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Essential Jargon When Employing a Tradesperson

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 25 Mar 2021 | comments*Discuss
Tradesman Jargon Trades People Jargon

Many people who employ the services of a tradesman spend much of their time nodding in agreement with phrases or words they don't really understand. Numerous surveys have been carried out in the UK asking householders whether they fully understand exactly what their tradesman is referring to when discussing a job on their home. Around one third of people say they have little idea on the specifics of the job and they don't feel confident about building, plumbing, electrics or joinery to fully negotiate and discuss the task with their tradesman. Many tradesmen are aware of this and therefore they'll use it for their own advantage. It's very easy to feel overwhelmed when a professional is speaking to you in terms only they seem to understand, so the trick is to either educate yourself as much as possible, or get a reputable tradesman who will speak to you in plain English.

Tips on Understanding Jargon

One of the first things you should always do when you're dealing with any tradesman is to ensure that you ask for all the information in plain English. No genuine tradesman will try and confuse you with jargon if they want your business. They'll explain everything to you in an easy to understand way and will expand on anything you're not clear on. Also, when you get an estimate or a quote from a tradesman, ensure that you understand everything that's listed on that piece of paper. There's no point in agreeing that you want to 'kango' your floor when you have no idea this means taking an electric jackhammer to it to break it up. Below are some of the common words that tradesmen will use, learning them can save you a lot of money and potentially a lot of stress further down the line.

Tradesmen Terms for you to Learn

  • Architrave - Mouldings around doors or windows.
  • Barge Board - Board fitted onto the edge of tiles following the slope of a the roof.
  • Batten - Timber strips where roof tiles are fitted.
  • Blown/Live - When plaster loses it's bond with the wall and needs replaced.
  • Bond - A bond is a way of arranging bricks to ensure the brickwork is stable.
  • Corbelling - Successive projecting courses of brickwork.
  • Damp Proof Course - A membrane laid about two brick courses above ground level. This helps to prevent damp from rising.
  • Distribution Board - A board that is assembled which contains switches or protective devices such as fuses circuit-breakers.
  • Drip - Groove or moulding in an external sill that prevents water getting back in.
  • Efflorescence - Powdery white salts that appear on the surface of brickwork.
  • Estimate - A informed guess at the cost of the work. A rough price.
  • First Fix - Where your joiner, electrician and plumber finish their jobs before plastering
  • Flashing - Used to deflect water between roof and wall. Normally metal sheet.
  • Header Tank - A small cistern that drives water to your central heating system.
  • In situ - Working on something where it is presently located, rather than taking it offsite.
  • Knotting - Varnishing wood to stabilise any knots in it.
  • Lintel - Timber, steel or concrete beams that are used to support a wall.
  • Making Good - Finishing off the job to a satisfactory standard.
  • Muck - Bricklayers term for mortar.
  • Nogging - Stiffeners made from wood that are inserted between the joists.
  • Quote - A fixed price quote for the work that needs carried out. This is binding.
  • Render - Sand-cement coating for the external walls of a house.
  • Ring Main - Power circuit for sockets.
  • Riser - The vertical water pipe from the mains, or an upright part of a stair.
  • Sarking Felt - The waterproof felt that goes under roof tiles.
  • Screed - A layer of concrete that is used to smooth down a surface before being finished.
  • Skim - Finishing coat of plaster.
  • Soffit - Visible underside of a projecting surface.
  • Spoil - Material dug out whilst excavation is taking place.
  • TRV - Thermostatic radiator valve.

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I had a shower/tub removed and an acrylic shower installed.It looks good, but has a large defect.The water puddles after drainage.The company claims that the "rough" shower pan is the cause and is willing to scrape it.They also say that the pan is leveled correctly. That would leave me with a slippery surface.I am 80 years old and had this shower installed with safety as my main goal.Since I only made a 10% down payment, they are anxious for the balance to be paid.I am not willing to pay the balance until they can solve the problem.They are willing to install a humidistat in the hope that it will reduce the moisture.I am willing to try that, but am doubtful.
Barbs - 25-Mar-21 @ 12:12 AM
I am a 74 year old disabled widow, and I fell foul of a "born again Christian" who promised to treat me like his grandma, given that my roof was in danger of falling in, if I didn't allow him to do immediate essential work. All in all, he fleeced me out of £13000. When storms battered my house in 2020, not only did my roof leak, it was and still is in danger of falling in. The work he did is not only of a poor standard, it is completely wrong, which means I now have to pay another builder to rectify what this despicable man did. He is at present in prison for doing the same thing to others in the Portsmouth area. I too contacted the CAB, Trusted Builder, trading standards, the whole lot., only to be told that I can do nothing, they will not help because this man is in prison. How can that be fair? This man is dangerous, and his name is John Goodwin. Please don't let anyone else fall foul of this man. Hilers
Hilers - 25-Jun-20 @ 1:00 PM
Hiring a member of a trade Organisation is not always a guarantee of getting a good job. I hired a registered Gas Safe engineer to fit a gas combi boiler and he botched everything. - The electrics, the plumbing, connections inside the boiler, flue not sealed, one radiator not connected, cooker extractor fan disconnected, wrong size pipes, false meter readings used and he even had the nerve to tell my tenant over the phone how to open the boiler and fix a leak inside it - so that he wouldn't have to come back! I reported all this to Gas Safe and got an inspection. He was told to come back and change the pipes and seal the flue and to register the paperwork. The inspector was not interested in my tenant being told to open the boiler and fix the leak. Even when my tenant produced a dated screen shot of him opening the boiler and the text conversation to confirm the leak had stopped, still Gas Safe would not confirm that he would be struck off. The problem is that Gas Safe engineers sign off their own work so if this is shoddy or dangerous the Gas Safe body usually don't find out about it. My tradesman had an accomplice who did a lot of the botching. I have no way of knowing whether or not this person is Gas Safe registered. If my tradesman was struck off for what he did, what's to stop him staying in business under his accomplices's name? He said he was too busy to return and put things right and hired another Gas Safe engineer to do it for him! Thus he side-stepped Gas Safe finding out that he is too incompetentto get it right - and probably doesn't even have the right equipment to take proper meter readings. I suspect hemakes them up! This Gas Safe registered trader is called Gary Crossman. He is based in Northamptonshire and even operates a sideline teaching other traders how to fit boilers. 'Gary Crossman' and 'Intellisense' should find him.
Carver - 6-Feb-15 @ 2:24 PM
Although this is comprehensive advice it doesn't work in practise. I employed a builder via FMB website; he was absolutely horrendous! He did not finish one job or room and when I eventually got rid of him I was left with a shell for a home. It has cost me a fortune to put things right; even having to rip out what he'd already done because of safety issues. I went back to the FMB and followed their guidance; their surveyor came and checked what work had been done and what was outstanding. They found in my favour but I didn't get back a penny! I went to Trading Standards and followed their advice; paid the fee to take him to court but found that, in reality, they have no powers and it would have cost me even more to arrange for the bailiffs to become involved. All in all - shoddy builders win all the time because there are no laws to adequately protect people against them. FMB & Trading Standards are a complete and utter waste of time!! Best way to find a tradesman - personal recommendations.
cassiefrappz - 29-Aug-12 @ 2:29 PM
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