A flashing used at wall junctions within shower areas.

Float coat: A layer of mortar applied to walls or floors to bring a background to a true and even surface.

Floor area as defined in Schedule 2 to the Building Act 1975:

  • floor area, for a building, means the gross area of all floors in the building measured over the enclosing walls other than the area of a verandah, roofed terrace, patio, garage or carport in or attached to the building.

Floor plan A floor plan is a detailed drawing of the building to be constructed, and is drawn as if the walls of the building had been sliced through just above the ground. In a building has more than one floor, then each individual floor level is shown on a separate floor plan.

Floor waste: A grated inlet within a graded floor intended to drain the floor surface

Footing: Construction that transfers the load from the building to the foundation.

Footing Slab: Concrete floor supported on the ground with a separately poured edge strip footing.

Footing system: General term used to refer to slabs, footings, piers and pile systems that transfer load from the superstructure to the foundation.

Foundation: Ground that supports the footings system.

Foundation/ footing plan A foundation or footing plan provides details on the required thicknesses and widths of footings, slabs and stiffening beams, and the type and positioning of any steel reinforcement. The size and type of reinforcement for concrete footings and slab.

Forced Ventilation: The circulation of fresh air via mechanically forced fans to supply or extract air to rooms which are unable to be naturally vented or otherwise circulate and change fresh air sufficient to provide a healthy indoor environment. This includes heating and cooling and regulating humidity levels.

Freeboard: means the height above the defined flood level as determined by the appropriate authority , used to compensate for effects such as wave action and localised hydraulic behaviour.

Framing Elements (see below):

Frontage means the boundary of a lot with an adjoining road.

Frost-free area A storage area isolated from ambient weather conditions such that the temperature is prevented from falling below freezing.

Full Cure Stage: stage of curing at which the product is cured for service

Fully bonded membranes: Systems that are fully bonded to the substrate:include liquid membranes.


Gilgai: Soil Surface feature associated with reactive clay sites, characterised by regularly spaced and sized depressions on virgin land.

Gilgais: Gilgais are formed by extreme, reactive soil movements. Soil Profiles may vary markedly across sites with gilgais.

Gilgais (ALT): Gilgai just with an "s" stuck on the end.

Gilgais (ALT2): Many Gilgai assembled in a circle around an open fire passing a "Jeffrey" (look it up)

Grey Words: Words that builders use in marketing material or conversation that chaneg depending on the outcome they seek. Whatever your interpretation of this word is be sure the builder will choose the least expensive, self serving definition - hence their use.

Grey Words (ALT): Words used with, around, or in furtherence of anything related to 50 Shades Of Grey.

Grouting/grout: The operation of, or the material used in, filling the joint cavities between tiles other than at movement joints


Habitable room as defined in Schedule 1 to the BCA (Volumes One and Two):

a room used for normal domestic activities, and—

  1. (a)  includes a bedroom, living room, lounge room, music room, television room, kitchen, dining room, sewing room, study, playroom, family room, home theatre and sunroom; but
  2. (b)  excludes a bathroom, laundry, water closet, pantry, walk-in wardrobe, corridor, hallway, lobby, photographic darkroom, clothes-drying room, and other spaces of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods.

Heritage & conservation overlays If a building project is taking place on a site with heritage values, a heritage and conservation overlay may be produced. These types of overlays are more likely to be produced for renovation and extension projects, or for projects that involve the construction of a new building in a heritage site.

Hidden Object Lines: Hidden object lines are dashed lines that show where the edges of objects would be if you could see them - i.e. if they were not obscured by another part of the object.

Hob: The upstand at the perimeter a shower area.

Hobbit: About half average human height, a variety of humanity, or close relatives thereof.

Humidity: Water vapour suspended in the air. The state or quality of being damp.

Hydraulic Cement: is a blend of Portland cement and calcium silicates that is rapid setting when hydrated with water.

Hydraulic Cement Plug: is an expanding hydraulic cement that is used in the waterproofing industry to arrest seepage and active water leaks through masonry and concrete structures.

Hydrophilic: the property of a material to react with water. It may either set and swell or shrink.

Hydrophobic: the property of a material to repel water.

Hydrostatic Epoxy Membrane / Primer: Hydrostatic epoxy membranes are a water based 2-part membrane comprising of a water-based resin in solution and a hardener. These are Reaction Resin Membranes RM and also air cure to release water carrier. Also used as vapour barrier.

Hydrostatic Pressure: is the force exerted over an area as body of retained water l tries to equalise levels through the effects of gravity


Impermeable: A barrier preventing the passage of a liquid or vapour. Sometimes known as a Vapour Barrier. (It should be noted that in many countries have classes of vapour barrier. In this case they are often a vapour permeable barrier but have varying degrees of vapour permeability).

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): is a term which refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): Refers to the quality of a buildings environment in relation to the health and wellbeing of those who occupy the space within it. IEQ is determined by many factors, including IAQ, lighting, and damp.

Insert bath: A bath where the bath lip is installed onto a horizontal plinth or surface.

Installed for an affected dwelling means the dwelling has been lawfully constructed on a lot under a building development approval.

Internal Relative Humidity (IRH): Is the measurement of relative humidity within a defined enclosed space. This may be a whole building, an individual room or a surface within a building.

Interstitial Condensation: Condensation occurring within or between the layers of the building envelope.

Inverted roof membrane assembly (IRMA): System where the ballasted roof insulation is placed on top of the membrane


Job datum: A clearly defined and accessible marker that will be visible and which cannot be moved during the course of a job, from which the required levels of the parts of a building or its site can be readily measured during construction. 

Joint A space between the edges of adjacent tiles

Joint (ALT): A fat blunt, A poor Jeffrey. Food time?

Joints (Brickwork):

  • Bed joint: A (typically horizontal) formed by the mortar on which the masonry units are laid
  • Perpend joint: A (typically vertical) formed between adjacent masonry units laid in the same course
  • Collar Joint: A vertical joint filled with mortar between two leaves of masonry.
  • Control joint: A joint or gap constructed in masonry to control and absrob movements in that masonry. Control joints include:
    • Contraction joints (or opening joint) which opens as the masonry contracts or shrinks
    • Expansion joint (or closing joint) which closes as the masonry expands
    • Articulation joints - which opens and closes to allow structural movements

Job Safety Analysis (JSA’s): Job Safety Analysis must be documented for all high-risk activities and follow the Safe Work Method Statement requirements



Landscaping & vegetation plans Sometimes, landscaping and vegetation plans might also be produced, especially where the landscaping is a significant part of a project. Landscaping and vegetation plans will generally show the shape of the block and the outline of all buildings, with detailed representations of the landscaping and plantings that are required.

Landslip: Foundation condition on a sloping site where downhill foundation movement or failure is a design consideration.

Landslip (ALT): the opposite of Landstuck.

Legal status of specifications: Specifications are generally considered to take precedence to the plans and drawings, meaning that if there is a difference between the information shown in the plans/drawings and the information in the specification, then the information in the specification should be used and relied on. It is easy for the plans and the specifications to become inconsistent because most building designs go through many iterations of changes over a short period of time. Always check your building contract to see if it has a document Precedence Clause that overides our prior point above.

Lateral support: effectively restrains a wall or isolated pier.

Lettering: The two main groups of letters are 'CAPITAL LETTERS' and 'lower-case letters'. The use of lower-case letters is generally restricted to notes, but capital letters can be used for both notes and titles.

Level: The height or depth of an object or point related to a specified datum. NOTE: Where possible, this datum should be the Australian Height Datum or the New Zealand Height Datum of Mean Sea Level. 

Linear drain as defined in clause 1.3.15 in AS 3740 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas: a longitudinal floor waste containing a channel, waste outlet, and grating. Note: Also known as a shower channel or strip grate.

Line Types: Designers often use different types of lines to indicate different types of features and information on a plan or drawing.

Continuous lines of different thicknesses to represent different types of details on a plan, such as external walls, windows or the fittings inside a room. 

Different types of dotted or dashed lines to represent details that are hidden, or details that are not actually part of the plan at the level shown in the plan, such as beams, roof lines, pipes that run under a floor or overhead cupboards.

Lippage (lipping) A condition where one edge of a tile is higher than an adjacent tile, giving the finished surface an uneven appearance.

Lighting plan A lighting plan shows the positions and types of all lighting in the building.

Liquid Applied Membranes: Liquid applied membranes are fully bonded systems and may be used internally or onto external surfaces. Liquid applied membranes may be DM – dispersion membranes; CM – Cementitious membranes; or RM – reaction resin membranes.

Loadbearing wall: A wall that supports roof or floor loads, or both roof and floor loads.

Lot has the same meaning as allotment.


Maintenance as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms: regular routine technical and administrative actions, taken during an item’s service life, aimed at retaining it in a state in which it can perform its required functions.

Masonry: Stone, brick, terracotta block, concrete block or other similar building unit, single or in combination, assembled together by unit.

Masonry Veneer: Construction consisting of a loadbearing frame clad with an outer leaf of masonry.

Material Coverage Rates: provide a calculation for the volume of product to be used according to the required target final DFT.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): are supplied by the manufacturer for all waterproofing and tiling materials. MSDS will provide information on material handling and storage: material properties and hazardous materials; recommended PPE; first aid procedures; and disposal of waste.

Maximum Retained Water Level: The point at which surface water will start to overflow out of the shower area.

Mechanically fixed membranes: Membrane systems that are held down by mechanical fastenings

Membrane: an impervious barrier to liquid or water, which can be sheet or liquid applied. Note: a membrane can have many parts but one layer.

Membrane: A barrier that is impervious to moisture.

Membrane, external: A membrane that is installed behind the wall sheeting or render. NOTE: Usually external membranes are preformed trays or sheet material systems.

Membrane, internal: A membrane that is installed to the face of the wall sheeting or render. NOTE: Usually internal membranes are liquid systems applied in situ.

Membrane States: stages of curing as wet, recoat, overlay, cured.

Modified mortar A mortar containing a specified organic additive in a specified quantity in accordance with the additive manufacturer’s instructions.

Modified Silane (MS) Sealant: a moisture cured silyl terminated polymer sealant. Compatible with specified water-based membranes as a connector sealant.

Moisture: This is a complex term which can refer to a range of physical states of water, from vapour to a liquid and does include metastable (moisture in wood) state.

Moisture (ALT): water in gaseous state as water vapour. Not visible and measured as Relative Humidity (RH) in the atmosphere or Moisture content as RH in materials.

Moisture membrane A continuous layer of impervious material placed beneath either a concrete slab or a screed to resist the passage of moisture from the subgrade

Mould: A fungal growth that can be produced from conditions such as dampness, darkness, or poor ventilation.

Mortar Joint Types: Flush joint, Raked joint, Tooled joint

Movement accommodation factor (MAF) The maximum movement that a sealant is capable of tolerating throughout its working life,expressed as a percentage of the joint width.

MAF (ALT): Don't get me started! I can feel my blood pressure rising...

Movement joint: A joint, usually wider than the normal joint between tiles or slabs, designed to accommodate lateral movement in the base or bedded finish and which is filled with materials having special properties


NCC means the National Construction Code.

NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CODE OF AUSTRALIA: Whenever construction is undertaken in Australia there is a requirement to conform to the National Construction Code – normally Local Government through the relevant enabling Act or Regulation brings this about through the adoption of the NCC. Any provision of the NCC may be overridden by, or subject to, State or Territory legislation. The NCC must therefore be read in conjunction with the legislation. Any queries on such matters should be referred to the State or Territory authority responsible for building regulatory matters.

NCC: National Construction Code (NCC) of Australia. The NCC incorporates all on-site construction requirements into a single code and comprises the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as Volumes One and Two, and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) as Volume Three. These three volumes provide a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia, while allowing for variations in climate and geological or geographic conditions.

The NCC is a performance based building code, which means that it specifies the performance requirements for a building of a certain type in a certain area, but leaves the choice of how to meet these performance requirements up to the building's owner, architect and/or builder.

Negative Pressure: Negative side membranes retain water as the pressure is applied from within the substrate, behind the membrane, through a WET WALL / WET FLOOR. This pressure occurs as rising damp or as hydrostatic negative pressure.

Natural Site: Site that has not been subjected to cutting or filling.

Neutral Cure Silicone: a moisture cured non-paintable sealant used as a bond breaker sealant for water-based membranes.

Nib Wall (that forms part of shower enclosure): A low height wall that supports part of a shower screen.

Non-loadbearing wall: A non-loadbearing external wall supports neither roof nor floor loads but may support ceiling loads and act as a bracing wall. A non- loadbearing external wall may support lateral wind loads (e.g., gable or skillion end wall).

Normative: A “normative” appendix is an integral part of a Standard (shall/must be complied with).


Outfall: means that part of the disposal system receiving surface water from the drainage system and may include a natural water course, kerb and channel, or soakage system.

Overcoat Stage: stage of curing which allows application of subsequent coats of membrane or primer.

Overflow Devices: means a device that provides relief to a water service, sanitary plumbing and drainage system, rainwater harvesting system or stormwater system to avoid the likelihood of uncontrolled discharge.

Overlay stage: stage of curing which allows installation of overlay materials


Pad footing: Concrete footing used to support a pier or stump.

Partially bonded membranes: Systems where only part of the surface area of the membrane is designed to be bonded to the substrate.

Passive Solar Design: Design that does not require mechanical heating or cooling. Homes that are passively designed take advantage of natural climate to maintain thermal comfort.

Passive design focuses on climate sensitive design of the building envelope, which then limits heat gains in summer and heat losses in winter. A well-designed building envelope minimises direct sunlight and maximises ventilation in summer to cool the building, and traps and stores heat from the sun in winter while also minimising the loss of heat from the building. 

A house built using passive solar design principles will generally be much less reliant on mechanical heating and cooling, and will therefore also use much less energy than a building which doesn't use any of these principles.

Passive Ventilation: Ventilated air exchange without mechanical assistance. May include crossflow ventilation.

Penetration: any hole, or penetration through waterproof and water-resistant construction.

Perched Water Table: Reservoir of water in the ground maintained permanently or temporarily above the standing water level in the ground below it and is caused the presence of an impervious soil or a stratum of low permeability.

Percolation: the ability of water to move through soils according to their drainage capacity.

Performance levels Anticipated loading and wear parameters. Three performance levels are considered, as follows:

  • (a) Industrial—heavy-duty applications subject to heavy loads such as fork trucks, requiring high strength and abrasion resistance, typical of factories.
  • (b) Commercial—subject to continuous foot traffic and occasional heavy loads such as small fork trucks or light vehicles, typically in shopping centres, hospitals and commercial kitchens.
  • (c) Residential—subject to irregular foot traffic and occasional moderate loads, typical of domestic and light applications.

Performance Requirement: means a requirement which states the level of performance which a Performance Solution or Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution must meet.

Performance Solution: means a method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution .

Permeable Membrane: Any sheet material that permits the passage of water vapour. Also known as Breather type or Permeable Underlay.

Pier and beam: Footing system incorporating bored piers, bulk piers or piles and reinforced concrete beams supporting a building where the floor is not integral with the beams.

Pier and slab: Footing system incorporating bored piers, bulk p[piers or piles supporting a suspended slab and including a slab partly supported on piers and partly supported on ground.

Pile: Structural member that is driven, screwed, jacked, vibrated, drilled or otherwise installed in the ground such as to transmit loads to the underlying soil or rock and providing a footing component for a roof structure.

Plan: The horizontal section or projection of any object, such as a building, or the projection on a horizontal plane of a site, building or component, viewed from above at right angles to the plane of section or projection. 

Pliable Building Membrane: means a water barrier as classified by AS/NZS 4200.1.

Polyurethane (PU) Membranes: PU membranes are available as either single component or 2-part membranes. Industry terminology defines all PU membranes as solvent based.

Porosity: the volume of space between soil or particles.

Positive Pressure: Positive side waterproofing membranes retain water as the pressure is applied against the membrane.

Ponding: accumulation of water that remains in a static position or fails to drain to a floor waste This excludes water droplets. An excessive extent of water ponding will be time, temperature, and relative humidity dependent

Potable water: water that is suitable for human consumption, food preparation, utensil washing and oral hygiene. Sometime referred to as drinking water.

Potent Potables: alcoholic beverages.

Pressure seal: a durable, mechanical fastening system that applies even pressure to the exposed edge of the membrane vent deformation of the flashing or the pressure seal, which has a profile suitable for the application of a gasket seal between the pressure seal and the substrate.

Prefinished Wall Panels: pre-decorated sheets or thermosetting laminated sheets that are designed for use as the final wall finish of the wet area.

Preformed Shower Base: A preformed, prefinished vessel (including integral upstands) installed as the finished floor of a shower compartment and provided with a connection point to a sanitary drainage system.

Pressure Seal: A durable, mechanical fastening system that applies even pressure to the exposed edge of the membrane to prevent deformation of the flashing or the pressure seal, which has a profile suitable for the application of a gasket seal between the pressure seal and the substrate.

Primer: Primers are used to change the surface of the substrate and provide a better adhesion of the membrane to the substrate.

Primer (ALT): Substance used to coat substrate to seal its surface and reduce its water vapour permeability, or improve its adhesive bonding characteristics.

Property Drainage refers to the systems that transfer runoff from roofs, paved areas and other surfaces of a premise to a suitable outlet or disposal facility. The system involves gutters, downpipes, drains, pipes, swales and storage and treatment facilities.

Protected systems: Systems designed to be protected from the weather and mechanical an chemical change.

Protection board: a durable material used to overlay the membrane to protect it from physical damage. No timber!

Protection Board (ALT): A durable material used to overlay the membrane to protect it from physical damage. NOTE: Timber and timber-based products are not acceptable for use as protection board material



Reactive Site: Site consisting of a clay soil that swells on wetting and shrinks on drying by an amount that can damage buildings on light strip footings or unstiffened slabs. Includes sites classified as Class S, Class M, Class H1, Class H2, or Class E in accordance with cluase 2.1 of AS2870

Reactive Site (ALT): one that gets easily upset/triggered.

Reactive Resin Membrane (RRM): a liquid applied membrane that cures through chemical reaction, usually with a resin and a catalyst.

Recoat Stage: stage of curing which allows application of further coats.

Reduced level (RL): A level related to a nominated datum. 

Reflected plan: The plan of a ceiling or the like, viewed from above as if reflected by the upper surface of a horizontal plane of section below the ceiling. 

Relative Humidity (RH): The ratio of the mass of water vapour in a volume of air, compared to the value that saturated air could contain at the same temperature and pressure.

Remedial Waterproofing Processes: shall incorporate a number of remedial techniques in conjunction to provide a remedial system.

Renovation means any alterations or addition to an existing class 1a building or a sole-occupancy unit in an existing class 2 building.

Repair as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms:
returning an item to an acceptable condition by the renewal, replacement or mending of worn, damaged or degraded parts.

Requirements For Design (Masonry): Aim of design is provide a structure that is durable, fire resistant and servicable and has adequate strength and stability while serving its intended function and satisfying other relevant requirements such as resistance to water penetration, robustness, ease of use and economy.

Reinforcement: Steel bars, wire or mesh.

Reinforcment (ALT): all the good bits that give concrete its tensile strength.

Rim Board: A member, at right angles to and fixed to the end of deep joists (including I-joists), that provides restraint to the joists.

Rising Damp: occurs when a water source contacting with porous materials rises up through capillary action.

Rock: Strong material, including shaley material and strongly cemented sand or gravel, that does not soften in water or collapse under the combination of loading and wetting. Material that cannot readily be excavated by a backhoe.

Roof Cross Ventillation - Roofs with no cross-ventilation are more prone to the accumulation of heat build-up and humidity that can result in building defects, either through physical changes in associated materials or through the promotion of mould or mildew growth from condensation.

ROOF STRUCTURES Roof structure is the term given to the roof framing, eaves, and roof covering. Conventional and trussed roof construction allow for freedom of design, with the floor plan of the building determining the final shape of the roof.

Root resistant: capable of preventing root penetration through a membrane (also defined as "frustrating")

R value: measures the insulating product’s resistance to heat transfer and is a guide to how the product performs as a heat insulator. The higher the R value, the better the insulation is at stopping heat from flowing into or out of the home

table showing typical R values of insulation
Typical R Values of insulation products


Sand: Granular soil that may contain a small proportion of fines including silt or clay. The amount of fines may be assessed as small by a visual inspection of if the amount that passes a 75 um sieve is 15% or less. Note: material with a high proportion of fines should be treated as silt or clay.

Sanitary Compartment: means a room or space containing a closet pan or urinal.

Sanitary drainage as defined in Schedule 1 to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018: an apparatus, fitting or pipe for collecting and carrying discharges from sanitary plumbing, or from a fixture directly connected to a sanitary drain, to a sewerage system, on-site sewage facility or greywater use facility, including—

  1. (a)  disconnector gullies; and
  2. (b)  bends at the base of stacks or below ground level; and
  3. (c)  forconnectiontoanon-sitesewagefacility—apipe,otherthanasoilorwaste pipe, used to carry sewage to or from the facility; and
  4. (d)  pipes, above ground level, installed using drainage principles.

Sanitary plumbing as defined in Schedule 1 to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018: an apparatus, fitting, fixture or pipe, above ground level, for carrying sewage to a sanitary drain.

Sarking: Sarking is a flexible membrane that is laid under the roof battens during the installation of a new roof. For Australian conditions, CSR Roofing recommends the use of a medium duty polymer based material known as Enviroseal. Enviroseal is designed specifically for Australian conditions and exceeds the requirements of AS/NZS 4200.1 Pliable Building Membranes. It has a maximum flammability index rating of 5.

Sarking (ALT): The primary function of the sarking under sheet roofs is to reduce the problem of condensation forming on the underside of the roof. This can be a particular problem in low pitched metal sheet roofs, where because of the low pitch, condensation drips off the sheet onto the ceiling below rather than running down the underside of the sheet and out of the building.

Sarking (ALT): Continuous sheets of OSB, plywood, chipboard, pliable membrane or similar material laid over the rafters below roof sheet.

Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) Membranes: Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) membranes are modified latex membranes. These are water-based membranes are Dispersion Membranes DM and are air cured.

Schedule: Tabulated information on a range of similar items differing in detail, such as doors and windows. 

Scratch coat A preparatory layer of mortar applied to walls or floors to improve the bonding of a subsequent layer. Generally used where excessive thickness of one layer will provide insufficient bond. The surface is left ‘scratched’ to allow a mechanical key for the nextcoat.

Screed A layer of material, usually cement based, of defined minimum thickness which sets insitu and which may be interposed between the structural base and the bedded finish

Screed, Bonded: a screeded proprietary or non-proprietary mortar bed are when the bed is adhered to the background.

Screed, Unbonded: a screeded non-proprietary mortar bed is when the bed is not adhered to the background and is separated by an isolating underlay.

Screeding The act of spreading and levelling off a layer of mortar to provide a true surface.

Sealant Elastomeric material used to fill and seal joints, preventing the passage of moisture and allowing horizontal and lateral movement at the joint.

Sealant (ALT): Sealants are applied to fill gaps, seal around penetrations, maximise movement at critical areas and allow the membrane to terminate to a material or bridge between to materials or surfaces

Section: The view of an object at the cutting plane, which may typically include that detail beyond the cutting plane.

Sections: A section is a view of a building or object obtained by making an imaginary cut through it. The term section is mainly used where the cut is made in a vertical direction, and this is so in the case of location sections. A vertical section through a building will show details of the construction of the foundations, walls, floors, roof and other parts

Sections/cross sections A section is a view of the building from the same position as an elevation but drawn as if a slice of the building has been cut away to show the inside features. It is a 'sideways' or 'cross section' view of a part of the building.

Section detail drawings/Engineers' drawings Sometimes a more detailed drawing of a section is also produced. Section detail drawings or engineers' drawings are detailed, large scale drawings of particular building elements and are used by the builder to ensure that these elements are built to the appropriate standards.

Seepage: slow transmission of water through discrete pathways of a structure. Seepage may be further described as the intermittent beading of water from the wall structure to the base of the floor structure. Water seepage must be collected within a drain to be conveyed to a legal point of discharge

Separating layer A layer of material that isolates the base from the bedded finish.

Service plans Service plans describe the details of the services to the building and site. Depending on the complexity of these services, a building might have separate plans for each of its electrical wiring, plumbing services (including gas), waste disposal, air conditioning ducts and equipment and other mechanical services.

Shading by other objects: The amount of shade cast by an obstruction such as an adjacent building depends on the orientation of the window, the distance from the window to the obstruction, and the relative position of the obstruction

Shall: the best word ever after you've re-read a heap of Australian Standards.

Sheet Membrane: can be bonded, partially bonded or unbonded systems applied in lapped and capped sheets in single or multiple layers

Screed: a layer of material (usually cement based) of defined minimum thickness, which sets in situ and which may be interposed between the structural substrate and bedded finish.

Shower area as defined in Schedule 1 to the BCA (NCC, volume 1 and volume 2): the area affected by water from a shower, including a shower over a bath and for a shower area that is—

  • (a) enclosed – the area enclosed by walls or screens including hinged or sliding doors that contain the spread of water to within the space; or
  • (b) unenclosed – the area where, under normal use, water from the shower rose is not contained within the shower area.

Shower Area, Enclosed: The area enclosed by walls or screens, including hinged or sliding doors, which control the spread of water to within the enclosure.

Shower Area, Unenclosed: A shower area where, under normal use, water out of the shower rose is not contained within the shower area.

Shower screen as defined in clause 1.3.33 in AS 3740 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas: panels, doors or glazing system enclosing or partially enclosing a shower area.

Shower Tray: An internal or external liquid or sheet membrane system used to waterproof the floor and the wall/floor junctions of a shower area.

Silt: Fine grained soil that is non-cohesive and no plastic when wet and may include some sand and clay

Single storey: Construction with wall height, excluding any gable, not exceeding 4.2m and including only one trafficable floor.

Single Leaf Masonry: means outer walls constructed with a single thickness of masonry unit.

Site class: Site classes assigned to the foundation material, determined in accordance with AS 2870, for the expected level of ground movement.

Site plan A site plan shows a 'bird's eye view' of a property, including the location and orientation of the building, fences and other structures on the block, and setback distances from the front and side boundaries.

Site Plans: A site plan is a location drawing, and like most plans is a view looking downwards. It supplies a bird's eye view of the shape, size and layout of the entire site. The purpose of a site plan is

  • provide a general picture of the site, including its shape and extent;
  • locate the buildings and other elements of the project - e.g. roads, garden walls and landscaping- both horizontally and vertically;
  • indicate the levels and surface features of the finished site;
  • sometimes provide information on external services, especially underground drainage.

Sleeve: A device secured to the substrate to allow the penetrating service (e.g., pipe or duct) to move independently of the substrate.

Sole-occupancy unit as defined in Schedule 1 to the BCA (NCC, volume 1 and volume 2): a room or other part of a building for occupation by one or joint owner, lessee, tenant, or other occupier to the exclusion of any other owner, lessee, tenant, or other occupier and includes—

  1. (a)  a dwelling; or
  2. (b)  a room or suite of rooms in a Class 3 building which includes sleeping facilities; or
  3. (c)  aroomorasuiteofassociatedroomsinaClass5,6,7,8or9building;or
  4. (d)  a room or suite of associated rooms in a Class 9c building, which includes sleeping facilities and any other area for the exclusive use of a resident.

Soil Permeability: the properties of soils to drain through porosity and percolation that may be cohesive or cohesionless soils

Slab: General term used to refer to slab on ground, stiffened rafts, footing slabs, stiffened footing slabs and waffle rafts.

Slab on ground: Concrete floor supported on the ground and incorporating integral edge beams

Slab on ground (ALT): A Concretor placing a carton of Fourex on the ground before sitting on it.

Slab-on-ground: This is a reinforced concrete floor placed directly onto the ground. One advantage of this is method is the reduced building height.

Sleeve: a device secured to the substrate to allow the penetrating service (eg pipe duct) to move independently of the substrate.

Slurry coat A strong wash of neat cement mixed with water or a bonding agent or both, used to improve adhesion between surfaces.

Solar Heat Gain Co-efficient (SHGC), which is a measure of the total amount of heat that is transmitted through a glazing unit when the solar radiation is perpendicular to the glass. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. A window with a lower solar heat gain co-efficient transmits less solar heat than a window with a high SHGC. A window with a lower solar heat gain co-efficient transmits less solar heat than a window with a high SHGC. Different types of glass have different SHGCs. For windows and doors, the SHGC rating includes the frame. For the same glass type, thicker frames will have a lower SHGC than thinner ones, as they take up more of the glazing area and so block more of the sunlight.

Solute: which is the solid polymer held in suspension in a solution by a carrier

Solution: which is a suspension of the polymer (solute) in a carrier.

Solvent: a liquid that acts as a carrier holding a solute in suspension as a solution.

Solvent Based Membranes: Liquid applied solvent based membranes may be either single component in solvent solution or 2- part membranes curing by chemical reaction. Both types are moisture cured membranes.

Spacer lugs Small crushable projections on the edges of tiles, which, when in contact with each other onadjacent tiles, regulate the joint width. NOTE: Spacer lugs should not be confused with other non-crushable projections

Specification: A precise description of materials and workmanship of a project, or parts thereof, that are not shown on drawings or in schedules. 

Spirits Based Membranes: These membranes are derived from solvents and may be a combination of modified bitumen or tar. They may be liquid applied Dispersion Membranes D, either moisture cured, or air cured and also modified sheet membranes. Static pressure: earth in a static state resting against the wall.

Stiffened Raft: Concrete slab on ground stiffened by integral edge beams, commonly a grid of internal beams.

Stiffened Raft (ALT): not a fun time on the water. Used to explore the seabed. Does not float, made of concrete.

Stump: Element supported on a footing used for the support of a frame construction.

Strip footing: footing of rectangular section

Subdivision plan (SP) A plan of a subdivision is prepared for planning approval before the land is developed. Subdivision plans can be used to find information about the size of the block and the properties near and around the property being built on.

Substrate: A surface to which material or product is applied

Substrate (or previously referred to as subfloor) Any material used as a base over which a ceramic tile is to be fixed. May be:

  • (a) without treatment—suitable to receive the bedded finish by a direct bedding method;or
  • (b) already treated—to receive the bedded finish.

Superstructure: Portion of a completed building that is supported by the selected footing syste, inclusing slab where applicable.

Surface Condensation: Condensation occurring on visible interior surfaces within the building.

Surface Saturated Dry (SSD): a term used for preparation of a substrate before applying a coating; typically, it is when the substrate is ‘loaded’ with water until it feels damp to touch but does not leave any form of water on your hand or on the substrate.

Surface Water: means all naturally occurring water, other than sub- surface water , which results from rainfall on or around the site or water flowing onto the site.

Suspended slab: This is a reinforced concrete floor suspended above the ground and supported on brick walls. The amount and type of reinforcement in a suspended concrete floor will be greater than that used in a slab-on-ground as a suspended slab must carry the floor loads between supports.

Suspended timber floor: The system consists of flooring boards in narrow strips laid on a timber or steel framing of bearers and joists and supported by brick walls or piers. The flooring is placed between the walls and is cramped and nailed in position when the building is advanced enough for the flooring not to be affected by the weather.

Another system consists of sheet flooring of plywood or particle-board laid on a timber or steel framing of bearers and joists before the walls are erected, and therefore gives the advantage of providing a platform to work on. Both methods require a minimum 400mm clearance above the ground to the underside of bearers where termite inspection is required, which provides ventilation of the area beneath the floor framing to prevent decay in the timber framing.

Where termite inspection is not required the minimum ground clearance height is 150mm

Symbols: Standard symbols are often used in building plans and drawings to show things like:

  • The materials used in different parts of the building, such as bricks, sawn or dressed timber, timber veneer, concrete, masonry, earth, rock, insulation and glass.
  • The fixtures to be fitted in the building, such as baths, showers, toilets, hand basins, laundry tubs, stoves and ovens, refrigerators and washing machines.
  • Electrical requirements, such as different types of lights, switches, exhaust fans, overhead fans, power points and any other hard-wired electrical features such as door bells or mains connected smoke alarms.
  • The types of doors and windows used. Many plans will use standard symbols to represent the way a door opens (like a straight line with a quarter circle), and to represent different types of windows, such as sash windows, sliders or awning windows, or double and single-glazed windows.


Tanking: application of an appropriate waterproofing barrier to the walls, the base slab and, where relevant, the roof of a below ground structure, such that the entire envelope of the structure below ground is protected against water ingress.

Technical Data Sheets (TDS): Data sheets are supplied by the membrane or adhesive manufacturer giving relevant information on the description of the product, areas of application, installation procedures and limitations.

Thermal Bridge: An element within the built envelope of lower thermal resistance which bridges adjacent parts of higher thermal resistance and which can result in localized cold surfaces on which condensation, mould growth and/or pattern staining can occur.

Thermal Bridging: Thermal bridges are points in the building envelope that allow heat conduction to occur. Since heat flows through the path of least resistance, thermal bridges can contribute to poor energy performance.

A thermal bridge is created when materials create a continuous path across a temperature difference, in which the heat flow is not interrupted by thermal insulation. Common building materials that are poor insulators include glass and metal.

Thermal Mass: The term thermal mass is used to describe how well a building material stores heat. Materials with high thermal mass absorb heat from its environment and then release that heat slowly when the surrounding ambient temperature goes down.

Title Block: The title block of a plan is a box or table which provides basic information about the project and the plan, such as the:

  • Client's name and contact details
  • Name of the project or building
  • Street address, and/or block and section number, of the site
  • Type of plan or drawing, e.g. Elevation, site plan, floor plan, service plan.
  • Designer, architect or builder who designed the building
  • Details of versions, amendments and issue dates. Versions and amendments are discussed further below.
  • Scale used in the plan. Drawing scales are discussed further below.
  • Details of related drawings
  • Any other information required to keep track the plans, such as a client, drawing or project number

Timber frame & Clad: External walls are constructed of timber framing, with a cladding on the outside of timber or fibre cement weatherboards or sheets, and a lining on the inside of plasterboard. Internal walls are constructed of timber framing and are lined on both sides with plasterboard.

Toilet as defined in the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms:
a room or booth fitted with a water-closet and/or urinal and which often includes a basin for washing of hands.

Trafficable Surface: NOTE: For slip-resistance of trafficable surfaces, see AS/NZS 4586.

Types of Glass: Toned glass (or tinted glass), which is glass that has been treated to reduce the amount of solar energy transmitted through it. Toned glass can be used to prevent summer heat gains where external shading devices can't be used, such as when the occupants of a home want to keep a view or if the window is in a location where it would be difficult to install external shading. Toned glass can be useful to reduce glare in tropical or arid locations, but it should be used with caution, because it also reduces the amount of daylight in the house and can contribute extra power costs when it results in the need for additional lighting inside the house.

Trafficable surface, maintenance: Surface that is intended to withstand traffic experiencing during maintenance procedures.

Trafficable surface, pedestrian: Surface that is intended to withstand pedestrian traffic.

Trafficable surface, vehicular: surface that is intended to withstand vehicular traffic

Trussed roofing: Roof trusses are fabricated off-site, then transported to the site and lifted into position. This enables fast construction, the use of less material and then added advantage of internal design flexibility, as trussed roofs are supported on the external walls only. The structural design of a truss enables the top chord, bottom chord, struts and ties to support and distribute the roof and ceiling loads to the external walls.

Two Storey: Construction with wall height, including any gable, not exceeding 8.5m and including two trafficable floors.


Ultimate bearing pressure: Pressure, under normal moisture conditions, at which a footing sinks without increase of load.

uM: Really small. Micron 1/1000th of a millimetre.

uM (ALT): a noise one makes when not sure what to say.

Underlay: An absorbent permeable membrane that absorbs or collects condensation, or water that may penetrate the roof or wall cladding. Also known as Building Paper.

Underlays A layer of material, which may be permeable or impermeable, located beneath the tiling system to which the tiles are fixed. Various underlay systems are as follows:

  • (a) Rigid—a stiff sheet material used mainly with timber floors to provide an even,smooth substrate for direct application of tiling.
  • (b) Acoustic—Functional layer installed to reduce the transmission of airborne and impact sound.
  • (c) Bonded—which may be either—(i) flexible—a seamless, lightweight and flexible sheet material fixed to the floor to accommodate normal movement between the tiling and the background; or (ii) in situ—a setting material applied to a floor to provide a base for the tiling.
  • (d) Unbonded—sheet membrane or liquid applied membrane.NOTE: Some liquid applied membranes are regarded as unbonded underlays or separating layers unless they are adhered to both the substrate and the overlying finish

Universal tiles Tiles with chamfered edges which regulate the joint width where laid in contact.

U-value measures the rate that heat transfers through glazing and window assemblies. The lower the U-value the better the window’s ability to resist heat flow.

Ultra Violet ( UV ) Resistance: the property of a membrane or coating to resist degradation by ultraviolet light exposure.


Vapour: water in a gaseous state

Vapour Barrier: There is substantial and inconsistent use if this term internationally. Vapour control layer is a generally accepted definition.

Vapour Control Layer (VCL): A graded impermeable to permeable layer designed to control the passage of water vapour. Also known as a vapour check, vapour retarder or vapour barrier.

Vapour Permeable: A vapour permeable material permits the passage of moisture in vapour form but not moisture as a liquid.

Vapour Pressure: is the pressure at which water vapour is in thermodynamic equilibrium with its condensed state. In the context of this report, the water vapour pressure is the partial pressure of water vapour in any gas mixture in equilibrium within and around the built environment.

Vapour Resistance: The measure of the resistance to water vapour diffusion of a material or combination of materials of specific thickness. Vapour resistance is expressed in MN.s/g.

Veneer: Construction of either masonry veneer or articulated masonry veneer.

Ventillation: The NCC2022 Housing Provisions Standard, 10.8 Condensation Management states that homes in climate zones 6, 7 & 8 must ventilate their roof space to outdoor air.

climate zones NCC Australia
Climate zone map of Australia

Ventilation (ALT) is the deliberate replacement of internal air with outside air. Not only does it allow instant sensible and latent physiological cooling of both spaces and people under the right circumstances. Ventilation is also the means by which internal air with high levels of carbon dioxide, and indoor air pollutants such as solvents, formaldehyde and biological contaminants, is replaced, making the environment inside the house healthier, as well as cooler.

Ventilation (ALT): The exchange of air between two spaces, often between internal building environments and the outside. To replace noxious or stale air with fresh air. Air may be moved mechanically or via passive means.

Vent: Any means of provided ventilation to enclosed spaces, such as walls and roofs, the vent is the means by which a space is opened directly to external air supply.

Ventilated Air Space: A cavity or void that has openings to the outside air and placed so as to promote through movement of air, (i.e., enclosed subfloor space, wall cavity, roof space, gap between sarking and roofing material).

Ventilation Opening: means an opening in the external wall , floor or roof of a building designed to allow air movement into or out of the building by natural means including a permanent opening, an openable part of a window, a door or other device which can be held open

Ventilation Rate: The rate at which air within a building is replaced by outside air. The ventilation rate may be expressed as; a) number of times the volume of air within a space is changed in one hour (air changes per hour (h–1)), or b) rate of air change in litres per second (l/s).

Vertical Water Stop: An extension of the waterproofing system on the vertical plane forming a barrier to prevent the passage of water through wall linings.

Vessel: for the purposes of Volume One and Part 3.8.1 in Volume Two, means an open, pre-formed, pre-finished concave receptacle capable of holding water, usually for the purpose of washing, including a basin, sink, bath, laundry tub and the like

Visible transmittance (VT) or Visible Light Transmittance (VLT), which measures the percentage of daylight that will pass through a window. It is an optical property that indicates the amount of visible light transmitted through the glass. VT/VLT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. Glass with a higher VT/VLT number transmits more visible light than glass with a lower number.


Waffle Slab: A stiffened raft with closely spaced ribs constructed on the ground and with slab panels suspended between ribs.

Warmer Side: The side of structure with a higher temperature than the cooler side

Water: water in liquid form.

Water Based Membrane: the polymer ( solute ) is suspended in solution with the carrier being water ( solvent) . Water based membranes are Dispersion Membranes DM and are air cured.

Water Control Layer: means a pliable building membrane or the exterior cladding when no pliable building membrane is present.

Waterproof (WP): The property of a material that does not allow water to penetrate through it when tested in accordance with AS/NZS 4858. Intended to prevent the passage of or to retain water.

Waterproof: the property of a material that does not allow moisture to penetrate through it when tested in accordance with AS4654.1

Waterproof (WP): The property of a material that does not allow moisture to penetrate through it when tested in accordance with AS/NZS 4858.

Waterproof membrane A layer, usually of seamless polymeric material, placed beneath the tiling to prevent penetration of liquid water into the background. NOTE: Some waterproofing membranes are incompatible with fixatives and the tile system would become an unbonded system

Water bar means a vertical insert of a semi-circular shape at the threshold into a shower area installed to prevent the passage of water beyond the shower area.

Water closet as defined in clause 3W.15 in AS/NZS 3500.0 Plumbing and Drainage— Part 0: Glossary of Terms: a compartment in which a WC pan is installed.

Water Activity: Represents the ratio of the water vapour pressure in a sample against the water vapour pressure of pure water under the same conditions. “Free” water is present when the water activity is 1 and beyond. Fungal growth is likely if the water activity exceeds 0.76.

Water resistant (WR): The property of a system or material that restricts moisture movement and will not degrade under conditions of moisture.

Water Resistive Barrier: Is a thin membrane, (0.13 to 0.38 mm) which is intended to resist liquid water that has penetrated behind the exterior cladding.

Waterproofing System – It is the COMBINATION of elements to provide a waterproof barrier

Waterproofing system: A combination of elements that are required to achieve a waterproof barrier as required by this Standard (e.g., substrate, membrane, bond breakers, sealants and finishes).

Water Based Polyurethane (WPU) Membranes: Water Based Polyurethane membranes are Dispersion Membranes DM and are air cured. Hybrid polyurethane modified acrylic membranes.

Water Resistant (WR) – The property of a system that restricts water movement will not degrade under conditions of moisture (MAY NOT BE WATERPROOF)

Water stop: A vertical extension of the waterproofing system forming a barrier to prevent the passage of moisture in the floor

Waterstop as defined in clause 1.3.33 in AS 3740 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas: vertical extension of the waterproofing system forming a barrier to prevent the passage of moisture in the floor or vertically in a wall.

Note: This includes hobs, nib walls, door angles, and any other vertical barrier that forms an integral part of the waterproofing system.

Water Sensitive Materials: means materials that have an inherent capacity to absorb water vapour and include timber, plasterboard, plywood, oriented strand board and the like.

Water Table: Water table, also called groundwater table, upper level of an underground surface in which the soil or rocks are permanently saturated with water. The water table fluctuates both with the seasons and from year to year because it is affected by climatic variations.

Watertight: means will not allow water to pass from the inside to the outside of the component or joint and vice versa.

Water Stop: A vertical extension of the waterproofing system forming a barrier to prevent the passage of water in the floor.

Water Thickener: Methylcellulose-based water retention mortar additive intended to retain moisture within a mortar during laying and the cement hydration process.

Water Vapour: Water in a gaseous state, it does not need to be visible to be present in the air

Water Vapour Pressure: means the pressure at which water vapour is in thermodynamic equilibrium with its condensed state.

Water Vapour Resistance: ability of a material to resist water vapour penetration.

Weir means a graded rise of the floor surface at the entrance to a wet area to retain dampness or water overflow from fixtures within a room.

Note: the maximum grade of a weir must not exceed a 1:8 gradient.

Wet: where the material is either: saturated, with free standing surface water, areas of active seepage are present either constantly or variably, a saturated material subject to hydrostatic pressure.

Wet Area: means an area within a building supplied with water from a water supply system, which includes bathrooms, showers, laundries, and sanitary compartments and excludes kitchens, bar areas, kitchenettes or domestic food and beverage preparation areas.

Wet Basement: The construction of a below ground wall structure which allows for water seepage to occur at the perimeter walls. Water is collected by drains at the base of the wall and conveyed to a legal point of discharge.

Wet-Film Thickness (WFT): The measurement of the thickness of a freshly applied liquid material. Usually a paint or liquid- application of a waterproof-membrane material, during the application process so as to ascertain the depth of applied material.

Wet Film Thickness Gauge: metal or plastic card that is designed to measure Wet Film Thickness (WFT).

Wicking: The action of water rising by a capillary path

Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS): The Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS), owned and managed by the Australian Window Association, is an AFRC certified audit house and accredited simulator of window systems. WERS rates the energy and energy-related performance of residential, commercial windows, skylights, glazed doors, secondary glazing and applied films. These products are rated on the whole system – the frame and the glass together, not just the glass, as per regulatory requirements.

WERS Rating labels & compliance certificates: WERS-rated windows, skylights, glazed doors, secondary glazing and applied films come with a certificate specifying their thermal performance and star ratings. These provide manufacturers, designers, consumers and regulatory authorities with certainty that the glazing products meet the required performance specifications. The diagram below gives an example of a full WERS rating certificate.

Wet area: An area within a building supplied with water from a water supply system, which includes bathrooms, showers, laundries and sanitary compartments and excludes kitchens, bar areas, kitchenettes or domestic food and beverage preparation areas.

Wicking – The action of water rising by a capillary path

Wicking (ALT): The movement of water through a porous material by capillary action.

Wicking (ALT): Going "John Wick" on your builder or site supervisor.

Wind class: Wind load class determined in accordance with AS 4055

Wind Classification: There are 5 factors that affect a domestic building site`s wind classification:

  • Geographic wind speed;
  • Terrain Categories, TC (e.g. the height of houses/ river/ obstructions near the site);
  • The Topographic class (e.g. whether the project is on a hill);
  • The shielding condition (e.g. trees around the project); and
  • The distance from the smoothed boundary (coastline or higher wind region).

Windows and glazing: The main factors affecting the energy efficiency of glazing are the:

  • Size and orientation of the windows
  • The frame material of the windows
  • Type of glass that is used in the window
  • Amount of external shading to the window.

Window Shading: The main kinds of shading used in Australia are:

  • Eaves,
  • External shading, such as awnings, shade sails and pergolas
  • Internal shading, such as curtains and blinds, although this is nowhere near as effective as external shading.

Window size and orientation: As a general rule, the total glass area in a residential building is best kept between:

  • 20–25% of the total floor area for brick veneer houses
  • 22–30% for cavity brick houses.

Window Type + Ventillation: Effective window ventillation by window type shown below

WMTS-479 means WaterMark Technical Specification administered and managed by the ABCB.

WORK SIZES: the principal dimensions of the masonry unit and are used for the the calculation of all sectional properties in design and testing

WTF: Use your imagination 😄

Wunderbar: Wunderbar is a German word for "wonderful".


XS: When then builders house is built in accordance with the standards yet the same level of detail is not applied to the homes they construct.


Yawn: What happens when I listen to marketing or PR people talk from construction companies or read non-definitive words ("grey words") in house marketing flyers.


Zebra: Not what you would generally find on your construction site.

Zero energy/zero carbon/zero emissions buildings: A building is described as zero energy, zero carbon or zero emissions if it generates as much energy from renewable energy sources on site (such as solar panels), as the building requires to operate within any year