Residential Property Surveying Jargon Buster

Our handy guide to residential chartered surveying terminology

Surveying Jargon Buster

Once you have received your survey report it may seem a little confusing reading through the technical terms which, out of necessity, are used by Chartered Surveyors.


Our A-Z guide will help you to make sense of all the jargon before you leap into the world of property and chartered surveying.


Air brick A perforated brick or grate built into a wall, to provide ventilation below a suspended floor.


Apron A strip of (usually) lead built into a wall and dressed down to cover adjoining roofing.


Architrave A moulded wood strip covering the junction of a door frame and plaster or other wall finish.


Ashlar A moulded wood strip covering the junction of a door frame and plaster or other wall finish.


Baluster Squared and faced (usually limestone) stones for high quality/expensive finish.


Balustrade A row of balusters joined to a horizontal handrail, for instance at the side of a landing.


Bargeboard (or facia board) A wide, normally timber, board, fitted below tiles or slates at the edge of a roof.


Batten Timbers to which slates or tiles affixed.


Bell Drip Angled section at bottom of a rendered wall which allows rainwater to drip off slightly away from the base of the main walls.


Benchings The cement finish between open pipes where they join in a manhole.


Bond The name given to the way bricks are laid to form a wall. Common types are English, Flemish, Garden Wall, Stretcher.


Bonded guarantee A specialist company may guarantee its own work but the guarantee will prove worthless if the company fails. For a small additional payment an insurance is available which will pay for any necessary treatment in this event.


Braced door A door with diagonal support braces.


Breeze Ashes, coke or cinders formed into a building block (Breeze block).


British Wood-Preserving and Damp-Proofing Association The national body overseeing this type of specialist treatment.


Buttress An additional support to a wall, designed to resist outward thrust and add stability.


Casement A window hinged at one edge, usually the top or one side.


Cavity Insulation Insulation, either of dry fibres or wet foam, within a cavity wall. In exposed positions the insulating material may bridge the cavity and allow damp into the building.


Cavity Wall A main, external, wall built of two leaves of brick, stone or a type of block, and a space in between. Normally the inner leaf is load bearing and the function of the outer leaf is to protect the inner leaf from the weather, the two leaves are linked by ties, normally of metal. A cavity wall is usually more resistant to damp penetration than a solid wall, and has greater thermal insulation.


Cesspool A watertight chamber to collect sewage effluent. It needs emptying at intervals. A cesspool is a liability.


Chase A groove in plaster, brickwork, etc., to receive cables or pipes.


Chimney breast The part of a chimney below roof level normally projecting into rooms.


Chimney stack The part of a chimney above roof level.


Cill The horizontal piece at the bottom of a window or door.


Closed-end, or stopped-end The end of a gutter.


Collar A roof timber tying two rafters, to prevent them spreading; or the wider end of a pipe, into which another pipe fits.


Coping Brick or stonework on top of a wall, to stop damp penetrating the top of the wall.


Corbelling Brick or stonework projecting in steps from a wall, often to provide a support.


Couple roof A roof without collars.


Cowl A cap to a chimney or flue pipe.


Crown The top of an arch.


Dado The lower 3ft or so of a wall separated by a decorative timber strip. It covers the area most likely to be affected by rising damp and protects against scuffing.


Eaves The lower edge of a roof adjacent to guttering.


Facia A vertical board at eaves level, often with guttering attached.


Gable The top triangular part of a wall below two slopes.


Hanger A vertical timber fixed between rafters and ceiling timbers to provide extra support to a ceiling.


Interlocking tiles Roof tiles designed to lock together to prevent water driving in, without overlapping.


Jamb The side of a door or window opening.


Key A roughened surface to ensure adhesion (e.g) cement rendering.


Land drain A drain laid with open joists, in a trench filled with gravel, to dispose of surface water.


Mansard roof A roof with two slopes, steep to the lower and flatter to the upper part. This is the way of providing additional accommodation in a roof space.


Newel The vertical post at the top and bottom of a stair, to which the handrail is fixed.


Oriel Window A projecting window, without a supporting wall, as with a bay window which does not have foundations to the ground.


Panelled door A door with inset panels.


Quoin Bricks or stones, often contrasting, used at the corner of walls.


Rafters A sloping timber, part of the roof structure, supporting the tile or slate battens and probably resting on purlins.


Sarking Waterproof felt used to cover a roof structure before tiling.


Terracota Earthenware components made of baked clay.


Underpin To strengthen foundations by placing concrete beneath them.


Valley The internal angle where two roof pitches intersect.


Wall plate A timber along a wall top, to carry floor joists or rafters.


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