What builders really mean - a jargon-busting guide for homeowners

Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2022

Property maintenance solution provider, Help me Fix, has created a jargon-busting guide to help homeowners better understand the terms used by tradespeople from electricians to builders and carpenters.

There is some construction and home maintenance jargon that most people are somewhat familiar with - such as a 'chippy' meaning carpenter, 'sparky' meaning electrician, and 'bricky' meaning bricklayer or builder. However, the language and vocabulary that these chippies, sparkies, and brickies use is often a complete mystery to everyday folk, which can sometimes cause confusion.

That’s why Help Me Fix has created a comprehensive dictionary of common trade terms, translating them into plain English to help more of us better navigate the world of home maintenance.



Crushed stone or rock, often referring to sand, ballast, gravel, or other loose, pubble-like building materials. Aggregate has various applications, including its use as in building foundations.


A thin layer of material applied to the outside of a building, often for decorative reasons. Cladding can be made from natural materials like stone, or man-made synthetics. While primarily an aesthetic concern, cladding can offer thermal insulation and weather resistance.


An informal word for cement.


A type of pain used by decorators. In terms of finish and sheen, it falls halfway between matte (no sheen) and gloss (high sheen) paints.


Grout is used to fill gaps between tiles. It’s usually a mixture of water, cement, and sand. It increases the neat appearance of bathroom and kitchen tiles, while also sealing the gaps between.


Lagging is insulation that covers pipes in order to regulate temperature. Often used around water pipes, it helps keep the heat inside the pipes rather than allowing it to escape. This means it helps with energy efficiency and carbon footprint. It also prevents pipes freezing and bursting in cold temperatures.


A kind of mortar used by builders to fill in the gaps between bricks or stones. Made of sand, cement, and water.



A tool used to intricately cut wood, often used to cut unusual or complex shapes. Made up of an electric motor and a saw blade.


An informal word for sandpaper.



The process of drawing up blueprints or architectural plans for a building project, such as an extension.


A final layer of plaster that a painter or decorator will use to create a smooth finish to the walls, thus making them easier to paint.


Snags are small problems found after a construction project. Snagging is the process of searching for and identifying these flaws. Contractors should rectify these problems quickly and free of charge.

Objects and Features


Builders and carpenters use this word to refer to any kind of storage furniture such as kitchen cupboards, or boxes.


A mechanism that keeps cupboard doors shut.

Mushroom vent

A mushroom-shaped air vent that allows air ventilation from the roof of a property.

Party Wall

Refers to a wall that separates two properties, each with a different owner/occupier. For example, the wall that separates two semi-detached homes. Both parties will share legal rights over the party wall which means one party cannot unilaterally decide to destroy or alter it.


Quoins refers to both the corners of walls, top and bottom, and also the blocks used when constructing those corners. In the latter case, some quoins are structural, others are simply decorative.


Sloping, diagonal wooden beams that hold the structure of a pointed roof. They support the weight of a roof. Exposed rafters are a popular interior design feature.

Soldier course

Refers to bricks that are laid vertically rather than horizontally. In other words, they are stacked on their shortest edge rather than the longest.


Refers to the narrowed part of a chimney found immediately above a stove or fireplace.

Ettan Bazil, CEO and Founder of Help me Fix said:

“Any profession is likely to carry its own dictionary of industry specific terms. However, not every profession will have an overlapping level of communication with the general public in the same way that the trades do.

"For those not in the know, it can be confusing at times and it’s understandable that when you’re paying good money to have work done, you want to know exactly what’s happening.

"Hopefully this guide will help people understand more without having to constantly ask professionals to explain more clearly what they’re saying.”

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