Australian Building Codes Board who produces the BCA. Their website can be found here.


Australian Building Industry Contracts


Accessibility is the degree to which the built environment is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the "ability to access". The concept often focuses on people with disabilities or special needs and their right of access. Accessibility is not to be confused with usability.


A contract between parties, usually written.


Architects Instruction


Australian Institute of Architects (officially the Royal Australian Institute of Architects). Their website can be found here.


Australian Institute of Project Management, the peak body of project managers in Australia. Their website can be found here.


A person who is qualified to design buildings and inspect their construction. An architect in Australia must have a tertiary qualification as well as post graduate experience. They must also have been approved after sitting exams with the Architects Registration Board and maintain their registration and professional indemnity insurance.


Australian Standards are published documents setting out specifications and procedures to ensure systems and products are safe, reliable and consistent in their performance.



BASIX is the Building Sustainability Index which is used to regulate the energy efficiency of residential buildings. It rates the expected performance of any residential development in terms of water efficiency, thermal comfort and energy usage. It aims to reduce water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to pre-BASIX (2004) buildings. To be granted development approval, each development application must carry a BASIX certificate.


Building Code of Australia. The BCA comprises two volumes that make up the NCC (see below).

Bifold doors

2 or more doors (usually glass) that are hinged together and can fold back on each other (was known as "folding" or "accordion" doors) that when opened create a large opening to another area.


Building Information Modelling is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a building. BIM extends beyond 3-D, adding time as the fourth dimension and cost as the fifth dimension and therefore covers more than just geometry. It also covers spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components. BIM offers enormous time savings, far greater accuracy, and the avoidance of error, alterations and rework due to information loss.

Brick - Commons

Modular blocks moulded from clay or cement used for building or paving purposes and used in general building work.

Brick - Face

Modular blocks of better quality used for face, external or other special areas.

Brick veneer

Brick that is lining the external side of a light framed construction.


A site containing contaminated soil often being ex industrial sites that may pose a risk to people. Sites will need to be tested for contamination and remedial action is often required.

Building Contract

An agreement between two parties for the construction of a building.

Burra Charter

The Australian's ICOMOS charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance and the 1999 version provides the basis for conservation philosophy in Australia.



Computer Aided Drafting. Can also be Computer Aided Design. Essentially it is drawing on a computer and is 2 dimensional.


Computer Aided Design and Drafting. Essentially it is drawing on a computer and is 2 dimensional.


An overhang which is supported back from an edge of a building or structure and which is fixed securely at support points. Small cantilevers include eaves, where roofs and rafters project beyond the walls of a building. Larger cantilevers can include portions of a building to give an illusion of a floating building, as well as bridges that can cantilever beyond their supports.


Construction Certificate which is required to be issued by a certifying authority prior to construction actually commencing. A CC is issued following checks that the design is compliant with the BCA/NCC.


Closed Circuit Television



Development Application. Commonly confused with development approval. This is the local authority's (usually council's) approval to allow a development.


Design and Construct


Development Control Plan. A local council policy describing the controls and desired characteristics of proposed of development.


Work that is not in accordance with, or to the standard or quality of, the building contract.



Extension of Time - commonly used in building contracts.

Energy Efficiency

Using less energy to perform a similar function.


Environmentally Sustainable Design. Also Ecologically Sustainable Development.


Feng Shui

An ancient Chinese art and science developed over 3,000 years ago and based on the Taoist ideology of nature, particularly on the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy. It is a body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to help in health and good fortune for people inhabiting it. 'Feng' means wind and 'Shui' means water.


Furniture Fittings and Equipment


Floor Space Ratio



Green Building Council of Australia

Green roof

A roof using layers of vegetation instead of tiles or iron and when designed correctly improves the thermal performance of buildings.


A site that is previously undeveloped, ex agricultural or other previously non urban land and has potential for urban development and where new roads and services are sometimes required.


Under-utilised property assets located in the middle suburbs of large Australian cities, where residential building stock is failing (physically, technologically and environmentally) and energy, water and communications infrastructure is in need of regeneration.



Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning


Infill Development

A site within an already developed area and where it is usually in close proximity to existing buildings.



Joint Contracts Committee was a committee comprising several professional representative bodies who co-authored a series of building contracts.


Land and Environment Court

A court established by legislation giving it exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine environmental, development, building and planning disputes. If a project is refused by a Council, or if it fails to determine a development application, a client may choose to take the council or the decision to the court for appeal or to gain an approval.

Latent condition

A term that is described in a building contract similar to the physical conditions on or affecting the site that differ from the conditions that should have reasonably been anticipated by a competent builder at the time of commencement of the contract.


Light Emitting Diode. A type of light fitting that uses the LED technology that typically consumes far less than power than a halogen light for the same light output.


Local Environment Plan. A legal instrument that imposes standards to control development comprising a written document and maps and apply to a local government area.



A design term relating to the arrangements, volumes and shapes of structures that are arranged to form the design of the building.



National Australian Built Environment Rating System. NABERS is a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes. NABERS measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.


National Specification System of Australia


National Construction Code Series that consists of three volumes. The BCA comprises volumes 1 and 2, and the Plumbing Code of Australia comprises volume 3.


Not In My Backyard



Occupational Health and Safety


On Site Detention is a method of capturing rainwater that falls on a site, storing it temporarily and then releasing it slowly to avoid downstream flooding.


Passive Design

Passive design is a design method that reduces or eliminates the need for any mechanical or electrical cooling or heating in a building. Design methods include natural energy flows to maintain thermal comfort, orientation, insulation, air tightness, natural light, thermal mass, solar gain, and natural ventilation. Passive design is the antithesis of active design which requires systems to maintain thermal comfort such as air-conditioners and other equipment (including solar panels) that create energy and therefore comfort.


Principal Certifying Authority. The authority who certifies the construction certificate and the construction as it proceeds. This could be council or a private certifier.


A horizontal section cut through a design at around 1.2m above the floor level showing the 2 dimensional layouts of rooms, walls, doors, windows and structure etc.

PI Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance. All architects are required to hold an appropriate level of insurance.


Project Manager



Quantity Surveyor



Royal Australian Institute of Architects (now known as the Australian Institute of Architects). Their website can be found here.


Rostered Day Off

Renewable energy certificates

Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's) are available when buying qualifying solar hot water, solar/wind power systems or solar panels. Cash back's on purchases are received by selling the REC's. From 1 Jan 2011 REC's were reclassified as large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) and small-scale technology certificates (STCs).


A 4d Building Information Modeling (BIM) program used for the design of buildings. It allows users to design a building and its components in 3D, annotate the model and access building information from the building model's database. Revit has tools to plan and track various stages in the building's lifecycle, from concept through construction and then to demolition.


Request For Information. A formal request from a builder that describes required information in order for the builder to continue to build.


Reduced Level. A surveying term that describes the height of an item in relation to a datum, commonly the Australian Height Datum (AHD).


R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material. The higher the R-value, the greater that resistance. It is a common measure when specifying insulation in a building. The R-value suited to any building depends on the particular climate in which it is located. R-values can be measured depending on the direction of heat flow. "Upward" or "up R-values" is resistance to upward heat flow, (also called winter R-values) and "downward" or "down R-values" is resistance to downward heat flow (also called summer R-values).



Standards Australia is an organisation that develops Australian Standards (above). Their website can be found here.


A 2 dimensional cut through a design at a nominated point. The section is usually vertical but can also be of a plan part of the building.

Section 94

Section 94 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (NSW) provides that, if the consent authority is satisfied that if a development is likely to increase the demand for public amenities or public services in the area, the authority may require the applicant to make a financial payment and/or dedicate land free of cost as a condition of approving the development.

Solar Energy

The radiant energy of the sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.

Solar Hot Water

Hot water systems that comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies designed to deliver hot water for most of the year. A gas or electric booster is used in winter to boost the performance when there is insufficient solar energy.

Solar Power

Electricity generated from solar energy.


Forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Sustainable Development

Development in which resource use aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


Thermal comfort

The condition of the mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment and is assessed by subjective evaluation and includes factors such as temperature, humidity, sources of heat (e.g. computers) and clothing. Thermal comfort is maintained when the heat generated by human metabolism is allowed to dissipate, thus maintaining thermal equilibrium with the surroundings.



A U value, or thermal transmittance, is the rate of heat loss or transfer in a building element such as a wall, floor or roof. It is also referred to as an ‘overall heat transfer co-efficient’ and measures how well parts of a building transfer heat. The higher the U value the worse the thermal performance of the building envelope and conversely a low U value indicates high levels of insulation.



Value Management. Often completed on large and complex projects to investigate the feasibility, costs and benefits of different design options.



Window Energy Rating System

Contact Us:

Email: ideas@proteusarchitects.com.au