Sometimes I don’t even know what building terms are in English let alone French, but I’m gradually getting to know some words (although forgetting many more that they tell me).
I will write a list of the ones that I’ve learned so far here (as I remember them) and will add to it as and when I learn some new ones in case they are helpful. They are in no particular order at present.
A propos builders, I had wanted to find a nice vintage image to accompany this post, something like a photo of builders with moustaches and baguettes. The nearest my search got to this invented stereotype was a photo of the Village People. So I settled for something else more instantly recognisable: Bob the Builder, and as if to fully fit in with this post on French/English building term translations, the French website for Bob calls him Bob le Bricoleur. However, although it has alliteration, I don’t feel that’s an accurate translation, unless they change what his work in France is, as a Bricoleur is a DIYer. The British Bob, as ‘head of his own construction yard’ must have his nose quite put out by this demotion.
If you have any building terms to add, please write in/comment with them, especially if they are beyond the usual:
Couvreur (m) – roofer
Maçon (m) – mason/bricklayer. Maçons tend to be the equivalent of an all-round British builder and usually do roofing too.
Entrepreneur – general builder/contractor, but most tend to be referred to by their qualification. Interior work such as insulation, plastering, painting, etc, will be done by those specialisations and even our largest building firm had a completely separate company for those workers.
Serrurerie – locksmith, but they also do a lot of general iron work such as repairing gates, railings etc. Like most specialists they often work regularly with other accompanying specialists so you can ask them for referrals.
Ouvriers – although I understood this to mostly mean factory workers, the building firm referred to their workers generally as ouvriers. I was always avoiding the word in case it seemed derogatory.
Poutre (f) – beam (or girder)
Poutres apparentes – exposed beams
Chevron (m) – rafter
Lucarne (f) – dormer window, can also by a skylight
Chien Assis (m) – dormer window
Jambage (m) – jamb (the vertical parts)
Linteau (m) – lintel (the horizontal parts)
Carrelage (m) – tiling
Dalles (f) – paving slabs, particularly used for pure stone flagstones
Tommettes (f) – hexagonal floor tiles, and particularly for terracotta typical tommettes de Bourgogne.
Jointage/jointoiement – pointing (inside and out)
Faire les plâtres – plastering
Joints beurré – a type of plastering that shows only the best stones and covers over the smaller or damaged stones. (The time to plaster is reduced but more plaster is used, so isn’t necessarily cheaper to do.)
Crépi – the rendering, a term that tends to be used for the exterior house walls.
Enduit – coating or filler – this term is used for the product put on inside or outside of house.
Enduit de chaux – lime plaster
Joint d’étanchéité (m) – seal
Tuyaux – pipes (all purpose word)
Canalisation (f) – drains
Gouttière (f) – guttering
Câble – cable! (Often used when you need to redo your main electric supply – these are expensive!)