A to Z

This page is currently a work in progress, any suggestions for topics would be welcomed.

The A to Z is a glossary of terms related to building projects. 

A

Attic – the loft space.

Attic insulation -  the main type available comes on a roll.  It may be either fibreglass or an eco alternative made of recycled fabric and fibres, sheet wool.  The fibreglass would be the cheapest form of insulation.  It is advisable to have fibreglass fitted by a specialist as they will have the safety masks and cutting equipment.  This insulation would qualify for the grant under the Home Heating Scheme as run be the SEAI.  

B

Back-Boiler – a back-boiler is a unit where the open fire place has a back-boiler incorporated which heats water in a system of pipes and this heat is used in the radiators or the hot water.

Banister – or handrail forms part of the stairs, the banister is comprised of the spindles and the handrail the newel post connects the handrail to the floor.  Banisters can be made of timber, glass or metal.

Basin or Wash Hand Basin – comprises of the handbasin and may include a pedestal.  Basins can be in a range of colours and shapes.

Bathroom – the bathroom houses the bath and toilet and wash hand basin, heated towel rails are often fitted in the bathroom.

Bath – the bath comes in a variety of sizes and styles, from whirlpool to rolltop to slipper.

Blinds – blinds are a form of window dressing and can be in a range of finishes. Roller, Vertical or Roman.

Boiler – a boiler is part of your heating system regardless of whether your heating system is oil or gas operated.

Brick paving – or Cobblelock is small bricks which are laid by hand on a bed of sand, they are laid in a pattern and sometimes incorporate a number of different colours to enhance the pattern.

Bricklayer – a tradesman who builds walls.

Builder – a contractor who project manages the build, normally a tradesman – but not necessarily.

Building Regs – the regulations in the particular country or council area.

C

Carpenter – a tradesman who works with timber.

Carpet – floor covering.

Carpet-Layer – a tradesman who fits carpet.

Central Heating – the system which provides heating, can be either oil fired or gas, or may work from a back-boiler.

Cistern – the cistern is part of the toilet, it is the part which contains the water, ball cock and the cistern is fitted by a plumber.

Concrete – can be used for a wide variety of uses, floors, pre-cast walls, tables and chairs, driveways – plain or imprinted with a pattern.

Concrete Floors – concrete laid floors where concrete is poured and then levelled with a screed.

Countertops – the counter top fits on top of the presses at floor level in the kitchen, it’s always best to buy the best you can afford.

Cowboys – to be avoided at all costs, they have a very bad reputation, always ask for references. 

D

Damp – there are many types of damp – from wet rot to dry rot or raising damp.  It is best to have a specialist access the damage caused by damp.  Causes of damp also vary, from leaking or blocked gutters to porous bricks or old pointing.  Waterproofing can help to solve the problem, when added to the render, which contains lime and cement.

Damp-proof or Damp-course – this is where the ground-level outside your home is at least 6inches (150mm) lower than inside your home.  The damp-proof course forms a barrier to prevent damp from penetrating to the internal space within your home. 

Decking – a deck can add to the outside space in your home, effectively adding another room.  The added advantage of a deck is that it can be built to take advantage of an uneven or sloped garden.  Decking is made of a timber structure – but may also contain reinforced steel in a concrete base if the height is on the second level.    The timber used is normally treated for use outdoors, this makes the timber good for ten to twenty years.  The deck should ideally have a slope away from your home to allow surface water such as rainwater to run off away from your home.  It is important to cover the soil under the deck with plastic sheeting or such like to prevent grass and weeds from growing up between the timbers.

Decorating – Though this can be done on a DIY basis, a professional will do the job quicker, probably neater and take care of the cleaning up. 

Decorators – decorators also include painters and wall-paper hangers, specialist decorators will also transform your home or premises with paint effects such as marbling.

Design ideas – you can pick up all the latest design ideas from the current editions of your latest local magazine specializing in interior design or you could have a consultation with an interior designer.

DIY – Do It Yourself  While you could enjoy some DIY, practice really does make perfect, the tradesmen who carry out construction works have been trained in the task in question and are equipped with the correct tools to carry out the job in question.  If you enjoy DIY and more importantly take your time – research the task in hand and maybe even seek the advice of a tradesman there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a go at some DIY.

Door Furniture – Handles and locks are referred to as door furniture.

Door system – a door entry system is an electronic locking system often including an intercom system.

Doors – doors come in a variety of finishes, from composite to solid wood, internal or external or even PVC.  Doors are one of the difficult things to have a go at from a DIY point, it is therefore best to have doors fitted by a carpenter.

Drains – drains would be initially fitted by the Groundworkers, but blocked drains would be the remit of a plumber.

Driveways – driveways can come in a variety of finished from  concrete, tarmac, cobble or shingles.

Dry-lining – internal walls are often dry-lined instead of being plastered, dry-lining is when plasterboard is fitted to the wall either by dabs of plaster to screwed to timber batons which have been fixed to the wall.

Dry rot – dry-rot is a type of fungus, it needs moisture to grow.  It effects timber and may be in the structure behind the plaster.  It is best to remove the source of the moisture in that all the damaged timber should be cut out and treated with a fungicide.

E

Electricians – electricity can cause shock or fire or may even kill, it is always advised to employ a qualified and insured electrician.

Electrics – the installation which consists of the electrical installation, the fuse board sometimes called the consumer unit to the sockets are included in the electrics.

Extractor Fan – often fitted to the bathroom or above the cooker to remove excess steam from the area.

F

Fascia Board – the fascia boards are either in PVC or timber, it is what the gutter is fitted onto.

Fencing – this can also be in a range of finishes and can be treated timber or painted.

Floors – floors can be timber or poured concrete.

Floor Tiles – come in a range of finishes from marble to ceramic, often used in kitchens and bathrooms there has also been a trend of tiling hallways.

Floorboards – floorboards can be solid wood or semi-solid or laminate.  Floorboards can be sanded and stained for a range of finishes.

Foundations – the foundations are taken care of by the Groundworkers.

French doors – French doors or French Windows won’t suit every home but when they do suit they are great opening out onto a garden or outside space.

Front doors – whether solid wood or PVC front doors are your first form of security and should be fitted with the relevant locking system/locks.

G

Gas – there is choice in the gas market but safety should be the first concern.  Always use a registered contractor.

Glaziers – glaziers fit glass.

Gravel – gravel driveways are often used as a form of security as the gravel makes noise when vehicles are arriving or leaving.

Groundworkers – often the first trade onto a new site, they carry out excavation works.

Grout – grout comes in a variety of colours and is fitted in between your tiles, whether wall or fall.

Gutters – gutters collect the rainwater which runs off your roof area and the water then flows via the downpipe.

H

Handrails – the handrail is a part of your staircase, they are available in a range of finishes, timber, steel glass or can be made to your bespoke requirements – to fit in with the overall architecture of your home.

Hardwood Floors – these are timber, hardwood timber, they come in a variety of finishes and widths.

Heat Detectors – these are now regulation in new homes, where they work in conjunction with smoke detectors.

Hinges – again hinges come in a variety of finishes from brass to steel to black painted metal, they can finish the door furniture to create an overall interior design scheme. 

HVAC Heating, ventilation and air conditioning.  Companies involved should be registered with the RGII (Register of Gas Installers of Ireland) and registered to carry out works on F Gas.

I

Infrared Imaging – is where a thermal camera is used to identify where heat loss is occuring.

Interior Designers – interior designers can offer help and advice when carrying out alterations of fitting out your home.

Internal doors – internal doors can be in solid timber or composite which can be painted or stained.

J

Joiners – like a carpenter a joiner would fit skirting boards or even windows, doors and even door frames.

K

Kickboard – this is the part of the kitchen presses between the press and the floor.

Kickboard Lighting – is where low level lighting is fitted to the kickboard.

Kitchen Units – the kitchen is where a lot of time is spent, particularly in a family home, the kitchen should be functional and the units should be the best you can afford. 

Kitchens – the kitchen should be functional and contain all the appliances required which are normally laid out in a triangle, the cooker, fridge and sink being the three areas which the triangle consists of. 

Kitchen countertops – countertops come in a variety of finishes – to suit most budgets and styles from laminate, marble, granite or even woodblock.

L

Leaks – unless they are obvious it is best to call an emergency plumber to source the problem which is causing the leak.

Lights – lights should be installed by a qualified electrician and must be earthed.

Lighting – lighting can set the mood – good lighting must be designed and thought about before the premises is wired, items to consider are ceiling mounted lights, recessed lights or 5amp light sockets.

Locks – part of the door furniture, locks are essential from a security point of view. 

Loft – Attic space.

Loft insulation – or attic insulation, the main type available comes on a roll.  It may be either fibreglass or an eco alternative made of recycled fabric and fibres, sheet wool.  The fibreglass would be the cheapest form of insulation.  It is advisable to have fibreglass fitted by a specialist as they will have the safety masks and cutting equipment.  This insulation would qualify for the grant under the Home Heating Scheme as run be the SEAI.  

Loos – or toilet, bathrooms are normally fitted out be a plumber.

M

Manhole – part of the drainage system, the manhole would be fitted by the groundworker, the manhole allows access to the drain should there be a blockage which allows the drain to be rodded to dislodge the blockage.

Mantel – the mantel sits on top of the fireplace.

Mortar – a mortar is a mixture of sand, cement and lime or plasticizer, the mortar is used to build the walls, a blocklayer or bricklayer would lay the courses of blocks.

N

Newel Posts – a newel post forms part of the staircase – once chosen and fitted it is near on impossible to replace without dismantling the entire staircase.

O

Over Mantel Mirror – where you would fit a mirror over the mantel, possibly to match the mantel.

P

Paint – paint comes in a massive variety of colours and finishes, with a finish to suit the use of your room be it interior or exterior.  Paint can also be made on the shop floor of many DIY stores, or can be bought from the manufacturer.

Painters – painters and decorators also include wall-paper hangers, specialist decorators will also transform your home or premises with paint effects such as marbling.

Partition Walls – when removing an internal wall do check that it is not a load bearing wall.  When building a partition wall do consider the implications of reducing the size of the room and indeed the implications of the rooms either side of the existing room.  Other items that require consideration are plumbing and wiring – whether moving or relocating a radiator or the installation of new light point and indeed new light switches.

Patio doors – Patio doors allow a lot of light enter a room, very often patio doors are fitted in kitchen/dining areas.

Patio area – patio areas can be laid – but very often the most time consuming part is laying the ground work in preparing the ground.  The ground will need to be levelled, bed down hardcore before laying the patio in your choice of finish.  Careful consideration should be given to where the patio is located, what time of the day are you going to use it, will it be sheltered or a suntrap.  If placed close to your building make sure that it lies below the damp-proof course.  Also pay attention to creating/building in a very slight slope for the ease in run off of rainwater. 

Pipework – in older buildings the pipework would very often be lead or indeed steel, but in newer homes copper is the building material of choice.

Planning Permission – whether or not you require planning permission for your building alterations or extensions it is advisable to contact your local town council or local planning department of your County Council.

Plaster – wet plaster or skim coat has to some degree been replaced by the use of plasterboard.  Wet plaster is used on sloped or angled walls and ceilings where plasterboard is unsuitable.

Plasterboard – when fitted correctly plasterboard is a quick job which avoids the drying out time associated with wet plaster, the joints in the boards are taped and sealed.  Boards come in a variety of depths, some of which contain insulation.

Plasters – often seen as the half-way point in a building project, the plaster comes on the job following the first fixing of the carpenter, plumber and electrician.  The plaster covers all the work of the previous trades and it is therefore harder to have second thoughts about extras on the plumbing and electrical installations following the plastering.

Plastering – exterior plastering is often referred to as rendering, there are a number of finishes that can be achieved by the rendering. Wet dashing is where there are small stones or pebbles incorporated into the plaster this is then painted when dry, dry dashing is where the walls are plastered and then a mix of either stones or pebbles or even chips of glass or mirror are fixed to the plaster before it dries.  The stones of alternative colours create the finish, this is the maintenance free version as it never needs or requires painting.  Render may also contain a dye which also rules out the need for ongoing painting. 

Plumbers – plumbers are concerned with the water works, drainage, bathrooms, heating and boilers.  Heating systems either oil or gas or even solid fuel.  The certification body for plumbers in Ireland is the RGII. 

Pointing – is the visible mortar between the block work or bricks.

Q

Quotation – it is advisable to obtain all quotations in writing, then you can better compare quotes.  Do bear in mind though that the quality of brand of equipment may not be comparable.  Some tradesmen have started to charge for quotes, as in the past they charged for their time and expenses in visiting and writing/typing up a quote.  This is due to the fact that so much time is being spent giving quotes and this time has to be charged to cover expenses, some tradesmen will then allow the cost of the quote if they are awarded the contract. 

R

Radiators – radiators come in a range of colours and finishes and of course they do deteriorate with time.  Sludge builds up inside the rad and effects the efficiency of the entire heating system – they system can be flushed clean.

Rendering – there are a number of finishes that can be achieved by the rendering. Wet dashing is where there are small stones or pebbles incorporated into the plaster this is then painted when dry, dry dashing is where the walls are plastered and then a mix of either stones or pebbles or even chips of glass or mirror are fixed to the plaster before it dries.  The stones of alternative colours create the finish, this is the maintenance free version as it never needs or requires painting.  Render may also contain a dye which also rules out the need for ongoing painting. 

Repointing – when the pointing deteriorates it needs to be replaced – this is called repointing.  Repointing is where the old pointing is removed and replaced.

Rewiring – the insulation on electrical cable has a life span.  If is advisable to have your electrical installation tested and checked by a qualified electrician and if necessary a rewire should be carried out. 

Roof-tiles – roof tiles come in a range of finishes, slate which is quarried or concrete.  Slate is a natural product and will have different colours depending on where the slate is from. 

Roofers – this is an important aspect to your building as the roof should be weather proof, it is therefore a good idea to employ a roofer on the basis of his good reputation.  Have a look at his previous work.  It is best to settle on a price of a day rate as this aspect of your building project is weather dependant. 

Roofing – roofing can either be slate, tiles, or straw.  The type of roof will depend on the style of the building.

Rules and Regs – There are rules and building regulations in force.

S

Security Systems – security systems should be fitted by a registered installer, in Ireland the standard is EN50131 and the installer should hold a license.  Failure for the householder and the installer to hold a license is an offence and both may be prosecuted.

Self-levelling Compound – this is a mix of compounds, which when water is added a chemical reaction takes place.  When this mixture is poured onto a concrete floor the compound finds its own level, which makes laying floor tiles a better finish.

Showers – showers can either be a pumped shower, where you have hot water in the cylinder and the shower pumps the water under pressure.  Electric showers on the other hand contain an element which heats the water which is taken in from a cold water supply. 

Shower enclosures – the shower closures may be finished with surrounds in white, brass or chrome. The enclosure may be glass/or an enclosure may be built using glass blocks.  Glass blocks come in a variety of colours.

Sinks – these come in a wide range of styles. Kitchen sinks come with drainers available on either the left or the right, with sections for cutlery, additional parts for chopping and preparing vegetables.  Bathroom sinks again have a variety of styles, with space for two taps or a single mixer tap.

Slates – Slate is a natural product and will have different colours depending on where the slate is from. 

Smoke Detectors – are now regulation in new homes, where they work in conjunction with heat detectors.  Smoke detectors should be fitted by an electrician, they are best when hard wired via the mains power.  All detectors should be connected to each other so that if one is activated then all the detectors sound.

Sockets - sockets are in two sizes, single or twin – internal or external.  Always have electrical works carried out by a qualified electrician.  A completion certificate should be issued by your electrical contractor for works carried out. Some sockets now contain a USB for charging mobile and portable devices.

Spindles – spindles make up part of the staircase.  They can easily be replaced to change the look and feel of the staircase.

Splashbacks – can either be tiled or coloured glass. The tiling can either be done yourself or have a tiler complete the job.  Glass splashbacks can be made to measure, as can granite splashbacks.

Staircases – are built be carpenters, the staircase comprises of a number of components, newel post, spindles, handrail, banisters, then there is the all important step and upright.

T

Taps – whether for use in the kitchen or bathroom the taps will depend on the sink, mixer taps will suit a sink with only one cut-out for the tap. The range is vast and the choice is great.

Tarmac – driveways which are tarmac are easy to keep – with very low maintenance, provided it has been laid correctly.  Use a reputable company then you can call them back if you have any problems.

Thermal Infrared Imaging – is where a thermal camera is used to identify where heat loss is occuring.

Tilers – tilers will charge by the size of tiles to be laid.  They will do a much better job than if you try it yourself.  The tiler will have all the right tools for the job and will plan out the layout before they start the job.

Tiles – are available in a range of materials, glass, mosaic and marble, porcelain, ceramic or even slate.  The colour grout used will depend on the tile colour, grout comes in a few types depending on the location to be used in, waterproof for bathrooms and anti-bacterial for kitchen and hallways. 

Toilet – toilets are fitted by plumbers.  The toilet may be wall mounted or stand alone.  Most WC in new homes are now designed to facilitate a wheelchair, this is a regulation.

Towel Rails – towel rails can either be electric or plumbed like a radiator.

U

Underfloor heating – is becoming popular where the premises doesn’t have any radiators, but the heating pipes are under the floor.  It is best to fit at new build stage – before the floor in poured.

Units – storage units are a must, whether kitchen units or bathroom units.

V

Vanity units – build in wardrobes can incorporate a vanity area which may or may not contain a mirror.

Velux – Velux is a brand of roof fitted window.

W

Wet room – a wet room is where the room is fully tiled – so there is no shower cubicle, the floor is sloped at one part of the room where a drain is positioned to allow the water from the shower to drain away.  The walls should be tiles also, this type of room is great on the ground floor and is suitable for disabled use.

Windows – windows can be timber or PVC. The PVC is available in a range of colours. Windows can be single, double or even triple glazed.  Styles vary and will suit a particular type of build, variations include sash type or Georgian.  

Wooden flooring – wooden floors can be solid or semi-solid timber they are laid by a carpenter. Wooden flooring will last a long time and age well.

Worktops – you can never have enough worktop space. The type of worktop will depend on your budget, countertops come in a variety of finishes – to suit most budgets and styles from laminate, marble, granite or even woodblock.

X, Y, Z if you have any other suggestions or queries please contact us.

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