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Don’t get lost in translation! How to understand home building language – Part 2

Building terminology can be a bit bewildering at first. But this next instalment of simple explanations of some of the more common building terms will help get you on the road to better understanding your home build.

Council and developer requirements

Every local council has a specific set of regulations and requirements that must be met if you want to be granted a building permit.

Likewise, developers will also have their own set of rules if your block of land is in an estate. Mostly, their requirements will be around making sure that your home fits in with the look and style of the development, creating a level of consistency in the new community. Once they’re happy that your home complies, they’ll issue you with a developer approval.


Services such as water, gas and electricity go through your land, generally down one side or at the back. If there’s an easement on your block, then it means that section can be accessed by an authorised person to check on the services or carry out any maintenance requirements, for example.

Developer stages

When the estate is large, a developer will generally stagger construction by dividing it into stages. It’s easier to manage and ensures that all roads and utility connections, for example, are complete before opening up the next stage. And, by opening up an estate by degrees, it means that whole sections are ready to welcome new owners sooner.


A bushfire attack level rating is applied when a home is built in what’s considered to be a bushfire prone area. The rating dictates what preventative and reinforcement measures or features need to be included to give your home maximum protection should the worst happen.


When more soil or materials are brought onto your block to make it level and ready for your build, it’s referred to as ‘fill’.

Frontage and depth

Frontage is how wide your land is along the front boundary and depth is how far your land goes back. Multiple the two and you get the overall block size.

Building envelope

This is the maximum space – including height, width and length – that your new home can take up on your block.


A crossover is the point where you literally cross from your block to your street. In other words, where your driveway is. You need to know this before you build because it may affect where you can position your home. The engineering report from you developer will pinpoint exactly where it is for you.

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