If you’re new to building, you’re sure to have come across a word or term you don’t know or don’t understand, or you might even feel like you’re speaking a different language all together!

At Sienna, we understand that knocking down and rebuilding can be a stressful process in itself, and the last thing you need is the added stress of not understanding the building jargon that’s used throughout the process. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some key building terms that you may come across on your journey. Consider it your go-to Knock Down Rebuild dictionary that you can use as a quick and easy reference along the way.



Arborists Report: A detailed document that outlines the health, hazards and life expectancy of a tree. An Arborists Report may be required if there is a tree on your building site that’s in close proximity to the proposed siting, or if you intend on removing a tree from your building site and require council approval to do so.  

Asset Protection Permit: A permit issued by your local council to ensure council assets such as roads, kerbs, crossovers, footpaths, nature strips etc are not damaged as a result of demolition or building works. Most councils require a small bond to be paid (approximately $1,000), that is returned upon completion of works and a council asset inspection. If damage has occurred, the bond is withheld until the assets are reinstated.



Building Permit: Written approval from a building surveyor that permits building work to be undertaken in accordance with the approved plans, engineering, specifications and other relevant documentation.

Building Contract: A formal, legally binding agreement between yourself and your builder that stipulates each party’s individual requirements and rights as well as the scope of works, timeframe, total cost and payment schedule.

Building Code of Australia: A national set of technical requirements for the design, construction and performance of buildings, plumbing and drainage systems.

Building Envelope: A restriction on a building site that only allows you to build within a designated area on the allotment.



Covenant: A documented rule or obligation imposed on a building site that the title owner (block owner) must abide by. A covenant could stipulate how many dwellings can be built on a block, or what materials a structure built on the block must be constructed from.

Colour Appointment: An appointment at the Sienna Homes colour studio with our qualified interior designer in which you select the internal and external colours, finishes and fixtures for your new home.



Demolition: The destruction of any existing structures on your building site, arranged by yourself through a demolition company.

Design Tailoring: At Sienna Homes, we are happy to accommodate your changes to ensure your new home is a perfect fit. You will have the opportunity to tailor our floor plans, make structural changes and add extras to ensure the design is perfect for your family and how you live.

Design Review Appointment: An optional but highly valuable service offered by Sienna Homes, whereby you can meet with a senior design consultant to review your chosen design and any changes you’ve made.



Energy Rating: A star rating based on the energy efficiency of a home design and its inclusions. From October 2023, the minimum required energy rating will increase from 6 stars to 7 stars. Learn more about this change here.

Easement: A section of land on an allotment that’s used for a specific purpose such as drainage, that must be accessible by infrastructure suppliers at any given time. If there is an easement on your allotment, this may impact where your home is sited (i.e. positioned) on the block.

Electrical Plan: A technical drawing that shows information about power, lighting and communications services. The final electrical plan is used by electricians on-site, so they know what to install and where to install it.

Electrical Pit: An underground electrical supply that’s generally installed on the boundary of an allotment to facilitate the supply of electricity for building works.  

Excavation: Works that generally involve the removal of soil or rock from a site in preparation for building.

Engineering: A set of plans prepared and issued by a structural engineer that include construction details to ensure the building is structurally sound and fit for purpose.



Feature Survey: A document that confirms contour levels and any significant features on a block of land.

Finance Approval: An official document provided by a lender that confirms the approval and value of a loan. Lenders generally provide conditional pre-approval based on preliminary checks and unconditional final approval based on final checks.



Home Owners Warranty Insurance: An insurance policy that protects home purchasers from defective workmanship in the event their builder dies, disappears or becomes insolvent during the home warranty period. Home Owners Warranty Insurance is included as part of your Sienna Homes build contract.

Handover Pack: A kit issued by MBAV (Master Builders Association of Victoria), given to you by your site supervisor at handover. It includes several useful resources for homeowners, such as a final walk-through checklist and home maintenance guides.



Independent Building Inspector: An independent party that you as a home owner may or may not choose to hire to conduct private building inspections at base, frame, lockup, fix and final stage, to identify any building defects or faults that are then documented in a report that is sent to the builder to address. Sienna Homes are required to pass inspections conducted by an independent building surveyor at each of these stages, prior to a payment claim for a respective stage being issued.

Inclusions: A detailed list of items that are included in the base price of your new home.



Local Council: A government body that make decisions about local issues such as community events, public amenities, parks and sporting grounds, waste management, and local building works.



Maintenance Period: A period of time in which your builder is liable to rectify any genuine building defects at no additional cost to you. Sienna Homes offer a three month maintenance period, however our structural warranty extends well beyond this to 25 years.



National Tiles Appointment: An optional appointment at a National Tiles showroom with a tile expert that is completed prior to your colour appointment should you wish to upgrade your tile selections.

NCC (National Construction Code): Australia’s primary set of minimum requirements for the design and construction of buildings.



Occupancy Permit: An official document issued by an independent building surveyor that certifies the home passed the base, frame, lockup, fix and final stage inspections, and is suitable for occupation.



Plan of Subdivision: A plan that shows the location and siting of your allotment and all other surrounding properties within the same subdivision of land. It shows the specific size, shape and dimensions of the block, as well as any easements that may impact what or where you are allowed to build.

Progress Payment Schedule: A table within a build contract that confirms the percentage and amount of the total contract value due upon completion of each building stage(deposit, base, frame, lockup, final). Sienna Homes progress payment schedule is as follows:

Deposit – 5%

Base – 10%

Frame – 15%

Lockup – 35%

Fix – 25%

Final – 10%

Property Information Report: A document that identifies the local council, water supplier, power distributor and any planning zones/overlays on a given allotment.



Quality Assurance Inspection: To ensure a consistently high standard and quality finish in each and every one of our homes, a quality assurance inspection is carried out by a Sienna Homes construction manager upon completion of a new build. During this assessment, any corrections that are required are documented in a report that is then passed on to the site supervisor responsible for the build. The site supervisor will then arrange for all corrections to be made prior to handover.   



Re-establishment Survey: The act of reinstating a previously surveyed property boundary in the same position as when it was created. A re-establishment survey may be required if a survey peg is removed or altered.

RACV Home Assist Membership: A rapid response, 24 hour assistance program with access to accredited plumbers, electricians, and locksmiths for common home repair emergencies. Sienna Homes provide a complimentary 12 month subscription to this service.

Retaining Walls: Walls that are built to support soil laterally, so that it can be retained to a slope or area it would not otherwise retain to.

Report and Consent: The process of consulting with and obtaining approval from a reporting authority when proposed building works do not meet minimum building standards or may affect council assets, infrastructure or amenities.



Soil Test: An analysis carried out by a Geotechnical Engineer to determine soil class and characteristics. This information is then used to determine what type of footings are required for a home being built where the soil was acquired.

Setback: The minimum distance that a home must be set back from a site boundary.

Specification: A detailed list of the materials, labour, skills and workmanship required to complete a building project at an acceptable standard.

Site Appraisal: An evaluation of the characteristics of a site such as location, size, slope, trees etc. A site appraisal is usually carried out at the start of a project to determine overall feasibility and proposed outcomes. Sienna Homes offer a free site appraisal for Knock Down Rebuild and Dual Occupancy projects.

Site Costs: The expenses associated with getting a block of land ready to build on.

Structural Warranty: A form of guarantee designed to protect home owners from underlying structural defects that may surface after a new build is completed. Sienna Homes offer a 25 year structural guarantee.

Survey peg: A peg that is placed on the perimeter corners of a block of land to indicate where the property boundary is.

SDO (Size, Depth, Offset): A report that is used to determine accurate geometric data relating to sewer networks.



Town Planning: An application submitted to your local council to gain approval for your proposed build in accordance with council design regulations and guidelines.

Title Certificate: An official document that records who owns a parcel of land.

Tree Protection Permit: A permit issued by your local council that is required prior to any works on or in close proximity to a tree that’s deemed ‘significant’. A ‘signifigant’ tree has a trunk circumference of 140cm or more measured at 1.4m from its base.



Utility Abolishment: The permanent removal of services such as gas and electricity by qualified technicians. Also referred to as service abolishment.



Variation: A formal document that outlines agreed changes to the original specification, plans or other documentation within a building contract.