In: Home Building, Home Improvement

Being a homeowner presents itself with a lot of  responsibilities and tasks. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned vet, you’re probably dealing with (or have dealt with many) contractors and trades people. This Back to School for Homeowners glossary we’ve created has gathered some of the most common terms we use in the business. This is particularly a great resource if you’re thinking about building or renovating for the first time because you’ll be in the know when you hear us use and repeat some of these words.

At Novero, we feel strongly about educating our homeowners so they can feel proud and confident in the decisions they make throughout the process of building their dream home or renovating their dream kitchen. After all, it’s your space and we want you to have a positive experience in what can sometimes be a high stress situation. The more you know, the better!

Novero’s Back to School for Homeowners Glossary

Aggregate: A particulate material which is made up of sand or crushed stone. Aggregates are used in materials such as concrete and are a fundamental part of building foundations.

Backfilling: The process of refilling trenches or holes created during excavation, especially around foundations.

Beam: Beams run horizontally along the main walls of a building at ceiling level, supporting the structure.

CAD: CAD (computer-aided design) refers to using architecture software to create detailed models of buildings to speed up the design process, allow for more creativity, and ensure greater accuracy in measurements.

Caulking: A flexible, rubbery type of material that is used to seal gaps in a joint.

Ceiling joist: Parallel framing members that support ceiling loads and are themselves supported by load-bearing walls.

Circuit breaker: A switch in the electrical panel that shuts off power to certain parts of the building.

Concrete: A building material created by a hardened mixture of cement, gravel, sand, and water. It is used for slabs, columns, and other types of structures.

Contemporary:  Refers to styles that are ‘in’ now.


Drywall: A panel made from gypsum plaster that is wrapped in cardboard. It is commonly used as a fundamental material for framing a building.

Ducts: Piping that carries air throughout a structure.

Eclectic: A unique decorating style that pulls from different styles to create a unique look.

Egress: A way of exiting a structure, such as a window or door. Laws require a certain number of egress windows in certain parts of a home.

Field measure: Taking measurements within the structure itself rather than relying on blueprints.

Faux Finish: A finish that is used to mimic a certain look (ie: faux brick)


Floor plan: The floor plan refers to the layout of the building. It is a drawing of the horizontal section that shows how the different spaces relate to each other.

HVAC: An abbreviation that stands for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning.

I-beam: A beam that has a cross-section that looks like the capital letter I. Girders often have an I-beam cross-section.

Insulation: Material that’s designed to prevent heat from leaving or entering a building. Insulation material is placed within the walls, ceiling, or floor of a structure.

Joist: The location where the surfaces of two components are joined.

Kitchen Work Triangle: The positioning for the main working areas of the kitchen- stove, fridge, sink.

Load-bearing wall (partition): A partition or load-bearing wall carries the load of the structure above it. As a result, they cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the structure.

Monochromatic: One colour pallete (ie: all white or shades of blue)

Mortar: In masonry, mortar is the paste that is used to bind stones, bricks, and other similar types of units used to construct the walls of a building. Mortar can be made up of a variety of things, such as asphalt, pitch, or clay.

Niche: An area that is recessed into a wall to allow for storage (ie: a shower niche)

PVC: Short for polyvinyl chloride, this common plastic is used most commonly for water pipes and sometimes for flooring.

Rafter: A series of roof frame pieces that are connected to the supports and hold up the roofing and sheathing.

Reinforced concrete: Concrete that is strengthened by adding steel bars or mesh within the concrete.

Skirting: Material that covers up the joint between the floor and a wall in the interior of a building, for aesthetic purposes.

Trim: The materials used to provide a clean finish of the building, such as moldings around window and door openings, or the baseboards in rooms, for example.

Veneer: A very thin sheet of wood. It is typically a finer wood that is used as a decorative cover for lower-quality wood.

Wainscoting: A wood panelled wall for decorative purposes.

Waterfall Countertop: A countertop that “falls” off the edge producing the waterfall look.

Zoning: A government regulation that involves restricting how a property is used. For example, industrial buildings cannot be constructed in areas zoned solely for residential.