Architectural Terms




  Talking with an architect may at times be confusing. There are many terms and phrases they use to describe things in the architectural process or drawings. In this post, we decided to cover some of the common architectural terms you may hear during your project.

Architectural Terms

   Getting a head start on understanding some of the terms architects use, can help you understand the architectural process more and possibly help you communicate your needs better.


Below are some architectural terms:



   Consists of building structures by laying masonry units bound by mortar. Common materials of masonry are brick, tile, concrete block, and stone.



   A beam is a horizontal structural element that spans a clear space and carries the weight above it to a support system generally posts or columns. Beams can be made from steel, lumber, or a composite lumber called glulam.



   Redlines are architectural drawings that have been printed, reviewed, and marked up with corrections or errors.



   A façade is the exterior face or presentable front of a building.


    Proportion is the relationship between individual elements of a building such as a door, windows, and their size within the whole building. 



   Rafters are structural roof members that slope up from the wall to the peak of a roof.


-Classical Architecture

   This is architecture that has been modeled after the buildings of ancient Greece and Rome.



   A floorplan is the arrangement of rooms in a building.


-Gable Roof

   A gable roof is a roof with two slopes, front and rear, that join at a single ridge line parallel to the entrance façade.



    Hardware is metal fittings of a building such as locks, latches, hinges, handles, and knobs.



   Molding is a decorative strip of wood.



   Eaves are a projecting overhang at the lower edge of a roof.



   A diagram is a drawing that outlines, explains, and clarifies, different elements of a building.


-Conceptual Design

   Conceptual design outlines the form and function of a structure and incorporates the client's needs and wish lists into the design.



    A scheme is a conceptual floor plan showing the proposed construction of a project.



   ADU stands for accessory dwelling unit. These are also commonly known as guesthouses. 



    Blueprints are reproductions of technical drawings that document an architectural or engineering design.


-Red Tag

    A red tag is when the city deems your home or part of your home unlivable in its current state.



     A renovation refers to a building in such despair it requires extensive restoration before occupancy.



    Scale refers to the size of a building.



   A remodel is a change in structure or form of a home.



   An addition is when you add onto an existing building or home.

-New Construction

   New construction is a home or building that is being built from the ground up.



    Submittals are the process of submitting documents that contain information, drawings, samples, etc. to the city for approval.



     Massing is the general shape (or shapes) of a building as well as it’s form and size.



     While these aren’t every single architectural term you may hear, these are fairly common ones. If you want to learn more visit

Learning architecture terms can help you have a better understanding of what is happening with your project. Even if you haven’t started a project yet, it is still always good to be informed. If you want a fuller definition for a certain term, don’t hesitate to ask your architect!