A property term glossary.

A property term glossary.

Use this handy glossary of common property terms as your easy reference.


A person who holds a degree in architecture and trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. An architect holds membership of a professional body, e.g., Australian Institute of Architects.


Earth that has been removed during building excavation that is then used for other purposes such as filling a ditch around a basement or foundation wall. Backfill needs to be compacted properly or can result in the land sinking (this is also known as subsidence). (See also definition of Level 1 compaction)

Building designer.

Similar to an architect but with different education requirements (generally TAFE) and regulations. Services are generally more affordable than those of architects.

Building envelope.

The parts of your land lot you are entitled to build on after taking into consideration any setbacks i.e. front, rear and side (and height limits).

Building permit/licence.

Documentation issued by a building surveyor or local council that allows proposed building work to commence.

Building restrictions.

Residential building limits set by the local council governing things like maximum site coverage and maximum height.

Completion date.

The date when building works are completed, according to the contract. 


Someone who is licensed or regulated under state law to assist in the legal aspects of buying and selling property. Conveyancing can also be carried out by a solicitor.

Custom home.

One-of-a-kind home designed specifically for you.

Cut and fill.

A technique to help level a sloping lot prior to construction by using material excavated from higher ground to create a flatter platform on which to build your home.


Responsible for drawing (or drafting) architectural plans.


A section of land on your property around which building restrictions may apply, which can be accessed by someone other than you for a specific purpose. An example is a shared driveway, or sewerage pipes. If you wish to build over a statutory easement, you will need to get consent from your local council. For other easements, you will need to get consent from other parties. All easements must be disclosed in contract documents.


This is the difference between the value of your home, and how much you’re owing on it. 

Exchanged contracts.

The stage when the buyer and seller have signed contracts, completed any cooling-off period and the deposit is paid in full. From this point, the buyer and seller are legally bound to fulfil the contract.


The height difference of a sloping block, generally measured from the corner points of the block. 

Fittings Items that can be removed without damaging the property. Examples are door handles/knobs, some light pendants and shades, towel rails, toilet roll holders etc


Items such as basins, toilets, baths, built-in wardrobes and kitchen stoves that are attached to the property and cannot be removed without causing damage.

Kit home.

The “IKEA” of homes. A pre-fabricated house that is delivered in parts ready to be put together, generally suited to owner-builders (people who build their own homes).

Land title.

In official record of who owns a piece of land, including information about mortgages, covenants, caveats and easements (need to define all these i.e. caveats). Land title is transferred to the owner upon full payment for the block purchased.

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).

An insurance policy taken out against you by a bank in case you can no longer fulfill your requirements to service a loan. This is normally taken on loans that comprise an LVR amount greater than 80% of the valuation and is paid by the borrower either as a one-off lump sum or incorporated into monthly mortgage repayments.

Level 1 compaction.

Generally an industry accepted standard for lots when filled with greater than 300mm of fill material. This is generally sufficient to allow most builders to site a home on a lot without additional site costs. Determining the appropriate amount of fill a builder will accept requires independent research. An engineer may issue an individual fill certificate for each lot.

Lock-up stage (or enclosed stage).

The stage when a home’s external wall cladding and roof covering is fixed, the flooring is laid and external doors and external windows are fixed (even if those doors or windows are only temporary).

LVR (Loan to Value Ratio).

This metric provides guidance of your assets compared to your liabilities as a percentage. As an example if your house is worth $400,000 and you have a mortgage of $300,000 against it the LVR is 75% or 300,000/400,000.

Planning permit.

A legal document issued by a local council planning department that specifies what the land can be used for, including whether it has been zoned for residential development.

Plan of subdivision.

The dividing of one block of land into two or more blocks for separate houses or multi-level unit development.

Prime-cost item.

A fixture or fitting that either has not been selected, or whose price is not known at the time of entering into a building contract. The builder will estimates these prime costs when determining the total building cost.

Progress payments (also called stage payments).

Payments required to your builder on completion of various stages of home building as specified in the building contract.

Project home.

A home design that is built multiple times by a particular builder. Variations are possible, sometimes at an extra cost.  The benefits of a project homes is normally a more competitive price due to scale benefits i.e. cheaper prices passed down due to the same home being built multiple times

Property title.

Legally recognised proof of an individual, people or a business owning a certain property. The document providing proof of ownership is called the “title deed” or certificate of title.

Provisional sum item.

An estimate of the cost of carrying out particular work for which the builder, after making all reasonable inquiries, cannot give a definite amount at the time the contract is entered into.

Registered builder.

A builder registered or licensed to carry out building work in his or her state.


The distance from the property boundary to certain parts of your home. For example, a 5.5m front setback to the garage allows cars to be parked on the driveway without obstructing the footpath. This helps form your building envelope, which outlines what your maximum house footprint can be. This is determined after front, rear and side setbacks are taken into consideration


This is the stage when the sale and building processes are complete and final payments have been made. You’re ready to move into your great new home or apartment!  If you have purchased a land lot it entitles to build on your block of land


A process the bank uses to confirm the value of your property before proceeding to provide you with funds. The amount the valuation comes back with will determine how much you can borrow.

For more advice on buying your next property, feel free to contact us now to speak to one of our Frasers Property Project Sales Managers today.

Disclaimer: Please note that this information does not constitute as financial or legal advice and it doesn't take into account an individual's circumstances. We recommend that you contact your financial or legal advisers for tailored advice.