As you embark upon the homebuilding process, you’ll begin to hear what we call “Builders Jargon” or terms that may be unfamiliar to you. We’ve listed a few of these terms here as reference. The seasoned professional home builders at Tolaris Homes speak fluent Builders Jargon and can help you interpret these words and phrases so you end up with the ideal finished product – your new custom home!

Acrylic Knockdown (AKO): Finish applied to a concrete surface that is typically applied on porch floors and decking surrounding swimming pools. The concrete deck receives a textured finish. It then receives an acrylic elastic type paint or coating applied over the textured finish. It can be easily recoated or painted again which makes it appear new again. Any exterior floor area in Florida should be hosed down weekly to keep mildew at bay.

Air-Conditioned Living Area: The square footage of the area that is air conditioned in a home. Areas such as garage, porches, non-air-conditioned attic storage areas, etc. are not included in this measurement. When cost per square foot is considered the cost of the home is typically divided by the square footage of Air Conditioned Living Area. Large amounts of non-air-conditioned area can have a huge impact on the cost per square foot of a home.

Allowances: In the specifications for the construction of a home, numerous items are called allowances. They are typically decorator items such as cabinets, tile, wallpaper, carpet, landscaping, etc. Builders will base the price of the home including allowances for the items agreed to as allowance items. Depending upon the choices the Buyer makes they will receive a credit if their choices are less than the allowance. If their choices exceed the allowance, the Buyer will be billed for the overage. This is an area that allows many unscrupulous builders to offer a below market price for a home by underestimating allowances. Buyers receive unpleasant surprises when Builders do this. It is not unusual to find that Builders with the higher bid have the lowest cost in the end due to this practice. Protect yourself by doing some research on what you desire for the allowance items vs. the allowance offered.

Architectural Ceilings: Known as tray ceilings or other specially designed ceilings. They are typically designed by the Interior Architectural Designer and not the Architect or Designer of the home.

Backsplashes: Wall area between the cabinet countertop and the upper cabinets. This area can have tile, granite, wallpaper, or painted an accent color.

Banding: Typically refers to exterior veneer of the home. Banding is the trim installed around windows, doors, and other exterior architectural features of the home. It can be made out of stucco, wood, stone,

Bath Accessories: Includes the toilet tissue holder and towel bars. They can be metal or ceramic.

Built Ins: Can be anywhere in the home. The Interior Architectural Designer typically designs the Built-Ins. They are normally built into some type of niche specially prepared for the Built in. They are highly personalized and not inexpensive. Normally, the built-ins are finished wood and include TV entertainment centers, Bookcases, Desk, Storage Chest, and much more.

Cafe Grille Hood: Installed on the rear porch over the outdoor grille. They should include a venting system to remove all smoke and odor to the outside through the roof or sidewall of the home.

Casement: A window that one side of the window sash cranks out.

Cast Stone: Man-made material to resemble coral stone or some other type of natural stone. Cast Stone is very expensive. Many times the same look can be accomplished through our stucco artists at a fraction of the cost.
Certificate of Occupancy: Issued by the County Building Department to builders once the home has passed all of the required builders inspections by the County building department.

Construction Agreement: The contractual agreement between the Buyers and the Builders. This agreement spells out the rights, obligations, and duties between both parties.

Construction Specifications: Attached to the Construction Agreement. The specifications cannot be too long. Ours are typically 100 pages or more, detailing everything we can think of that has been included with the home as well as anything that is not. This is a very important document. If it is not a substantial size document, be very careful.

Deco Drain: Normally found at the intersection of the concrete rear porch and the concrete pool deck. The drain has a perforated top where the water drains into a PVC trough. It is then directed to the yard of the home. We use a larger than standard Deco Drain to be sure that no future problems will occur.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt: This is a deadbolt lock on a door. Double cylinder means that a key must be used on both sides of the lock. A single cylinder means that a key must be used on one side of the door while a lever of some other type is used to unlock the door on the opposite side.
Double Hung: A window that both the upper and lower window sashes move up and down.
Driveway Approach: Driveway area between the street and the sidewalk at the front of the property. This area must be concrete, and not brick pavers since it must connect with the street.

Drop in Sink: Sink that is surface mounted on a countertop. The rim of the sink is visible. A sink without a visible rim is called an under mount sink.

Durock: Reinforced concrete sheets installed on the wall or a wood floor prior to the installation of tile. The Durock will not rot or absorb water. Green board or water resistant drywall will. This is a ‘must’ for all wall tile and tile installed on wood floors.

Elevation: Drawing depicting the final look of an element such as each side of the home.
Exterior Rock Salt Accent Painting: This treatment can be applied to stucco banding, columns, windowsills, etc. These surfaces will have been pitted with rock salt to resemble cast stone. It is a 2-3 stage treatment. First, the material is painted with the color desired for the pitted area of the surface. It is then repainted with the color desired for the main area of the surface. This treatment makes the pitted areas stand out and really finishes the cast stone look. It is a fraction of the cost of cast stone. Sometimes, our clients have the banding and other faux stone trim faux painted for an even nicer, more authentic look.

Fascia: The flat, vertical surface immediately below the edge of a roof. It is the surface a gutter would be attached to. The term fascia can also be used by builders to describe other flat vertical surfaces in a home.

Faux Painting: Paint applied by an artist to a surface in a manner to match a certain pattern and color desired. Normally requires a base coat of paint with numerous other coats of other color paint to achieve the desired look. Faux painting is used on walls and many other surfaces. Almost any faux look can be accomplished.

Foam Insulation: Foam insulation is injected into the exterior concrete block wall cavities not filled with concrete. Foam insulation not only offers a great insulation value, but also provides excellent sound insulation. More importantly though, it fills every cavity and void in the exterior walls eliminating places where bugs and other pest can reside and enter the home.

Footer: The concrete reinforced supporting base or groundwork of the home.

Foundation Wall: The concrete block walls built on top of the footer to the height of the slab. The area inside the foundation walls is filled with compacted fill.

Frieze Bands: A plain or decorated vertical band installed below the exterior soffit and the exterior vertical veneer of the home for decorative purposes. The band is typically thicker than the adjacent wall surface and of another texture so that the band will be prominent in appearance. This term could also describe a band treatment inside the home just below the ceiling.

French Drains: Installed below the surface of the ground to aid movement of ground water outside the home. A trench is dug in which a perforated PVC pipe is installed. The pipe is embedded in gravel and the pipe is then directed to a positive drain source. The pipe, if properly sloped, will do an excellent job draining wet areas. French drains are also known as under drains.

GPM: This is a measurement that describes the number of gallons that can flow through a particular pipe or other item per minute.

Gypsum Board: Gypsum is used to create drywall. Drywall is the interior wall and ceiling surface of your home. It comes in 4’x12′ sheets that are taped and finished.
Heat Recovery Units: Use waste heat from your air conditioning system to heat domestic hot water.

Hose Bib: Exterior garden hose outlet.

HVAC: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system for your home.

Interior Architectural Detailing: As important or possibly more so than the architectural plans for your home. They include the plans for all of the special ceilings, niches, special trim, built-ins, decorative tile details, and more for your home. The Interior Designer and Architect typically prepare them and the builders interpret them.

Irrigation: Exterior sprinkler system for the yard.

Icynene: Icynene is an open cell and closed cell spray foam insulation product, ideal for homes and commercial buildings, insulate and air seal in one step. Spray foam insulation is guaranteed to perform as specified for the life of your home or commercial building. Perfect for environmentally designed structures, we invite you to learn how Icynene spray foam insulation helps create more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings for the best insulation choice available.

Knockdown: Splatter texture applied to a surface that is then troweled to achieve a particular finish. Normally used by builders to describe finish on drywall interior walls and ceilings, porch and pool deck floor finishes, as well as a particular type of exterior wall stucco finish.

Laminate: Formica or other brands surface glued to a wood substrate typically for countertops.

Light Lift: Typically found where chandeliers are installed in high ceiling areas. The light lift is electrically operated and raises or lowers the light fixture for cleaning and maintenance.

Loan in Process Account: When the construction loan closes prior to start of construction the lender creates an account called the loan in process account (LIP). The total amount placed in the LIP is the agreed purchase price less any deposits or prepayments paid. The Builder is then paid from this account as construction progresses. This is paid in percentage amounts according to the draw schedule provided by the lender.

Medallions: Normally adhered to a wall or ceiling. They can be plaster, stone, precast stone, etc. They are typically decorative in nature.

Motor Court: Driveway area in front of garage.

Muntins: Are typically decorative in nature. Muntins can be a strip of wood or metal separating and holding panes of glass in a window. Typically installed for decorative purposes only. Normally one pane of glass is used for the entire window opening. Today, they are veneered on both sides of a piece of window glass to duplicate the type of window look shown on the plans of the home.

Programmable Thermostats: Allow the homeowner to program times and temperature for automatic operation, saving 30% during a typical setback period. Read reviews on programmable thermostats here.

Radiant Barrier: Aluminum foil installed over the air-conditioned living area of the home between the interior ceiling and the roof of the home. It is typically stapled to the undersides of the sloped roof trusses. Each piece is taped and sealed. This can lower attic temperatures 30 to 40 degrees in the summer. This should have a large impact on utility cost.

Rebar: Steel reinforcing rods installed in concrete. Objective is to hold the concrete together.

Recessed Box Washer Connection: Installed inside the wall in the laundry where the clothes washer will be located. Inside this box are the hot and cold water supplies as well as the drain for the washer.

Recessed Lights: Ceiling lights installed in the ceiling of the home by the electrician.

Retaining Walls: When a yard slopes more than normal a retaining wall may be required. The
retaining wall is built from concrete, block, etc. Sometimes they are required around swimming pools.

Returns: The conditioned air is distributed throughout the home using a system of rigid and flexible duct, collectively referred to as ductwork. Ductwork is a circulatory system that uses supplies to feed air into a room and returns to complete the circuit back to the air handler. Adequate and properly placed returns will keep closed rooms from pressurized, which limit the entrance of supply air into the room.

SEER: Universal energy rating for heat pumps in which the higher the number the better.

Sentricon: Termite treatment developed by DuPont. It is a termite baiting system with baiting stations placed around the perimeter of the home. The baiting systems are continuously monitored for any sign of termite activity. Should activity occur at any baiting station, that area is treated for termites. The objective is to stop termites before they reach the home.

Sheathing: A layer of plywood or similar type material applied to the studs and joists of a building to strengthen it and serve as a foundation for a weatherproof exterior finish.

Single Cylinder Deadbolt: This is a deadbolt lock on a door. Double cylinder means that a key must be used on both sides of the lock. A single cylinder means that a key must be used on one side of the door while a lever of some other type is used to unlock the door on the opposite side.

Single Hung: Refers to a type of window where the bottom window sash goes up and down. The upper sash remains fixed.

Skimmer: Typically refers to the pool. It is an inlet where the pool water is sucked from the pool water surface by the pool pump through the filtration equipment and returned to the pool as fresh filtered water.

Slide Bolt: Normally found where double doors are used. A slide bolt is installed at the top and bottom of one of the doors to allow the doors to lock. The door with the slide bolt remains fixed unless the slide bolts are opened. It can then be opened or closed.

Soffit: The underside of a structural component, such as a beam, arch, staircase, or cornice. The term is typically used to refer to the flat horizontal area between the edge of the roof and the exterior veneer of the home.

Soil Report: The Soil Engineer takes core samples at various locations on the home site 7-10 feet deep. He then analyzes the samples for structural capacity of the soil. His report details those findings and offers his suggestions on how to deal with any problem soils.

Solarium: A solarium is a room enclosed largely with glass and affording exposure to the sun. The term solarium as used by a Builder typically refers to the wall built surrounding this room. The wall allows the room to remain open to the sun, while also affording privacy.

Street Tree: Most communities today require the Builder to install an oak tree of a certain size or other similar agreed tree species every 50 feet or other length of street frontage.

Structured Wiring System: The future of all homes! A central box is installed inside the home in an easily accessible location. All TV and telephone outlets are then wired directly to each outlet from this box. The lines coming into the home from the outside are wired directly to this box. Computers can be networked through this box. Distributed audio and video systems can also be installed. Home automation and lighting controls can be installed in this system.

Supplies: The conditioned air is distributed throughout the home using a system of rigid and flexible duct, collectively referred to as ductwork. Ductwork is a circulatory system that uses supplies to feed air into a room. It then returns to complete the circuit back to the air handler. Adequate and properly placed returns will keep closed rooms from becoming pressurized. This limits the entrance of supply air into the room.

Surface-Mount: Mounted on the surface of something as opposed to under mount, which would be a recessed mounting.

Termidor: America’s #1 Termite Defense Product is Termidor® termiticide/insecticide. It is a professional termite defense product effective on native subterranean termites, Formosan termites, and drywood termites. It utilizes an advanced nonrepellent, or “undetectable” liquid technology. Termites cannot see, smell, taste, or avoid it. Instead, they contact, ingest, and share Termidor, completely unaware that doing so will kill them.

Threshold: A piece of aluminum or wood placed beneath a door. Also called a doorsill. It typically has vinyl or rubber weather stripping installed. This not only saves energy cost, but also to prevent pests from entering the home.

Tile Decos: Describes the decorative treatments installed in tile surfaces. Decos may be the same tile turned or sized differently. It may also be another tile material installed for decorative purposes.

Transom: A window or opening installed above a door or window.

Trusses: Engineered wood roof system.

Tyvek or similar material: Applied to the exterior wood plywood sheathing on all frame wall areas of the home. It is a plastic type material that does an excellent of preventing moisture entering the home through the exterior walls.

Under Drains: Installed below the surface of the ground to aid movement of ground water outside the home. A perforated PVC pipe is installed in a trench. The pipe is embedded in gravel and the pipe is then directed to a positive drain source. If properly sloped, the pipe will do an excellent of draining wet areas. Under drains are also known as French drains.

Under-Mount: Refers to a sink installed below a counter top making the sink and the top appear to be one piece.

Vapor Barrier: Visqueen (plastic sheets) installed to prevent moisture from passing between two locations. A vapor barrier is installed on top of the foundation fill prior to pouring the slab. This prevents condensation entering the floor of the home from the ground below.

Water Closet: Toilet or commode.

Wood Inserts: A decorative design created out of wood installed inside some type of niche in the home.

Under-Layment: Material installed between two surfaces. For example, a pad under-layment is installed between the concrete slab and the carpet. Tolaris Homes is one of the only Builders that installs a second layer of plywood type wood under-layment over the top of all plywood floors on two story homes. The second layer reduces noise transmission and creates a stiffer floor that all custom home Buyers deserve in their home.

Zip System Wall Board: ZIP System® sheathing and tape is an innovative structural roof and wall system. In contains an integrated water resistant and air barrier that streamlines the weatherization process and transforms it with a simple two-step installation. Material used on exterior frame portions of the structure to prevent water intrusion.

Zoning: Zoning the Air Conditioning System allows a home to be separated into multiple zones. Each zone has individualized control with its own thermostat.

Some of this builders jargon may be familiar to you, while some may be new. We hope this has helped answer some questions you may have about the home building process. If you have any questions, just contact us – we’d be glad to interpret any builders jargon that isn’t listed here.