Buying a Property? We Decode Property Descriptions
If you’re in the market to buy a property, be it an apartment or house you have more than likely read your fair share of property descriptions. We’ve compiled an A-Z list of “lingo” that’s quite often mentioned in those descriptions and explained what they are…
An architrave is the beam that fits around a door or a window frame.
An awning or overhang is a covering attached to the exterior wall of a building. It can be made of various materials including plastic, wood or metal. It’s usually used to shield an area from light, for example in an area of a garden. Typically seen in warmer climates, they have become more popular in Irish homes especially those that might have a southerly aspect in their gardens; the awning would provide shade for people to eat more comfortably for example in the height of a midday sun.
A room can be deemed a “bathroom” even if it does not have a bath. As long as it has a means to bathe/clean/shower, i.e. it has a bath OR a shower, it can be called a “bathroom”. If a room has a sink (sometimes referred to as “wash hand basin” or “WHB”) and toilet ONLY, we refer to it as “guest WC” or “downstairs WC” (if it is downstairs). “WC” stands for “water closet”.
Bathroom Sanitary Ware
These are ceramic plumbing fixtures (such as sinks, toilets, or toilet bowls).
Bathroom / Sink Vanity Units
These modern units are a hugely effective space-saver in a bathroom and are perfect for storing toiletries underneath a sink, utilising space very efficiently and eliminating clutter to provide a clever bathroom storage solution.
Bay windows typically have three windows, with a fixed centre window and two casement windows either side. A bay window provides a nice look to the exterior of a home and a functional space for the interior that usually lets plenty of natural light into the room.
Bow windows differ from bay windows because they are generally rounded and usually contain at least four panels.
Belfast sinks date back to Victorian times but are still popular today in kitchens, usually in more country-kitchen styles. They are deep, wide ceramic sinks that are also sometimes referred to as Butler sinks. Belfast sinks come in single or double formats.
Bi-folding doors fold back completely to optimise the use of space in a room while allowing seamless traffic between garden and living areas, even with limited space. They make a brilliant alternative to traditional French doors or sliding doors. They’re becoming increasingly popular thanks to their style and space-saving functionality. Essentially, bi-fold doors are made up of multiple leaves which fold back on themselves in order to open up fully.
A property is said to offer a blank canvas when it is empty of furniture and is ready for someone new to put their own “stamp” on it in terms of interior furnishings/decorating tastes.
A brick facade is an attractive wall finish with a distinct aesthetic appeal and is a popular design element for the exterior of a home.
Brushed Stainless Steel Sockets & Switches
Brushed stainless steel sockets and light switches are a higher specification finish in a home than the plastic options.
As their name suggests, a built-in wardrobe is one where the unit is not free-standing and so would stay in the property and not be removed. Typically built-in wardrobes are more or less floor to ceiling in height so deliver an excellent amount of storage.
These are electric cooker hobs made from ceramic materials, with heating elements affixed underneath. They are similar to induction hobs in that they have a smooth surface that’s easy to clean, but unlike induction hobs, ceramic hobs heat the entire cooking zone. They cost less than induction hobs and hence may be preferred by homeowners operating on a budget.
A patterned appearance, usually seen in a driveway, which uses strong, durable brickwork to create an appealing look.
Concealed Extractor Fans
These exist when, for example, an oven is integrated into a kitchen island so the heat needs to go somewhere. These are extractor fans to remove the heat/ steam but are concealed, e.g. might be piped in under the ground and an extractor fan located on the exterior wall.
Cornicing / Coving
Regularly a feature in older period homes, cornicing is a horizontal decorative fix lining the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. Coving is similar but tends to be less ornate or decorative.
Dual/Double Aspect Room
A room is considered “double aspect” or “dual aspect” when it has windows on two or more walls, allowing for views and natural light from more than one direction. The windows may be opposite one another, or adjacent around a corner.
Duplex windows contain just one glass panel per sash, with glazing bars stuck onto the glass panel over the bars that are incorporated into the glass. They convey the appearance of real glazing bars with divided panes but they are narrower and hence are considered more visually pleasing by many house buyers.
This refers to a property that is built on a raised site above other properties, or on a roadside above ground level. An elevated site is likely to provide impressive views of the locality, which might make it an attractive feature for prospective buyers.
Exposed-Brick Feature Wall
An exposed brick wall in a home can convey a feeling of warmth and character and add texture to a large blank space. It creates an instant focal point for a room.
A folio is a document that describes the property registered, refers to a plan on the Registry maps, gives the name and address of the registered owner(s) and describes any burdens affecting the property, e.g. rights of way or charges (mortgages).
French doors contain glass panes for most of their length and are traditionally hinged double doors which mainly open outwards. They can also be a single door. They are popular with homeowners chiefly for their aesthetic appeal and for the way in which they allow natural light into a room.
A galley kitchen has an alley-like appearance and has parallel countertops which make all points of the work triangle very accessible.
Galvanised Steel Gates
These are gates with an additional layer of protective zinc coating that helps to prevent rust, making the gates more durable in the long-term.
Granite, Quartz or Solid Wood Worktops
Granite or quartz worktops are highly durable and are generally more expensive than their laminate counterparts. Solid wood countertops are also popular, are more expensive than laminate countertops but do require ongoing treatment throughout their life; they are also sensitive to hot saucepans unlike granite or quartz.
A gravity-fed shower allows hot and cold water to flow and mix under gravity from their respective tanks to the shower head.
Heated Towel Rail
These are a great addition to any bathroom. They provide a heated rack where people can hang their towels to give a lovely warmed towel after a shower / bath.
Herringbone + Chevron Flooring
Herringbone and Chevron are two patterns in wooden and tiled flooring and have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The difference between Herringbone and Chevron is all in the zigzag pattern - Chevron patterns have a continuous zigzag design whereas a Herringbone pattern has a “broken” zigzag design. Chevron flooring is a good way to make narrow hallways appear wider.
Integrated Hob with Gas Burner
This combines the sleek, seamless appearance of a built-in countertop hob with the option of cooking on a gas burner, something that is ideal for cookery enthusiasts when using a wok for example. Also, some homeowners may prefer to cook with gas as it is easier to regulate the temperature.
Jack & Jill Bathroom
This is a bathroom that is effectively sandwiched between two bedrooms. They provide the benefits of a full bathroom and give full access from separate bedrooms. The Jack and Jill bathroom is sometimes but not always also accessible from the hallway.
Integrated Induction Hob
Induction hobs differ from all other hobs on the market, as they directly heat the pan and not the hob ring. A magnetic field underneath the surface activates when the hob is turned on and, when a pan is placed on the hob, the circuit is completed and the base of the pan begins to be heated. They are efficient, extra safe to use and extremely easy to clean. When integrated, they fit directly into the worktop to give the kitchen a seamless and sleek feel. They can be located in a “kitchen island” or within the kitchen counter along the wall.
A free-standing piece of kitchen furniture to supplement countertop space - people also use the area as a casual dining spot. Some modern kitchen islands also have a sink and / or a hob built into them.
The material on the wall above the sink or along a kitchen worktop. Its purpose is to protect the wall from oil, grease, splashes and other kitchen messes that happen during cooking or food preparation.
Kitchen Work Triangle
The cooker, sink and fridge make up the three aspects of the kitchen work triangle, as these are where the primary kitchen tasks are carried out. When these three points are all in close proximity to each other it offers great convenience to homeowners for cooking, etc.
A garden with no other property overlooking it provides the owner with a relaxing environment in total privacy.
This is a generic term used in architectural and interior design for any floor plan that makes use of large, open spaces and minimises the use of small, enclosed rooms such as separate kitchens or dining rooms. Open plan living spaces are quite popular in modern properties.
A four-storey property “over basement” is pretty self explanatory; if one is described as for example a “4-storey over basement house”, then it has 5 levels: the basement, ground floor, first floor, second floor and third floor. They would be more common in period properties e.g. Georgian houses.
A paddock is a small enclosure for horses and may be found on larger properties or rural farmyard houses.
Parquet flooring is an umbrella term for wooden flooring that incorporates a pattern of some sort be that Chevron or Herringbone.
These are light fixtures suspended from a ceiling using decorative cord, chain or by a rod.
An open outdoor structure, mainly found in a back garden or patio, that increases the aesthetic appeal of that space. They are typically built with roof beams and vertical beams without a solid roof or walls. They are very effective for creating an outdoor space for entertainment or relaxation.
Note: A property may boast period features but have a different construction date to that period (e.g. a house built in the 1990s may have multiple Georgian features). In this case, it wouldn’t be classified as a “Georgian property” in the description; instead we would say that “The building’s exterior showcases numerous Georgian-era features”.
The term Pre '63 is used to describe a property that was divided into multiple flats or studios prior to the introduction of the Local Government Planning and Development Act of 1963. Since the Act was introduced, property owners have been obliged to seek authorisation in order to divide a property into rental units. These were originally built hundreds of years ago, e.g. Georgian buildings built between 1714-1830 by the ruling Protestant classes in Ireland as private residences. As the British left over the years, these properties were often converted from single unit family properties into multi-unit apartments and then rented out at relatively low rent. Before 1963, dividing them up did not require any planning permission but nowadays planning permission would be required to subdivide a building. For someone looking to buy a multi-unit pre-63 development and return it to a single unit family home, planning advice would need to be sought.
Rainfall Shower Head
Rainfall shower heads are high-specification alternatives to traditional showers - a rainfall shower head is generally larger and hangs directly overhead, which gives the user a more gentle and luxurious shower. They take their name from the feeling of having a shower in gentle rain.
These are light fixtures that are installed into a hollow opening in a ceiling.
Roll Top Baths
This is a type of bath that has curved edges and is usually free-standing i.e. not attached or encased to the wall. Roll top baths by their nature do require more space in a room so are ideal for spacious bathrooms. They were and are a feature of period homes but have also become more popular in new-builds in recent years. Roll top baths can have a flat base or sometimes as is the case in our image, they can have “claw” legs to add to their ornate nature.
A sinking fund is a savings fund built up over a period of time by members of an OMC (Owners Management Company). The OMC charges its members (the owners of the units in the associated multi-unit-development) an annual management service charge. The bulk of this is used to pay operational expenses such as refuse, communal area upkeep and building insurance. Some funds are added to the sinking fund which in essence serves as a rainy day fund to deal with future capital expenditures eg painting and re-flooring of the communal area or perhaps for new initiatives such as installing CCTV in an underground car park. When purchasing a property, the vendor's solicitor investigates the health of the sinking fund to ensure the development is comfortably able to cope with future capital expenditures. From time to time, a management company will need to drastically increase its sinking fund to pay for an unexpected large bill. For example, if a multi-unit-development was deemed unsafe and required extensive upgrades, the management company may have no option but to levy an exceptional bill on all the members of the OMC. In the first instance, recourse would be sought from the developer but if none was forthcoming (eg if the company was no longer in operation), the owners may be left with no option. Suffice to say, the sinking fund is a crucial part of pre-purchase due diligence for buying in a multi-unit-development.
A sliding wardrobe is a storage unit that is custom fitted to the height of the bedroom. They will sometimes have floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the outside.
Houses with south-facing gardens and/or balconies are much sought-after as they receive lots of sunlight, especially during summer months. They also allow lots of light to enter the inside of a home.
As the name suggests, a spiral staircase is in a curved S-shape and is often seen as a wonderfully elegant feature within a home.
A split-level staircase consists of two short sets of stairs with a small floor space (like a mini-landing) between the two sets of stairs. Some properties might have a window positioned just above the floor space to maximise on natural light into the area.
Folding Attic Stairs
Stira is a folding attic stairs manufacturer whose name has become synonymous with the product (in the same vein as Hoover, Jacuzzi and Sellotape in their industries). They provide a visually pleasing and user-friendly access point to attic storage, with steps that fold out to create a seamless stairway from floor to attic and they easily fold away into the ceiling again when not in use.
A bathroom is referred to as a three-piece if it contains three plumbing fixtures - a sink, a toilet and one other feature (usually a shower or bath).
Trellis fencing is found in some gardens and is identifiable by its interwoven wooden panels. In many cases, trellis is used for supporting and displaying climbing plants and shrubs and it can act as an effective boundary for a garden, adding to a homeowner’s sense of privacy.
A room with windows facing in three separate directions, e.g. south, east and west, therefore allowing a huge amount of natural light into a room. This would usually be applicable to conservatories.
Triple-glazed windows come with three panes of glass as part of their manufacture. They are energy efficient as they trap more heat and make homes warmer. Triple glazing also offers excellent strength and security, as well as overall reducing noise.
One of the most common (and possibly overused!) words in property descriptions, turnkey means that a house or apartment that is ready to be moved into. Someone who buys it could literally turn the key in the property’s front door and move in right away.
Underfloor heating is a very clean and simple form of heating distribution, ideally suited to modern energy-efficient properties. As its name suggests, heat rises from the pipes underneath a floor.
These are ceilings that arch upwards as opposed to the usual flatter ceilings. They mimic the vastness and space seen in cathedral-like structures.
This refers to skylight or roof windows which are incorporated into the ceiling of a top floor room, allowing for natural light to enter a room. Velux is the best-known brand of roof windows and, like with Stira for folding attics, its name is synonymous with the type of window.
A vestibule refers to a small space that leads into the main entrance hallway of a property. It can also be called a porch, foyer, lobby; in Ireland, they’re most commonly referred to as a porch. Its main purposes are as an additional room to withhold a view of the inside of a property to passers-by, or to reduce heat loss and create shelter from the elements.
A walk-in wardrobe differs from a typical floor-to-ceiling wardrobe in that it includes a space that is separated from the rest of the bedroom i.e. you can literally walk into it. It is effectively a room in itself with drawers, shelves and lighting, giving an extensive space for storing all their clothes.
A bathroom in which the shower is open or set behind a single wall, its floor area being flush with the floor of the rest of the room and the water draining through an outlet set into the floor. This makes the bathroom very accessible for people with mobility problems.