Building Construction Dictionary
A/C- An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.
A/C Condenser- The outside fan unit of the Air Conditioning system. It removes the heat from the freon gas and
"turns" the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.
A/C Disconnect- The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C Condenser.
Aerator- The round screened screw-on tip of a sink spout. It mixes water and air for a smooth flow.
Aggregate- A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.
Air space - The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings. Normally a 1" air gap.
Allowance(s) - A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items which have not been selected
and specified in the construction contract. For example, selection of tile as a flooring may require an allowance for an underlayment
material, or an electrical allowance which sets aside an amount of money to be spent on electrical fixtures.
Amortization - A payment plan by which a loan is reduced through monthly payments of principal and interest.
Anchor bolts- Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete , or masonry floor or wall.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)- Annual cost of credit over the life of a loan, including interest, service charges,
points, loan fees, mortgage insurance, and other items.
Appraisal An expert valuation of property.
Apron- A 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. One who draws up plans.
Area wells- Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth
Assessment - A tax levied on a property, or a value placed on the worth of a property.
Assumption - Allows a buyer to assume responsibility for an existing loan instead of getting a new loan.
Astragal- A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.
Attic access- An opening that is placed in the drywalled ceiling of a home providing access to the attic.
Attic Ventilators- In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space.
Back Charge- Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement,
should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. Owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general
contractors bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something
damaged by another subcontractor, such as a tub chip or broken window.
Backfill- The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.
Backing- Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior
trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid
wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall. Carpet backing holds the pile fabric in
Backout- Work the framing contractor does after the mechanical subcontractors (Heating-Plumbing-Electrical)
finish their phase of work at the Rough (before insulation) stage to get the home ready for a municipal frame inspection.
Generally, the framing contractor repairs anything disturbed by others and completes all framing necessary to pass a Rough
Ballast- A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.
Balloon - A loan that has a series of monthly payments with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment
at the end.
Balloon framed wall- Framed walls (generally over 10' tall) that run the entire vertical length from the floor
sill plate to the roof. This is done to eliminate the need for a gable end truss.
Balusters- Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes
referred to as 'pickets' or 'spindles'.
Balustrade- The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.
Barge- Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.
Barge board- A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice,
this member is a fascia board.
Base or baseboard- A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.
Basement window inserts- The window frame and glass unit that is installed in the window buck.
Base shoe- Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.
Bat - A half-brick.
Batt - A section of fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation measuring 15 or 23 inches wide by four to eight feet
long and various thickness'. Sometimes "faced" (meaning to have a paper covering on one side) or "unfaced" (without paper).
Batten- Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
Bay window- Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in
Beam- A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads (weight)
from one support to another. Sometimes called a "girder".
Bearing partition- A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing point- A point where a bearing or structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation
Bearing wall- A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing header- (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney,
stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door
Bedrock- A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.
Bid- A formal offer by a contractor, in accordance with specifications for a project, to do all or a phase of
the work at a certain price in accordance with the terms and conditions stated in the offer.
Bid bond- A bond issued by a surety on behalf of a contractor that provides assurance to the recipient of the
contractor's bid that, if the bid is accepted, the contractor will execute a contract and provide a performance bond. Under
the bond, the surety is obligated to pay the recipient of the bid the difference between the contractor's bid and the bid
of the next lowest responsible bidder if the bid is accepted and the contractor fails to execute a contract or to provide
a performance bond.
Bid security Funds or a bid bond submitted with a bid as a guarantee to the recipient of the bid that the contractor,
if awarded the contract, will execute the contract in accordance with the bidding requirements of the contract documents.
Bid shopping- A practice by which contractors, both before and after their bids are submitted, attempt to obtain
prices from potential subcontractors and material suppliers that are lower than the contractors' original estimates on which
their bids are based, or after a contract is awarded, seek to induce subcontractors to reduce the subcontract price included
in the bid.
Bidding requirements- The procedures and conditions for the submission of bids. The requirements are included
ion documents, such as the notice to bidders, advertisements for bids, instructions to bidders, invitations to bid, and sample
Bifold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often
used for closet doors.
Binder- A receipt for a deposit to secure the right to purchase a home at an agreed terms by a buyer and seller.
Bipass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
Blankets- Fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation that comes in long rolls 15 or 23 inches wide.
Blocked (door blocking)- Wood shims used between the door frame and the vertical structural wall framing members.
Blocked (rafters)- Short "2 by 4's" used to keep rafters from twisting, and installed at the ends and at mid-span.
Blocking- Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.
Block out- To install a box or barrier within a foundation wall to prevent the concrete from entering an area.
For example, foundation walls are sometimes "blocked" in order for mechanical pipes to pass through the wall, to install a
crawl space door, and to depress the concrete at a garage door location.
Blow insulation- Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing
members are not exposed.
Blue print(s) - A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the
drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing
permits and actual construction.
Blue stake- Another phrase for Utility Notification. This is when a utility company (telephone, gas, electric,
cable TV, sewer and water, etc) comes to the job site and locates and spray paints the ground and/or installs little flags
to show where their service is located underground.
Blow insulation- Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing
members are not exposed.
Board foot- A unit of measure for lumber equal to 1 inch thick by 12 inches wide by 12 inches long. Examples:
1" x 12" x 16' = 16 board feet, 2" x 12" x 16' = 32 board feet
Bond or bonding - An amount of money (usually $5,000-$10,000) which must be on deposit with a governmental agency
in order to secure a contractor's license. The bond may be used to pay for the unpaid bills or disputed work of the contractor.
Not to be confused with a 'performance bond'. Such bonds are rarely used in residential construction, they are an insurance
policy which guarantees proper completion of a project.
Boom- A truck used to hoist heavy material up and into place. To put trusses on a home or to set a heavy beam
Bottom chord - The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.
Bottom plate- The "2 by 4's or 6's" that lay on the subfloor upon which the vertical studs are installed. Also
called the 'sole plate'.
Brace- An inclined piece of framing lumber applied to wall or floor to strengthen the structure. Often used
on walls as temporary bracing until framing has been completed.
Breaker panel- The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each
plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.
Brick ledge- Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will rest.
Brick lintel- The metal angle iron that brick rests on, especially above a window, door, or other opening.
Brick mold-Trim used around an exterior door jamb that siding butts to.
Brick tie- A small, corrugated metal strip @ 1" X 6"- 8" long nailed to wall sheeting or studs. They are inserted
into the grout mortar joint of the veneer brick, and holds the veneer wall to the sheeted wall behind it.
Brick veneer- A vertical facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a framed wall or tile wall
Bridging- Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists or rafters
at mid-span for the purpose of bracing the joists/rafters & spreading the load.
Buck- Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door bucks used in reference to metal door frame.
See Window Bucks
Builder's Risk Insurance- Insurance coverage on a construction project during construction, including extended
coverage that may be added for the contract for the customer's protections.
Building codes- Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.
Building insurance- Insurance covering the structure of the building.
Building paper- A general term for papers, felts, and similar sheet materials used in buildings without reference
to their properties or uses. Generally comes in long rolls.
Built-up roof- A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or
asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.
Bull nose (drywall)- Rounded drywall corners.
Bundle - A package of shingles. Normally, there are 3 bundles per square and 27 shingles per bundle.
Butt edge- The lower edge of the shingle tabs.
Butt hinge- The most common type. One leaf attaches to the door's edge, the other to its jamb.
Butt joint- The junction where the ends of two timbers meet, and also where sheets of drywall meet on the 4
foot edge. To place materials end-to-end or end-to-edge without overlapping.
Buy down- A subsidy (usually paid by a builder or developer) to reduce monthly payments on a mortgage.
By fold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often
used for closet doors.
By pass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
CO- An abbreviation for "Certificate of Occupancy". This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required
before anyone can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections
and all monies and fees have been paid.
Caisson- A 10" or 12" diameter hole drilled into the earth and embedded into bedrock 3 - 4 feet. The structural
support for a type of foundation wall, porch, patio, monopost, or other structure. Two or more "sticks" of reinforcing bars
(rebar) are inserted into and run the full length of the hole and concrete is poured into the caisson hole
Cantilever- An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall. For example at a fireplace
location or bay window cantilever. Normally, not extending over 2 feet.
Cantilevered void- Foundation void material used in unusually expansive soils conditions. This void is "trapezoid"
shaped and has vertical sides of 6" and 4" respectively.
Cap- The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.
Cap flashing- The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind
the base flashing.
Capital- The principal part of a loan, i.e. the original amount borrowed.
Capital and interest- A repayment loan and the most conventional form of home loan. The borrower pays an amount
each month to cover the amount borrowed (or capital or principal) plus the interest charged on capital.
Capped rate- The mortgage interest rate will not exceed a specified value during a certain period of time, but
it will fluctuate up and down below that level.
Casement- Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash. May beopened by means of hinges
affixed to the vertical edges.
Casement Window- A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a normal door
Casing- Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.
Caulking- (1) A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces e.g. between pieces of siding or the
corners in tub walls. (2) To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.
CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate)- A pesticide that is forced into wood under high pressure to protect it from
termites, other wood boring insects, and decay caused by fungus
Celotex - Black fibrous board that is used as exterior sheething.
Ceiling joist- One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn
by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
Cement- The gray powder that is the "glue" in concrete. Portland cement. Also, any adhesive.
Ceramic tile- A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub
and shower enclosures and on counter tops.
CFM (cubic feet per minute)- A rating that expresses the amount of air a blower or fan can move. The volume
of air (measured in cubic feet) that can pass through an opening in one minute.
Chair rail- Interior trim material installed about 3-4 feet up the wall, horizontally.
Chalk line- A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.
Change order- A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction
Chase- A framed enclosed space around a flue pipe or a channel in a wall, or through a ceiling for something
to lie in or pass through.
Chink- To install fiberglass insulation around all exterior door and window frames, wall corners, and small
gaps in the exterior wall.
Chip Board- A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for
plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing. Also called OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or wafer board.
Circuit- The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.
Circuit Breaker- A device which looks like a switch and is usually located inside the electrical breaker panel
or circuit breaker box. It is designed to (1) shut of the power to portions or all of the house and (2) to limit the amount
of power flowing through a circuit (measured in amperes). 110 volt household circuits require a fuse or circuit breaker with
a rating of 15 or a maximum of 20 amps. 220 volt circuits may be designed for higher amperage loads e.g. a hot water heater
may be designed for a 30 amp load and would therefore need a 30 amp fuse or breaker.
Class "A"- Optimum fire rating issued by Underwriter's Laboratories on roofing. The building codes in some areas
require this type of roofing for fire safety.
Class "C"- Minimum fire rating issued by the Underwriters' Laboratories for roofing materials.
Clean out- An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with a threaded plug.
Clip ties- Sharp, cut metal wires that protrude out of a concrete foundation wall (that at one time held the
foundation form panels in place).
Cold air return- The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room air back to the furnace for re-heating.
Collar- Preformed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing above the vent pipe opening. Also called
a vent sleeve.
Collar beam- Nominal 1- or 2-inch-thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the
Column- A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
Combustion air- The duct work installed to bring fresh, outside air to the furnace and/or hot water heater.
Normally 2 separate supplies of air are brought in: One high and One low.
Combustion chamber- The part of a boiler, furnace or woodstove where the burn occurs; normally lined with firebrick
or molded or sprayed insulation.
Compression web- A member of a truss system which connects the bottom and top chords and which provides downward
Compressor- A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat
to be removed or added. A compressor is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners. In an air conditioning
system, the compressor normally sits outside and has a large fan (to remove heat).
Concrete- The mixture of Portland cement, sand, gravel, and water. Used to make garage and basement floors,
sidewalks, patios, foundation walls, etc. It is commonly reinforced with steel rods (rebar) or wire screening (mesh).
Concrete block - 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.
Condensate line- The copper pipe that runs from the outside air conditioning condenser to the inside furnace
( where the a/c coil is located).
Condensation- Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the
inside of the exterior covering of a building. Use of louvers or attic ventilators will reduce moisture condensation in attics.
A vapor barrier under the gypsum lath or dry wall on exposed walls will reduce condensation.
Condensing unit - The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed
to give off heat.
Conditions, Convenants, and Restrictions (CC and Rs) - The standards that define how a property may be used
and the protections the developer makes for the benefit of all owners in a subdivision.
Conduction- The direct transfer of heat energy through a material.
Conductivity- The rate at which heat is transmitted through a material.
Conduit, electrical- A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.
Construction Contract - A legal document which specifies the what-when-where-how-how much and by whom in a construction
project. A good construction contract will include: 1. The contractors registration number.
2. A statement of work quality
such as 'Standard Practices of the Trades' or 'according to Manufacturers Specifications'.
3. A set of Blue Prints or
4. A construction timetable including starting and completion dates.
5. A set of Specifications
6. A Fixed
Price for the work, or a Time and Materials formula.
7. A Payment Schedule.
8. Any Allowances.
9. A clause which
outlines how any disputes will be resolved.
10. A written Warrantee.
Construction drywall- A type of construction
in which the interior wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet materials or wood paneling
as contrasted to plaster.
Construction, frame- A type of construction in which the structural components are wood or depend upon a wood
frame for support.
Continuity tester- A device that tells whether a circuit is capable of carrying electricity.
Contractor- A company licensed to perform certain types of construction activities. In most states, the generals
contractor's license and some specialty contractor's licenses don't require of compliance with bonding, workmen's compensation
and similar regulations. Some of the specialty contractor licenses involve extensive training, testing and/or insurance requirements.
There are various types of contractors: · General contractor - responsible for the execution, supervision and overall coordination
of a project and may also perform some of the individual construction tasks. Most general contractors are not licensed to
perform all specialty trades and must hire specialty contractors for such tasks, e.g. electrical, plumbing.
contractor - a general contractor who specializes in remodeling work.
· Specialty contractor - licensed to perform a specialty
task e.g. electrical, side sewer, asbestos abatement.
· Sub contractor - a general or specialty contractor who works for
another general contractor.
Control joint- Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to "control" where the concrete should crack
Convection- Currents created by heating air, which then rises and pulls cooler air behind it. Also see radiation.
Conventional loan A mortgage loan not insured by a government agency (such as FHA or VA)
Convertibility The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate schedule to a fixed rate schedule.
Cooling load- The amount of cooling required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the summer,
usually 78° F, regardless of outside temperature.
Coped- Removing the top and bottom flange of the end(s) of a metal I-beam. This is done to permit it to fit
within, and bolted to, the web of another I-beam in a "T" arrangement
Coped joint- Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Corbel- The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds a mantel or horizontal shelf.
Corner bead- A strip of formed sheet metal placed on outside corners of drywall before applying drywall 'mud'.
Corner boards- Used as trim for the external corners of a house or other frame structure against which the ends
of the siding are finished.
Corner braces- Diagonal braces at the corners of the framed structure designed to stiffen and strengthen the
Cornice- Overhang of a pitched roof , usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
Counter flashing- A metal flashing usually used on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and used
to prevent moisture entry.
Counterfort- A foundation wall section that strengthens (and generally perpendicular to) a long section of foundation
Course- A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof. Parallel layers of building materials
such as bricks, or siding laid up horizontally.
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.
Credit rating- A report ordered by a lender from a credit agency to determine a borrower's credit habits.
Cricket- A second roof built on top of the primary roof to increase the slope of the roof or valley. A saddle-shaped,
peaked construction connecting a sloping roof with a chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away from the chimney joint.
Cripple- Short vertical "2 by 4's or 6's" frame lumber installed above a window or door.
Cross bridging- Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the center of the joist span to
prevent joists from twisting.
Cross Tee- Short metal "T" beam used in suspended ceiling systems to bridge the spaces between the main beams.
Crown molding- A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof
and wall corner.
Culvert- Round, corrugated drain pipe (normally 15" or 18" in diameter) that is installed beneath a driveway
and parallel to and near the street.
Cupping- A type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their edges.
Curb- The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a roof. Normally a 2 by 6 box (on the roof)
on which a skylight is attached.
Curb stop- Normally a cast iron pipe with a lid (@ 5" in diameter) that is placed vertically into the ground,
situated near the water tap in the yard, and where a water cut-off valve to the home is located (underground). A long pole
with a special end is inserted into the curb stop to turn off/on the water.
Cut-in brace- Nominal 2-inch-thick members, usually 2 by 4's, cut in between each stud diagonally.
Dado- A groove cut into a board or panel intended to receive the edge of a connecting board or panel.
Damper- A metal "door" placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Dampproofing- The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall.
Daylight- The end of a pipe (the terminal end) that is not attached to anything.
Dead bolt- An exterior security lock installed on exterior entry doors that can be activated only with a key
or thumb-turn. Unlike a latch, which has a beveled tongue, dead bolts have square ends.
Dead light- The fixed, non-operable window section of a window unit.
Deck, decked- To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the floor joists, rafters, or trusses.
Dedicated circuit- An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance (ie, dishwasher) or a series of electric
heaters or smoke detectors.
Default- Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).
De-humidistat- A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity
in the home.
Delamination- Separation of the plies in a panel due to failure of the adhesive. Usually caused by excessive
Disconnect- A large (generally 20 Amp) electrical ON-OFF switch.
Discount rate- A mortgage interest rate that is lower than the current rate for a certain period of time, e.g.
2.00% below variable rate for 2 years.
Doorjamb, interior- The surrounding case into which and out of which a door closes and opens. It consists of
two upright pieces, called side jambs, and a horizontal head jamb. These 3 jambs have the "door stop" installed on them.
Door operator- An automatic garage door opener.
Door stop- The wooden style that the door slab will rest upon when it's in a closed position.
Dormer- An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for
windows or other openings.
Double glass- Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known
as Insulating Glass.
Double hung window- A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.
Down payment- The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount. A downpayment is usually paid
Downspout- A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof's horizontal gutters.
Drain tile- A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom of the foundation wall and used to drain
excess water away from the foundation. It prevents ground water from seeping through the foundation wall. Sometimes called
Draw- The amount of progress billings on a contract that is currently available to a contractor under a contract
with a fixed payment schedule.
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.
Dry in- To install the black roofing felt (tar paper) on the roof.
Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheet rock or Plasterboard)- Wall board or gypsum- A manufactured panel
made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. The panels
are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall
has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".
Ducts- The heating system. Usually round or rectangular metal pipes installed for distributing warm (or cold)
air from the furnace to rooms in the home. Also a tunnel made of galvanized metal or rigid fiberglass, which carries air from
the heater or ventilation opening to the rooms in a building.
Due-on-sale- A clause in a mortgage contract requiring the borrower to pay the entire outstanding balance upon
sale or transfer of the property.
Dura board, dura rock- A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a ceramic tile backing material.
Commonly used on bathtub decks. Sometimes called Wonder board
DWV (drain-waste-vent)- The section of a plumbing system that carries water and sewer gases out of a home.
Earnest Money- A sum paid to the seller to show that a potential purchaser is serious about buying.
Earthquake Strap- A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house.
Intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and causing a gas leak.
Easement- A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g.
A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.
Eaves- The horizontal exterior roof overhang.
Egress- A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a
4' X 4' window is the minimum size required
Elbow (ell)- A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Electric lateral- The trench or area in the yard where the electric service line (from a transformer or pedestal)
is located, or the work of installing the electric service to a home.
Electric resistance coils- Metal wires that heat up when electric current passes through them and are used in
baseboard heaters and electric water heaters.
Electrical entrance package- The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the 'strike' or location
where the overhead or underground electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much power is used
and (3) The 'panel' or 'circuit breaker box ' (or 'fuse box') where the power can be shut off and where overload devices such
a fuses or circuit breakers and located.
Electrical Rough- Work performed by the Electrical Contractor after the plumber and heating contractor are complete
with their phase of work. Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation).
Electrical Trim- Work performed by the electrical contractor when the house is nearing completion. The electrician
installs all plugs, switches, light fixtures, smoke detectors, appliance "pig tails", bath ventilation fans, wires the furnace,
and "makes up" the electric house panel. The electrician does all work necessary to get the home ready for and to pass the
municipal electrical final inspection
Elevation sheet- The page on the blue prints that depicts the house or room as if a vertical plane were passed
through the structure.
Equity- The "valuation" that you own in your home, i.e. the property value less the mortgage loan outstanding.
Escrow - The handling of funds or documents by a third party on behalf of the buyer and/or seller.
Estimate- The amount of labor, materials, and other costs that a contractor anticipates for a project as summarized
in the contractor's bid proposal for the project.
Escutcheon- An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending through a wall or floor to hide the cut out
Estimating- The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick
and imprecise process.
Evaporator coil- The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from air in your home. Also see condensing unit.
Expansion joint- Fibrous material (@1/2" thick) installed in and around a concrete slab to permit it to move
up and down (seasonally) along the non-moving foundation wall.
Expansive soils- Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present. ("Betonite"
is an expansive soil).
Exposed aggregate finish- A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture off the top layer
of the aggregate - usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.
Extras- Additional work requested of a contractor, not included in the original plan, which will be billed separately
and will not alter the original contract amount, but increase the cost of building the home.
FHA strap- Metal straps that are used to repair a bearing wall "cut-out", and to "tie together" wall corners, splices,
and bearing headers. Also, they are used to hang stairs and landings to bearing headers.
Face nail- To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header or beam.
Faced concrete- To finish the front and all vertical sides of a concrete porch, step(s), or patio. Normally
the "face" is broom finished.
Facing brick- The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall. Usually these have a finished texture.
Fascia- Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are
attached to the fascia.
Felt- Tar paper. Installed under the roof shingles. Normally 15 lb. or 30 lb.
Female- Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads
Ferrule- Metal tubes used to keep roof gutters "open". Long nails (ferrule spikes) are driven through these
tubes and hold the gutters in place along the fascia of the home.
Field measure- To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs, shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead
of using the blueprints.
Finger joint- A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer
piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings and are normally painted (instead of stained).
Fire block- Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also
Fire brick- Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist high temperatures. Used in a fireplace
Fireplace chase flashing pan- A large sheet of metal that is installed around and perpendicular to the fireplace
flue pipe. It's purpose is to confine and limit the spread of fire and smoke to a small area.
Fire-resistive or Fire rated- Applies to materials that are not combustible in the temperatures of ordinary
fires and will withstand such fires for at least 1 hour. Drywall used in the garage and party walls are to be fire rated,
5/8", Type X.
Fire retardant chemical- A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce the flammability of a material
or to retard the spread of flame.
Fire stop- A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through
such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs. Work performed to slow the
spread of fire and smoke in the walls and ceiling (behind the drywall). Includes stuffing wire holes in the top and bottom
plates with insulation, and installing blocks of wood between the wall studs at the drop soffit line. This is integral to
passing a Rough Frame inspection. See also 'Fire block'.
Fishplate (gusset)- A wood or plywood piece used to fasten the ends of two members together at a butt joint
with nails or bolts. Sometimes used at the junction of opposite rafters near the ridge line. Sometimes called a gang nail
Fish tape- A long strip of spring steel used for fishing cables and for pulling wires through conduit.
Fixed price contract- A contract with a set price for the work. See Time and Materials Contract.
Fixed rate- A loan where the initial payments are based on a certain interest rate for a stated period . The
rate payable will not change during this period regardless of changes in the lender's standard variable rate.
Fixed Rate Mortgage- A mortgage with an interest rate that remains the same over the years.
Flagstone (flagging or flags)- Flat stones (1 to 4 inches thick) used for walks, steps, floors, and vertical
veneer (in lieu of brick).
Flakeboard- A manufactured wood panel made out of 1"- 2" wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for
plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing. Also called OSB or wafer board.
Flame retention burner- An oil burner, designed to hold the flame near the nozzle surface. Generally the most
efficient type for residential use.
Flashing- Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water
Flat mold- Thin wood strips installed over the butt seam of cabinet skins.
Flat paint- An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
Flatwork- Common word for concrete floors, driveways, basements, and sidewalks.
Floating- The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when you smooth off the job and bring water to the surface
by using a hand float or bull float.
Floating wall- A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is constructed so that the bottom two horizontal
plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down. Normally built on basements and garage slabs.
Fluorescent lighting- A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphur coating on the inside. Gas
inside the tube is ionized by electricity which causes the phosphur coating to glow. Normally with two pins that extend from
Flue- Large pipe through which fumes escape from a gas water heater, furnace, or fireplace. Normally these flue
pipes are double walled, galvanized sheet metal pipe and sometimes referred to as a "B Vent". Fireplace flue pipes are normally
triple walled. In addition, nothing combustible shall be within one inch from the flue pipe.
Flue collar- Round metal ring which fits around the heat flue pipe after the pipe passes out of the roof.
Flue damper- An automatic door located in the flue that closes it off when the burner turns off; purpose is
to reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or boiler.
Flue lining- 2-foot lengths, fire clay or terra-cotta pipe (round or square) and usually madein all ordinary
flue sizes. Used for the inner lining of chimneys with the brick or masonry work done around the outside. Flue linings in
chimneys runs from one foot below the flue connection to the top of the chimney.
Fly rafters- End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.
Footer, footing- Continuous 8" or 10" thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or
Forced air heating - A common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is
heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal ducts to various areas of the house.
Form- Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.
Foundation- The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including
Foundation ties- Metal wires that hold the foundation wall panels and rebar in place during the concrete pour.
Foundation waterproofing- High-quality below-grade moisture protection. Used for below-grade exterior concrete
and masonry wall damp-proofing to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion. Normally looks like black tar.
Frame Inspection- The act of inspecting the home's structural integrity and it's complianceto local municipal
Framer-The carpenter contractor that installs the lumber and erects the frame, flooring system, interior walls,
backing, trusses, rafters, decking, installs all beams, stairs, soffits and all work related to the wood structure of the
home. The framer builds the home according to the blueprints and must comply with local building codes and regulations.
Framing- Lumber used for the structural members of a building, such as studs, joists, and rafters.
Frieze- In house construction a horizontal member connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
Frost lid- Round metal lid that is installed on a water meter pit.
Frost line- The depth of frost penetration in soil and/or the depth at which the earth will freeze and swell.
This depth varies in different parts of the country.
Furring strips- Strips of wood, often 1 X 2 and used to shim out and provide a level fastening surface for a
wall or ceiling.
Fuse- A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads in electrical lines. This protects against
fire. See also 'circuit breakers'.
Architectural terms courtesy of www.homebuildingmanual.com