Common Definitions List

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ACRE: A plot of land comprising of 43,560 sq. ft.

ADHESIVE: A natural or synthetic material, generally in paste or liquid form, used to fasten or glue boards together, lay floor tile, fabricate plastic laminates, etc.

AIR-DRIED LUMBER: Lumber that has been piled in yards or sheds for length of time. The minimum moisture content of thoroughly air-dried lumber is usually 12 to 15 percent.

ALCOVE: A recess opening off a wall of a larger room. Often used as a sitting area, coat room, or storage area.

ANCHOR: Any fastener (usually metal) used to attach parts, such as joists, trusses, posts, etc., to masonry or masonry materials.

ANCHOR BOLT: A threaded rod inserted in masonry construction to anchor the sill plate to the foundation.

APRON: Trim used under the stool on interior windows.

ARCADE: A series of arches supported by columns or piers to provide an open passageway.

ARCH: A curved structure that will support itself and the weight above its curved opening by mutual pressure.

AREAWAY: Recessed area below grade around the foundation to allow light and ventilation into basement window.

AROMATIC RED CEDAR: Similar characteristics to (Western) red cedar. Primarily used in construction for chests and closet linings for its mothproof value.

ARRIS: A sharp edge formed when two planes or surfaces meet. Found on edges of moldings, doors, shelves, and in cabinet construction.

ASHPIT: The area below the hearth of a fireplace, which collects the ashes.

ASPHALT SHINGLES: Composition roof shingles made from asphalt impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.

ASSESSMENT: The levy of a tax or charge on property, usually according to established rates.

ASSESSOR: A public official responsible for the evaluation of property for the purposes of taxation.

ASSIGNEE: A person to whom a transfer of interest is made in connection with a mortgage or contract for a home or piece of property.

ASSIGNOR: A person who makes an assignment for a mortgage or contract for a home or piece of property.

ASTM: American Society for Testing Materials.

ATRIUM: A central hall or open court within a structure.

ATTACHMENT: The legal seizure of property to require payment of a debt.

ATTIC: The space between the roof and the ceiling.

ATTIC VENTILATORS: In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space. They are located in the soffit area as inlet ventilators and in the gable end or along the ridge as outlet ventilators. They can also consist of power-driven fans used as an exhaust system. See LOUVER.

AWNING WINDOW: An outswinging window hinged at the top.

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BACKFILL: The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around and against a basement foundation.

BALCONY: A deck projecting from the wall of a building above ground level.

BALUSTERS: Usually small vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and the stair treads or a bottom rail.

BALUSTRADE: A series of balusters connected by a rail; generally used for porches and balconies.

BANISTER: A handrail with supporting posts used alongside a stairway.

BASEBOARD: The finish board covering the interior wall where the wall and floor meet.

BASE SHOE: A molding used next to the floor in interior baseboards.

BATT: A roll or sheet of insulation designed to be installed between members of frame construction.

BATTEN: Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.

BATTER BOARD: One of a pair of horizontal boards nailed to posts set at the corners of an excavation, used to indicate the desired level, also as a fastening for stretched strings to indicate outlines of foundation walls.

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.

BEAM CEILING: A ceiling in which the ceiling beams are exposed to view.

BEARING PARTITION: A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

BEARING WALL: A wall that supports any vertical load in ad dition to its own weight.

BEECH: A whitish to reddish brown hardwood used especially in construction for interior and exterior cabinet parts. Blends well with birch for stained kitchen cabinets and vanities.

BENCH MARK: A mark on some permanent object fixed to the ground from which land measurements and elevations are taken.

BIRCH: Hard and heavy light reddish brown hardwood. The most widely used hardwood veneer for flush doors, cabinet work, and paneling. Mill products include interior trim, floor ing, sash, and trim.

BLIND NAILING: A method of nailing so that the nail is not visible.

BOARD FOOT: A method of lumber measurement using nominal dimensions of 1 in. thick, 12 in. wide, and 12 in. long, or the equivalent.

BRICK: A solid masonry unit composed of clay or shale. Formed into a rectangular prism while soft and burned or fired in a kiln.

BRICK VENEER: A facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a frame wall or tile wall construction.

BRIDGING: Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists at midspan to act both as tension and compression members for the purpose of bracing the joists and spreading the action of loads.

BTU (BRITISH THERMAL UNIT): The amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree F.

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.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT: The branch of government in charge of surveying public lands.

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CARPORT: A garage not fully enclosed.

CASEMENT WINDOW: A hinged window, usually metal, that opens out.

CASING: Molding of various widths and thicknesses used to trim door and window openings at the jambs.

CAULKING: A waterproof material used to seal cracks.

CENTRAL HEATING: A system by which the heat from a single source is distributed with ducts.

CHAIN: A unit of land measurement 66 ft. in length.

CHAMFER: A beveled edge on a board formed by removing the sharp corner. Generally used on moldings, edges of drawer fronts, and cabinet doors.

CHASE: A slot or continuous groove built in a masonry wall to accommodate ducts, pipes, or conduits.

CHIMNEY: A vertical flue for passing smoke from a heating unit, fireplace, or incinerator.

CHIPPED GRAIN: Wood surface that has been roughened by the action of cutting tools. Considered a defect when sur faces are to be smoothly finished.

CHORD: The horizontal member of a truss connecting the lower corners.

CLEAR TITLE: A title to property that is free of any defects.

CLEAT: A piece of wood, normally used in frame construction, fastened to another member to serve as a brace or support.

COLLAR BEAM: Nominal 1 or 2 in. thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.

COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN: Using the computer to perform drafting and design functions.

CONCRETE: A mixture of cement, sand, and gravel with water.

CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS: The term used to designate any conditions to which the use of land may not be put and the penalties for failure to comply.

CONDUCTION: The flow of heat through an object by transfer ring heat from one molecule to another.

CONDUIT, ELECTRICAL: A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.

CONTRACT: An agreement between a seller and purchaser. The title is withheld from the purchaser until all required payments to the seller have been completed.

CONVECTION: Refers to the transfer of heat by a moving fluid (liquids and gases).

COPING: A cap or top course of a masonry wall to protect lower areas from water penetration.

CORBEL: A ledge or shelf constructed by laying successive courses of masonry out from the face of the wall.

CORE: The inner layer or layers of plywood. The core may con sist of veneer, solid lumber, or composition board.

CORNER BRACES: Diagonal braces at the corners of frame structure to stiffen and strengthen the wall.

CORNICE: The part of a roof that projects out from the wall.

CORNICE RETURN: That portion of the cornice that returns on the gable end of a house.

COUNTERELASHING: A flashing used under the regular flashing.

COVE: Molded trim of a concave shape used around cabinet construction and other built-ins.

CRAWL SPACE: The shallow space below the floor of a house built above the ground. Generally it is surrounded with the foundation wall.

CRICKET: A device used at roof intersections to divert water.

CRIPPLE: A structural member that is cut less than full length, such as a studding piece above a window or door.

CROSS BRACING: Boards nailed diagonally across studs or other boards to make framework rigid.

CROWN MOLDING: A decorative molding used at the top of cabinets, at ceiling corners, and under a roof overhang.

CUL-DE-SAC: A street or court with no outlet which provides a circular turn around for vehicles.

CULL: Building material (especially boardsl that is rejected because of defects or below usuable grade.

CUPOLA: A small, decorative structure built on the roof of a house. It is often placed over an attached garage and may also be used for ventilating purposes.

CURTAIN WALL: An exterior wall which provides no structural support.

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DADO JOINT: A groove cut across the face of a board to receive the end of another board. Often used in quality shelf and cabinet construction.

DAMPER: A movable plate which regulates the draft of a stove, fireplace, or furnace.

DEAD LOAD: All the unmovable weight in a structure and the weight of the structure itself.

DEED: A document indicating that the ownership of land has been transferred from one person to another.

DIMENSION LUMBER: Framing lumber which is 2 in. thick and from 4 to 12 in. wide.

DOME: A roof used over an entryway or a complete structure in the form of a hemisphere.

DOME STRUCTURES: Structures incorporating design elements of the geodesic dome or triangular space frames.

DOORJAMB: Two vertical pieces held together by a head jamb forming the inside lining of a door opening.

DOORSTOP: The strips on the doorjambs against which the door closes.

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 GLAZING: Making a pane of two pieces of glass with air space between and sealed to provide insulation.

DOUBLE HEADER: Two or more timbers joined for strength.

DOUBLE HUNG: Refers to a window having top and bottom sashes, each capable of movement up and down.

DOUGLAS FIR: A yellow to pale reddish soft wood. The leading veneer wood primarily converted into plywood and widely used in building and construction. Lumber used in general construction. Mill products used for sash, flooring, and doors.

DOWNSPOUT: A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater from roof gutters.

DRESSED SIZE: The actual size of lumber after jointing and surfacing.

DRIP CAP: A molding placed on the exterior top side of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.

DRY WALL: Interior covering material, such as gypsum board or plywood, which is applied in large sheets or panels.

DRY WELL: A pit located on porous ground, walled up with rock, which allows water to seep through; used for the disposal of rain water or as the effluent from a septic tank.

DUCTS: In a house, usually round or rectangular metal pipes for distributing warm air from the heating plant to rooms, or air from a conditioning device or as cold air returns. Ducts are also made of composition materials.

DUPLEX OUTLET: Electrical wall outlet having two plug receptacles.

DWARF WALL: A low wall built to retain an excavation or embankment.

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EARNEST MONEY: A partial payment made as part of the pur chase price to bind a contract for property.

EARTH SHELTERED DWELLING: A structure which uses soil to reduce heat loss (or gain).

EASEMENT: An area of a piece of property given rights to another for the purpose of placing power lines, drains, and other specified uses.

EASTERN FIR: A softwood similar to spruce in its general characteristics. Used for siding, moldings, and general construction.

EAVES: The lower portion of the roof that overhangs the wall.

ELL: An extension or wing of a building at right angles to the main section.

ESCUTCHEON: Door hardware which accommodates the knob and keyhole.

EXCAVATION: A cavity or pit produced by digging the earth in preparation for construction.

EXPANSION JOINT: A bituminous fiber strip used to separate blocks or units of concrete to prevent cracking due to expansion as a result of temperature changes.

EXPANSIVE CLAY: A type of soil which swells when wet and produces very high pressure against underground walls.

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FACADE: The front elevation or face of a structure.

FACE BRICK: Brick of better quality used on the face of a wall.

FACE SIZE: The exposed width of a molded piece of lumber after installation.

FACE VENEER: Veneer selected for exposed surfaces in plywood. Especially selected for fancy paneling.

FACING: Any material attached to the outer portion of a wall used as a finished surface.

FASCIA: A vertical board nailed onto the ends of the rafters.

FIBERBOARD: A building board made with fibrous material and used as an insulating board.

FILL: Sand, gravel, or loose earth used to bring a subgrade up to a desired level around a house.

FILLED INSULATION: A loose insulating material poured from bags or blown by machine into walls.

FIREBRICK: A brick that is especially hard and heat-resistant; used in fireplaces.

FIRECLAY: A refractory mortar used to lay firebrick in the bed and walls of a fireplace.

FIRE CUT: The angular cut at the end of a joist designed to rest on a brick wall.

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 block ing between studs.

FIRE WALL: Any wall designed to resist the spread of fire be tween sections of a house. Fire walls are commonly used between the main structure and an attached garage. Fire resistant materials are designed specifically for this purpose.

FLAGSTONE: Flat stone used for floors, steps, walks, or walls. FLASHING: Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.

FLUE: The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes ascend. Each passage is called a flue, which together with any others and the surrounding masonry make up the chimney.

FLUE LINING: Fireclay or terra-cotta pipe, round or square, usually made in all ordinary flue sizes and in 2 ft. lengths. Used for the inner lining of chimneys with the brick or masonry work around the outside. Flue lining in chimneys runs from about a foot below the flue connection to the top of the chimney.

FLY RAFTERS: End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.

FOOTING: A masonry section, usually concrete, in a rec tangular form wider than the bottom of the foundation wall or pier it supports.

FORM, CONCRETE: A temporary structure built to contain con crete during pouring and initial hardening.

FOUNDATION: The supporting portion of a structure below the first-floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.

FRAMING, BALLOON: A system of framing a building in which all vertical structural elements of the bearing walls and par titions consist of single pieces extending from the top of the foundation sill plate to the roof plate and to which all floor joists are fastened.

FRAMING, PLATFORM: A system of framing a building in which floor joists of each story rest on the top plates of the story below or on the foundation sill for the first story, and the bearing walls and partitions rest on the subfloor of each story.

FRIEZE: In house Construction, a horizontal member con necting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.

FROSTLINE: The depth of frost penetration in soil. This depth varies in different parts of the country. Footings should be placed below this depth to prevent movement.

FURRING: The use of wood strips (or other materials) as a method of finishing the interior face of a masonry wall. Furring provides a space for insulation, helps prevent moisture transmission, and provides a level surface for paneling or other surface finishing treatment.

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GABLE: The portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.

GAIN: (a) A recess or notch into which a door hinge fits flush with the surface. (b) Refers to the way heat is extracted from solar radiation.

GARRETT: An attic or unfinished part of a house just under the roof.

GIRDER: A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

GLAZING: Placing of glass in windows or doors.

GRADE: The surface of the ground around a building.

GRADE, WOOD: A designation given to the quality of manufac tured lumber.

GRAVEL STOP: A strip of metal with a vertical lip used to retain the gravel around the edge of a built-up roof.

GROUT: A plaster-like material used to seal between ceramic and other tile in kitchens, showers, and baths.

GUSSET: A plywood or metal plate used to strengthen the joints of a truss.

GUTTER: A trough for carrying off water.

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HANGER: A metal strap used to support piping or the ends of joists.

HARDWOOD: Wood produced from broad-leaved trees or trees that lose their leaves. Examples include oak, maple, walnut, and birch.

HEADER: (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel.

HEARTH: The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.

HEAT EXCHANGER: A device for removing heat from water or air and transferring the heat to another medium. Baseboard convectors are water to air heat exchangers.

HEXADOME: One variation of the geodesic dome.

HICKORY: A hard and heavy brown to reddish brown hard wood. Used as face veneer for decorative interior plywood paneling and as solid lumber in special flooring applications. Pecan, a variety of the hickory family, has similar properties and construction applications.

HIP RAFTER: The diagonal rafter that extends from the plate to the ridge to form the hip.

HIP ROOF: A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.

HOSE BIB: A water faucet made for the threaded attachment of a hose.

HOUSE DRAIN: A horizontal sewer piping within a building, which receives waste from the soil stacks.

HOUSE SEWER: The watertight soil pipe extending from the exterior of the foundation wall to the public sewer.

HUMIDIFIER: A device, generally attached to a furnace, to supply or maintain humidity in a home.

HUMIDSTAT: A controlling device to regulate or maintain the desired degree of humidity in a house.

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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 are imposed on the opening.

IMPROVEMENTS: Any additions to property which tends to increase its value, such as buildings, streets, sewers, etc.

INCANDESCENT LAMP: A lamp in which a filament gives off light when sufficiently heated by an electric current.

INSULATiNG BOARD: Any board suitable for insulating purposes: usually manufactured board made from vegetable fibers, such as fiberboard.

INSULATION: Materials for obstructing the passage of sound, heat, or cold from one surface to another.

INTERIOR TRIM: General term for all the finish molding, cas ing, baseboard, and cornice applied within the building by finish carpenters.

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JACK RAFTER: A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.

JALOUSIE: A type of window consisting of a number of long, thin, hinged panels.

JAMB: The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.

JOIST: A horizontal structural member which supports the floor or ceiling system.

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KILN-DRIED LUMBER: Lumber that has been kiln-dried, general ly to a moisture content of 6 to 1 2 percent.

KING POST: The central upright piece in a roof truss.

KNEE WALL: A low wall resulting from one-and-one-half-story construction.

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LALLY COLUMN: A steel column used as a support for girders and beams.

LAMINATED BEAM: A beam made of superimposed layers of similar materials by uniting them with glue and pressure.

LANDING: A platform between flights of stairs or at the term ination of a flight of stairs.

LATH: A building material of wood, metal, gypsum, or in sulating board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a plaster base.

LATTICE: A framework of crossed wood or metal strips.

LEADER: A vertical pipe or downspout that carries rainwater from the gutter to the ground or storm sewer.

LEASE: A contract for the use of land for a period of years with a designated payment of a monthly or annual rental.

LEDGER STRIP: A strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the side of a girder on which joists rest.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION: A written indication of the location and boundaries of a parcel of land. Reference is generally made to a recorded plat of survey.

LINTEL: A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

LOOKOUT: A short wooden framing member used to support an overhanging portion of a roof. It extends from the wall to the underside surfacing of the overhang.

LOT: A measured amount of property (land) having fixed boundaries.

LOT LINE: The line forming the legal boundary of a piece of property.

LOUVER: An opening with a series of horizontal slats so ar ranged as to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, sunlight, or vision. See ATTIC VENTILATORS.

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MANTEL: The shelf above a fireplace. Also used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.

MAPLE: Both hard and soft maple are generally light tan and used in construction where hardness is a major factor.Used for expensive cabinetwork, flooring, doors, and trim. Often used for interior railings, posts, and furniture.

MASONRY: Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete-block, gypsum-block, or other similar building units or materials or a combination of the same, bonded together with mortar to form a wall, pier, buttress or similar mass.

MASTIC: A flexible adhesive for adhering building materials.

METAL WALL TIES: Strips of corrugated metal used to tie a brick veneer wall to a framework.

MILLWORK: Lumber that is shaped to a given pattern or molded form. It includes dressing, matching, and machining. Ex amples include casing, base, panel door parts, and stair rails.

MITER JOINT: A joint made with the ends or edges of two pieces of lumber cut at a 45 deg. angle and fitted together.

MODULAR CONSTRUCTION: Construction in which the size of all the building materials is based on a common unit of measure.

MOISTURE BARRIER: A material such as specially treated paper that retards the passage of vapor or moisture into walls, and prevents condensation within the walls.

MORTAR: A mixture of cement, sand and water, used by the mason as a bonding agent for bricks and stone.

MORTGAGE: A document used to hold property as security for a debt.

MORTISE: A slot cut into a board, plank or timber, usually edgewise, to receive the tenon of another board, plank or timber to form a joint.

MULLION: A vertical bar or divider in the frame between win dows, doors, or other openings.

MUNTIN: A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors.

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NEWEL: A post supporting the handrail at the top or bottom of a stairway.

NOMINAL SIZE: The size of lumber before dressing, rather than its actual size.

NONBEARING WALL: A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

NOSING: The rounded edge of a stair tread.

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OAK, RED: Hard and tough hardwood used for flooring, interior trim, stair treads, and railings. Popular as a face veneer plywood for paneling and cabinetwork. A rich light to medium brown in color. White oak has similar characteristics and applications.


OC., ON CENTER: The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, joists, and other framing members from the center of one member to the center of the next.

OUTLET: Any type of electrical box allowing current to be drawn from the electrical system for lighting or appliances.

OVERHANG: The projecting area of a roof or upper story beyond the wall of the lower part.

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PALLET: An inexpensive wood skid used to stack and ship con struction materials such as brick or concrete block.

PANEL: In house construction, a thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a 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.

PARAPET: A low wall or railing around the edge of a roof.

PARGE COAT: A thin coat of cement plaster applied to a masonry wall for refinement of the surface or for dampproofing.

PARTICLE BOARD: A composition board made of wood chips or particles bonded together with an adhesive under high pressure.

PARTITION: A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building.

PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING: Involves capturing, storing, and using solar radiation (the sun’s energy) to heat a dwelling without the use of fans or pumps to circulate the heat.


PERIPHERY: A boundary or complete outside edge of a parcel of land or an object on a drawing.

PHASE CHANGE MATERIAL: A material capable of storing large amounts of heat as they change from solid to liquid. They are slow to release the stored heat and are, therefore, interesting as possible thermal mass materials.

PIER: A masonry pillar usually below a building to support the floor framing.

PILASTER: A portion of a square column, usually set within or against a wall for the purpose of strengthening the wall; also, a decorative column attached to a wall.

PINE, PONDEROSA: Light reddish colored softwood used especially for sash, doors, and screens in the softer grades. Harder grades are used for joists, rafters, studdings, sills, sheathing, porch columns, posts, balusters, and stair rails.

PINE, WHITE: Softwood of light tan color used for door, sash, interior and exterior trim, siding, and panels. Lower grades are used for sheathing, subflooring, and roofing.

PINE, YELLOW: Softwood of medium texture, moderately hard, and a yellow to reddish brown color. Used for joists, rafters, studding, and general construction where extra strength and stiffness are required.

PITCH: The slope of a roof usually expressed as a ratio.

PLASTER: A mortar-like composition used for covering walls and ceilings, usually made of portland cement mixed with sand and water.

PLAT: A drawing of surveyed land indicating the location, boun daries. and dimensions of the parcel. The recorded plat, usually sent to an appropriate governmental office or the county recorders office, also contains information as to easements, restrictions, and lot number.

PLATE: Sill plate is a horizontal member anchored to a masonry wall. Sole plate is bottom horizontal member of a frame wall. Top plate is top horizontal member of a frame wall support ing ceiling joists, rafters or other members.

PLENUM SYSTEM: A system of heating or air conditioning in which the air is forced through a chamber connected to distributing ducts.

PLUMB: Exactly perpendicular; vertical.

PLYWOOD: A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.

PORTICO: A covered entryway attached to house, usually open on three sides and supported by posts or columns.

POST AND BEAM CONSTRUCTION: Wall construction con sisting of posts rather than studs.

PRECAST: Concrete shapes which are made before being placed into a structure.

PREFABRICATED HOUSES: Houses that are built in sections or component parts in a plant, and then assembled at the site.

PREFRAMED PANELS: Fabricated panels consisting of precut lumber and plywood manufactured to standard dimensions ready for structural use.

PRESERVATIVE: Any substance that, for a reasonable length of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or impregnated with it.

PURLINS: Horizontal roof members laid over trusses to sup port rafters.

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QUARTER ROUND: A small molding that has the cross sec tion of a quarter circle.

QUARTER-SAWED: Lumber which has been sawed so that the medullary rays showing on the end grain are nearly perpen dicular to the face of the lumber.

QUOINS: Stone or other building materials set in the corners of masonry sections of a house for appearance.

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RABBET: A groove cut along the edge of a board producing an L shaped strip. Used as trim and in joint work in cabinet construction.

RADIANT HEATING: A method of heating, usually consisting of a forced hot water system with pipes placed in the floor, wall, or ceiling; or with electrically heated panels.

RADIATION:The flow of heat from a warm source through space in waves of infrared or visible light energy. Sometimes called “isolation.”

RAFTER: One of a series of structural members of a roof de signed to support roof loads. The rafters of a flat roof are sometimes called roof joists.

RANDOM RUBBLE: Stonework having irregular shaped units and no indication of systematic course work.

RED CEDAR: A reddish to dull brown softwood. The premier wood for shingles used in the United States because of its durability, ease of working, and light weight. Also used for interior and exterior trim, sash, doors, and siding.

REDWOOD: Light to deep reddish brown softwood. Mill pro ducts include sash, doors, blinds, siding, and trim. Exten sively used for garden furniture and exterior decking.

REGISTER: The open end of a duct for warm or cool air; usual ly covered with screening.

REINFORCED CONCRETE: Concrete with steel bars or web bing embedded for strength.

RETAINING WALL: A wall which holds back an earth embankment.

REVEAL: The side of an opening for a window or door, between the frame and the outer surface of the wall.

RHEOSTAT: An instrument used for regulating electric current.

RIDGE: The top edge of the roof where two slopes meet.

RIDGE BOARD: The board placed on edge at the ridge of the roof into which the upper ends of the rafters are fastened.

RIPRAP: A sustaining wall or foundation of random stone to prevent erosion on an embankment.

RISE: In stairs, the vertical height of a step or flight of stairs.

RISER: Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.

RISER WALL: A short wall.

ROOF SHEATHING: The boards or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters on which the shingles or other roof covering is laid.

ROUGH OPENING: A framed opening in a structure into which doors, windows, and other finished trim are set.

RUN: In stairs, the net width of a step or the horizontal distance covered by a flight of stairs.

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SADDLE: Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge, used between the back side of a chimney or other vertical surface and a sloping roof. Also called a cricket.

SASH: A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass.

SCUTTLE: A small opening in a ceiling which provides access to an attic or roof.

SECTION: A rectangular area of land used in the survey system which is approximately one mile square bounded by section lines. The section system may then be divided into halves, quarters, or smaller units. One square mile comprises 640 acres.

SEPTIC TANK: A concrete or steel tank where sewage is par tially reduced by bacterial action.

SETBACK: A zoning restriction which applies to the location of the home on a lot.

SETBACK LINES: Lines which indicate the required distances for the location of a structure in relation to the boundaries of the property.

SHEATHING: The structural covering, usually wood boards or plywood, used over studs or rafters of a structure. Struc tural building board is normally used only as wall sheathing.

SHED ROOF: A flat roof, slanting in one direction.

SHIPLAP: Wood sheathing which is rabbeted so that the edges of the boards make a flush joint.

SHOE MOLD: The small mold against the baseboard at the floor.

SIDING: The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building, whether made of horizontal weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, shingles, or other material.

SILL: The lowest member of the frame of a structure, resting on the foundation and supporting the floor joists or the uprights of the wall. The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill.

SKYLIGHT: An opening in a roof covered by glass or plastic material to admit natural light.

SLEEPER: Usually a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor, that serves to support and to fasten subfloor or flooring.

SMOKE CHAMBER: The portion of a chimney flue located directly over the fireplace.

SOFFIT: Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.

SOFTWOOD: Wood produced from coniferous trees or trees that bear cones. Most commonly used as the pines, but also includes such trees as fir, spruce, redwood, and cedar. The term has no reference to the actual hardness or softness of the wood.

SOIL STACK: The main vertical pipe which receives waste water from fixtures in a building.

SOLAR COLLECTORS: Devices for trapping the sun’s energy.

SOLAR RADIATION: The sun’s energy.

SOLID BRIDGING: A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent joists from twisting.

SPRUCE: Pale yellowish softwood used for general building pur poses as planks, dimension stock, and joists. Millwork pro ducts include doors, sash, casing, and trim.

SQUARE: A unit of measure – 100 sq. ft. – usually applied to roofing material. Sidewall coverings are sometimes packed to cover 100 sq. ft. and are sold on that basis.

STOOL: The horizontal ledge or strip as part of the frame below an interior window.

STRETCHER COURSE: A row of masonry in a wall with the long side of the units exposed to the exterior.

STUCCO: Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with portland cement as its base.

STUDS: The vertical framing members of a wall.

SUBELOORING: Any material, usually 1/2 in. plywood, nailed directly to floor joists. The finish floor is attached over the subflooring.

SUBGRADE: A fill or earth surface upon which concrete is placed.

SUMP: A pit in a basement floor which collects water and into which a sump pump is placed to remove the water.

SURVEY: A description of the measure and marking of land, including maps and field notes which describe the property.

SUSPENDED CEILING: A ceiling system supported by hang ing from the overhead structural framing.

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TAIL BEAM: A relatively short beam or joist supported in a wall on one end and by a header at the other.

TERMITE SHIELD: A shield, usually of noncorrodible metal, placed in or on a foundation wall or other mass of masonry or around pipes to prevent passage of termites.

TERRAZZO FLOORING: Wear-resistant flooring made of mar ble chips or small stones embedded in cement and polished smooth.

THERMAL MASS: Materials which can store large amounts of heat such as stone, masonry, or concrete.

THERMOSIPHONING: Is the result of a fluid expanding and rising.

THERMOSTAT: Automatic device for controlling temperature.

THRESHOLD: A strip of wood or metal with beveled edges used over the finish floor and the sill of exterior doors.

TITLE: Evidence indicating the rights a person has to the owner ship and possession of land.

TOPOGRAPHY: Usually refers to site characteristics such as contour of the land, trees, or other natural features.

TRACT: A specified area of land.

TRANSOM: A window placed above a door or permanent window which is hinged for ventilation.

TRAP: A U-shaped pipe below plumbing fixtures designed to create a water seal and prevent sewer odors and gases from being released into the habitable areas.

TREAD: The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.

TRIM: The finish materials in a building, such as moldings, ap plied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, cornice).

TRIMMER: The longer floor framing member around a rec tangular opening into which a header is joined.

TROMBE WALL: A popular passive solar design technique for trapping and storing the sun’s energy.

TROWELING: The finishing operation which produces a smooth, hard surface on concrete slab.

TRUSS: Structural members arranged and fastened in triangular units to form a ridge framework for support of loads over a long span.

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UNDERLAYMENT: A material placed under finish coverings, such as flooring or shingles, to provide a smooth, even sur face for applying the finish.

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VALLEY: The internal angle formed by the junction of two slop ing sides of a roof.

VALLEY RAFTER: The diagonal rafter at the intersection of two intersecting sloping roofs.

VENEER: Extremely thin sheets of wood produced by slicing or rotary-cutting a log.

VENEERED CONSTRUCTION: Type of wall construction in which frame or masonry walls are faced with other exterior surfacing materials.

VENT STACK: A vertical soil pipe connected to the drainage system to allow ventilation and pressure equalization.

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WAINSCOT: Surfacing on the lower part of an interior wall when finished differently from the remainder of the wall.

WALL TIE: A small metal strip or steel wire used to bind tiers of masonry in cavity-wall construction, or to bind brick veneer to the wood-frame wall in veneer construction.

WATER CONDITIONER: A device used to remove dissolved minerals from water to make it soft. Generally used in houses supplied by well water, which contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, to remove hardness that causes scale buildup in plumbing.

WEATHERSTRIP: Strip of metal or fabric fastened along the edges of windows and doors to reduce drafts and heat loss.

WEEP HOLE: An opening at the bottom of a wall which allows the drainage of water.

WYTHE: Pertaining to a single-width masonry wall.

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No terms available.


No terms available.


ZONING: Building restrictions which regulate size, location, and type of structures to be built in specific areas.

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