Terms You Should Know When Building Your Own Home

Our experts at UBuildIt are here to help you understand the terms you should know when you build your own home.

When it comes to building your own home, it can be an intimidating process and it may be difficult to know where to start. With the help of our experts at UBuildIt, we will guide you through the entire home building process and teach you how to choose the right products and services to build your dream home. When it comes to vocabulary that you should know, there are several words that you may be unfamiliar with. Knowing what these terms are and what they mean will give you a leg up and prepare to tackle a variety of obstacles that may arise when building your home. View our list of terms that you should know when building your own home and choose UBuildIt!

The first step to building your new home after you choose your land is deciding who you will bring in to build your home.

The Crew

  • General Contractor - A general contractor has full responsibility for the construction project. He/she hires the subcontractors, pays the bills and orders the materials. Subcontractors report to the General Contractor. If you hire a General Contractor to build your home, you will be dealing with him on a daily basis, not the subcontractors.
  • Subcontractor - A subcontractor is one who works in one or more trades but is not responsible for the entire construction project. As an example, your plumbing contractor is a subcontractor, reporting either to a General Contractor or to you if you are managing your own project with UBuildIt.
  • Labor Only - A labor only subcontractor is one who comes in to do the work but does not order the materials or supplies. An example might be a framer who frames your dream home but you have worked with the lumber yard to order the materials and have them delivered when needed.
  • Supplier - A supplier is one who supplies products or materials but does not do the work. As an example, the lumber yard supplies the wood and associated materials for framing the house but the framer does the actual work. Suppliers simply deliver the material or arrange for you to pick it up during the building process.
  • Labor and Materials - This subcontractor both orders the materials and does the work. This might be the electrician who orders all the wiring and electrical fixtures as well as does the work itself on your home. You’ll want to take extra care in choosing your labor and materials subcontractor because their work will have a huge impact on your home. With the help of our team, we can guide you in choosing the perfect labor and materials subcontractor.
  • Bid - An offer by the contractors to perform a specified amount of work under certain conditions with cost estimates included. The bid gives you the power to accept or reject its conditions (i.e., cost or time) and to move forward with the construction contract.

These are important distinctions to understand. If you are requesting multiple bids from subcontractors, make sure you are comparing complete information when reviewing the bids. If you have one bid come in significantly less than one from another subcontractor in the same trade, look at it carefully to ensure the bids are for the same supplies and work. If you have hired a general contractor to build your dream home, they will be working with all subcontractors and suppliers, ensuring the correct materials are ordered, delivered on time, that the work is done correctly, and paying them directly.

Now that you know who will be building your home, it is important to understand the terms being used throughout the construction process. This will allow you to keep up with all that is going on and allow for a smoother process.

Site Preparation

  • Soil Investigation - This is an analysis of the soil that will determine what type of soil the foundation of the home will rest on. It will therefore determine the type of foundation that will best suit the land.
  • Excavation - Excavation is the process of digging up the ground to establish where the footing or foundation will be.
  • Grading - Initial grading will happen before construction and it is the preparation of the ground around the home. The final grading will take place once construction is complete and it will determine the shape and scope of the yard.


  • Footing - The footing is the concrete base at the bottom of the foundation wall. It is usually reinforced with a re-bar and it supports the foundation, pillars, or posts.
  • Re-Bar - A re-bar, short for reinforcing bar, is a steel bar used to strengthen the concrete.


  • Frame - The frame itself is the bare bones of the home. It includes the inside and outside walls, floors and ceilings, and the roof.
  • Studs - The studs create the vertical structure that frames the house. These can be made out of wood or metal.
  • Joists - The joists are like the studs, but they create the horizontal framing of the house, supporting floors, and ceilings. They can also be made out of wood or metal.
  • Rafters - These individually constructed, A-shaped figures that support the roof.
  • Trusses - Like rafters, these triangular shaped structures that support the roof. They are generally easier and less expensive.
  • Sub Floor - Sub floors are the boards that are nailed to the joists and the finished floor will be laid over the sub floor.
  • Cased Openings - Cased openings are the framed doors and windows of the home.

If you are using UBuildIt, your consultant will work with you every step of the way and guide you through the entire process. You can count on our team to have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with the best advice to turn your dream home into a reality. Whichever way is right for you and your project, it is important to know these terms and how they are used when building your own home to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Contact your local UBuildIt for more information today!

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