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Glossary of General Construction Terms

At Bluegill Energy we believe in sharing our knowledge with others. With all the confusing technical terms and jargon associated with the energy efficiency and green building industry, our staff compiled a Glossary of Industry Terms (PDF) to help our clients better understand these terms.

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Addition
  – An extension or increase in the height, conditioned floor area or conditioned volume of a building or structure.
Adhesion
  – The property of a coating or sealant to bond to the surface to which it is applied.
Aggregate
  – A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete. (b) Crushed stone, slag or water-worn gravel that comes in a wide range of sizes that is used to surface built-up roofs.
Alteration
  – Any construction or renovation to an existing structure other than repair or addition that requires a permit. Also, a change in a mechanical system that involves an extension, addition or change to the arrangement, type or purpose of the original installation that requires a permit.
Approach
  – The area between the sidewalk and the street that leads to a driveway or the transition from the street as you approach a driveway.
Approved
  – The approval of the code official or other authority having jurisdiction as the result of investigation and tests conducted by said official or authority, or by reason of accepted principles or tests by nationally recognized organizations.
Apron
  – The “trim board” that is installed beneath a window sill
Architect
  – One who has completed a course of study in building and design, and is licensed by the state as an architect. An architect is a licensed tradesman who designs and produces plans for buildings, often overseeing the building process.
Architectural Rule (ruler)
  – Is a three sided ruler with different scales on each side, often referred to as a "scale" ruler.
Area Wells
  – Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth
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.
Backfill
  – (a) filling in any previously excavated area. (b) in carpentry, the process of fastening together two pieces of board by gluing blocks of wood in the interior angle.
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.
Balloon Framing
  – In carpentry, the lightest and most economical form of construction, in which the studding and corner plates are set up in continuous lengths from the first floor line or sill to the roof plate. A construction method where the walls are framed before the floor is built, and the wall cavity is often open to both the attic and the basement. This is done to eliminate the need for a gable end truss.
Barrel Roof
  – Is a type of roof design which in cross section is arched.
Base or Baseboard
  – A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.
Base Ply
  – An asphalt-saturated and/or coated felt installed as the first ply with 4 inch laps in a built-up roof system under the following felts which can be installed in a shingle-like fashion.
Band Joist
  – The outside framing ribbon or joist between first and second floors of a structure. Also see Rim joist
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 Shoe
  – Molding used next to the floor on interior base board.
Batten
  – Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
Batten Plate
  – A formed piece of metal designed to cover the joint between two lengths of metal edge.
Bay Window
  – A window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
Beam
  – Structural support member (steel, concrete, lumber) that transfers weight from one location to another. Or a strong horizontal building support used to carry the weight of a floor or roof. It may be referred to as a "girder".
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).
Bevel
  – (of a door) is the angle of the front edge of a door usually from 1/8" to 2".
Bi-fold door
  – Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
Bi-Pass Doors
  – Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
Bitumen
  – Any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons occurring naturally or obtained through the distillation of coal or petroleum. (See Coat Tar Pitch and Asphalt)
Bleeding
  – A migration of a liquid to the surface of a component or into/onto an adjacent material.
Blocking (door)
  – Wood shims used between the door frame and the vertical structural wall framing members.
Blocking (rafters)
  – Short "2 by 4's" used to keep rafters from twisting, and installed at the ends and at mid-span.
Blister
  – An enclosed raised spot evident on the surface of a building. They are mainly caused by the expansion of trapped air, water vapor, moisture or other gases.
Blocking
  – Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling. In carpentry, the process of fastening together two pieces of board by gluing blocks of wood in the interior angle.
Blue Print(s)
  – A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. The term used to describe the drawing of a structure prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction. Architectural plans for a building or construction project, which is likely to include floor plans, footing and foundation plans, elevations, plot plans, and various schedules and or details.
Board Foot
  – The unit of measure for lumber, which is 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
Bond Breaker
  – A substance or a tape applied between two adjoining materials to prevent adhesion between them.
Bond Plaster
  – In addition to gypsum, bond plaster contains 2-5% lime by weight and chemical additives which improve the bond with dense non-porous surfaces such as concrete. It is used as a base coat.
Bottom Chord
  – The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.
Bottom Plate
  – The "2 x 4's or 2x6's" that lay on the subfloor upon which the vertical studs are installed. It may also be called the 'sole plate' or “kick 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.
Bracing
  – Ties and rods used for supporting and strengthening various parts of a building used for lateral stability for columns and beams.
Brick Ledge
  – Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will rest.
Brick Lintel
  – This is 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 to.
Brown-coat
  – This is coat of plaster directly beneath the finish coat. In three-coat work, the brown is the second coat.
Bubbling
  – In glazing, open or closed pockets in a sealant caused by release, production or expansion of gasses.
Buck
  – Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door bucks used in reference to metal door frame. See Window Bucks
Building
  – Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.
Building Brick
  – Brick for building purposes not especially treated for texture or color, formerly called "common brick." It is stronger than face brick.
Brick Tie
  – A small, corrugated 1" X 6"- 8" long metal strip, nailed to wall sheeting or studs. They are inserted into the grout mortar joint of the veneer brick, holding the veneer wall to the sheeted wall behind it.
Brick Veneer
  – A vertical facing of brick lain 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.
Building Codes
  – Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.
Building Permit
  – Written authorization from the city, county or other governing regulatory body giving permission to construct or renovate a building. A building permit is specific to the building project described in the application.
Built-Up Roof
  – A roof 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 and is generally used for flat or low-pitched roofing systems.
Butt Edge
  – The lower edge of the shingle tabs.
Butt Glazing
  – The installation of glass products where the vertical glass edges are without structural supporting mullions.
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 or to place materials end-to-end or end-to-edge without overlapping.
Butterfly Roof
  – Is a roof assembly which pitches sharply from either side toward the center.
CO
  – (a) 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. (b) An abbreviation for Carbon Monoxide. An odorless, tasteless, poisonous combustion by-product lighter than air.
Caisson
  – A 10" or 12" diameter hole drilled into the earth and embedded into bedrock 3 - 4 feet. This is the structural support for a type of foundation wall, porch, patio, mono-post, 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
Canopy
  – An overhanging roof.
Cant Strip
  – A beveled support used at the intersection of the roof deck with vertical surfaces so that bends in the roofing membrane to form base flashings can be made without breaking the felts.
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, or fireplace.
Cap Flashing
  – The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Cap Sheets
  – In roofing, one to four plies of felt bonded and top coated with bitumen that is laid over an existing roof as a treatment for defective roofs.
Casement
  – Is the frame of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash and 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 or molding installed around a door or window opening.
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, such as Portland cement or 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 tops.
Certificate of Occupancy
  – A document stating that a building is approved for occupancy. The building authority issues the Certificate of Occupancy.
Channel Glazing
  – The installation of glass products into U-shaped glazing channels. The channels may have fixed stops; however, at least one glazing stop on one edge must be removable.
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.
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. It may also be referred to as OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or wafer board.
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"
  – Is the minimum fire rating issued by the Underwriters' Laboratories for roofing materials.
Coal Tar Pitch (Tar)
  – Is a bituminous material which is a byproduct from the coking of coal. It is used as the waterproofing material for tar and gravel built-up roofing.
Coating
  – A layer of any liquid product spread over a surface for protection.
Code Official
  – The officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of this code, or a duly authorized representative.
Cohesive Failure
  – Internal splitting of a compound resulting from over-stressing of the compound.
Collar
  – (a) In roofing, a conical metal cap flashing used in conjunction with vent pipes or stacks usually located several inches above the plane of the roof, for the purpose of shedding water away from the base of the vent. (b) In HVAC, the device used to connect a duct to the plenum, sometimes called a “start collar”.
Collar Beam
  – A nominal 1- or 2-inch-thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure by connecting similar rafters on opposite sides of roof.
Column
  – A vertical building support usually made of wood or steel which supports loads.
Commercial Building
  – For the purpose of code, all buildings that are not included in the definition of “Residential buildings,” other than detached one- and two-family dwellings, townhouses and residential buildings, Groups R-2 and R-4.
Compatible
  – Two or more substances which can be mixed or blended without separating, reacting, or affecting either material adversely.
Component
  – Any one part of an assembly associated with construction.
Composite Board
  – An insulation board which has two different insulation types laminated together in 2 or 3 layers.
Compound
  – A chemical formulation of ingredients used to produce a caulking, elastomeric joint sealant, etc.
Compression Web
  – Is a member of a truss system which connects the bottom and top chords and which provides downward support.
Concrete
  – The mixture of Portland cement, sand, gravel, and water. Used to make garage and basement floors, sidewalks, patios, foundation walls, etc. and is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening (mesh).
Concrete Block
  – Is a hollow concrete 'brick' often 8" x 8" x 16" in size.
Concrete Board
  – A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a tile backing material.
Conduit (electrical)
  – Is a pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed for protecting electric wires.
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.
Control Circuit
  – A circuit whose work is switching a power circuit or opening an automatic valve.
Control Joint
  – Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to "control" where the concrete should crack or to accommodate movement in the surface component of a roof or brick wall.
Coping
  – A construction unit placed at the top of the parapet wall to serve as a cover for the wall.
Copper Pipe
  – Piping used to transfer fluids or gases made from copper. (a) Type K has the heaviest or thickest wall and is generally used underground. It has a green stripe. (b) Type L has a medium wall thickness and is most commonly used for water service and for general interior water piping. It has a blue stripe. (c) Type M has a thin wall and many codes permit its use in general water piping installation. It has a red stripe.
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
  – (a) Overhang of a pitched roof, usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings. (b) A horizontal projecting course on the exterior of a building, usually at the base of the parapet.
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.
Coupling
  – In plumbing, a short collar with only inside threads at each end, for receiving the ends of two pipes which are to be fitted and joined together. A right/left coupling is one used to join 2 gas pipes in limited space.
Course
  – (a) A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof. Parallel layers of building materials such as bricks, or siding laid horizontally. (b) A single layer of brick or stone or other building material.
Cove Molding
  – A molding with a concave face used as trim or to finish interior corners.
Crawl Space
  – A shallow space below the living quarters of a house, normally enclosed by the foundation wall and having a dirt floor. The space in a house often used to distribute mechanical/electrical systems. It is usually unconditioned.
Crawl Space Wall
  – Is the opaque portion of a wall that encloses a crawl space and is partially or totally below grade.
Cricket
  – (a) A second roof built on top of the primary roof to increase the slope of the roof or valley. (b) 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 Section
  – A view of a building component drawn or imagined by cutting through the component.
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 edges.
Curb
  – (a) The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a roof. Normally a 2 x 6 box (on the roof) on which a skylight is attached. (b) A short wall or masonry built above the level of the roof that provides a means of flashing the deck equipment.
Curing
  – (a) In concrete application, the process in which mortar and concrete harden. The length of time is dependent upon the type of cement, mix proportion, required strength, size and shape of the concrete section, weather and future exposure conditions. The period may be 3 weeks or longer for lean concrete mixtures used in structures such as dams or it may be only a few days for richer mixes. Favorable curing temperatures range from 50 to 70 degrees F. Design strength is achieved in 28 days. (b) In reference to a home, the process by which a home is dried after construction. Usually takes 12-18 months of being in a continually conditioned state.
Curtain Wall
  – (a) A thin wall, supported by the structural steel or concrete frame of the building independent of the wall below. Also a metal (most often aluminum) framing system on the face of a building containing vision glass panels and spandrel panels made of glass, aluminum, or other material. (b) Fenestration products used to create an external non-load bearing wall that is designed to separate the exterior and interior environments. (c) Air stream created at the entrance to a building to restrict the transfer of heat into or out of building.
Cut-in Brace
  – Nominal 2-inch-thick members, usually 2 by 4's, cut in between each stud diagonally.
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
  – (a) An elevated platform. (b) To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the floor joists, rafters, or trusses.
Decking
  – The wood material installed under roofing material to support the roofing.
Deflection
  – The amount of bending movement of any part of a structural member perpendicular to the axis of the member under an applied load.
Distortion
  – Alteration of viewed images caused by variations in glass flatness or inhomogeneous portions within the glass and is an inherent characteristic of heat-treated glass.
Door Jamb
  – 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 on them.
Door Stop
  – Is the wooden style that the door slab will rest upon when it's in a closed position.
Dormer
  – (a) A vertical house-like structure with window projecting from a roof. (b) An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
Double Hung Window
  – A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.
Double Plate
  – when two layers of 2 x 4's are placed on top of studs in framing a wall.
Down Spout
  – 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. It is sometimes referred to as a perimeter drain.
Drawing(s)
  – See Blue Prints.
Drawing Detail
  – A top view drawing of a building or roof showing the roof perimeter and indicating the projections and roof mounted equipment, drawn to scale.
Drawing Outline
  – A top view drawing of a building or roof showing only the perimeter drawn to scale.
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 building.
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 frame.
Drip Edge
  – A device designed to prevent water from running back or under an overhang.
Dry In
  – To make a building waterproof by installing the black roofing felt (tar paper) on the roof and or walls.
Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheet Rock™ or Plasterboard)
  – Wall board or gypsum board - A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" - 3/4” thick and comes in 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' sheets. 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".
Dura Board or Dura Rock™
  – A panel used as a ceramic tile backing material, made out of concrete and fiberglass usually. Commonly used on bathtub decks. Sometimes called Wonder board
Dwelling Unit
  – A single housekeeping unit comprised of one or more rooms providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
DWV
  – Acronym for Drain-Waste-Vent, which is the section of a plumbing system that carries water and sewer gases out of a home.
Earthquake Strap
  – A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house.
Eave(s)
  – (a) The horizontal exterior roof overhang. (b) The part of a roof which projects out from the side wall, or the lower edge of the part of a roof that overhangs a wall.
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 required
EIFS
  – Acronym for Exterior Insulating Finish System; exterior wall cladding system consisting primarily of polystyrene foam board with a textured acrylic finish that resembles plaster or stucco.
Elevation
  – A side of a building.
Elevation Sheet
  – The page of a set of blue prints or building drawings that depicts the house or room as if a vertical plane were passed through the structure.
Entrance Door
  – Fenestration products used for ingress, egress and access in nonresidential buildings, including, but not limited to, exterior entrances that utilize latching hardware and automatic closers and contain over 50-percent glass specifically designed to withstand heavy use and possibly abuse.
Equivalent Length
  – The term used to describe a length of straight pipe that has equivalent resistance to a pipe or duct fitting. Used for piping and duct design.
Escutcheon
  – An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending through a wall or floor to hide the cut out hole
Expansion Joint
  – (a) A device used to permit a structure to expand or contract without breakage. (b) 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.
Expansion Valve
  – Is a valve that meters refrigerant into the evaporator.
Exterior Wall
  – Walls including both above-grade walls and basement walls.
Exterior Wall
  – Is an above-grade wall enclosing conditioned space which is vertical or sloped at an angle 60 degrees (1.1 rad) or greater from the horizontal (see “Roof assembly”). It includes between-floor spandrels, peripheral edges of floors, roof and basement knee walls, dormer walls, gable end walls, walls enclosing a mansard roof, and basement walls with an average below-grade wall area which is less than 50 percent of the total opaque and non-opaque area of that enclosing side.
Eyebrow
  – A flat, normally concrete, projection which protrudes horizontally from a building wall; Eyebrows are generally located above windows.
Facade
  – The front of a building. Frequently, in architectural terms an artificial or decorative effort.
Face Brick
  – Brick made especially for exterior use with special consideration of color, texture and size, and used as a facing or siding on a building.
Expansive Soils
  – Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present. ("Bentonite Clay" is an expansive soil).
Fascia
  – (a) Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia. (b) Any cover board or framed metal assembly at the edge or eaves of a flat, sloping, or overhanging roof which is placed in a vertical position to protect the edge of the roof assembly.
Felt
  – A very general term used to describe composition of roofing ply sheets, consisting of a mat of organic or inorganic fibers unsaturated, impregnated with asphalt or coal tar pitch, or impregnated and coated with asphalt. Installed under the roof shingles and is normally sold in 15 lb. or 30 lb. weight.
Finger Joint
  – Is the 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 of stained).
Finish Coat
  – The last coat applied in plastering intended as a base for further decorating or as a final decorative surface. Finish coat usually consists of calcified gypsum, lime and sometimes an aggregate. Some may require the addition of lime or sand on the job. The three basic methods of applying it are (1) trowel (2) flat and (3) spray.
Finish Grade
  – Any surface which has been cut to or built to the elevation indicated for that point. The surface elevation of lawn, driveway or other improved surfaces after completion of grading operations.
Finned Tube
  – A length or coil of pipe with heat transfer fins attached for water-to-air heat transfer.
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 Plan
  – Is a large sheet of metal that is installed around and perpendicular to the fireplace flue pipe. Its purpose is to confine and limit the spread of fire and smoke to a small area.
Fire-Rated
  – The description used for materials that have been tested for use in fire walls.
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 is 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). This 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'.
Fire Stop
  – (a) Framing member designed to stop the spread of fire within a wall cavity. (b) Material used to stop smoke, toxic fumes, and fire from migrating from one floor to another.
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. They may also be referred to as a gang nail plate.
Fire Wall
  – Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls of solid masonry or concrete generally sub-divide a building from the foundations to two or more feet above the plane of the roof.
Flagstone (flagging or flags)
  – Flat stones (1 to 4 inches thick) used for walks, steps, floors, and vertical wall veneer (in lieu of brick).
Flammable
  – The rating for building materials that will burn readily when exposed to a flame.
Flashing
  – (a) Waterproof material used to prevent leakage at intersections between the roof surface at walls or penetrations. (b) Weatherproof material installed between roof sheathing (or wall sheathing) and the finish materials to help keep moisture away from the sheathing.
Flashing Base
  – The upturned edge of the watertight membrane formed at a roof termination point by the extension of the felts vertically over the cant strip and up the wall for a varying distance where they are secured with mechanical fasteners.
Flashing - Counter
  – The formed metal secured to a wall, curb, or roof top unit to cover and protect the upper edge of a base flashing and its associated fasteners.
Flashing - Step
  – Individual small pieces of metal flashing material used to flash around chimneys, dormers, and such projections along the slope of a roof. The individual pieces are overlapped and stepped up the vertical surface.
Flash Point
  – The critical temperature at which a material will ignite.
Flashing - Thru-Wall
  – Flashing extended completely through a masonry wall. Designed and applied in combination with counter-flashings, to prevent water which may enter the wall above from proceeding downward in the wall or into the roof deck or roofing system.
Flat Glass
  – A general term that describes float glass, sheet, glass, plate glass, and rolled glass.
Flat Paint
  – Is an interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
Flat Seam
  – Is a seam at the junction of sheet metal roof components that has been bent at the plane of the roof.
Flexible Metal Conduit
  – Conduit similar to armored cable in appearance but does not have the pre-inserted conductors.
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.
Floor Joist
  – The framing members that support the floor. A horizontal support made of wood, steel or concrete usually smaller than a beam.
Floor Plan
  – This is a basic layout of a building or addition, which includes placement of walls, windows and doors as well as dimensions.
Floor Plate
  – A flat board on a floor used to support wall studs.
Flush Glazing (Pocket Glazing)
  – The setting of a lite of glass or panel into a four-sided sash or frame opening containing a recessed "U" shaped channel without removable stops on three sides of the sash or frame and one channel with a removable stop along the fourth side.
Fly Rafters
  – End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.
Folded Seam
  – In sheet metal work, a joint between sheets of metal wherein the edges of the sheets are crimped together and folded flat.
Footer/Footing
  – Continuous 8" or 10" thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or mono-post.
Footing
  – (a) The part of a foundation system that actually transfers the weight of the building to the ground. (b) Wide pours of cement reinforced with re-bar (reinforcing bar) that support foundation walls, pillars, or posts. Footings are part of the foundation and are often poured before the foundation walls.
Foundation
  – The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
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
  – (a) 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. (b) The maximum depth of the soil where water will freeze during the coldest weather.
Furring
  – Wood strips providing a space for insulation.
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 breakers'.
GFCI, or GFI
  – 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.
GFRC
  – Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete; Material used in wall systems that resembles but generally does not perform as well as concrete. Usually a thin cementitious material laminated to plywood or other lightweight backing.
Gable
  – The triangular end of the exterior wall of a building, that extends from the level of the eaves, to the ridge of a double-sloped roof.
Galvanized
  – Process used to coat a metal with zinc by dipping it in molten zinc after cleaning.
Gambrel Roof
  – A type of roof which has its slope broken by an obtuse angle, so that the lower slope is steeper than the upper slope. A double sloped roof having two pitches.
Gang Nail Plate
  – A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint of a truss. It sometimes referred to as a fishplate or gusset.
Gate Valve
  – A valve that lets you completely stop, but not modulate the flow within a pipe.
Gauge
  – (a) The thickness of sheet metal and wire, etc. (b) A device used to measure pressure.
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.
Girder
  – (a) A main beam upon which floor joists rest, usually made of steel or wood. (b) A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
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 pieces of dimensional lumber are glued together).
Grade
  – (a) The ground level or the elevation at any given point. (b) The work of leveling dirt. (c) The designated quality of a manufactured piece of wood.
Grade MW
  – Moderate Weather grade of brick for moderate resistance to freezing used, for example, in planters.
Grade NW
  – No Weather brick intended for use as a backup or interior masonry.
Grade SW
  – Severe Weather grade of brick intended for use where high resistance to freezing is desired.
Grade Beam
  – Is a foundation wall that is poured @ level with or just below the grade of the earth. 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
Grain
  – The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in wood.
Granules
  – The mineral particles of a graded size which are embedded in the asphalt coating of shingles and roofing.
Gravel
  – Loose fragments of rock used for surfacing built-up roofs, in sizes varying from 1/8" to 1 3/4".
Grout or Grouting
  – (a) Cement mortar mixture commonly used to fill joints and cavities of masonry. (b) 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 the roof.
Gutter Strap
  – Metal bands used to support the gutter.
Gypsum 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 Keene Cement
  – Material used to obtain a smooth finish coat of plaster, for use over gypsum plastic base coats only and in areas not subject to moisture. It is the hardest plaster.
Gypsum Plaster
  – Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of sand and water for base-coat plaster.
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".
Hatch
  – An opening in a deck; floor or roof. The usual purpose is to provide access from inside the building.
Haunch
  – An extension, knee like protrusion of the foundation wall that a concrete porch or patio will rest upon for support.
Head
  – Foot pounds of mechanical energy per pound of fluid created by a pump.
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).
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.
Heat Strengthened Glass
  – Flat or bent glass that has been heat-treated to a specific surface and/or edge compression range to meet the requirements of ASTM C 1048, kind HS. Heat-strengthened glass is approximately two times as strong as annealed glass of the same thickness when exposed to uniform static pressure loads. Heat-strengthened glass is not considered safety glass and will not completely dice as will fully tempered glass.
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 Bead
  – Sealant applied at the base of a channel, after setting the lite or panel and before the removable stop is installed, one of its purposes being to prevent leakage past the stop.
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 Roof
  – (a) This type of roof has four sloping sides, extending downward from the peak of a building. (b) The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.
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.
Honeycomb
  – (1) Areas in a foundation wall where the aggregate (gravel) is visible. Honeycombs can be usually be remedied by applying a thin layer of grout or other cement product over the affected area. (2) Method by which concrete is poured and not puddled or vibrated, allowing the edges to have voids or holes after the forms are removed.
Hose Bib
  – An exterior water faucet (sill cock).
HUB
  – In plumbing, the enlarged end of a pipe which is made to provide a connection into which the end of the joining pipe will fit.
Hurricane Clip
  – Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. It may also be referred to as a “Teco” clip.
IRMA
  – Acronym for the Insulated (or Inverted) Roof Membrane Assembly. In this system the roof membrane is laid directly on the roof deck, covered with extruded foam insulation and ballasted with stone, minimum of 1000 lbs. per square.
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
Inside Corner
  – The point at which two walls forms an internal angle, as in the corner of a room.
Interior finishMaterial used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings
  – Material used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings
Interior Glazed
  – Glazing infills set from the interior of the building.
Interlayer
  – In glazing, any material used to bond two panes of glass and/or plastic together to form a laminate.
Irrigation
  – Lawn or landscape watering system.
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 the top piece of a doorway, window, or other opening. It includes the studs as well as the frame and trim.
Keeper
  – The metal latch plate in a door frame into which a doorknob plunger latches.
Keyway
  – A slot formed and poured on the 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.
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.
Knee Wall
  – A short wall, usually about 3 to 4 feet high, in the attic of a home, anchored with plates between the attic floor joists and the roof joist. Sheathing can be attached to these walls to enclose an attic space. Commonly found in Cape-style homes.
Kynar Coating
  – Architectural coating that is UV stable and suitable for exterior use on aluminum and other metal surfaces.
Labeled
  – Equipment, materials or products to which have been affixed a label, seal, symbol or other identifying mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, inspection agency or other organization concerned with product evaluation that maintains periodic inspection of the production of the above-labeled items and whose labeling indicates either that the equipment, material or product meets identified standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose.
Laminated Glass
  – Two or more panes or “lites” of glass permanently bonded together with one or more inter-layers.
Laminated Shingles
  – Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance. They 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, usually no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.
Lap
  – The act of extending one material partially over the surface of another shingle, sheet or roll with another. Lap siding would be an example, where each layer of siding is sequential adhered slightly over the last.
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.
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.
Lead
  – A malleable metal once extensively used for flashings. If ingested, lead is poisonous to animals and humans, damaging the nervous system and causing brain disorders.
Lean to Roof
  – the sloping roof of a building addition having its rafters or supports pitched against and supported by the adjoining wall of a building.
Ledger (for a Structural Floor)
  – The wooden perimeter frame lumber member that bolts onto the face of a foundation wall and supports the wood structural floor.
Ledger Strip
  – A strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the side of a girder on which joists rest.
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 corner.
Leveling Rod
  – A rod with graduated marks for measuring heights or vertical distances between given points and the line of sight of a leveling instrument. They are longer than a yardstick and are held by a surveyor in a vertical position.
Lineal Foot
  – This is the 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 or header - A horizontal piece of wood or steel over an opening such as a window or door. It is used to support the walls immediately above the opening. Lintels can also be steel or stone.
Listed
  – Equipment, materials, products or services included in a list published by an organization acceptable to the code official and concerned with evaluation of products or services that maintains periodic inspection of production of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services and whose listing states either that the equipment, material, product or service meets identified standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose.
Live Load
  – Loads produced by use and occupancy of the building or other structure and do not include construction or environmental loads such as wind load, snow load, ice load, rain load, seismic load, or dead load.
Load Bearing Wall
  – Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder. Normally, includes any wall that has a double horizontal top plate.
Loan to Value Ratio
  – The ratio of the loan amount to the property valuation and expressed as a percentage. E.g. if a borrower is seeking a loan of $200,000 on a property worth $400,000 it has a 50% loan to value rate. If the loan were $300,000, the LTV would be 75%. The higher the loan to value ratio, the greater the lenders perceived risk. Loans above normal lending LTV ratios may require additional security.
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.
Mansard Roof
  – A roof which rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building. The sloping roofs on all four sides have two pitches, the lower pitch usually very steep and the upper pitch less steep.
Mantel
  – The shelf above a fireplace opening and used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.
Manufactured Wood
  – This would be 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. These are 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.
Manual
  – Capable of being operated by personal intervention (see “Automatic”).
Masonry
  – Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. It is normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.
Maximum Occupancy Load
  – The maximum number of people permitted in a room and is measured per foot for each width of exit door. The maximum is 50 per foot of exit.
Melt Point
  – This is the temperature at which the solid asphalt becomes a liquid.
Membrane
  – A generic term relating to a variety of sheet goods used for certain built-up roofing repairs and application.
Metal Edge
  – Brake metal or metal extrusions which are secured at the perimeter of the roof to form a weathertight seal.
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
MIL Thickness
  – Measurement used to determine thickness of a coating. 1 mil = .001 inch (1/1000).
Millwork
  – Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in millwork plants. This includes all doors, window and door frames, blinds, mantels, panel work, stairway components (balusters, rail, etc.), moldings, and interior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.
Miter Joint
  – This is 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.
Modulus
  – Stress at a given strain, also tensile strength at a given elongation.
Molding
  – A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface. Finish wood such as door and window trim.
Monitor
  – A large structure rising above the surrounding roof planes, designed to give light and/or ventilation to the building interior.
Mono-Post
  – Adjustable metal column used to support a beam or bearing point. Normally metal in 11 gauge or Schedule 40 thickness and determined by the structural engineer
Mopping
  – In roofing, a layer of hot bitumen mopped between plies of roofing felt. Full mopping is the application of bitumen by mopping in such a manner that the surface being mopped is entirely coated with a reasonably uniform coating. Spot Mopping is the procedure of applying hot bitumen in a random fashion of small daubs, as compared to full mopping. Sprinkle mopping is a special application of installing insulation to the decks. It is done by dipping a roof mop into hot bitumen and sprinkling the material onto the deck. Strip Mopping is the application of bitumen in parallel bands.
Mortar
  – A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in masonry work to bond bricks, stones, or blocks together.
Mortar Types
  – Type M is suitable for general use and is recommended specifically for masonry below grade and in contact with earth, such as foundations, retaining walls and walks. Type M is the strongest type. Type S is suitable for general use and is recommended where high resistance to lateral forces is required. Type N is suitable for general use in exposed masonry above grade and is recommended specifically for exterior walls subject to severe exposures. Type 0 is recommended for load-bearing walls of solid units where the compressive stresses do not exceed 100 lbs. per square inch and the masonry wall not be subjected to freezing and thawing in the presence of excessive moisture.
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 a joint.
Mud Cracks
  – Cracks developing from the normal shrinkage of an emulsion coating when applied too heavily.
Mudsill
  – The bottom horizontal member of an exterior wall frame which rests on top a foundation, sometimes called sill plate. It may also be referred to as the sole plate and bottom member of interior wall frame.
Mullion
  – (a) A vertical divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings. (b) A horizontal or vertical member that supports and holds such items as panels, glass, sash, or sections of a curtain wall.
Multifamily Dwelling
  – This would be a building containing three or more dwelling units.
Multiple Single Family Dwelling (Townhouse)
  – This would be a building not more than three stories in height consisting of multiple single-family dwelling units, constructed in a group of three or more attached units in which each unit extends from foundation to roof and with open space on at least two sides.
Muntin(s)
  – (a) A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors. (b) Horizontal or vertical bars that divide the sash frame into smaller lites of glass. Muntins are smaller in dimensions and weight than mullions.
Mushroom
  – The unacceptable occurrence when the top of a caisson concrete pier spreads out and hardens to become wider than the foundation wall thickness.
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.
NM
  – A type of ROMEX cable (nonmetallic sheathed cable that contains several conductors). The cable, which is flame-retardant, is limited to use in dry locations only and cannot be exposed to excessive moisture.
NMC (Non Metallic Conduit)
  – A type of ROMEX cable (nonmetallic sheathed cable that contains several conductors). NMC may be used in damp or corrosive locations as well as dry areas.
Nailer
  – A piece of lumber secured to non-nail-able decks and walls by bolts or other means, which provides a suitable backing onto which roof components may be mechanically fastened.
Natural Finish
  – This is the 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.
Neat Plaster
  – A base coat plaster which does not contain aggregates and is used where the addition of aggregates on the job is desired.
Neoprene
  – A synthetic rubber having physical properties closely resembling those of natural rubber. It is made by polymerizing chloroprene, and the latter is produced from acetylene and hydrogen chloride.
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 a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.
Non-Bearing Wall
  – This would be a wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Non-Staining
  – Characteristic of a compound that will not stain a surface.
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.
O.C.
  – Acronym used for “On Center”. The measurement term describing a certain distance between like materials, such as studs placed at 16" O.C. They will be laid out so that there is 16" from the center of one stud 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
Occupancy
  – The purpose for which a building, or portion thereof, is utilized or occupied.
Oil-Canning
  – The term describing distortion of thin-gauge metal panels which are fastened in a manner restricting normal movement due to thermal expansion and contraction.
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. That part of the roof structure which extends horizontally beyond the vertical plane of the exterior walls of a building. See also Cornice.
Oxidize
  – To combine with oxygen in the air.
Ozone Depletion Factor
  – This is the relative measure of the potency of chemicals in depleting stratospheric ozone. The ozone depletion factor potential depends on the chlorine and bromine content and the atmospheric lifetime of the chemical. The depletion factor potential is normalized such that the factor for CFC-11 is set equal to unity and the factors for the other chemicals indicate their potential relative to CFC-11.
Padding
  – A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.
Pad Out or Pack Out
  – The act of shimming out or adding 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 based.
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)
  – The general term used for papers, felts, and similar sheet materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses. Generally comes in long rolls.
Parapet or Parapet Wall
  – A low wall placed at the edge of a roof to prevent people from falling off.
Parking Strip
  – The area in front of a building between the sidewalk and the street usually landscaped with grass. The parking strip serves as a buffer between the road and pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.
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 or room.
Patterned Glass
  – On type of rolled glass having a pattern impressed on one or both sides. Used extensively for light control, bath enclosures and decorative glazing. Sometimes call "rolled," "figured" or "obscure" glass.
Pedestal
  – A metal box installed at various locations along utility easements that contain electrical, telephone, or cable television switches and connections.
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
Penthouse
  – A relatively small structure built above the plane of the roof.
Percolation Test
  – Test that a soil engineer performs on earth to determine the feasibility of installing a leech field type sewer system on a lot. The test will 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 "day-lighted" into a sump pit inside the home, and a sump pump is sometimes inserted into the pit to discharge any accumulation of water.
Paver Stones
  – Usually pre-cast concrete slabs used to create a traffic surface.
Permanent Set
  – The amount by which a material fails to return to its original dimensions after being deformed by an applied force or load.
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 structure.
  • 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 work.
  • Plumbing Permit - A separate permit required for new plumbing and larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.
  • Photo-Oxidation
      – Oxidation caused by rays of the sun.
Pitch
  – (a) 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. (b) A term frequently used to designate coal tar pitch.
Plan Submittal
  – Submission of construction plans to the city or county in order to obtain a Building Permit.
Plan View
  – Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.
Plans
  – See Blue Prints.
Plat
  – A map of a geographical area as recorded by the county.
Plate
  – A piece of lumber installed horizontally to which the vertical studs in a wall frame are attached. Normally a 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 that lies horizontally within a framed structure, such as:
  • Sill plate - A horizontal member anchored to a concrete or masonry wall.
  • Sole plate - Bottom horizontal member of a frame wall.
  • Top plate - Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.
  • Plate Line
      – The top horizontal line of a building wall upon which the roof rests.
Platform Framing/Platform Construction
  – This is the process of constructing a building in one or more consecutively installed platforms. (Usually one story constitutes a platform.)
Plot Plan
  – This is the overhead view plan that shows the location of the home on the lot. It normally includes all easements, property lines, setbacks, and legal descriptions of the home.
Plumb
  – Exactly vertical and perpendicular.
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 drains 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 Trim
  – Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get the home ready for a final plumbing inspection. This includes installing all toilets (water closets), hot water heaters, sinks, connecting all gas piping to the appliances, disposal, dishwasher, and all plumbing items.
Plumbing waste line
  – Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage waste.
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 material.
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.
Pocket (Channel)
  – A three-sided, U-shaped opening in a sash or frame to receive glazing infill. Contrasted to a rabbet, which is a two-sided, L-shaped sections as with face glazed window sash.
Point Load
  – This is the point where a bearing/structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation.
Pointing
  – The process where joints between masonry units, brick, etc., are filled with mortar.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  – Polymer formed by polymerization of vinyl chloride monomer, sometimes called vinyl.
Ponding
  – A condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.
Post
  – A vertical framing member of wood, steel, concrete or other material that transfers weight from usually designed to carry a beam, usually a 4" x 4", 6" x 6" or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and bottom.
Post and Beam Construction
  – A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with standard stud framing. This is the most common type of wall framing, which uses posts to carry horizontal beams on which the joists are supported. It allows for fewer bearing partitions, & less material.
Precast
  – Concrete building components which are formed and cured at a factory and then transported to a work site for erection.
Pre-Shimmed Tape Sealant
  – This is a sealant having a pre-formed shape containing solids or discrete particles that limit its deformation under compression.
Pressure Reducing Valve
  – Valve installed in the water service line where it enters the building to reduce the pressure of water in the line to an acceptable pressure used in buildings (40-55 psi desired).
Pressure-Treated Wood
  – Lumber that has been saturated with a preservative in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood.
Primer
  – (a) 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. (b) A material of relatively thin consistency applied to a surface for the purpose of creating a more secure bonding surface and to form a barrier to prevent migration of components.
Priming
  – Sealing of a porous surface so that compounds will not stain, lose elasticity, shrink excessively, etc. because of loss of oil or vehicle into the surround.
Principal
  – The original amount of the loan, the capital.
Projection
  – Any object or equipment which pierces the roof membrane.
Property Survey
  – The survey used to determine the boundaries of your property. The cost depends on the complexity of the survey.
Protection Board
  – In roofing, heavy asphalt impregnated boards which are laid over bituminous coatings to protect against mechanical injury.
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 drain.
Punch List
  – A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the contractor.
Punch Out
  – To inspect and make a discrepancy list.
Purlins
  – (a) Framing members that sit on top of rafters, perpendicular to them, designed to spread support to roofing materials. (b) The horizontal structural member spanning between beams or trusses to support a roof deck. In slope glazing, purlins are the horizontal framing members.
Putty
  – A type of dough used in sealing glass in the sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.
PVC/CPVC
  – Acronyms for Poly Vinyl Chloride (white/grey) /Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (off white/tan). They are similar in many ways, but they shouldn't be used interchangeably. Both are made of the same basic elements with one distinguishing factor. CPVC is altered by a free radical chlorination reaction that effectively increases the chlorine content of the material. CPVC is also a thermoplastic that is molded into many of the same products as PVC. This difference in makeup allows CPVC to withstand a wider range of temperatures. This is why many building codes require the use of CPVC as opposed to PVC for use in hot water applications. The ASTM standard allows PVC to be used in applications not exceeding 140ºF. Temperatures over this can cause softening of the material and weakening of joints. CPVC on the other hand can handle temperatures up to 200ºF.
PVDF
  – Acronym for polyvinylidene fluoride or polyvinylidene difluoride. An architectural coating, also known as Kynar® Coating is a highly non-reactive and pure thermoplastic fluoropolymer. It is generally used in applications requiring the highest purity, strength, and resistance to solvents, acids, bases and heat and low smoke generation during a fire event.
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 quartered circle.
Rabbet
  – A rectangular longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.
Rafter
  – A sloping roof beam that supports the roof covering which extends from the ridge or the hip of the roof to the eaves. A common rafter is one which runs square with the plate and extends to the ridge. A hip rafter extends from the outside angle of the plate towards the apex of the roof. They are 2" deeper or wider than common rafters. A valley rafter extends from an inside angle of the plates toward the ridge of the house. 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)
  – This is the rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.
Rafter (Valley)
  – This is the rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double 2-inch-thick members.
Raggle Block
  – A specially designed masonry block having a slot or opening into which the top edge of the roof flashing is inserted and anchored.
Rail
  – (a) The top and bottom frame members of a door or window (not the jamb). (b) Cross members of panel doors or of a sash. (c) A wall or open balustrade placed at the edge of a staircase, walk-way, 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
  – The angle of slope of a roof rafter, or the inclined portion of a cornice.
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.
Readily Accessible
  – Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal or inspection without requiring those to who ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders or access equipment (see “Accessible”).
Rebar or Reinforcing Bar
  – Ribbed steel bars installed in foundation concrete walls, footers, and poured in place concrete structures designed to strengthen concrete. It comes in various thicknesses and strength grade.
Redline or 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.
Reglet
  – A horizontal slot formed or cut in a parapet or other masonry wall, into which the top edge of counter-flashing can be inserted and anchored. In glazing, a reglet is typically a pocket or keyway extruded into the framing for installing the glazing gaskets.
Reinforced Concrete
  – A combination of steel and concrete using the best properties of each. The steel consists of rebar or reinforcing bars varying from 3/8 " to 2 1/4 "in diameter and is placed before concrete is poured.
Reinforced Masonry
  – Masonry units, reinforcing steel, grout and/or mortar combined to act together to strengthen the masonry structure.
Repair
  – The reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing building for the purpose of its maintenance
Residential Building
  – For this code, includes R-3 buildings, as well as R-2 and R-4 buildings three stories or less in height above grade.
Residential Building (GROUP R-2)
  – A residential occupancies containing more than two dwelling units, where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature. Such as apartment houses, boarding houses (not transient), convents, monasteries, rectories, fraternities and sororities, dormitories and rooming houses. For the purpose of this code, reference to Group R-2 occupancies shall refer to buildings that are three stories or less in height above grade.
Residential Building (GROUP R-4)
  – Residential occupancies shall include buildings arranged for occupancies as Residential Care/Assisted Living Facilities including more than five but not more than 16 occupants, excluding staff. For the purpose of this code, reference to Group R-4 occupancies shall refer to buildings which are three stories or less in height above grade.
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.
Rigid Metal Conduit
  – This conduit resembles plumbing pipe, protecting wires from damage.
Rim Joist
  – The outer most joist running around the perimeter of the floor framing joists and home. It may also be called box sill.
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 7 ½").
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" stage.
Road Base
  – An aggregate mixture of sand and stone, used to create the first layer of a roadway.
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 performed.
Romex®
  – A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable consisting of two or more insulated conductors having an outer sheath of moisture resistant, nonmetallic material. The conductor insulation is rubber, neoprene, thermoplastic or a moisture resistant flame retardant fibrous material. Also see NM and NMC.
Roll Roofing
  – Asphalt roofing products manufactured in roll form. Typically comes in 36-inch wide rolls with and 108 square feet of material. Weights are generally 45 to 90 pounds per roll.
Roof Assembly
  – (a) A system designed to provide weather protection and resistance to design loads. The system consists of a roof covering and roof deck or a single component serving as both the roof covering and the roof deck. A roof assembly includes the roof covering, underlayment, roof deck, insulation, vapor retarder and interior finish. (b) A roof assembly shall be considered as all roof/ceiling components of the building envelope through which heat flows, thus creating a building transmission heat loss or gain, where such assembly is exposed to outdoor air and encloses conditioned space. The gross area of a roof assembly consists of the total interior surface of all roof/ceiling components, including opaque surfaces, dormer and bay window roofs, trey ceilings, overhead portions of an interior stairway to an unconditioned attic, doors and hatches, glazing and skylights exposed to conditioned space, that are horizontal or sloped at an angle less than 60 degrees (1.1 rad) from the horizontal (see “Exterior wall”). A roof assembly, or portions thereof, having a slope of 60 degrees (1.1 rad) or greater from horizontal shall be considered in the gross area of exterior walls and thereby excluded from consideration in the roof assembly. Skylight shaft walls 12 inches (305 mm) in depth or greater (as measured from the ceiling plane to the roof deck) shall be considered in the gross area of exterior walls and are thereby excluded from consideration in the roof assembly.
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, Sheeting or Decking
  – The wood panels or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.
Roof System
  – General term referring to the waterproof covering, roof insulation, vapor barrier, if used and roof deck as an entity.
Roof Valley
  – The "V" created where two sloping roofs meet.
Rough
  – In hardware, metal fastenings on cabinets which are usually concealed, like staples
Rough Plumbing
  – All plumbing that should be done before the finish trades (sheetrock, painting, etc), including all waste lines and supply water lines that are in the walls or framing of the building. See also: Plumbing, Sub Rough, and Finish Plumbing.
Rough Sill
  – The framing member at the bottom of a rough opening for a window, attached to the cripple studs below the rough opening.
Roughing-In
  – The initial stage of a plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, and/or other project, when all components that won't be seen after the finishing phase are assembled. See also Heat Rough, Plumbing Rough, and Electrical Rough.
Run (Roof)
  – The horizontal distance between the eaves and the ridge of the roof, being half the span for a symmetrical gable roof.
Run (Stair)
  – the horizontal distance of a stair tread from the nose to the riser.
SFD
  – Acronym for Single Family Dwelling, which Is a house built for the purpose of a single family as opposed to multi families such as a duplex or apartment complex.
STC
  – Acronym for Sound Transmission Class, which is the single number rating, derived from individual transmission losses at specified test frequencies. It is used for interior walls, ceilings and floors.
STL
  – Acronym for Sound Transmission Loss or the reduction of the amount of sound energy passing through a wall, floor, roof, etc. It is related to the specific frequency at which it is measured and it is expressed in decibels. It may also be referred to as "Transmission Loss."
Saddle
  – (a) A ridge in the roof deck, whose top divides two sloping parts of the roof so that water will be diverted to the roof drains. (b) A small second roof built behind the back side of a fireplace chimney to divert water around the chimney. (c) The plate or threshold at the bottom of some usually exterior door openings.
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) A single frame, including muntin bars if used, containing one or more panes of glass. (b) The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window. (c) A movable or stationary part of a window that frames a piece of glass.
Sash Balance
  – A device, usually operated by a spring or weight, designed to hold a single hung window up and in place
Saturated Felt
  – A felt material impregnated with tar or asphalt.
Schedule
  – A table included with a set of blueprints that list the sizes, quantities and locations of the windows, doors, etc.
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. The term is derived from the cross-raking which is performed on the wet surface to improve bond with the following brown coat. It is considered a base coat plaster.
Screed(ing)
  – (a) Term used for leveling off concrete to the correct elevation during a concrete pour. (b) 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.
Scrim
  – A woven or mat-type fabric that is used as a membrane sandwich between other material to provide reinforcement and stretch resistance.
Scupper
  – (a) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (b) 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.
Settlement
  – Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles underground.
Self-Healing
  – A term used to describe to a material which melts with the heat from the sun's rays, and seals over cracks that were earlier formed from other causes. Some waterproof membranes are self-healing.
Self-Leveling
  – A term used to describe a viscous material that is applied by pouring. In its uncured state, it spreads out evenly.
Self-Sealing Shingles
  – Shingles containing factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.
Semi-Gloss Paint or Enamel
  – Paint or enamel when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy. Bathrooms and kitchens are normally painted semi-gloss
Septic System
  – Onsite waste water treatment system used when local sanitary sewer systems are not available. 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 Conductor
  – The electrical supply conductors that extend from the main or from the transformer to the service equipment.
Service Drop
  – The overhead service conductors from the last pole or other aerial support to and including the splices, if any, connecting to the service entrance conductors at the building.
Service Entrance Panel
  – Main power cabinet where electricity enters a home wiring system.
Service Equipment
  – The main control gear at the service entrance, such as the meter, main switch, circuit breakers, switches, and fuses.
Service Lateral
  – Underground power supply line.
Setting Blocks
  – Generally rectangular cured extrusions of neoprene, EPDM, silicone, rubber or other suitable material on which the glass product bottom edge is placed to effectively support the weight of the glass.
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 below the level of the side sewer.
Sewer Lateral
  – This is 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.
Sewer Stub
  – This is the junction at which the municipal sewer system and the home's sewer lines are 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 material covering the exterior of a building, usually OSB, plywood, gypsum or laminated paper, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.
Shed Roof
  – A roof containing only one sloping plane or pitch, with only one set of rafters which fall from a higher to a lower wall.
Sheet Metal Work
  – All components of a house employing sheet metal, such as flashing, gutters, and downspouts.
Sheet Rock®
  – Drywall, Wall Board or Gypsum - A proprietary manufactured panel product made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. It is typically manufactured in ½” – ¾” thickness and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. “Green board” type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".
Sheeting
  – See Sheathing.
Shelf Life
  – Used when referring to the length of time a product may be stored before beginning to lose its effectiveness. Manufacturers usually state the shelf life and the necessary storage conditions on the package.
Shim
  – A small wedge shaped piece, 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 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)
  – Roof covering of made of asphalt, asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thickness. The materials are laid in a series of overlapping rows as a roof covering on pitched roofs.
Shingles (Siding)
  – The various type of shingles, applied over the sheathing of the exterior walls of a structure.
Short Circuit
  – This occurs when the 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 a lightweight decorative louvered doors located on the sides of a window. Some shutters are made to close over the window for protection.
Side Sewer
  – This the portion of a sanitary sewer, connecting 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. This may also be referred to as a sewer lateral.
Siding - Lap
  – Slightly wedge shaped boards used as horizontal siding in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing. Lap siding varies in butt thickness from ½ to ¾ inch and in widths up to 12".
Sight Line
  – The line along the perimeter of glazing infills corresponding to the top edge of stationary and removable stops. The line to which sealants contacting the glazing infill are sometimes finished off.
Sill
  – (a) 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. (b) The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill or window sill.
Sill Cock
  – This is an exterior water faucet (hose bib).
Sill Plate (Mud Sill)
  – (a) Bottom horizontal member of an exterior wall frame which rests on top a foundation, sometimes called mudsill. Also referred to as the sole plate and is the bottom member of an interior wall frame. (b) The framing member anchored to the foundation wall upon which studs and other framing members will be attached. It is the bottom plate of your exterior walls.
Sill Seal
  – Caulking or foam insulation, designed to seal any cracks or gaps and installed between the foundation wall and sill (wood) plate.
Single Hung Window
  – A window with one vertically sliding sash or window vent.
Single Ply
  – A descriptive term signifying a roof membrane composed of only one layer of material such as EPDM, Hypalon or PVC.
Single Tee
  – The name given to a type of precast concrete deck which has one stiffening rib integrally cast into slab.
Slag
  – Concrete cement that sometimes covers the vertical face of the foundation void material.
Slate
  – A dark gray stratified stone cut relatively thin and installed on pitched roofs in a shingle like fashion.
Sleeper
  – Usually, a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor, that serves to support and to fasten the subfloor or flooring.
Sleeping Unit
  – A room or space in which people sleep, which can also include permanent provisions for living, eating, and either sanitation or kitchen facilities but not both. Such rooms and spaces that are also part of a dwelling unit are not sleeping units.
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 or pitch of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in feet). See also pitch.
Sloped Glazing
  – The installation of glass, that is at a slope of 15 degrees or more from a vertical plane.
Slump
  – The "wetness" of concrete. A 3 inch slump is dryer and stiffer than a 5 inch slump.
Slump Test
  – Measures the consistency of a concrete mix or its stiffness. If the tests results are high, one likely cause would be too much water, whereas low slump indicates not enough water. The test is measured in inches.
Soffit
  – The area below the eaves and overhangs, the underside where the roof overhangs the walls or the underside of an overhanging cornice.
Softening Point
  – The temperature at which a substance changes from a hard material to a softer and more viscous material.
Soil Pipe
  – This is the large pipe which carries the liquid and solid wastes to a sewer or septic tank.
Soil Stack
  – This is the plumbing vent pipe, which penetrates the roof surface.
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 fiberglass insulation.
Spacers (Shims)
  – Small blocks of neoprene, EPDM, silicone or other suitable material placed on each side of the glass product to provide glass centering, maintain uniform width of sealant bead and prevent excessive sealant distortion.
Spalling
  – The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or other masonry where improper drainage or venting and freeze/thaw cycling exists.
Span
  – (a) The horizontal distance between supporting structures such as beams, trusses or columns. (b) The clear distance that a framing member carries a load without support between structural supports. (c) The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.
Spandrel
  – The panels of a wall located between vision areas of windows which conceal structural columns, floors, and shear walls.
Spec Home
  – A house built before it is sold. The builder speculates that he can sell it at a profit.
Specifications or Specs
  – (a) A detailed written instructions which, when clear and concise, explain each phase of work to be done. (b) A narrative list of materials, methods, model numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information contained in the blue prints. A specific written detail about construction materials and methods included with the design documents.
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.
Spline
  – A strip that, when inserted into a groove, holds a screen or plastic film in place on a frame.
Splitting
  – The formation of long cracks completely through a membrane. Splits are frequently associated with lack of allowance for expansion stresses. They can also be a result of deck deflection or change in deck direction.
Square
  – (a) A unit of measure equalling100 square feet-usually applied to roofing and siding material. (b) A situation that exists when two elements are at right angles to each other. (c) A tool for checking the “square” or right angle of adjoining materials.
Square Tab Shingles
  – Shingles on which tabs are all the same size and exposure.
Squeegee
  – Fine pea gravel used to grade a floor (normally before concrete is placed).
Stack
  – (a) The vertical pipe of a system of soil, waste or vent piping. (b) To position trusses on the walls in their correct location.
Stack Vent
  – Also called a waste vent or soil vent, it is the extension of a soil or waste stack above the highest horizontal drain connected to the stack. Also see Stack.
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 horse."
Stair Landing
  – The platform located between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Landings are typically no less than 3’ X 3’ square.
Stair Rise
  – The vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread (and not to exceed 7 ½").
Standard Practices (Trades)
  – 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.
Standard Truss
  – Type of construction that does not permit the roof/ceiling insulation to achieve the required R-value over the exterior walls.
Standing Seam
  – A type of joint often used on metal roofs.
Starter Strip
  – Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves, providing protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.
Static Load
  – The total amount of permanent, non-moving weight applied to given surface areas.
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 step).
Stick Built
  – A house built without prefabricated parts, often referred to as “conventional” building.
Stile
  – An upright side framing members of a door or window (not the jamb).
Stool
  – (a) The flat molding fitted over the window sill between jambs and contacting the bottom rail of the lower sash.  (b) Another name for toilet.
Stop
  – A thin trim board for windows and doors to close against or slide against.
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 the water.
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.
Store Front
  – A nonresidential system of doors and windows mulled as a composite fenestration structure that has been designed to resist heavy use. Storefront systems include, but are not limited to, exterior fenestration systems that span from the floor level or above to the ceiling of the same story on commercial buildings.
Storm Sewer
  – A sewer system designed to collect storm water and is separated from the waste water system.
Strain
  – The percentage of elongation or compression of a material or portion of a material caused by an applied force.
Strike or Strike Plate
  – The metal plate attached to a door frame, which engages a latch or dead bolt to hold secure.
String/Stringer
  – The support timber used to support the cross members in floors, ceilings or 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.
Structural Silicone Glazing
  – Silicone sealant used to transfer structural loads from the glass to its perimeter support system and retain the glass in the opening.
Stucco
  – Refers to an outside plaster finish made with Portland cement as its base, applied to the building’s exterior walls.
Stud
  – The evenly spaced, vertical framing members of a wall. Typically dimensional lumber (2”x4” or 2”x6”), cut to 92 5/8” lengths.
Stud Framing
  – Is the building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs and contrasts with post-and-beam.
Stud Shoe
  – The metal structural bracket which reinforces a vertical stud, on an outside bearing wall where holes are drilled to accommodate a plumbing waste line.
Sub-Contractor
  – A contractor who specializes in a particular trade such as framing, electrical or mechanical installation.
Subfloor
  – (a) 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. (b) The sheathing material (such as particleboard) installed over the floor joists and under finish the flooring.
Sub-Rough
  – That part of a building’s plumbing system that is done before the cement is poured.
Substrate
  – (a) A layer of material to which another layer is applied. (b) A part or substance which lies below and supports another.
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.
T & G or 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 & G.
THW
  – Moisture and heat resistant thermoplastic conductor. It is flame retardant, moisture and heat resistant and can be used in dry or wet locations.
TJI® or TJ®
  – Is the Weyerhaeuser proprietary 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.
TW
  – Is a moisture-resistant thermoplastic conductor that can be used in dry or wet locations and has no outer covering and is not heat-resistant.
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.
Taping
  – (a) The process of applying joint tape over embedding compound covering drywall joints with in the process of joint treatment of drywall. (b) Process of sealing the joints of an exterior sheeting material.
T-Bar - Ribbed
  – "T" shaped bars with a flat metal plate at the bottom that are driven into the earth. Normally used for temporary chain link fence poles and to mark locations of a water meter pit.
Tear Off
  – In roofing, a term used to describe the complete removal of the built up roof membrane and insulation down to and exposing the roof deck.
TECO
  – Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate and sometimes referred to as a hurricane clip.
Tee
  – A "T" shaped plumbing fitting.
Tempered
  – Strengthened glass that will not shatter nor create shards, but will "pelletize" like an automobile window. Tempered glass is required in tub and shower enclosures, entry door 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.
Texture Paint
  – One which may be manipulated by brush, trowel or other to give various patterns.
Thermoplastic Material
  – This is a solid material which is softened by increasing temperatures and hardened by decreasing temperatures.
Thermoply™
  – A proprietary exterior laminated paper sheathing nailed to the exterior side of the exterior walls. Normally ¼ " thick and comes in 4’ X 8’ or 4’ x 10’ sheets. It sometimes comes with an aluminized surface.
Three Dimensional Shingles
  – Laminated shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance and may also be referred to as "architectural shingles".
Threshold
  – The bottom metal or wood plate of an exterior door frame that acts as an air and dust seal. Generally they are adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.
Tie-In
  – In roofing, a term used to describe the joining of a new roof with the old.
Tilt-Up Wall
  – A type of construction using cast concrete units which are pre-formed. When cured, they are tilted to their vertical position and secured by mechanical fasteners to prior erected structural steel. They may also be referred to as pre-cast construction.
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 lawn, etc.
Toe Bead
  – Sealant applied at the intersection of the outboard glazing stop and the bottom of the glazing channel; must be sized to also provide a seal to the edge of the glass.
Toe Nailing
  – To drive a nail in at a slant. Method used to secure floor joists to the plate.
Tongue and Groove
  – A type of flooring where the tongue of one board is joined to the groove of another board
Tooling
  – The operation of pressing in and striking a sealant in a joint to press the sealant against the sides of a joint and secure good adhesion; the finishing off of the surface of a sealant in a joint so that it is flush with the surface.
Top Chord
  – This is the upper or top member of a truss.
Top Mopping
  – The mopping on of finished coat of hot bitumen on a built-up roof.
Top Plate
  – Top horizontal member of a frame wall, supporting the ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.
Torching
  – Applying direct flame to a membrane for the purpose of melting, heating or adhering.
Townhouse
  – See “Multiple single-family dwelling.”
Transit
  – The instrument used by builders for establishing the points and elevations, both vertically and horizontally. It can be used to line up stakes or to plumb walls or the angle of elevation from a horizontal plane can be measured.
Transmitter (Garage Door)
  – This is 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 placed.
Trim (Plumbing, Heating or 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 and is sometimes referred to as a “jack stud”.
Truss
  – (a) 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. (b) A lightweight, rigid framework designed to be stronger than a solid beam of the same weight.
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.
Tuck Pointing
  – The re-grouting of defective mortar joints in a masonry or brick wall.
Turnkey
  – A term used when the subcontractor provides all materials (and labor) for a job.
Turpentine
  – A petroleum, volatile oil used as a thinner for 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. It is sometimes referred to as the Prime coat.
Underground Plumbing
  – The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.
Underlayment
  – Sheeting installed to provide a smooth, sound base for a finish material. Typically 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 roof-finishing layer.
Union
  – A plumbing fitting that joins pipes end-to-end so they can be dismantled.
Utility Easement
  – The area of land which contains the 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 the lines.
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.
Valve
  – A device to stop, start or regulate the flow of liquid or gas through or from piping.
Veining
  – In roofing, the characteristic lines or "stretch marks" which develop during the aging process of soft bitumen’s.
Veneer
  – (a) Extremely thin sheets of wood. (b) A thin slice of wood or brick or stone covering a framed wall.
Visqueen
  – A 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting.
WC
  – An abbreviation for water closet (toilet).
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 roof sheathing.
Walk Through
  – A final inspection of a home before "Closing" to look for and document problems that need to be corrected.
Walk Ways
  – Designated areas for foot traffic.
Wall Out
  – When a painter pray paints the interior of a home.
Warping
  – Any distortion in a material.
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 Cement Ratio
  – The strength of a concrete mixture depends on the water cement ratio. The water and cement form a paste. If the paste is made with more water, the concrete becomes weaker. Traditionally, concrete mixes have been identified in terms of the ratio of cement to fine aggregate to coarse aggregate. For example, the ratio 1:2:4 refers to a mix which consists of 1 cu. ft. of cement, 2 cu. ft. of sand and 4 cu. ft. of gravel. Cement and water are the two chemically active elements in concrete and when combined, form a paste or glue which coats and surrounds the particles of aggregate and upon hardening binds the entire mass together.
Water Closet
  – Another term used for a toilet.
Water Meter Pit (or Vault)
  – The box /cast iron bonnet and concrete rings that contains the water meter.
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.
Webbing
  – A reinforcing fabric used with mastics and coatings to prevent patches from cracking.
Weld
  – The joining of components together by fusing. In thermoplastics, refers to bonding together of the membrane using heat or solvents.
Wet Seal
  – Application of an elastomeric sealant between the glass and sash to form a weather tight seal.
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.
Wind Uplift
  – The upward force exerted by wind traveling across a roof.
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
  – (a) The sides, top, and sill of the window which forms a box around window sashes and other components. (b) The stationary part of a window unit; window sash fits into the window frame.
Window Sash
  – The operational or movable part of a window made of window panes and their border.
Wire Size
  – Conductors for building wiring are available in AWG (American Wire Gauge) sizes ranging from No. 14 to 4/0. The larger the number size, the smaller the diameter. For example #10 is smaller than #8. As the diameter of the wire increases, the greater resistance decreases.
Wonderboard™
  – A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a ceramic tile backing material. Commonly used on bathtub decks.
Wood Fiber Plaster
  – Consists of calcified gypsum integrally mixed with selected coarse cellulose fibers which provide bulk and greater coverage. It is formulated to produce high-strength base coats for use in highly fire-resistant ceiling assemblies.
Wrapped Drywall
  – Areas that get complete drywall covering, as in the doorway openings of bi-fold and bi-pass closet doors.
Y
  – This is 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 yard.
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 building codes

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