A/C- An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.
A/C Condenser- The outside fan unit of the Air Conditioning system.
It removes the heat from the freon gas and "turns" the gas back into a liquid
and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.
A/C Disconnect- The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C Condenser.
Aerator- The round screened screw-on tip of a sink spout. It mixes
water and air for a smooth flow.
Aggregate- A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.
Air space - The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior
wall coverings. Normally a 1" air gap.
Allowance(s) - A sum of money set aside in the construction contract
for items which have not been selected and specified in the construction
contract. For example, selection of tile as a flooring may require an allowance
for an underlayment material, or an electrical allowance which sets aside
an amount of money to be spent on electrical fixtures.
Anchor bolts- Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete , or
masonry floor or wall.
Apron- A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill
Area wells- Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around
a basement window to hold back the earth
Astragal- A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double
doors, against which the other door strikes.
Attic access- An opening that is placed in the drywalled ceiling of
a home providing access to the attic.
Attic Ventilators- In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate
Backfill- The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around
or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.
Backing- Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional
support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets,
cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into
solid wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose
from the wall. Carpet backing holds the pile fabric in place.
Backout- Work the framing contractor does after the mechanical
subcontractors (Heating-Plumbing-Electrical) finish their phase of work at
the Rough (before insulation) stage to get the home ready for a municipal
frame inspection. Generally, the framing contractor repairs anything disturbed
by others and completes all framing necessary to pass a Rough Frame Inspection.
Ballast- A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.
Balloon framed wall- Framed walls (generally over 10' tall) that run
the entire vertical length from the floor sill plate to the roof. This is
done to eliminate the need for a gable end truss.
Balusters- Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and
bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as 'pickets' or
Balustrade- The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge
of a stairway or elevated walkway.
Barge- Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.
Barge board- A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly
rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a fascia board.
Base or baseboard- A trim board placed against the wall around the
room next to the floor.
Basement window inserts- The window frame and glass unit that is installed
in the window buck.
Base shoe- Molding used next to the floor on interior base board.
Sometimes called a carpet strip.
Bat - A half-brick.
Batt - A section of fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation measuring
15 or 23 inches wide by four to eight feet long and various thickness'.
Sometimes "faced" (meaning to have a paper covering on one side) or
"unfaced" (without paper).
Batten- Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative
vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
Bay window- Any window space projecting outward from the walls of
a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
Beam- A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural
member carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another. Sometimes
called a "girder".
Bearing partition- A partition that supports any vertical load in
addition to its own weight.
Bearing point- A point where a bearing or structural weight is
concentrated and transferred to the foundation
Bearing wall- A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to
its own weight.
Bearing header- (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which
joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b)
A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for
example over a door or window).
Bedrock- A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a
Bifold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a
smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
Binder- A receipt for a deposit to secure the right to purchase a
home at an agreed terms by a buyer and seller.
Bipass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as
Blankets- Fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation that comes in long rolls
15 or 23 inches wide.
Blocked (door blocking)- Wood shims used between the door frame and
the vertical structural wall framing members.
Blocked (rafters)- Short "2 by 4's" used to keep rafters from twisting,
and installed at the ends and at mid-span.
Blocking- Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide
a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.
Block out- To install a box or barrier within a foundation wall to
prevent the concrete from entering an area. For example, foundation walls
are sometimes "blocked" in order for mechanical pipes to pass through the
wall, to install a crawl space door, and to depress the concrete at a garage
Blow insulation- Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate
attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
Board foot- A unit of measure for lumber equal to 1 inch thick by
12 inches wide by 12 inches long. Examples: 1" x 12" x 16' = 16 board feet,
2" x 12" x 16' = 32 board feet
Bottom chord - The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.
Bottom plate- The "2 by 4's or 6's" that lay on the subfloor upon
which the vertical studs are installed. Also called the 'sole plate'.
Brace- An inclined piece of framing lumber applied to wall or floor
to strengthen the structure. Often used on walls as temporary bracing until
framing has been completed.
Breaker panel- The electrical box that distributes electric power
entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed
of circuit breakers.
Brick ledge- Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will
Brick lintel- The metal angle iron that brick rests on, especially
above a window, door, or other opening.
Brick mold-Trim used around an exterior door jamb that siding butts
Brick tie- A small, corrugated metal strip @ 1" X 6"- 8" long nailed
to wall sheeting or studs. They are inserted into the grout mortar joint
of the veneer brick, and holds the veneer wall to the sheeted wall behind
Brick veneer- A vertical facing of brick laid against and fastened
to sheathing of a framed wall or tile wall construction.
Bridging- Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal
position between the floor joists or rafters at mid-span for the purpose
of bracing the joists/rafters & spreading the load.
Buck- Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door
bucks used in reference to metal door frame. See Window Bucks
Building paper- A general term for papers, felts, and similar sheet
materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses.
Generally comes in long rolls.
Built-up roof- A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt
felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with
crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.
Bull nose (drywall)- Rounded drywall corners.
Bundle - A package of shingles. Normally, there are 3 bundles per
square and 27 shingles per bundle.
Butt edge- The lower edge of the shingle tabs.
Butt hinge- The most common type. One leaf attaches to the door's
edge, the other to its jamb.
Butt joint- The junction where the ends of two timbers meet, and also
where sheets of drywall meet on the 4 foot edge. To place materials end-to-end
or end-to-edge without overlapping.
By fold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a
smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
By pass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as
CO- An abbreviation for "Certificate of Occupancy". This
certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone
can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local
municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.
Caisson- A 10" or 12" diameter hole drilled into the earth and embedded
into bedrock 3 - 4 feet. The structural support for a type of foundation
wall, porch, patio, monopost, or other structure. Two or more "sticks" of
reinforcing bars (rebar) are inserted into and run the full length of the
hole and concrete is poured into the caisson hole
Cantilever- An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a
foundation wall. For example at a fireplace location or bay window cantilever.
Normally, not extending over 2 feet.
Cantilevered void- Foundation void material used in unusually expansive
soils conditions. This void is "trapezoid" shaped and has vertical sides
of 6" and 4" respectively.
Cap- The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding,
Cap flashing- The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface
to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Capital- The principal part of a loan, i.e. the original amount borrowed.
Casement- Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window
sash. May be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.
Casement Window- A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides
and swings open like a normal door
Casing- Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.
Caulking- (1) A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces
e.g. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls. (2) To fill a
joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.
CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate)- A pesticide that is forced into wood
under high pressure to protect it from termites, other wood boring insects,
and decay caused by fungus
Celotex ™- Black fibrous board that is used as exterior sheething.
Ceiling joist- One of a series of parallel framing members used to
support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing
walls. Also called roof joists.
Cement- The gray powder that is the "glue" in concrete. Portland cement.
Also, any adhesive.
Ceramic tile- A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish
a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub and shower enclosures and on counter
CFM (cubic feet per minute)- A rating that expresses the amount of
air a blower or fan can move. The volume of air (measured in cubic feet)
that can pass through an opening in one minute.
Chair rail- Interior trim material installed about 3-4 feet up the
Chalk line- A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with
chalk. Used for alignment purposes.
Chase- A framed enclosed space around a flue pipe or a channel in
a wall, or through a ceiling for something to lie in or pass through.
Chink- To install fiberglass insulation around all exterior door and
window frames, wall corners, and small gaps in the exterior wall.
Chip Board- A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips
and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and
roof sheathing. Also called OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or wafer board.
Circuit- The path of electrical flow from a power source through an
outlet and back to ground.
Circuit Breaker- A device which looks like a switch and is usually
located inside the electrical breaker panel or circuit breaker box. It is
designed to (1) shut of the power to portions or all of the house and (2)
to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit (measured in amperes).
110 volt household circuits require a fuse or circuit breaker with a rating
of 15 or a maximum of 20 amps. 220 volt circuits may be designed for higher
amperage loads e.g. a hot water heater may be designed for a 30 amp load
and would therefore need a 30 amp fuse or breaker.
Class "A"- Optimum fire rating issued by Underwriter's Laboratories
on roofing. The building codes in some areas require this type of roofing
for fire safety.
Class "C"- Minimum fire rating issued by the Underwriters' Laboratories
for roofing materials.
Clean out- An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with
a threaded plug.
Clip ties- Sharp, cut metal wires that protrude out of a concrete
foundation wall (that at one time held the foundation form panels in place).
Cold air return- The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room
air back to the furnace for re-heating.
Collar- Preformed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing
above the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve.
Collar beam- Nominal 1- or 2-inch-thick members connecting opposite
roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.
Column- A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
Combustion air- The duct work installed to bring fresh, outside air
to the furnace and/or hot water heater. Normally 2 separate supplies of air
are brought in: One high and One low.
Combustion chamber- The part of a boiler, furnace or woodstove where
the burn occurs; normally lined with firebrick or molded or sprayed insulation.
Compression web- A member of a truss system which connects the bottom
and top chords and which provides downward support.
Compressor- A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to
turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat to be removed or added. A compressor
is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners. In
an air conditioning system, the compressor normally sits outside and has
a large fan (to remove heat).
Concrete- The mixture of Portland cement, sand, gravel, and water.
Used to make garage and basement floors, sidewalks, patios, foundation walls,
etc. It is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening
Concrete block - A hollow concrete 'brick' often 8" x 8" x 16" in
Concrete board - A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually
used as a tile backing material.
Condensation- Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely
cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a
building. Use of louvers or attic ventilators will reduce moisture condensation
in attics. A vapor barrier under the gypsum lath or dry wall on exposed walls
will reduce condensation.
Condensing unit - The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes
a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.
Conditions, Convenants, and Restrictions (CC and Rs) - The standards
that define how a property may be used and the protections the developer
makes for the benefit of all owners in a subdivision.
Conduction- The direct transfer of heat energy through a material.
Conductivity- The rate at which heat is transmitted through a material.
Conduit, electrical- A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.
Construction drywall- A type of construction in which the interior
wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet
materials or wood paneling as contrasted to plaster.
Construction, frame- A type of construction in which the structural
components are wood or depend upon a wood frame for support.
Continuity tester- A device that tells whether a circuit is capable
of carrying electricity.
||· General contractor - responsible for the execution, supervision
and overall coordination of a project and may also perform some of the individual
construction tasks. Most general contractors are not licensed to perform
all specialty trades and must hire specialty contractors for such tasks,
e.g. electrical, plumbing.
||· Remodeling contractor - a general contractor who specializes in
||· Specialty contractor - licensed to perform a specialty task e.g.
electrical, side sewer, asbestos abatement.
||· Sub contractor - a general or specialty contractor who works for
another general contractor.
Control joint- Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to
"control" where the concrete should crack
Convection- Currents created by heating air, which then rises and
pulls cooler air behind it. Also see radiation.
Conventional loan A mortgage loan not insured by a government agency
(such as FHA or VA)
Convertibility The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate
schedule to a fixed rate schedule.
Cooling load- The amount of cooling required to keep a building at
a specified temperature during the summer, usually 78° F, regardless
of outside temperature.
Coped- Removing the top and bottom flange of the end(s) of a metal
I-beam. This is done to permit it to fit within, and bolted to, the web of
another I-beam in a "T" arrangement
Coped joint- Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Corbel- The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds
a mantel or horizontal shelf.
Corner bead- A strip of formed sheet metal placed on outside corners
of drywall before applying drywall 'mud'.
Corner boards- Used as trim for the external corners of a house or
other frame structure against which the ends of the siding are finished.
Corner braces- Diagonal braces at the corners of the framed structure
designed to stiffen and strengthen the wall.
Cornice- Overhang of a pitched roof , usually consisting of a fascia
board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
Counter flashing- A metal flashing usually used on chimneys at the
roofline to cover shingle flashing and used to prevent moisture entry.
Counterfort- A foundation wall section that strengthens (and generally
perpendicular to) a long section of foundation wall
Course- A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the
roof. Parallel layers of building materials such as bricks, or siding laid
Cove molding- A molding with a concave face used as trim or to finish
Crawl space- A shallow space below the living quarters of a house,
normally enclosed by the foundation wall and having a dirt floor.
Credit rating- A report ordered by a lender from a credit agency to
determine a borrower's credit habits.
Cricket- A second roof built on top of the primary roof to increase
the slope of the roof or valley. A saddle-shaped, peaked construction connecting
a sloping roof with a chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away
from the chimney joint.
Cripple- Short vertical "2 by 4's or 6's" frame lumber installed above
a window or door.
Cross bridging- Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed
near the center of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.
Cross Tee- Short metal "T" beam used in suspended ceiling systems
to bridge the spaces between the main beams.
Crown molding- A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle
is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.
Culvert- Round, corrugated drain pipe (normally 15" or 18" in diameter)
that is installed beneath a driveway and parallel to and near the street.
Cupping- A type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their
Curb- The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a
roof. Normally a 2 by 6 box (on the roof) on which a skylight is attached.
Curb stop- Normally a cast iron pipe with a lid (@ 5" in diameter)
that is placed vertically into the ground, situated near the water tap in
the yard, and where a water cut-off valve to the home is located (underground).
A long pole with a special end is inserted into the curb stop to turn off/on
Cut-in brace- Nominal 2-inch-thick members, usually 2 by 4's, cut
in between each stud diagonally.
Dado- A groove cut into a board or panel intended to receive the edge
of a connecting board or panel.
Damper- A metal "door" placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally
closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Dampproofing- The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to
the exterior of a foundation wall.
Daylight- The end of a pipe (the terminal end) that is not attached
Dead bolt- An exterior security lock installed on exterior entry doors
that can be activated only with a key or thumb-turn. Unlike a latch, which
has a beveled tongue, dead bolts have square ends.
Dead light- The fixed, non-operable window section of a window unit.
Deck, decked- To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the
floor joists, rafters, or trusses.
Dedicated circuit- An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance
(ie, dishwasher) or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.
Default- Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).
De-humidistat- A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical
ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.
Delamination- Separation of the plies in a panel due to failure of
the adhesive. Usually caused by excessive moisture.
Disconnect- A large (generally 20 Amp) electrical ON-OFF switch.
Doorjamb, interior- The surrounding case into which and out of which
a door closes and opens. It consists of two upright pieces, called side jambs,
and a horizontal head jamb. These 3 jambs have the "door stop" installed
Door operator- An automatic garage door opener.
Door stop- The wooden style that the door slab will rest upon when
it's in a closed position.
Dormer- An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects
out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
Double glass- Window or door in which two panes of glass are used
with a sealed air space between. Also known as Insulating Glass.
Double hung window- A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both
of which can move up and down.
Down payment- The difference between the sales price and the mortgage
amount. A downpayment is usually paid at closing.
Downspout- A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from
the roof's horizontal gutters.
Drain tile- A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom
of the foundation wall and used to drain excess water away from the foundation.
It prevents ground water from seeping through the foundation wall. Sometimes
called perimeter drain.
Drip- (a) A member of a cornice or other horizontal exterior finish
course that has a projection beyond the other parts for throwing off water.(b)
A groove in the underside of a sill or drip cap to cause water to drop off
on the outer edge instead of drawing back and running down the face of the
Drip cap- A molding or metal flashing placed on the exterior topside
of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the
Dry in- To install the black roofing felt (tar paper) on the roof.
Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheet rock or Plasterboard)- Wall
board or gypsum- A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased
in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size.
The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped
and covered with a 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall has a greater
resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms
and other "wet areas".
Ducts- The heating system. Usually round or rectangular metal pipes
installed for distributing warm (or cold) air from the furnace to rooms in
the home. Also a tunnel made of galvanized metal or rigid fiberglass,
which carries air from the heater or ventilation opening to the rooms in
Dura board, dura rock- A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass
usually used as a ceramic tile backing material. Commonly used on bathtub
decks. Sometimes called Wonder board
DWV (drain-waste-vent)- The section of a plumbing system that carries
water and sewer gases out of a home.
Easement- A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's
property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party
to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.
Eaves- The horizontal exterior roof overhang.
Egress- A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required
in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4' X 4' window is the minimum size
Elbow (ell)- A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change
directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Electric lateral- The trench or area in the yard where the electric
service line (from a transformer or pedestal) is located, or the work of
installing the electric service to a home.
Electric resistance coils- Metal wires that heat up when electric
current passes through them and are used in baseboard heaters and electric
Electrical entrance package- The entry point of the electrical power
including: (1) the 'strike' or location where the overhead or underground
electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much
power is used and (3) The 'panel' or 'circuit breaker box ' (or 'fuse box')
where the power can be shut off and where overload devices such a fuses or
circuit breakers and located.
Electrical Rough- Work performed by the Electrical Contractor after
the plumber and heating contractor are complete with their phase of work.
Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are
installed (before insulation).
Electrical Trim- Work performed by the electrical contractor when
the house is nearing completion. The electrician installs all plugs, switches,
light fixtures, smoke detectors, appliance "pig tails", bath ventilation
fans, wires the furnace, and "makes up" the electric house panel. The electrician
does all work necessary to get the home ready for and to pass the municipal
electrical final inspection
Elevation sheet- The page on the blue prints that depicts the house
or room as if a vertical plane were passed through the structure.
Estimate- The amount of labor, materials, and other costs that a
contractor anticipates for a project as summarized in the contractor's bid
proposal for the project.
Escutcheon- An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending
through a wall or floor to hide the cut out hole
Estimating- The process of calculating the cost of a project. This
can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.
Evaporator coil- The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from
air in your home. Also see condensing unit.
Expansion joint- Fibrous material (@1/2" thick) installed in and around
a concrete slab to permit it to move up and down (seasonally) along the
non-moving foundation wall.
Expansive soils- Earth that swells and contracts depending on the
amount of water that is present. ("Betonite" is an expansive soil).
Exposed aggregate finish- A method of finishing concrete which washes
the cement/sand mixture off the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel.
Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.
Extras- Additional work requested of a contractor, not included in
the original plan, which will be billed separately and will not alter the
original contract amount, but increase the cost of building the home.
FHA strap- Metal straps that are used to repair a bearing wall "cut-out",
and to "tie together" wall corners, splices, and bearing headers. Also, they
are used to hang stairs and landings to bearing headers.
Face nail- To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header
Faced concrete- To finish the front and all vertical sides of a concrete
porch, step(s), or patio. Normally the "face" is broom finished.
Facing brick- The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall.
Usually these have a finished texture.
Fascia- Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves
and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.
Felt- Tar paper. Installed under the roof shingles. Normally 15 lb.
or 30 lb.
Female- Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male)
part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.
Ferrule- Metal tubes used to keep roof gutters "open". Long nails
(ferrule spikes) are driven through these tubes and hold the gutters in place
along the fascia of the home.
Field measure- To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs,
shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead of using the blueprints.
Finger joint- A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter
pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber
or molding. Often used in jambs and casings and are normally painted (instead
Fire block- Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs,
usually about halfway up a wall. See also 'Fire stop'.
Fire brick- Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist
high temperatures. Used in a fireplace and boiler.
Fireplace chase flashing pan- A large sheet of metal that is installed
around and perpendicular to the fireplace flue pipe. It's purpose is to confine
and limit the spread of fire and smoke to a small area.
Fire-resistive or Fire rated- Applies to materials that are not
combustible in the temperatures of ordinary fires and will withstand such
fires for at least 1 hour. Drywall used in the garage and party walls are
to be fire rated, 5/8", Type X.
Fire retardant chemical- A chemical or preparation of chemicals used
to reduce the flammability of a material or to retard the spread of flame.
Fire stop- A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to
prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall,
this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs. Work performed
to slow the spread of fire and smoke in the walls and ceiling (behind the
drywall). Includes stuffing wire holes in the top and bottom plates with
insulation, and installing blocks of wood between the wall studs at the drop
soffit line. This is integral to passing a Rough Frame inspection. See
also 'Fire block'.
Fishplate (gusset)- A wood or plywood piece used to fasten the ends
of two members together at a butt joint with nails or bolts. Sometimes used
at the junction of opposite rafters near the ridge line. Sometimes called
a gang nail plate.
Fish tape- A long strip of spring steel used for fishing cables and
for pulling wires through conduit.
Flagstone (flagging or flags)- Flat stones (1 to 4 inches thick) used
for walks, steps, floors, and vertical veneer (in lieu of brick).
Flakeboard- A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips
and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and
roof sheathing. Also called OSB or wafer board.
Flame retention burner- An oil burner, designed to hold the flame
near the nozzle surface. Generally the most efficient type for residential
Flashing- Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction
to protect a building from water seepage.
Flat mold- Thin wood strips installed over the butt seam of cabinet
Flat paint- An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment
and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
Flatwork- Common word for concrete floors, driveways, basements, and
Floating- The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when you smooth
off the job and bring water to the surface by using a hand float or bull
Floating wall- A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is
constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull
apart if the concrete floor moves up or down. Normally built on basements
and garage slabs.
Fluorescent lighting- A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube
with a phosphur coating on the inside. Gas inside the tube is ionized
by electricity which causes the phosphur coating to glow. Normally
with two pins that extend from each end.
Flue- Large pipe through which fumes escape from a gas water heater,
furnace, or fireplace. Normally these flue pipes are double walled, galvanized
sheet metal pipe and sometimes referred to as a "B Vent". Fireplace flue
pipes are normally triple walled. In addition, nothing combustible shall
be within one inch from the flue pipe.
Flue collar- Round metal ring which fits around the heat flue pipe
after the pipe passes out of the roof.
Flue damper- An automatic door located in the flue that closes it
off when the burner turns off; purpose is to reduce heat loss up the flue
from the still-warm furnace or boiler.
Flue lining- 2-foot lengths, fire clay or terra-cotta pipe (round
or square) and usually madein all ordinary flue sizes. Used for the inner
lining of chimneys with the brick or masonry work done around the outside.
Flue linings in chimneys runs from one foot below the flue connection to
the top of the chimney.
Fly rafters- End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing
Footer, footing- Continuous 8" or 10" thick concrete pad installed
before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.
Forced air heating - A common form of heating with natural gas, propane,
oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed
through a set of metal ducts to various areas of the house.
Form- Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing
and initial hardening.
Foundation- The supporting portion of a structure below the first
floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
Foundation ties- Metal wires that hold the foundation wall panels
and rebar in place during the concrete pour.
Foundation waterproofing- High-quality below-grade moisture protection.
Used for below-grade exterior concrete and masonry wall damp-proofing to
seal out moisture and prevent corrosion. Normally looks like black tar.
Frame Inspection- The act of inspecting the home's structural integrity
and it's complianceto local municipal codes.
Framer-The carpenter contractor that installs the lumber and erects
the frame, flooring system, interior walls, backing, trusses, rafters, decking,
installs all beams, stairs, soffits and all work related to the wood structure
of the home. The framer builds the home according to the blueprints and must
comply with local building codes and regulations.
Framing- Lumber used for the structural members of a building,
such as studs, joists, and rafters.
Frieze- In house construction a horizontal member connecting the top
of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
Frost lid- Round metal lid that is installed on a water meter pit.
Frost line- The depth of frost penetration in soil and/or the depth
at which the earth will freeze and swell. This depth varies in different
parts of the country.
Furring strips- Strips of wood, often 1 X 2 and used to shim out and
provide a level fastening surface for a wall or ceiling.
Fuse- A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads
in electrical lines. This protects against fire. See also 'circuit
GF C I, or G F I- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter- an ultra sensitive
plug designed to shut off all electric current. Used in bathrooms, kitchens,
exterior waterproof outlets, garage outlets, and "wet areas". Has a small
reset button on the plug.
Gable- The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.
Gang nail plate- A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint
of a truss. Sometimes called a fishplate or gussett.
Gate valve- A valve that lets you completely stop—but not
modulate—the flow within a pipe.
General Contractor A contractor who enters into a contract with the
owner of a project for the construction of the project and who takes full
responsibility for its completion, although the contractor may enter into
subcontracts with others for the performance of specific parts or phases
of the project.
Gas lateral- The trench or area in the yard where the gas line service
is located, or the work of installing the gas service to a home.
Girder- A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support
concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
Glazing- The process of installing glass, which commonly is secured
with glazier's points and glazing compound.
Globe valve- A valve that lets you adjust the flow of water to any
rate between fully on and fully off. Also see gate valve.
Gloss enamel- A finishing paint material. Forms a hard coating with
maximum smoothness of surface and dries to a sheen or luster (gloss)
Glued Laminated Beam (Glulam)- A structural beam composed of wood
laminations or lams. The lams are pressure bonded with adhesives to attain
a typical thickness of 1 ½" . (It looks like 5 or more 2 X 4's
are glued together).
Grade- Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also the
work of leveling dirt. Also the designated quality of a manufactured piece
Grade beam- A foundation wall that is poured @ level with or just
below the grade of theearth. An example is the area where the 8' or 16' overhead
garage door "block out" is located, or a lower (walk out basement) foundation
wall is poured
Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM) - A fixed-rate, fixed-schedule loan.
It starts with lower payments than a level payment loan; payments rise annually,
with the entire increase being used to reduce the outstanding balance. The
increase in payments may enable the borrower to pay off a 30-year loan in
15 to 20 years, or less.
Grain- The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of
the fibers in wood.
Grid- The completed assembly of main and cross tees in a suspended
ceiling system before the ceiling panels are installed. Also the decorative
slats (munton) installed between glass panels.
Ground- Refers to electricity's habit of seeking the shortest route
to earth. Neutral wires carry it there in all circuits. An additional grounding
wire or the sheathing of the metal-clad cable or conduit—protects against
shock if the neutral leg is interrupted.
Ground fault- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI, GFI)- an ultra
sensitive plug designed to shut off all electric current. Used in bathrooms,
kitchens, exterior waterproof outlets, garage outlets, and "wet areas". Has
a small reset button on the plug.
Ground iron- The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed
beneath the basement floor. Cast iron was once used, but black plastic pipe
(ABS) is now widely used.
Groundwater- Water from an aquifer or subsurface water source.
Grout- A wet mixture of cement, sand and water that flows into masonry
or ceramic crevices to seal the cracks between the different pieces. Mortar
made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into the joints
and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.
Gusset- A flat wood, plywood, or similar type member used to provide
a connection at the intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints
of wood trusses. They are fastened by nails, screws, bolts, or adhesives.
Gutter- A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and
along the (fascia) eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from
Gyp board- Drywall. Wall board or gypsum- A panel (normally 4' X 8',
10', 12', or 16')made with a core of Gypsum (chalk-like) rock, which covers
interior walls and ceilings.
Gypsum plaster- Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of
sand and water for base-coat
H Clip- Small metal clips formed like an "H" that fits at the joints
of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used
on the roof sheeting.
Hardware- All of the "metal" fittings that go into the home when it
is near completion. For example, door knobs, towel bars, handrail brackets,
closet rods, house numbers, door closers, etc. The Interior Trim Carpenter
installs the "hardware".
Haunch- An extension, knee like protrusion of the foundation wall
that a concrete porch or patio will rest upon for support.
Header- (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists
are nailed inframing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood
lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example
over a door or window).
Hearth- The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace. The inner
or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.
Heating load- The amount of heating required to keep a building at
a specified temperature during the winter, usually 65° F, regardless
of outside temperature.
Heat meter- An electrical municipal inspection of the electric meter
breaker panel box.
Heat pump- A mechanical device which uses compression and decompression
of gas to heat and/or cool a house.
Heat Rough- Work performed by the Heating Contractor after the stairs
and interior walls are built. This includes installing all duct work and
flue pipes. Sometimes, the furnace and fireplaces are installed at this stage
Heat Trim- Work done by the Heating Contractor to get the home ready
for the municipal Final Heat Inspection. This includes venting the hot water
heater, installing all vent grills, registers, air conditioning services,
turning on the furnace, installing thermostats, venting ranges and hoods,
and all other heat related work.
Heel cut- A notch cut in the end of a rafter to permit it to fit flat
on a wall and on the top, doubled, exterior wall plate.
Highlights- A light spot, area, or streak on a painted surface.
Hip- A roof with four sloping sides. The external angle formed by
the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.
Hip roof- A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides
of a building.
Home run (electrical)- The electrical cable that carries power from
the main circuit breaker panel to the first electrical box, plug, or switch
in the circuit.
Honey combs- The appearance concrete makes when rocks in the concrete
are visible and where there are void areas in the foundation wall, especially
around concrete foundation windows.
Hose bib- An exterior water faucet (sill cock).
Hot wire- The wire that carries electrical energy to a receptacle
or other device—in contrast to a neutral, which carries electricity
away again. Normally the black wire. Also see ground.
Humidifier- An appliance normally attached to the furnace, or portable
unit device designed to increase the humidity within a room or a house by
means of the discharge of water vapor.
Hurricane clip- Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters
and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. Sometimes called a Teco clip.
H V A C- An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and
I-beam- A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter
I. It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings,
such as a double garage door, when wall and roof loads bear down on the opening.
I-joist- Manufactured structural building component resembling the
letter "I". Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two key parts:
flanges and webs. The flange of the I joist may be made
of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1
½" width. The web or center of the I-joist is commonly made of
plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web
to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I-joists are available
in lengths up to 60 feet long
Incandescent lamp- A lamp employing an electrically charged metal
filament that glows at white heat. A typical light bulb.
Index- The interest rate or adjustment standard that determines the
changes in monthly payments for an adjustable rate loan.
Infiltration- The passage of air from indoors to outdoors and vice
versa; term is usually associated with drafts from cracks, seams or holes
Inside corner- The point at which two walls form an internal angle,
as in the corner of a room.
Insulating glass- Window or door in which two panes of glass are used
with a sealed air space between. Also known as Double glass.
Insulation board, rigid- A structural building board made of coarse
wood or cane fiber in ½- and 25/32-inch thickness. It can be obtained
in various size sheets and densities.
Insulation- Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that,
when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, and will reduce
the rate of heat flow.
Interest - The cost paid to a lender for borrowed money.
Interior finish- Material used to cover the interior framed areas
of walls and ceilings
Irrigation- Lawn sprinkler
J Channel- Metal edging used on drywall to give the edge a better
finished appearance when a wall is not "wrapped" Generally, basement stairway
walls have drywall only on the stair side. J Channel is used on the vertical
edge of the last drywall sheet
Jack post- A type of structural support made of metal, which can be
raised or lowered through a series of pins and a screw to meet the height
required. Basically used as a replacement for an old supporting member in
a building. See Monopost.
Jack rafter- A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate
to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.
Jamb- The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.
Includes studs as well as the frame and trim.
Joint- The location between the touching surfaces of two members or
components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other
Joint cement or Joint compound- A powder that is usually mixed with
water and used for joint treatment in gypsum-wallboard finish. Often called
"spackle" or drywall mud.
Joint trench- When the electric company and telephone company dig
one trench and "drop" both of their service lines in.
Joist- Wooden 2 X 8's, 10's, or 12's that run parallel to one another
and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders,
or bearing walls.
Joist hanger- A metal "U" shaped item used to support the end of a
floor joist and attached with hardened nails to another bearing joist or
Jumpers- Water pipe installed in a water meter pit (before the water
meter is installed), or electric wire that is installed in the electric house
panel meter socket before the meter is installed. This is sometimes
Keeper- The metal latch plate in a door frame into which a doorknob
Keyless- A plastic or porcelain light fixture that operates by a pull
string. Generally found in the basement, crawl space , and attic areas.
Keyway- A slot formed and poured on a footer or in a foundation wall
when another wall will be installed at the slot location. This gives additional
strength to the joint/meeting point.
Kilowatt (kw)- One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit
used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see watt.
King stud- The vertical "2 X's" frame lumber (left and right) of a
window or door opening, and runs continuously from the bottom sole plate
to the top plate.
Knot- In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears
on the edge or face of the
Laminated shingles - Shingles that have added dimensionality because
of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance. May also be called
"architectural shingles" or "three-dimensional shingles."
Laminating- Bonding together two or more layers of materials.
Landing- A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination
of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally
no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.
Lap- To cover the surface of one shingle or roll with another.
Latch- A beveled metal tongue operated by a spring-loaded knob or
lever. The tongue's bevel lets you close the door and engage the locking
mechanism, if any, without using a key. Contrasts with dead bolt.
Lateral (electric, gas, telephone, sewer and water)- The underground
trench and related services (i.e., electric, gas, telephone, sewer and water
lines) that will be buried within the trench.
Lath- A building material of narrow wood, metal, gypsum, or insulating
board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a base for plaster,
shingles, or tiles.
Lattice- An open framework of criss-crossed wood or metal strips that
form regular, patterned spaces.
Ledger (for a Structural Floor)- The wooden perimeter frame lumber
member that bolts onto the face of a foundation wall and supports the wood
Ledger strip- A strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the side
of a girder on which joists rest.
Leech field- A method used to treat/dispose of sewage in rural areas
not accessible to a municipal sewer system. Sewage is permitted to
be filtered and eventually discharged into a section of the lot called a
Let-in brace- Nominal 1 inch-thick boards applied into notched studs
diagonally. Also, an "L" shaped, long (@ 10') metal strap that are installed
by the framer at the rough stage to give support to an exterior wall or wall
Level- True horizontal. Also a tool used to determine level.
Light- Space in a window sash for a single pane of glass. Also, a
pane of glass.
Limit switch- A safety control that automatically shuts off a furnace
if it gets too hot. Most also control blower cycles.
Lineal foot- A unit of measure for lumber equal to 1 inch thick by
12 inches wide by 12 inches long. Examples: 1" x 12" x 16' = 16 board feet,
2" x 12" x 16' = 32 board feet.
Lintel- A horizontal structural member that supports the load over
an opening such as a door or window.
Load bearing wall- Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall
that is aligned above a support beam or girder. Normally, any wall that has
a double horizontal top plate.
Lookout- A short wood bracket or cantilever that supports an overhang
portion of a roof.
Louver- A vented opening into the home that has a series of horizontal
slats and arranged to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, snow, light,
insects, or other living creatures.
Lumens- Unit of measure for total light output. The amount of light
falling on a surface of one square foot.
Male- Any part, such as a bolt, designed to fit into another (female)
part. External threads are male.
Mantel- The shelf above a fireplace opening. Also used in referring
to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.
Manufactured wood- A wood product such as a truss, beam, gluelam,
microlam or joist which is manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued
or mechanically fastened to form a larger piece. Often used to create a stronger
member which may use less wood. See also Oriented Strand Board.
Manufacturer's specifications- The written installation and/or maintenance
instructions which are developed by the manufacturer of a product and which
may have to be followed in order to maintain the product warrantee.
Masonry- Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other
similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar
to form a wall.
Mastic- A pasty material used as a cement (as for setting tile) or
a protective coating (as for thermal insulation or waterproofing)
Metal lath- Sheets of metal that are slit to form openings within
the lath. Used as a plaster base for walls and ceilings and as reinforcing
over other forms of plaster base.
Microlam- A manufactured structural wood beam. It is constructed of
pressure and adhesive bonded wood strands of wood. They have a higher strength
rating than solid sawn lumber. Normally comes in l ½" thickness' and
9 ½", 11 ½" and 14" widths
Milar (mylar)- Plastic, transparent copies of a blueprint.
Millwork- Generally all building materials made of finished wood and
manufactured in millwork plants. Includes all doors, window and door frames,
blinds, mantels, panelwork, stairway components (ballusters, rail, etc.),
moldings, and interior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.
Miter joint- The joint of two pieces at an angle that bisects the
joining angle. For example, the miter joint at the side and head casing at
a door opening is made at a 45° angle.
Molding- A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface.
Monopost- Adjustable metal column used to support a beam or bearing
point. Normally 11 gauge or Schedule 40 metal, and determined by the structural
Mortar- A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in
Mortise- A slot cut into a board, plank, or timber, usually edgewise,
to receive the tenon (or tongue) of another board, plank, or timber to form
Mudsill- Bottom horizontal member of an exterior wall frame which
rests on top a foundation, sometimes called sill plate. Also sole plate,
bottom member of interior wall frame.
Mullion- A vertical divider in the frame between windows, doors, or
Muntin- A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash
Muriatic acid- Commonly used as a brick cleaner after masonry work
Mushroom- The unacceptable occurrence when the top of a caisson concrete
pier spreads out and hardens to become wider than the foundation wall
Nail inspection- An inspection made by a municipal building inspector
after the drywall material is hung with nails and screws (and before taping).
Natural finish- A transparent finish which does not seriously alter
the original color or grain of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually
provided by sealers, oils, varnishes, water repellent preservatives, and
other similar materials.
NEC (National Electrical Code)- A set of rules governing safe wiring
methods. Local codes—which are backed by law—may differ from the
NEC in some ways.
Neutral wire- Usually color-coded white, this carries electricity
from an outlet back to the service panel. Also see hot wire and ground.
Newel post- The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard
railing or balustrade is fastened.
Nonbearing wall- A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Nosing- The projecting edge of a molding or drip or the front edge
of a stair tread.
Notch- A crosswise groove at the end of a board.
Note- A formal document showing the existence of a debt and stating
the terms of repayment.
Nozzle- The part of a heating system that sprays the fuel of fuel-air
mixture into the combustion chamber.
O C- On Center- The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and
joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.
Oakum- Loose hemp or jute fiber that's impregnated with tar or pitch
and used to caulk large seams or for packing plumbing pipe joints
Open hole inspection- When an engineer (or municipal inspector) inspects
the open excavation and examines the earth to determine the type of foundation
(caisson, footer, wall on ground, etc.) that should be installed in the hole.
Oriented Strand Board or OSB- A manufactured 4' X 8' wood panel made
out of 1"- 2" wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.
Outrigger- An extension of a rafter beyond the wall line. Usually
a smaller member nailed to a larger rafter to form a cornice or roof overhang.
Outside corner- The point at which two walls form an external angle,
one you usually can walk around.
Overhang- Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof; the part
of the roof that hangs out or over the outside wall. See also Cornice.
Padding- A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate
sound, and to prolong carpet life.
Pad out, pack out- To shim out or add strips of wood to a wall or
ceiling in order that the finished ceiling/wall will appear correct.
Paint- A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to
provide decorative and protective coatings. Can be oil based or latex water
Pallets- Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material.
Forklifts and hand trucks are used to move these wooden platforms around.
Panel- A thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed
by stiles and rails as in a door (or cabinet door), or fitted into grooves
of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.
Paper, building- A general term for papers, felts, and similar sheet
materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses.
Generally comes in long rolls.
Parapet- A wall placed at the edge of a roof to prevent people from
Parting stop or strip- A small wood piece used in the side and head
jambs of double hung windows to separate the upper sash from the lower sash.
Particle board- Plywood substitute made of course sawdust that is
mixed with resin and pressed into sheets. Used for closet shelving, floor
underlayment, stair treads, etc.
Partition- A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building
Paver, paving- Materials—commonly masonry—laid down to make
a firm, even surface.
Payment schedule- A pre-agreed upon schedule of payments to a contractor
usually based upon the amount of work completed. Such a schedule may include
a deposit prior to the start of work. There may also be a temporary 'retainer'
(5-10% of the total cost of the job) at the end of the contract for correcting
any small items which have not been completed or repaired.
Pedestal- A metal box installed at various locations along utility
easements that contain electrical, telephone, or cable television switches
Penny- As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per
hundred. The term now series as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated
by the letter "d". Normally, 16d (16 "penny") nails are used for framing
Percolation test or perc. test- Tests that a soil engineer performs
on earth to determine the feasibility of installing a leech field type sewer
system on a lot. A test to determine if the soil on a proposed building lot
is capable of absorbing the liquid affluent from a septic system.
Perimeter drain- 3" or 4" perforated plastic pipe that goes around
the perimeter (either inside or outside) of a foundation wall (before backfill)
and collects and diverts ground water away from the foundation. Generally,
it is "daylighted" into a sump pit inside the home, and a sump pump is sometimes
inserted into the pit to discharge any accumulation of water.
Permeability- A measure of the ease with which water penetrates a
Permit - A governmental municipal authorization to perform a building
process as in:
· Zoning\Use permit - Authorization to use a property for a specific
use e.g. a garage, a single family residence etc.
· Demolition permit - Authorization to tear down and remove an existing
· Grading permit - Authorization to change the contour of the land.
· Septic permit - A health department authorization to build or modify
a septic system.
· Building permit - Authorization to build or modify a structure.
· Electrical permit - A separate permit required for most electrical
· Plumbing permit - A separate permit required for new plumbing and
larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.
Pigtails, electrical- The electric cord that the electrician provides
and installs on an appliance such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, or range
Pier- A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross
section, used to support other structural members. Also see Caisson.
Pigment- A powdered solid used in paint or enamel to give it a color.
Pilot hole- A small-diameter, pre-drilled hole that guides a nail
Pilot light- A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler,
or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
Pitch- The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise
to the total width of a house, i.e., a 6-foot rise and 24-foot width is a
one-fourth pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise, per
foot of horizontal run.
Plan view- Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking
Plate- Normally a 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 that lays horizontally within
a framed structure, such as:
Plenum- The main hot-air supply duct leading from a furnace.
Plot plan- An overhead view plan that shows the location of the home
on the lot. Includes all easements, property lines, set backs, and legal
descriptions of the home. Provided by the surveyor.
Plough, plow- To cut a lengthwise groove in a board or plank. An exterior
handrail normally has a ploughed groove for hand gripping purposes
Plumb- Exactly vertical and perpendicular.
Plumb bob- A lead weight attached to a string. It is the tool used
in determining plumb.
Plumbing boots- Metal saddles used to strengthen a bearing wall/vertical
stud(s) where a plumbing drain line has been cut through and installed.
Plumbing ground- The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed
beneath a basement floor.
Plumbing jacks- Sleeves that fit around drain and waste vent pipes
at, and are nailed to, the roof sheeting.
Plumbing rough- Work performed by the plumbing contractor after the
Rough Heat is installed. This work includes installing all plastic ABS drain
and waste lines, copper water lines, bath tubs, shower pans, and gas piping
to furnaces and fireplaces. Lead solder should not be used on copper piping.
Plumbing stack- A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Plumbing trim- Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get the
home ready for a final plumbing inspection. Includes installing all toilets
(water closets), hot water heaters, sinks, connecting all gas pipe to appliances,
disposal, dishwasher, and all plumbing items.
Plumbing waste line- Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage
Ply- A term to denote the number of layers of roofing felt, veneer
in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such
Plywood- A panel (normally 4' X 8') of wood made of three or more
layers of veneer, compressed and joined with glue, and usually laid with
the grain of adjoining plies at right angles to give the sheet strength.
Point load- A point where a bearing/structural weight is concentrated
and transferred to the foundation.
Portland cement- Cement made by heating clay and crushed limestone
into a brick and then grinding to a pulverized powder state.
Post- A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam.
Often a 4" x 4", a 6" x 6", or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and
Post-and-beam- A basic building method that uses just a few hefty
posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with stud framing.
Power vent- A vent that includes a fan to speed up air flow. Often
installed on roofs.
Premium- Amount payable on a loan.
Preservative-. Any pesticide substance that, for a reasonable length
of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, insect borers,
and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or
impregnated with it. Normally an arsenic derivative. Chromated Copper Arsenate
(CCA) is an example.
Pressure Relief Valve (PRV)- A device mounted on a hot water heater
or boiler which is designed to release any high steam pressure in the tank
to prevent tank explosions.
Pressure-treated wood- Lumber that has been saturated with a preservative.
Primer- The first, base coat of paint when a paint job consists of
two or more coats. A first coating formulated to seal raw surfaces and holding
succeeding finish coats.
Property survey- A survey to determine the boundaries of your property.
The cost depends on the complexity of the survey.
P trap- Curved, "U" section of drain pipe that holds a water
seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through a fixtures water
Pump mix- Special concrete that will be used in a concrete pump.
Generally, the mix has smaller rock aggregate than regular mix.
Punch list- A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the
Punch out- To inspect and make a discrepancy list.
Putty- A type of dough used in sealing glass in the sash, filling
small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.
PVC or CPVC - Poly Vinyl Chloride-A type of white or light gray plastic
pipe sometimes used for water supply lines and waste
Quarry tile- A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a
floor or wall. Generally 6" X 6" X 1/4" thick .
Quarter round- A small trim molding that has the cross section of
a quarter circle.
Rabbet- A rectangular longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of
a board or plank.
Radiant heating- A method of heating, usually consisting of a forced
hot water system with pipes placed in the floor, wall, or ceiling. Also
electrically heated panels.
Radiation- Energy transmitted from a heat source to the air around
it. Radiators actually depend more on convection than radiation.
Radon- A naturally-occurring, heavier than air, radioactive gas common
in many parts of the country. Radon gas exposure is associated with
lung cancer. Mitigation measures may involve crawl space and basement venting
and various forms of vapor barriers.
Radon system- A ventilation system beneath the floor of a basement
and/or structural wood floor and designed to fan exhaust radon gas to the
outside of the home
Rafter- Lumber used to support the roof sheeting and roof loads.
Generally, 2 X 10's and 2 X 12's are used. The rafters of a flat roof are
sometimes called roof joists.
Rafter, hip- A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof
Rafter, valley- A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal
roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double 2-inch-thick members.
Rail- Cross members of panel doors or of a sash. Also, a wall or open
balustrade placed at the edge of a staircase, walkway bridge, or elevated
surface to prevent people from falling off. Any relatively lightweight
horizontal element, especially those found in fences (split rail).
Railroad tie- Black, tar and preservative impregnated, 6" X 8" and
6'-8' long wooden timber that was used to hold railroad track in place. Normally
used as a member of a retaining wall.
Rake- Slope or slanted.
Rake fascia- The vertical face of the sloping end of a roof eave.
Rake siding- The practice of installing lap siding diagonally
Ranch- A single story, one level home.
Ready mixed concrete- Concrete mixed at a plant or in trucks en route
to a job and delivered ready for placement.
Rebar, reinforcing bar-Ribbed steel bars installed in foundation concrete
walls, footers, and poured in place concrete structures designed to strengthen
concrete. Comes in various thickness' and strength grade.
Receptacle- An electrical outlet. A typical household will have
many 120 volt receptacles for plugging in lams and appliances and 240 volt
receptacles for the range, clothes dryer, air conditioners, etc.
Redline, red lined prints- Blueprints that reflect changes and that
are marked with red pencil.
Reducer- A fitting with different size openings at either end and
used to go from a larger to a smaller pipe.
Reflective insulation- Sheet material with one or both faces covered
with aluminum foil.
Refrigerant- A substance that remains a gas at low temperatures and
pressure and can be used to transfer heat. Freon is an example and is used
in air conditioning systems.
Register- A grill placed over a heating duct or cold air return.
Reglaze- To replace a broken window.
Relief valve- A device designed to open if it detects excess temperature
Remote- Remote electrical, gas, or water meter digital readouts that
are installed near the front of the home in order for utility companies to
easily read the home owners usage of the service.
Retaining wall- A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.
R factor or value- A measure of a materials resistance to the passage
of heat. New homewalls are usually insulated with 4" of batt insulation with
an R value of R-13, and a ceiling insulation of R-30.
Ribbon (girt)- Normally a 1 X 4 board let into the studs horizontally
to support the ceiling or second-floor joists.
Ridge- The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two
sloping roof surfaces.
Ridge board- The board placed on the ridge of the roof onto which
the upper ends of other rafters are fastened.
Ridge shingles- Shingles used to cover the ridge board.
Rim joist- A joist that runs around the perimeter of the floor joists
Rise- The vertical distance from the eaves line to the ridge. Also
the vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread (and not to exceed
Riser- Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the
treads of stairways.
Riser and panel- The exterior vertical pipe (riser) and metal electric
box (panel) the electrician provides and installs at the "Rough Electric"
Road base- A aggregate mixture of sand and stone.
Rock 1, 2, 3- When referring to drywall, this means to install drywall
to the walls and ceilings (with nails and screws), and before taping is
Roll, rolling- To install the floor joists or trusses in their correct
place. (To "roll the floor" means to install the floor joists).
Romex- A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that
is used for indoor wiring.
Roll roofing- Asphalt roofing products manufactured in roll form.
36-inch wide rolls with and 108 square feet of material. Weights are generally
45 to 90 pounds per roll.
Romex- A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that
is used for indoor wiring.
Roof jack- Sleeves that fit around the black plumbing waste vent pipes
at, and are nailed to, the roof sheeting.
Roof joist- The rafters of a flat roof. Lumber used to support the
roof sheeting and roof loads. Generally, 2 X 10's and 2 X 12's are used.
Roof sheathing or sheeting- The wood panels or sheet material fastened
to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering
Roof valley- The "V" created where two sloping roofs meet.
Rough opening- The horizontal and vertical measurement of a window
or door opening before drywall or siding is installed.
Rough sill- The framing member at the bottom of a rough opening for
a window. It is attached to the cripple studs below the rough opening.
Roughing-in- The initial stage of a plumbing, electrical, heating,
carpentry, and/or other project, when all components that won't be seen after
the second finishing phase are assembled. See also Heat Rough, Plumbing Rough,
and Electrical Rough.
Run, roof - The horizontal distance from the eaves to a point directly
under the ridge. One half the span.
Run, stair- the horizontal distance of a stair tread from the nose
to the riser.
R Value- A measure of insulation. A measure of a materials resistance
to the passage of heat. The higher the R value, the more insulating "power"
it has. For example, typical new home's walls are usually insulated with
4" of batt insulation with an R value of R-13, and a ceiling insulation of
Saddle- A small second roof built behind the back side of a fireplace
chimney to divert water around the chimney. Also, the plate at the bottom
of some—usually exterior—door openings. Sometimes called a threshold.
Sack mix- The amount of Portland cement in a cubic yard of concrete
mix. Generally, 5 or 6 sack is required in a foundation wall.
Sand float finish- Lime that is mixed with sand, resulting in a textured
finish on a wall.
Sanitary sewer- A sewer system designed for the collection of waste
water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry drains, and is usually not designed
to handle storm water.
Sash- A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass.
The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the
Sash balance- A device, usually operated by a spring and designed
to hold a single hung window vent up and in place
Saturated felt- A felt which is impregnated with tar or asphalt.
Schedule (window, door, mirror)- A table on the blueprints that list
the sizes, quantities and locations of the windows, doors and mirrors.
Scrap out- The removal of all drywall material and debris after the
home is "hung out" (installed) with drywall.
Scratch coat- The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form
a bond for a second coat.
Screed, concrete- To level off concrete to the correct elevation during
a concrete pour.
Screed, plaster- A small strip of wood, usually the thickness of the
plaster coat, used as a guide for plastering.
Scribing- Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Scupper- (1) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (2)
The drain in a downspout or flat roof, usually connected to the downspout.
Sealer- A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually
applied directly over raw wood for the purpose of sealing the wood surface.
Seasoning- Drying and removing moisture from green wood in order to
improve its usability.
Self-sealing shingles- Shingles containing factory-applied strips
or spots of self-sealing adhesive.
Semigloss paint or enamel- A paint or enamel made so that its coating,
when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy. Bathrooms and kitchens
are normally painted semi-gloss
Septic system- An on site waste water treatment system. It usually
has a septic tank which promotes the biological digestion of the waste, and
a drain field which is designed to let the left over liquid soak into the
ground. Septic systems and permits are usually sized by the number of bedrooms
in a house.
Service entrance panel- Main power cabinet where electricity enters
a home wiring system.
Service equipment- Main control gear at the service entrance, such
as circuit breakers, switches, and fuses.
Service lateral- Underground power supply line.
Setback Thermostat- A thermostat with a clock which can be programmed
to come on or go off at various temperatures and at different times of the
day/week. Usually used as the heating or cooling system thermostat.
Settlement- Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles
Sewage ejector- A pump used to 'lift' waste water to a gravity sanitary
sewer line. Usually used in basements and other locations which are situated
bellow the level of the side sewer.
Sewer lateral- The portion of the sanitary sewer which connects the
interior waste water lines to the main sewer lines. The side sewer is usually
buried in several feet of soil and runs from the house to the sewer line.
It is usually 'owned' by the sewer utility, must be maintained by the owner
and may only be serviced by utility approved contractors. Sometimes called
Sewer stub- The junction at the municipal sewer system where the home's
sewer line is connected.
Sewer tap- The physical connection point where the home's sewer line
connects to the main municipal sewer line.
Shake- A wood roofing material, normally cedar or redwood. Produced
by splitting a block of the wood along the grain line. Modern shakes are
sometimes machine sawn on one side. See shingle.
Shear block- Plywood that is face nailed to short (2 X 4's or 2 X
6's) wall studs (above a door or window, for example). This is done to prevent
the wall from sliding and collapsing.
Sheathing, sheeting- The structural wood panel covering, usually OSB
or plywood, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.
Shed roof- A roof containing only one sloping plane.
Sheet metal work- All components of a house employing sheet metal,
such as flashing, gutters, and downspouts.
Sheet metal duct work- The heating system. Usually round or rectangular
metal pipes and sheet metal (for Return Air) and installed for distributing
warm (or cold) air from the furnace to rooms in the home.
Sheet rock- Drywall-Wall board or gypsum- A manufactured panel made
out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick
and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. The 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type
drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard
and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".
Shim- A small piece of scrap lumber or shingle, usually wedge shaped,
which when forced behind a furring strip or framing member forces it into
position. Also used when installing doors and placed between the door jamb
legs and 2 X 4 door trimmers. Metal shims are wafer 1 1/2" X 2" sheet
metal of various thickness' used to fill gaps in wood framing members, especially
at bearing point locations.
Shingles- Roof covering of asphalt. asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or
other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thickness'.
Shingles, siding- Various kinds of shingles, used over sheathing for
exterior wall covering of a structure.
Short circuit- A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires
come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against
fire that could result from a short.
Shutter- Usually lightweight louvered decorative frames in the form
of doors located on the sides of a window. Some shutters are made to close
over the window for protection.
Side sewer- The portion of the sanitary sewer which connects the interior
waste water lines to the main sewer lines. The side sewer is usually buried
in several feet of soil and runs from the house to the sewer line. It is
usually 'owned' by the sewer utility, must be maintained by the owner and
may only be serviced by utility approved contractors. Sometimes called sewer
Siding- The finished exterior covering of the outside walls of a frame
Siding, (lap siding)- Slightly wedge-shaped boards used as horizontal
siding in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing. Varies in butt thickness
from ½ to ¾ inch and in widths up to 12".
Sill- (1) The 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 wood plate framing member that lays flat
against and bolted to the foundation wall (with anchor bolts) and upon which
the floor joists are installed. Normally the sill plate is treated lumber.
(2) The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill or window
Sill cock- An exterior water faucet (hose bib).
Sill plate (mudsill)- Bottom horizontal member of an exterior wall
frame which rests on top a foundation, sometimes called mudsill. Also sole
plate, bottom member of an interior wall frame.
Sill seal- Fiberglass or foam insulation installed between the foundation
wall and sill (wood) plate. Designed to seal any cracks or gaps.
Single hung window- A window with one vertically sliding sash or window
Skylight- A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of
Slab, concrete- Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways, garages, and basement
Slab, door- A rectangular door without hinges or frame.
Slab on grade- A type of foundation with a concrete floor which is
placed directly on the soil. The edge of the slab is usually thicker and
acts as the footing for the walls.
Slag- Concrete cement that sometimes covers the vertical face of the
foundation void material.
Sleeper- Usually, a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor,
that serves to support and to fasten the subfloor or flooring.
Sleeve(s)- Pipe installed under the concrete driveway or sidewalk,
and that will be used later to run sprinkler pipe or low voltage wire.
Slope- The incline angle of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the
rise (in inches) to the run (in feet). See also pitch.
Slump- The "wetness" of concrete. A 3 inch slump is dryer and stiffer
than a 5 inch slump.
Soffit- The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where
the roof overhangs the walls. Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.
Soil pipe- A large pipe that carries liquid and solid wastes to a
sewer or septic tank.
Soil stack- A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Sole plate- The bottom, horizontal framing member of a wall that's
attached to the floor sheeting and vertical wall studs.
Solid bridging- A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists
near the center of the span to prevent joists or rafters from twisting.
Sonotube- Round, large cardboard tubes designed to hold wet concrete
in place until it hardens.
Sound attenuation- Sound proofing a wall or subfloor, generally with
Space heat- Heat supplied to the living space, for example, to a room
or the living area of a building.
Spacing- The distance between individual members or shingles in building
Span- The clear distance that a framing member carries a load without
support between structural supports. The horizontal distance from eaves to
Spec home- A house built before it is sold. The builder speculates
that he can sell it at a profit.
Specifications or Specs- A narrative list of materials, methods, model
numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information
contained in the blue prints. Written elaboration in specific detail about
construction materials and methods. Written to supplement working drawings.
Splash block- Portable concrete (or vinyl) channel generally placed
beneath an exterior sill cock (water faucet) or downspout in order to receive
roof drainage from downspouts and to divert it away from the building.
Square- A unit of measure-100 square feet-usually applied to roofing
and siding material. Also, a situation that exists when two elements are
at right angles to each other. Also a tool for checking this.
Square-tab shingles- Shingles on which tabs are all the same size
Squeegie- Fine pea gravel used to grade a floor (normally before concrete
Stack (trusses)- To position trusses on the walls in their correct
Standard practices of the trade(s)- One of the more common basic and
minimum construction standards. This is another way of saying that the work
should be done in the way it is normally done by the average professional
in the field.
Starter strip- Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provides
protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first
course of shingles.
Stair carriage or stringer- Supporting member for stair treads. Usually
a 2 X 12 inch plank notched to receive the treads; sometimes called a "rough
Stair landing- A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination
of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally
no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.
Stair rise- The vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread
(and not to exceed 7 ½").
Static vent- A vent that does not include a fan.
STC (Sound Transmission Class)- The measure of sound stopping of ordinary
Steel inspection- A municipal and/or engineers inspection of the concrete
foundation wall, conducted before concrete is poured into the foundation
panels. Done to insure that the rebar (reinforcing bar), rebar nets, void
material, beam pocket plates, and basement window bucks are installed and
wrapped with rebar and complies with the foundation plan.
Step flashing- Flashing application method used where a vertical surface
meets a sloping roof plane. 6" X 6" galvanized metal bent at a 90 degree
angle, and installed beneath siding and over the top of shingles. Each piece
overlaps the one beneath it the entire length of the sloping roof (step by
Stick built- A house built without prefabricated parts. Also called
Stile- An upright framing member in a panel door.
Stool- The flat molding fitted over the window sill between jambs
and contacting the bottom rail of the lower sash. Also another name
Stop box- Normally a cast iron pipe with a lid (@ 5" in diameter)
that is placed vertically into the ground, situated near the water tap in
the yard, and where a water cut-off valve to the home is located (underground).
A long pole with a special end is inserted into the curb stop to turn off/on
Stop Order- A formal, written notification to a contractor to discontinue
some or all work on a project for reasons such as safety violations, defective
materials or workmanship, or cancellation of the contract.
Stops- Moldings along the inner edges of a door or window frame. Also
valves used to shut off water to a fixture.
Stop valve- A device installed in a water supply line, usually near
a fixture, that permits an individual to shut off the water supply to one
fixture without interrupting service to the rest of the system.
Storm sash or storm window-. An extra window usually placed outside
of an existing one, as additional protection against cold weather.
Storm sewer- A sewer system designed to collect storm water and is
separated from the waste water system.
Story- That part of a building between any floor or between the floor
Strike- The plate on a door frame that engages a latch or dead bolt.
String, stringer- A timber or other support for cross members in floors
or ceilings. In stairs, the supporting member for stair treads. Usually a
2 X 12 inch plank notched to receive the treads
Strip flooring- Wood flooring consisting of narrow, matched strips.
Structural floor- A framed lumber floor that is installed as a basement
floor instead of concrete. This is done on very expansive soils.
Stub, stubbed- To push through.
Stucco- Refers to an outside plaster finish made with Portland cement
as its base.
Stud- A vertical wood framing member, also referred to as a wall stud,
attached to the horizontal sole plate below and the top plate above. Normally
2 X 4's or 2 X 6's, 8' long (sometimes 92 5/8"). One of a series of wood
or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls
Stud framing- A building method that distributes structural loads
to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with
Stud shoe- A metal, structural bracket that reinforces a vertical
stud. Used on an outside bearing wall where holes are drilled to accommodate
a plumbing waste line.
Subfloor- The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate,
floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.
Sump- Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside the home designed
to collect ground water from a perimeter drain system.
Sump pump- A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess
ground water to the outside of the home.
Suspended ceiling- A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the
overhead structural framing.
Sway brace- Metal straps or wood blocks installed diagonally on the
inside of a wall from bottom to top plate, to prevent the wall from twisting,
racking, or falling over "domino" fashion.
Switch- A device that completes or disconnects an electrical circuit.
T & G, tongue and groove- A joint made by a tongue (a rib on one
edge of a board) that fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of another
board to make a tight flush joint. Typically, the subfloor plywood is T &
Tab - The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.
Tail beam- A relatively short beam or joist supported in a wall on
one end and by a header at the other.
Take off- The material necessary to complete a job.
Taping- The process of covering drywall joints with paper tape and
T bar- Ribbed, "T" shaped bars with a flat metal plate at the
bottom that are driven into the earth. Normally used chain link fence poles,
and to mark locations of a water meter pit.
Teco- Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and
trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. Sometimes called a hurricane clip.
Tee- A "T" shaped plumbing fitting.
Tempered- Strengthened. Tempered glass will not shatter nor create
shards, but will "pelletize" like an automobile window. Required in tub and
shower enclosures and locations, entry door glass and sidelight glass, and
in a windows when the window sill is less than 16" to the floor.
Termites- Wood eating insects that superficially resemble ants in
size and general appearance, and live in colonies.
Termite shield- A shield, usually of galvanized metal, placed in or
on a foundation wall or around pipes to prevent the passage of termites.
Terra cotta- A ceramic material molded into masonry units.
Thermoply ™- Exterior laminated sheathing nailed to the exterior
side of the exterior walls. Normally ¼ " thick, 4 X 8 or 4 x 10 sheets
with an aluminumized surface.
Thermostat- A device which relegates the temperature of a room or
building by switching heating or cooling equipment on or off.
Three-dimensional shingles- Laminated shingles. Shingles that have
added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like
appearance. May also be called "architectural shingles".
Threshold- The bottom metal or wood plate of an exterior door frame.
Generally they are adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.
Tinner- Another name for the heating contractor.
Tip up- The downspout extension that directs water (from the home's
gutter system) away from the home. They typically swing up when mowing the
Title- Evidence (usually in the form of a certificate or deed) of
a person's legal right to ownership of a property.
TJI or TJ- Manufactured structural building component resembling the
letter "I". Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two
key parts: flanges and webs. The flange or from of the
I joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually
formed into a 1 ½" width. The web or center of the I-joist is
commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can
be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I-joists
are available in lengths up to 60'' long.
Toenailing- To drive a nail in at a slant. Method used to secure floor
joists to the plate.
Top chord- The upper or top member of a truss.
Top plate- Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling
joists, rafters, or other members.
Transmitter (garage door)- The small, push button device that causes
the garage door to open or close.
Trap- A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and
vermin from backing up into a fixture.
Tread- The walking surface board in a stairway on which the foot is
Treated lumber- A wood product which has been impregnated with chemical
pesticides such as CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) to reduce damage from
wood rot or insects. Often used for the portions of a structure which are
likely to be in contact with soil and water. Wood may also be treated with
a fire retardant.
Trim (plumbing, heating, electrical)- The work that the "mechanical"
contractors perform to finish their respective aspects of work, and when
the home is nearing completion and occupancy.
Trim- Interior- The finish materials in a building, such as moldings
applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling
of rooms (baseboard, cornice, and other moldings). Also, the physical work
of installing interior doors and interior woodwork, to include all handrails,
guardrails, stair way balustrades, mantles, light boxes, base, door casings,
cabinets, countertops, shelves, window sills and aprons, etc.
Exterior- The finish materials on the exterior a building, such as
moldings applied around openings (window trim, door trim), siding, windows,
exterior doors, attic vents, crawl space vents, shutters, etc. Also, the
physical work of installing these materials
Trimmer- The vertical stud that supports a header at a door, window,
or other opening.
Truss- An engineered and manufactured roof support member with "zig-zag"
framing members. Does the same job as a rafter but is designed to have a
longer span than a rafter.
Tub trap- Curved, "U" shaped section of a bath tub drain pipe
that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through
tubs water drain.
Turnkey- A term used when the subcontractor provides all materials
(and labor) for a job.
Turpentine- A petroleum, volatile oil used as a thinner in paints
and as a solvent in varnishes
UL (Underwriters' Laboratories)- An independent testing agency that
checks electrical devices and other components for possible safety hazards.
Undercoat- A coating applied prior to the finishing or top coats of
a paint job. It may be the first of two or the second of three coats. Sometimes
called the Prime coat.
Underground plumbing- The plumbing drain and waste lines that are
installed beneath a basement floor.
Underlayment- A ¼" material placed over the subfloor plywood
sheeting and under finish coverings, such as vinyl flooring, to provide a
smooth, even surface. Also a secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or
water-resistant, installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other
Union- A plumbing fitting that joins pipes end-to-end so they can
Utility easement- The area of the earth that has electric, gas, or
telephone lines. These areas may be owned by the homeowner, but the utility
company has the legal right to enter the area as necessary to repair or service
Valley- The "V" shaped area of a roof where two sloping roofs
meet. Water drains off the roof at the valleys.
Valley flashing- Sheet metal that lays in the "V" area of a roof valley.
Valuation- An inspection carried out for the benefit of the mortgage
lender to ascertain if a property is a good security for a loan.
Valuation fee- Th fee paid by the prospective borrower for the lender's
inspection of the property. Normally paid upon loan application.
Vapor barrier- A building product installed on exterior walls and
ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is
used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation
within them. Normally, polyethylene plastic sheeting is used.
Variable rate- An interest rate that will vary over the term of the
Veneer- Extremely thin sheets of wood. Also a thin slice of wood or
brick or stone covering a framed wall.
Vent- A pipe or duct which allows the flow of air and gasses to the
outside. Also, another word for the moving glass part of a window sash, i.e.
Vermiculite- A mineral used as bulk insulation and also as aggregate
in insulating and acoustical plaster and in insulating concrete floors.
Visqueen- A 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting.
Void- Cardboard rectangular boxes that are installed between the earth
(between caissons) and the concrete foundation wall. Used when expansive
soils are present.
Voltage- A measure of electrical potential. Most homes are wired with
110 and 220 volt lines. The 110 volt power is used for lighting and most
of the other circuits. The 220 volt power is usually used for the kitchen
range, hot water heater and
Wafer board - A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips
and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and
Walk-Through- A final inspection of a home before "Closing" to look
for and document problems that need to be corrected.
Wall out- When a painter pray paints the interior of a home.
Warping- Any distortion in a material.
Warranty- In construction there are two general types of warranties.
One is provided by the manufacturer of a product such as roofing material
or an appliance. The second is a warranty for the labor. For example, a roofing
contract may include a 20 year material warranty and a 5 year labor warranty.
Many new homebuilders provide a one year warranty. Any major issue found
during the first year should be communicated to the builder immediately.
Small items can be saved up and presented to the builder for correction
periodically through the first year after closing.
Waste pipe and vent- Plumbing plastic pipe that carries waste water
to the municipal sewage system.
Water board- Water resistant drywall to be used in tub and shower
locations. Normally green or blue colored
Water closet- Another name for toilet.
Water meter pit (or vault)- The box /cast iron bonnet and concrete
rings that contains the water meter.
Water-repellent preservative- A liquid applied to wood to give the
wood water repellant properties
Water table- The location of the underground water, and the vertical
distance from the surface of the earth to this underground water.
Water tap- The connection point where the home water line connects
to the main municipal water system.
W C- An abbreviation for water closet (toilet).
Weatherization- Work on a building exterior in order to reduce energy
consumption for heating or cooling. Work involving adding insulation,
installing storm windows and doors, caulking cracks and putting on
Weatherstrip- Narrow sections of thin metal or other material installed
to prevent the infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.
Weep holes- Small holes in storm window frames that allow moisture
Whole house fan- A fan designed to move air through and out of a home
and normally installed in the ceiling.
Wind bracing- Metal straps or wood blocks installed diagonally on
the inside of a wall from bottom to top plate, to prevent the wall from twisting,
racking, or falling over "domino" fashion.
Window buck- Square or rectangular box that is installed within a
concrete foundation or block wall. A window will eventually be installed
in this "buck" during the siding stage of construction
Window frame- The stationary part of a window unit; window sash fits
into the window frame.
Window sash- The operating or movable part of a window; the sash is
made of window panes and their border.
Wire nut- A plastic device used to connect bare wires together.
Wonderboard ™- A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually
used as a ceramic tile backing material. Commonly used on bathtub decks.
Wrapped drywall- Areas that get complete drywall covering, as in the
doorway openings of bifold and bipass closet
Y- A "Y" shaped plumbing fitting.
Yard of concrete- One cubic yard of concrete is 3' X 3' X 3' in volume,
or 27 cubic feet. One cubic yard of concrete will pour 80 square feet
of 3 ½" sidewalk or basement/garage floor.
Yoke- The location where a home's water meter is sometimes installed
between two copper pipes, and located in the water meter pit in the
Z-bar flashing- Bent, galvanized metal flashing that's installed above
a horizontal trim board of an exterior window, door, or brick run. It prevents
water from getting behind the trim/brick and into the home.
Zone- The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling
loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the
section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.
Zone valve- A device, usually placed near the heater or cooler, which
controls the flow of water or steam to parts of the building; it is controlled
by a zone thermostat.
Zoning- A governmental process and specification which limits the
use of a property e.g. single family use, high rise residential use, industrial
use, etc. Zoning laws may limit where you can locate a structure. Also see