Understanding the Lingo of a Home Builder

Talking to a home builder can often be intimidating. A lot of times they, and we at Dennis Miller Home are no exception, will start to explain things about the building process using words that the average person simply doesn’t understand. Once they’ve heard the words the client does not want to feel ignorant or inferior and so he/she doesn’t ask clarifying questions. Through the course of the project the home builder will assume that the client heard one thing, when in fact the client heard something completely different. Combine this all with the vocabulary used by people from Southern Utah and it’s easy to see how a client could become frustrated throughout the building process.

Here at Dennis Miller Homes, our greatest aim is make sure that all of the people we work with are happy and on the same page through every step of the building process. We know that a large measure of our success hinges on our ability to communicate clearly with our clients. However, just like any profession, every now and again when speaking with clients we catch ourselves slipping into the lingo that we use with all of our sub-contractors. Therefore, we thought it would be useful to provide a list of terms that are commonly used, and give you, our audience, an explanation of those terms.

Rather than list the terms alphabetically we thought it would be more helpful to list the terms in conjunction with the building process. For example, “Permit” is one of the first terms because it is one of the first things that happens in the home-building process. Make sense? Perfect! Let’s dive into it.



You may often hear a contractor say that he/she is sending the plans to engineering. Through this process a local engineer examines the plans that you and the builder have created, and ensures that the structure will be sound and meet code requirements.

Impact Fees

When new construction happens, whether it’s commercial or residential, a one-time tax is levied called an impact fee. This one-time tax helps satisfy the “burden” that will be added to the municipality with a new resident. Typically the money will go to help support schools, transportation, utilities, etc. Impact fees vary across municipalities.


A permit acts as authorization that construction can happen and must be obtained from the local government. A permit indicates to local officials that inspections need to be done to make sure the components of the home are up to code.


Early on in the building process trusses will be ordered. Trusses provide the framework for your roof and make sure the roof has structural integrity.


Excavation involves bringing in, moving out, and manipulating the dirt on your lot in preparation for the foundation of the home to be laid.


You will often hear a contractor talk about the process of digging footings. The exterior layout of the home is dug into the earth and then cement is poured into the holes that have been dug. This provides support to the rest of the foundation that will be poured immediately following.


Framing is where you will see your house come to life. This is where the structure of the house is created using 2×4’s, plywood, and other wood-type materials.


Any cement that is poured that is not the foundation is labeled flatwork. This cement could include driveways, walkways, and patios.

Trim Work

Often called “finish work”, this process involves installing baseboards, hanging interior doors with their casings, and installing shelving in closet spaces.

Walk Through

At various points during the construction process, you and your home builder will walk through the house and make sure that everything being built meets your expectations and desires.


A C.O. stands for certificate of occupancy. This certificate says that the entire house is up to code and is safe to live in. A homeowner can not legally move in until a C.O. is obtained.


Closing if the final step of the building process. At closing, financial arrangements are satisfied, title to the home is exchanged, and all provisions of the contract are completed.

Have you ever heard a term that you didn’t understand and wasn’t on our list? Let us know so that we can include it. We hope now that the next time you build in St. George you will have more confidence in talking to your general contractor.  Now all that’s left to do is get the building process started.

What are you waiting for? Let’s Start Building.