Glossary of Construction and Finance Terms*

 – A –

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.

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.

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.

Assessment – A tax levied on a property, or a value placed on the worth of a property.

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.

 – B –

Backfill – The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.

Balloon – A loan that has a series of monthly payments with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment at the end.

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’.

Base or Baseboard – A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.

Base Shoe – Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.

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).

Bay Window – Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.

Beam – A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another. Sometimes called a “girder”.

Bearing Partition or Wall – A partition or wall 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 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).

Bifold Door – Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.

Blocked (door blocking) – Wood shims used between the door frame and the vertical structural wall framing members.

Blocking – Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.

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.

Boom – A truck used to hoist heavy material up and into place. To put trusses on a home or to set a heavy beam into place.

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 Mold – Trim used around an exterior door jamb that siding butts to.

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.

Bull Nose (drywall) – Rounded drywall corners.

Bundle – A package of shingles. Normally, there are 3 bundles per square and 27 shingles per bundle.

Buy Down – A subsidy (usually paid by a builder or developer) to reduce monthly payments on a mortgage.

By Pass Doors – Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.

 – C –

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.

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.

Cap – The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Clean Out – An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with a threaded plug.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Conduit, Electrical – A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.

Construction Drywall – A type of construction in which the interior wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet materials or wood paneling as contrasted to plaster.

Construction, Frame – A type of construction in which the structural components are wood or depend upon a wood frame for support.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

Credit Rating – A report ordered by a lender from a credit agency to determine a borrower’s credit habits.

Crown Molding – A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.

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.

 – D –

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.

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).

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.

Double Glass – Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between.  Also known as Insulating Glass.

Double Hung Window – A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.

Down Payment – The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount. A downpayment is usually paid at closing.

Downspout – A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof’s horizontal gutters.

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.

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.

 – E –

Earnest Money – A sum paid to the seller to show that a potential purchaser is serious about buying.

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.

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.

Escutcheon – An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending through a wall or floor to hide the cut out hole

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.

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.

 – F –

Face Nail – To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header or beam.

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.

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 stop’.

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’.

Fixed Rate Mortgage – A mortgage with an interest rate that remains the same over the years.

Flashing – Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.

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.

Fluorescent Lighting – A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphur coating on the inside.  Gas inside the tube is ionized by electricity which causes the phosphur coating to glow.  Normally with two pins that extend from each end.

Flue – Large pipe through which fumes escape from a gas water heater, furnace, or fireplace. Normally these flue pipes are double walled, galvanized sheet metal pipe and sometimes referred to as a “B Vent”. Fireplace flue pipes are normally triple walled. In addition, nothing combustible shall be within one inch from the flue pipe.

Flue Collar – Round metal ring which fits around the heat flue pipe after the pipe passes out of the roof.

Flue Damper – An automatic door located in the flue that closes it off when the burner turns off; purpose is to reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or boiler.

Footer, Footing – Continuous 8″ or 10″ thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.

Form – Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.

Foundation – The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.

Foundation Ties – Metal wires that hold the foundation wall panels and rebar in place during the concrete pour.

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.

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’.

 – G –

Gable – The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.

Girder – 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).

Grade – Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also the work of leveling dirt. Also the designated quality of a manufactured piece of wood.

Grade Beam – A foundation wall that is poured @ level with or just below the grade of theearth. An example is the area where the 8′ or 16′ overhead garage door “block out” is located, or a lower (walk out basement) foundation wall is poured.

Ground – Refers to electricity’s habit of seeking the shortest route to earth. Neutral wires carry it there in all circuits. An additional grounding wire or the sheathing of the metal-clad cable or conduit—protects against shock if the neutral leg is interrupted.

Ground Fault – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI, GFI) – an ultra sensitive plug designed to shut off all electric current. Used in bathrooms, kitchens, exterior waterproof outlets, garage outlets, and “wet areas”. Has a small reset button on the plug.

Groundwater – Water from an aquifer or subsurface water source.

Grout – A wet mixture of cement, sand and water that flows into masonry or ceramic crevices to seal the cracks between the different pieces. Mortar made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into the joints and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.

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.

Gyp board – Drywall. Wall board or gypsum- A panel (normally 4′ X 8′, 10′, 12′, or 16′)made with a core of Gypsum (chalk-like) rock, which covers interior walls and ceilings.

Gypsum Plaster – Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of sand and water for base-coat plaster.

 – H –

H Clip – Small metal clips formed like an “H” that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.

Hardware – All of the “metal” fittings that go into the home when it is near completion. For example, door knobs, towel bars, handrail brackets, closet rods, house numbers, door closers, etc. The Interior Trim Carpenter installs the “hardware”.

Header – (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed inframing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

Hearth – The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace. The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.

Heat Pump – A mechanical device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.

Hip – A roof with four sloping sides. The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.

Hip Roof – A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.

Home Run (Electrical) – The electrical cable that carries power from the main circuit breaker panel to the first electrical box, plug, or switch in the circuit.

Hose Bib – An exterior water faucet (sill cock).

Hot Wire – The wire that carries electrical energy to a receptacle or other device—in contrast to a neutral, which carries electricity away again. Normally the black wire. Also see ground.

Humidifier – An appliance normally attached to the furnace, or portable unit device designed to increase the humidity within a room or a house by means of the discharge of water vapor.

Hurricane Clip – Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. Sometimes called a Teco clip.

H V A C – An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

 – I –

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

Index – The interest rate or adjustment standard that determines the changes in monthly payments for an adjustable rate loan.

Insulating Glass – Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between.  Also known as Double glass.

Insulation Board, Rigid – A structural building board made of coarse wood or cane fiber in ½- and 25/32-inch thickness. It can be obtained in various size sheets and densities.

Insulation – Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, and will reduce the rate of heat flow.

Interest – The cost paid to a lender for borrowed money.

Interior Finish – Material used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings

Irrigation – Lawn sprinkler system.

 – J –

Jamb – The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening. Includes studs as well as the frame and trim.

Joint – The location between the touching surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.

Joist – Wooden 2 X 8’s, 10’s, or 12’s that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.

Joist Hanger – A metal “U” shaped item used to support the end of a floor joist and attached with hardened nails to another bearing joist or beam.

 – K –

Keyless – A plastic or porcelain light fixture that operates by a pull string. Generally found in the basement, crawl space , and attic areas.

Kilowatt (kw) – One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see watt.

Knot – In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears on the edge or face of the piece.

 – L –

Laminated Shingles – Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance. May also be called “architectural shingles” or “three-dimensional shingles.”

Laminating – Bonding together two or more layers of materials.

Landing – A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.

Lateral (electric, gas, telephone, sewer and water) – The underground trench and related services (i.e., electric, gas, telephone, sewer and water lines) that will be buried within the trench.

Lattice – An open framework of criss-crossed wood or metal strips that form regular, patterned spaces.

Level – True horizontal. Also a tool used to determine level.

Lien – An encumbrance that usually makes real or personal property the security for payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation.

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

Load Bearing Wall – Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder. Normally, any wall that has a double horizontal top plate.

Loan – The amount to be borrowed.

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, the greater the lender’s perceived risk. Loans above normal lending LTV ratios may require additional security.

 – M –

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

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 warranty.

Masonry – Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.

Mastic – A pasty material used as a cement (as for setting tile) or a protective coating (as for thermal insulation or waterproofing).

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

Millwork – Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in millwork plants. Includes all doors, window and door frames, blinds, mantels, panelwork, stairway components (ballusters, rail, etc.), moldings, and interior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.

Miter Joint – The joint of two pieces at an angle that bisects the joining angle. For example, the miter joint at the side and head casing at a door opening is made at a 45° angle.

Molding – A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface.

Mortar – A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in masonry work.

Mortgage – Loan secured by land.

Mortgage Broker – A broker who represents numerous lenders and helps consumers find affordable mortgages; the broker charges a fee only if the consumer finds a loan.

Mortgage Company – A company that borrows money from a bank, lends it to consumers to buy homes, then sells the loans to investors.

Mortgage Deed – Legal document establishing a loan on property.

Mortgagee – The lender who makes the mortgage loan.

Mortgage Loan – A contract in which the borrower’s property is pledged as collateral. It is repaid in installments. The mortgagor (buyer) promises to repay principal and interest, keep the home insured, pay all taxes and keep the property in good condition.

Mortgage Origination Fee – A charge for work involved in preparing and servicing a mortgage application (usually one percent of the loan amount).

 – N –

Nail Inspection – An inspection made by a municipal building inspector after the drywall material is hung with nails and screws (and before taping).

Natural Finish – A transparent finish which does not seriously alter the original color or grain of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually provided by sealers, oils, varnishes, water repellent preservatives, and other similar materials.

Neutral Wire – Usually color-coded white, this carries electricity from an outlet back to the service panel. Also see hot wire and ground.

Newel Post – The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.

Nonbearing Wall – A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

Nosing – The projecting edge of a molding or drip or the front edge of a stair tread.

Notch – A crosswise groove at the end of a board.

Note – A formal document showing the existence of a debt and stating the terms of repayment.

 – O –

O C – On Center- The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.

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.

Overhang – Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof; the part of the roof that hangs out or over the outside wall. See also Cornice.

 – P –

Padding – A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.

Paint – A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings. Can be oil based or latex water based.

Pallets – Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material. Forklifts and hand trucks are used to move these wooden platforms around.

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.

Paver, Paving – Materials—commonly masonry—laid down to make a firm, even surface.

Pedestal – A metal box installed at various locations along utility easements that contain electrical, telephone, or cable television switches and connections.

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.

Pigtails, Electrical – The electric cord that the electrician provides and installs on an appliance such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, or range hood.

Pilot Hole – A small-diameter, pre-drilled hole that guides a nail or screw.

Pilot Light – A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler, or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.

Pitch – The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width of a house, i.e., a 6-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-fourth pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise, per foot of horizontal run.

PITI – Principal, interest, taxes and insurance (the four major components of monthly housing payments).

Plan View – Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.

Plate – Normally a 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 that lays horizontally within a framed structure, such as:

· Sill plate- A horizontal member anchored to a concrete or masonry wall.

· Top plate- Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.

Plenum – The main hot-air supply duct leading from a furnace.

Plot Plan – An overhead view plan that shows the location of the home on the lot. Includes all easements, property lines, set backs, and legal descriptions of the home. Provided by the surveyor.

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 Rough – Work performed by the plumbing contractor after the Rough Heat is installed. This work includes installing all plastic ABS drain and waste lines, copper water lines, bath tubs, shower pans, and gas piping to furnaces and fireplaces. Lead solder should not be used on copper piping.

Plumbing Stack – A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Plumbing Trim – Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get the home ready for a final plumbing inspection. Includes installing all toilets (water closets), hot water heaters, sinks, connecting all gas pipe to appliances, disposal, dishwasher, and all plumbing items.

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.

Post – A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam. Often a 4″ x 4″, a 6″ x 6″, or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and bottom.

Pressure Relief Valve (PRV) – A device mounted on a hot water heater or boiler which is designed to release any high steam pressure in the tank to prevent tank explosions.

Pressure-treated Wood – Lumber that has been saturated with a preservative.

Primer – The first, base coat of paint when a paint job consists of two or more coats. A first coating formulated to seal raw surfaces and holding succeeding finish coats.

Principal – The original amount of the loan, the capital.

Property Survey – A survey to determine the boundaries of your property. The cost depends on the complexity of the survey.

P Trap – Curved, “U” section of drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through a fixtures water drain.

Pump Mix – Special concrete that will be used in a concrete pump. Generally, the mix has smaller rock aggregate than regular mix.

Punch List – A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the contractor.

Punch Out – To inspect and make a discrepancy list.

Putty – A type of dough used in sealing glass in the sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.

PVC or CPVC – Poly Vinyl Chloride-A type of white or light gray plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines and waste pipe.

 – Q –

Quarter Round – A small trim molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.

 – R –

Rake – Slope or slanted.

Rake Fascia – The vertical face of the sloping end of a roof eave.

Ranch – A single story, one level home.

Ready Mixed Concrete – Concrete mixed at a plant or in trucks en route to a job and delivered ready for placement.

Rebar, Reinforcing Bar – Ribbed steel bars installed in foundation concrete walls, footers, and poured in place concrete structures designed to strengthen concrete. Comes in various thickness’ and strength grade.

Receptacle – An electrical outlet.  A typical household will have many 120 volt receptacles for plugging in lams and appliances and 240 volt receptacles for the range, clothes dryer, air conditioners, etc.

Recording Fee – A charge for recording the transfer of a property, paid to a city, county, or other appropriate branch of government.

Redline, Red Lined Prints – Blueprints that reflect changes and that are marked with red pencil.

Refrigerant – A substance that remains a gas at low temperatures and pressure and can be used to transfer heat. Freon is an example and is used in air conditioning systems.

Register – A grill placed over a heating duct or cold air return.

Retaining Wall – A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.

Retentions – Amounts withheld from progress billings until final and satisfactory project completion.

R Factor or Value – A measure of a materials resistance to the passage of heat. The higher the R value, the more insulating “power” it has. New home walls are usually insulated with 4″ of batt insulation with an R value of R-13, and a ceiling insulation of R-30.

Riser – Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.

Road Base – A aggregate mixture of sand and stone.

Romex – A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that is used for indoor wiring.

Roof Sheathing or Sheeting – The wood panels or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.

Roof Valley – The “V” created where two sloping roofs meet.

Rough Opening – The horizontal and vertical measurement of a window or door opening before drywall or siding is installed.

Rough Sill – The framing member at the bottom of a rough opening for a window. It is attached to the cripple studs below the rough opening.

Roughing-in – The initial stage of a plumbing, electrical, heating, carpentry, and/or other project, when all components that won’t be seen after the second finishing phase are assembled. See also Heat Rough, Plumbing Rough, and Electrical Rough.

 – S –

Sand Float Finish – Lime that is mixed with sand, resulting in a textured finish on a wall.

Sanitary Sewer – A sewer system designed for the collection of waste water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry drains, and is usually not designed to handle storm water.

Sash – A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass. The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window.

Sash Balance – A device, usually operated by a spring and designed to hold a single hung window vent up and in place

Schedule (window, door, mirror) – A table on the blueprints that list the sizes, quantities and locations of the windows, doors and mirrors.

Scratch Coat – The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for a second coat.

Sealer – A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over raw wood for the purpose of sealing the wood surface.

Semigloss Paint or Enamel – A paint or enamel made so that its coating, when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy. Bathrooms and kitchens are normally painted semi-gloss

Septic System – An on site waste water treatment system. It usually has a septic tank which promotes the biological digestion of the waste, and a drain field which is designed to let the left over liquid soak into the ground. Septic systems and permits are usually sized by the number of bedrooms in a house.

Service Equipment – Main control gear at the service entrance, such as circuit breakers, switches, and fuses.

Settlement – Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles underground.

Sewer Lateral – The portion of the sanitary sewer which connects the interior waste water lines to the main sewer lines. The side sewer is usually buried in several feet of soil and runs from the house to the sewer line. It is usually ‘owned’ by the sewer utility, must be maintained by the owner and may only be serviced by utility approved contractors. Sometimes called side sewer.

Sewer Stub – The junction at the municipal sewer system where the home’s sewer line is connected.

Sewer Tap – The physical connection point where the home’s sewer line connects to the main municipal sewer line.

Sheathing, Sheeting – The structural wood panel covering, usually OSB or plywood, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.

Shed Roof – A roof containing only one sloping plane.

Sheet Rock, Drywall-Wall Board or Gypsum – A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2″ thick and 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 12′ in size. The ‘joint compound’. ‘Green board’ type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other “wet areas”.

Shim – A small piece of scrap lumber or shingle, usually wedge shaped, which when forced behind a furring strip or framing member forces it into position. Also used when installing doors and placed between the door jamb legs and 2 X 4 door trimmers. Metal shims are wafer  1 1/2″ X 2″ sheet metal of various thickness’ used to fill gaps in wood framing members, especially at bearing point locations.

Shingles – Roof covering of asphalt. asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thickness’.

Short Circuit – A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against fire that could result from a short.

Shutter – Usually lightweight louvered decorative frames in the form of doors located on the sides of a window. Some shutters are made to close over the window for protection.

Siding – The finished exterior covering of the outside walls of a frame building.

Siding, (lap siding) – Slightly wedge-shaped boards used as horizontal siding in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing. Varies in butt thickness from ½ to ¾ inch and in widths up to 12″.

Single Hung Window – A window with one vertically sliding sash or window vent.

Skylight – A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of a building.

Slab, Concrete – Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways, garages, and basement floors.

Slab, Door – A rectangular door without hinges or frame.

Slab on Grade – A type of foundation with a concrete floor which is placed directly on the soil. The edge of the slab is usually thicker and acts as the footing for the walls.

Sleeve(s) – Pipe installed under the concrete driveway or sidewalk, and that will be used later to run sprinkler pipe or low voltage wire.

Slope – The incline angle of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in feet). See also pitch.

Slump – The “wetness” of concrete. A 3 inch slump is dryer and stiffer than a 5 inch slump.

Soffit – The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls. Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.

Soil Stack – A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Sole Plate – The bottom, horizontal framing member of a wall that’s attached to the floor sheeting and vertical wall studs.

Space Heat – Heat supplied to the living space, for example, to a room or the living area of a building.

Spec Home – A house built before it is sold. The builder speculates that he can sell it at a profit.

Specifications or Specs – A narrative list of materials, methods, model numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information contained in the blue prints. Written elaboration in specific detail about construction materials and methods. Written to supplement working drawings.

Square – A unit of measure-100 square feet-usually applied to roofing and siding material. Also, a situation that exists when two elements are at right angles to each other. Also a tool for checking this.

Starter Strip – Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provides protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.

Stair Landing – A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.

Storm Sash or Storm Window – An extra window usually placed outside of an existing one, as additional protection against cold weather.

Storm Sewer – A sewer system designed to collect storm water and is separated from the waste water system.

Story – That part of a building between any floor or between the floor and roof.

Strike – The plate on a door frame that engages a latch or dead bolt.

String, Stringer – A timber or other support for cross members in floors or ceilings. In stairs, the supporting member for stair treads. Usually a 2 X 12 inch plank notched to receive the treads

Stucco – Refers to an outside plaster finish made with Portland cement as its base.

Stud – A vertical wood framing member, also referred to as a wall stud, attached to the horizontal sole plate below and the top plate above. Normally 2 X 4’s or 2 X 6’s, 8′ long (sometimes 92 5/8″). One of a series of wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.

Stud Framing – A building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with post-and-beam.

Subfloor – The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate, floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.

Switch – A device that completes or disconnects an electrical circuit.

 – T –

T & G, Tongue and Groove – A joint made by a tongue (a rib on one edge of a board) that fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of another board to make a tight flush joint. Typically, the subfloor plywood is T & G.

Tab – The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.

Take Off – The material necessary to complete a job.

Taping – The process of covering drywall joints with paper tape and joint compound.

Tee – A “T” shaped plumbing fitting.

Tempered – Strengthened. Tempered glass will not shatter nor create shards, but will “pelletize” like an automobile window. Required in tub and shower enclosures and locations, entry door glass and sidelight glass, and in a windows when the window sill is less than 16″ to the floor.

Termites – Wood eating insects that superficially resemble ants in size and general appearance, and live in colonies.

Thermostat – A device which relegates the temperature of a room or building by switching heating or cooling equipment on or off.

Threshold – The bottom metal or wood plate of an exterior door frame. Generally they are adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.

Title – Evidence (usually in the form of a certificate or deed) of a person’s legal right to ownership of a property.

Top Chord – The upper or top member of a truss.

Top Plate – Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.

Trim (plumbing, heating, electrical) – The work that the “mechanical” contractors perform to finish their respective aspects of work, and when the home is nearing completion and occupancy.

Trim, Interior – The finish materials in a building, such as moldings applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, cornice, and other moldings). Also, the physical work of installing interior doors and interior woodwork, to include all handrails, guardrails, stair way balustrades, mantles, light boxes, base, door casings, cabinets, countertops, shelves, window sills and aprons, etc. Exterior- The finish materials on the exterior a building, such as moldings applied around openings (window trim, door trim), siding, windows, exterior doors, attic vents, crawl space vents, shutters, etc. Also, the physical work of installing these materials

Truss – An engineered and manufactured roof support member with “zig-zag” framing members. Does the same job as a rafter but is designed to have a longer span than a rafter.

 – U –

Underground Plumbing – The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.

Underlayment – A ¼” material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under finish coverings, such as vinyl flooring, to provide a smooth, even surface. Also a secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or water-resistant, installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other roof-finishing layer.

Utility Easement – The area of the earth that has electric, gas, or telephone lines. These areas may be owned by the homeowner, but the utility company has the legal right to enter the area as necessary to repair or service the lines.

 – V –

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.

Vapor Barrier – A building product installed on exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them. Normally, polyethylene plastic sheeting is used.

Variable Rate – An interest rate that will vary over the term of the loan.

Vent – A pipe or duct which allows the flow of air and gasses to the outside. Also, another word for the moving glass part of a window sash, i.e. window vent.

Veterans Administration (VA) – A federal agency that insures mortgage loans with very liberal down payment requirements for honorably discharged veterans and their surviving spouses.

Visqueen – A 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting.

Voltage – A measure of electrical potential. Most homes are wired with 110 and 220 volt lines. The 110 volt power is used for lighting and most of the other circuits. The 220 volt power is usually used for the kitchen range, hot water heater and dryer.

 – W –

Wall Out – When a painter pray paints the interior of a home.

Waste Pipe and Vent – Plumbing plastic pipe that carries waste water to the municipal sewage system.

Water Closet – Another name for toilet.

Water Table – The location of the underground water, and the vertical distance from the surface of the earth to this underground water.

Weatherstrip – Narrow sections of thin metal or other material installed to prevent the infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.

Weep Holes – Small holes in storm window frames that allow moisture to escape.

Wind Bracing – Metal straps or wood blocks installed diagonally on the inside of a wall from bottom to top plate, to prevent the wall from twisting, racking, or falling over “domino” fashion.

Window Buck – Square or rectangular box that is installed within a concrete foundation or block wall. A window will eventually be installed in this “buck” during the siding stage of construction

Window Frame – The stationary part of a window unit; window sash fits into the window frame.

Window Sash – The operating or movable part of a window; the sash is made of window panes and their  border.

Wire Nut – A plastic device used to connect bare wires together.

Wrapped Drywall – Areas that get complete drywall covering, as in the doorway openings of bifold and bipass closet doors.

 – Z –

Zone – The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.

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.

* Terms and definitions courtesy