Welcome to the glossary page.

Here you should find the most frequently used words and terms used on building plans, and their meanings. I have not included the more obvious ones.

  1. Brickforce - Steel mesh used to reinforce masonry walls.
  2. Building Line - A part of the property, measured from the adjacent property or street boundary, which is not to be built in. Usually about two meters from adjacent properties, and three to five meters from the street. Municipal building lines may be encroached if an application is made and approved.
  3. CE or Cleaning Eye - Also known as a rodding eye, an lidded opening in the sewer system from where a plumber can clean the system.
  4. Dolomite - A type of rock which has a tendency to form sinkholes. Very hard, but dissolves in water. The word is not found on building plans, but is worth a mention here. See the sinkholes page here.
  5. DPC or Damp Proof Coursing - A plastic membrane applied to prevent the penetration of water.
  6. Erf - In South Africa, an Erf is a name commonly used by municipalities as another word for ‘Property’.
  7. Fenestration - All units containing glass and glazing.
  8. Flashing - Methods used to prevent water-penetration into a building.
  9. Floorplan - A top-down view of the building, typically showing walls, window and door positions and fittings as a minimum, but should include all the other features, notes etc. Often marked as ‘Plan’
  10. IE or inspection eye An lidded opening in a sewer system used for inspection purposes by municipal inspectors.
  11. NGL - Normal Ground Level. - Ground level that has not been backfilled or excavated.
  12. North Point - It is good practice to indicate where north is on plans, so that owners, builders etc can orientate the plan on-site. The North point is usually indicated by an arrow marked with an ‘N’
  13. Outbuilding - A building which is not attached to the main residence, or which is not accessible directly from the main residence through a door. This, however, is open to interpretation by the local council.
  14. SABS - South African Bureau of Standards
  15. SACAP - South African Council for the Architectural Profession. Find out more at SACAP.
  16. SAIAT - A non-profit, voluntary association. South African Institute of Architectural Technologists. Find more information at SAIAT.
  17. Scale - The scale to which the drawing is drawn. Most plans are drawn on a scale of 1:100, meaning that each millimetre on the paper represents 100 millimetres on site. Site Plans are often drawn on scale on scale 1:200 or 1:500 and greater. (Beware of scales. Because of differences in software, printing of plans from PDF or other formats may not print accurate scales. Always check your scales to make sure they are correct. It is good practice to not use a ruler to measure a sketch, but to depend on the dimensions given on the plan. If any discrepancy is detected, contact your architectural professional.)
  18. Schedule of Areas - A schedule showing things such as the property size and the sizes of all outbuildings and double-volume areas. Should also show what the coverage for the site is going to be. For properties zoned other than residential, additional information such as FAR might be required.
  19. Servitude - A part of a property to which someone else, or some agency, holds certain rights. In building plans they usually mean the part of a property where the local municipality has the right to lay pipes or other services.
  20. Site Plan - An overview of the property, showing where current buildings and structures are situated, as well as where planned buildings and structures are to be situated. Must accompany a building plan.
  21. Site Development Plan Same as for a Site Plan, but with additional information pertaining to properties other than residential.
  22. SQM - Square meters.
  23. Window Schedule - A drawing schedule showing window shapes, opening sections, sizes and codes.


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