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Our office will be closed Friday, April 18, 2014 for Good Friday. Orders placed after 11:00 AM CST on Thursday, April 17, 2014 will not be processed until Monday, April 21, 2014.

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Glossary of Terms for Home Building

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A

  • Acre: A unit of land equal to 43,560 square feet.
  • Adhesive: synthetic or natural material commonly produced in liquid or paste form, which causes binding of two surfaces or one material to adhere to another. Adhesive is often used to lay floor tile, fasten or glue boards, or fabricate plastic laminates.
  • Aggregate: Any of several hard, inert materials such as sand, gravel or stone, used for mixing with a cementing material to produce mortar, concrete or plaster.
  • Air Space: The area between insulation facing and the interior of an exterior wall covering.
  • Allowance: A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items that have not been specified in the construction contract. For instance, an electrical allowance may be made for light fixtures.
  • Ampere (Amps): A method used to measure the flow of electrical charge. Current = voltage / resistance.
  • Anchor Bolt: A threaded rod that is inserted in masonry construction to anchor the sill plate to the foundation.
  • Architect: 1. A professional who has completed a course of study in design and building and is licensed by the state as an architect. 2. One who designs buildings and supervises the construction of them.
  • Asphalt shingles: Composition roof shingles created from asphalt impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.
  • Attic: A space or room found immediately below the roof of a building but above the ceiling of the highest floor.
  • Attic Access: An opening often located in the ceiling of closets, garages and halls allowing access to the attic.
  • Attic Ventilators: Screened openings located in the soffit area, gable ends, or along the roof ridge of a structure to ventilate the attic space.

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B

  • Backfill: Refilling a trench around or against a basement foundation with excavated earth.
  • Baffles: A device that helps achieve ventilation and regulates air flow in the space between insulation and roof sheathing.
  • Balcony: a deck projecting from the wall of a building above ground level1. A deck or porch projecting from the exterior wall of a building above ground level and enclosed by a railing or parapet. 2. A railed, interior projection above an open space such as a great room or foyer.
  • Balloon Framing: A method of framing a building by which all vertical structural elements of the bearing walls and partitions consist of single pieces extending from the top of the foundation sill plate to the roof plate and to which all floor joists are fastened.
  • Balusters: A vertical member, often vase-shaped, used as support between the top rail and the stair treads or bottom rail of a stairway.
  • Band Joist: One of multiple members forming the perimeter of a floor system in which the floor joists tie in. Sometimes referred to as a rim joist.
  • Banister: A handrail and its supporting posts used alongside a stairway.
  • Baseboard: The finish board or molding covering the joint where an interior wall and the adjoining floor meet.
  • Batt: Insulation manufactured as a roll or sheet and designed to be installed between members of frame construction.
  • Batten: Thin, narrow strips of lumber used to cover joints or used as decorative pieces over plywood or wide boards.
  • Beam: 1. A long and heavy piece of squared timber suitable for construction. 2. A structural member used to transversely support a load.
  • Bearing Partition: Any partition that supports a vertical load plus its own weight.
  • Bearing Wall: A wall that supports a vertical load in addition to its own weight.
  • Board Foot: A method of measuring lumber using nominal dimensions of 1 inch think, 12 inches wide and 12 inches long, or the equivalent. .
  • Bonus Room: An unfinished room with no specific designated purpose or function. Bonus rooms are not included in the initial finished square footage of a structure and are often finished at a later time.
  • Bottom Plate: The lowest horizontal member of a wall, which rests on the rough floor providing a method to attach or nail the studding of the wall.
  • Brick: A solid, rectangular masonry unit formed with moist clay and hardened by heat for use in building or paving.
  • Brick Veneer: A facing of brick placed against and fastened to sheathing of a frame wall or tile wall.
  • Building Code: A comprehensive set of laws that control the remodeling or construction of a home or another building ensuring the design is structurally sound and habitable.
  • Bundle: The standard method of packaging roofing shingles. Typically, there are 27 shingles per bundle and three bundles per square.
  • Bureau of Land Management: The government branch in charge of surveying public lands.

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C

  • Cantilever: A projecting structure or member supported only at one end, such as a balcony.
  • Central Air Conditioning: A system of ducts which distributes cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room and is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet.
  • Carport: An open-sided shelter often built by the side of a building used for storing automobiles.
  • Casement Window: A hinged window that opens outward.
  • Casing: An enclosed frame constructed of moldings of various widths and depths used to trim window and door openings.
  • Caulking: A waterproof material used to seal cracks against leakage, such as the cracks in a window frame.
  • Central Heating: A system by which air is heated from a single source (the furnace) and distributed through a system of metal ducts to various areas of a house or building.
  • Chase: A channel or a slot built in a frame or masonry wall for something to lie in or pass through. In a home, a chase accommodates conduits, ducts and pipes.
  • Chord: The bottom horizontal member and the two outside diagonal members of a truss.
  • Circuit: The complete path of an electrical current from the source of electric energy (such as the distribution panel) to one or more outlets or fixtures and back.
  • Circuit Breaker: A safety device that automatically interrupts or breaks the flow of an electrical current when an electrical circuit becomes overloaded.
  • Clerestory: A windowed, outside wall of a building or room that rises above an adjoining roof.
  • Collar Beam: Designated one-inch or two-inch thick members of a roof system used to connect opposite roof rafters and stiffen the structure.
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD): Drafting and design functions performed with the use of a computer.
  • Concrete: A hard, strong building material created by mixing a cementing material with an aggregate, such as gravel or sand, and allowing it to harden. Concrete is often used in the foundations of homes and other buildings, sidewalks, porches and driveways.
  • Concrete Block: A hollow, brick-like material made of concrete often used in residential and low rise commercial construction. Typically a concrete block is 8"x8"x16" in size.
  • Concrete Form: A temporary structure, often built with boards, to contain concrete during pouring and initial hardening.
  • Conditions and Restrictions: The term used to describe the conditions to which the use of a tract of land may not be put and the penalties for noncompliance.
  • Conduit: A pipe or tube of plastic, metal or tile used to protect electrical cables and wires.
  • Construction Loan: A short-term loan specifically for the purpose of building. Payments are made during construction and when the building is complete, the loan is typically replaced by a long-term mortgage.
  • Contract: A binding agreement between a buyer and seller. The title is withheld from the buyer until all required payments to the seller have been paid in full.
  • Conventional Framing: A roof framing method using joists and rafters as framing members which are measured, cut, and hoisted into place by the framer/carpenter at the jobsite during construction. Also referred to as stick framing.
  • Coping: The covering course of a masonry wall, usually with a sloping top, used to protect lower areas from water penetration.
  • Corner Bead:A lightweight piece or strip of metal angled to reinforce the corners in drywall.
  • Corner Braces: Diagonal braces positioned at the corners of a frame structure to stiffen and strengthen the wall.
  • Cornice: 1. The part of a roof that projects out from the wall. 2. An architectural composition, often the top course that crowns a wall.
  • Cornice Return: The part of the cornice returning on the gable end of a house
  • Cricket: A device used to divert water at the intersections of sloped planes on a roof.
  • Cripple: A structural member that is less than full length in size, such as a piece of studding cut to fit above a window or door.
  • Cross Bracing: A method of nailing boards diagonally across studs or other boards to make a rigid framework.
  • Crown Molding: A decorative piece of molding used at ceiling corners, the top of cabinets and built-ins, and under a roof overhang.
  • Cupola: A small decorative structure built on the top of a roof of a house or an attached garage. It is sometimes used for ventilation purposes.
  • Current: The flow of an electrical charge

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D

  • Dead Load: The constant load in a structure due to the weight of all the members composing the structure.
  • Dimension Lumber: Framing lumber that is two inches think and from four inches to twelve inches wide.
  • Distribution Panel: The main source or box through which electrical power is brought into a building and then distributed throughout.
  • Door: Typically a swinging, hinged or sliding barrier composed of wood, glass or metal, by which an entry is opened and closed.
  • Doorjamb: One of two vertical pieces forming the side of a door opening.
  • Doorstop: Strips along the doorjambs against which the door closes.
  • Dormer: An opening projecting out of a sloping roof which holds a vertically set window.
  • Double Glazing: Setting two pieces of glass in a window pane with air space between them and then sealing them to provide insulation.
  • Double Header: Two or more timbers, beams or pieces of lumber joined for strength.
  • Double Hung: A window having top and bottom sashes allowing each to move up and down.
  • Downspout: A vertical pipe, usually made of metal or vinyl, used to drain rainwater or snowmelt from a roof.
  • Drip Cap: A piece of molding attached to the exterior topside of a door or window frame causing water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.
  • Dry Wall: An interior wall covering material made of several piles of fiberboard, felt or paper bonded and hardened to a gypsum plaster core, which is applied to the walls in sheets or panels.
  • Ducts: Rectangular or round metal pipes used for distributing warm air from the furnace or cool air from the conditioning device to the rooms in a building.
  • Duplex Outlet: An electrical wall outlet providing two receptacles.

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E

  • Easement: A portion of a piece of property given rights to another for the purpose of placing drains, sewers and power lines or for other specified uses. The holder of the property is entitled to specific limited use and enjoyment of that portion of the piece of property.
  • Eave Vent: A vented opening placed in the soffit under the eaves of a house to promote ventilation of the attic.
  • Eaves: The lower section of the roof that overhangs the wall.
  • Egress: A place or means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in the basement and every bedroom of a home.
  • Electrical Service Panel: The high-voltage electrical system's first point of entry into a home or other building beyond the meter.
  • Elevations: The exterior view of a garage design on one or more sides showing the position of the garage in respect to the grade of the land.
  • Excavation: A pit or cavity produced by cutting, digging or scooping the earth in preparation for construction.
  • Expansion Joint: A bituminous fiber strip used to separate slabs, units or blocks of concrete to prevent cracking as a result of expansion due to temperature changes.

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F

  • Façade: 1. The front elevation or face of a building. 2. Any face of a structure given a special appearance or effect through the use of an architectural treatment.
  • Faced Insulation: Insulation often manufactured in rolls or sheets with an attached vapor retarder.
  • Fascia: 1. A horizontal member, such as a board, covering the joint between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves of the roof. Sometimes referred to as fascia board. 2. A horizontal member, such as a board, nailed to the ends of the rafters. 3. A flat piece used as a molding.
  • Fiberboard: A building material made by compressing fibers of wood into stiff sheets and used as an insulating board.
  • Fiber Glass Insulation: An energy-efficient glass fiber product manufactured to ensure the best thermal and noise control performance available.
  • Fill: Gravel, loose earth or sand used to raise the level of a sub-grade up to the desired level around a house or other building.
  • Filled Insulation: A loose insulating material poured from bags or blown by machine into walls and attic spaces for thermal and noise control.
  • Fire Wall: Any wall constructed to resist the spread of fire between the sections of a house or other building. For example, firewalls are commonly used between a home and an attached garage.
  • Flashing: Sheet metal or another material used in the construction of roofs and walls for waterproofing. Flashing protects a building from water seepage. Sheet metal is commonly used at roof valleys and the angle between the chimney and a roof.
  • Fly Rafters: Rafters at the end of a gable overhang supported by lookouts and sheathing.
  • Footing: An enlarged masonry section, usually concrete, at the bottom of the foundation wall, pier or column. The footing is wider than the rest of the foundation wall in order to distribute the load.
  • Foundation: The whole masonry structure of a building below the first-floor construction or below grade, including the footings, on which the rest of the building is built.
  • Framing: All the members that are fitted together to from the skeletal structure of a garage or other building including beams, joists, rafters, roof plates, sole plates and studs.
  • Frieze: A horizontal member used in home and garage construction connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
  • Frost Line: The depth of frost penetration in the soil of a given region or location. The depth of the frost line varies greatly throughout the country. It is necessary to pour footings below the frost line to prevent movement.
  • Furring: The application of thin wood strips, brick or metal to the interior face of a masonry wall as a method of finishing. Furring provides an air space, helps prevent moisture, provides a space for insulation and creates a level surface for attaching wallboard, paneling or another finishing treatment to the wall.
  • Fuse: An electrical safety device commonly found in older homes that includes a wire or a strip of fusible metal that melts and interrupts the circuit when the current exceeds a particular amperage preventing overloads in the electrical lines. See circuit breaker.

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G

  • Gable: The vertical triangular end of the roof of a home, garage or other building extending from the cornice or eaves to the ridge.
  • Gable Vent: A louver mounted in the top portion of a roof gable to allow circulation of air though the attic.
  • Girder: A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.A main, horizontal structural member, or principal beam of wood or steel, used to support concentrated vertical loads at isolated points along its length. A girder can be a single piece or more than one piece bound together.
  • Grade: The surface or degree of inclination of the ground around a building.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI): A breaker or receptacle that detects excessive electrical current flow and stops electrical flow in the circuit. A GFCI is a required safety feature in many areas of the home where there is an increased risk of shock such as the kitchen and the bathroom
  • Grounding: The connecting of an electrical system to the earth. Grounding is used to prevent damage and minimize the danger of electrical shock.
  • Grout: A thin mortar or plaster-like material used to seal the joints between various types of tile, such as ceramic or quarry tile, in baths, kitchens and showers.
  • Gusset: A metal or plywood plate or bracket used for strengthening an angle in framework such as the joints of a truss.
  • Gutter: A trough or channel along the eaves or fascia used to catch rainwater and direct it to a downspout.

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H

  • Hanger: A metal strap used to support piping or the ends of joists.
  • Header: 1. A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. 2. A wood lintel.
  • Hip Rafter: A diagonal rafter extending from the plate to the ridge to form the hip of a roof.
  • Hip Roof: A roof designed with inclined planes on all four sides of the building.
  • Hot Wire: The electrical wires used to carry the current. Hot wires are usually red or black.

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I

  • I-Beam: An iron or steel beam that is I-shaped in cross-section. An I-beam is used for long spans such as basement beams and/or over wide wall openings like that of a double garage door when wall and/or roof loads are imposed on the opening.
  • Insulated Concrete Form (ICF): Steel reinforced concrete poured into forms by which the forms remain in place and become a functional part of the building's construction. Walls and floors will be made of concrete..
  • Insulating Board: Any type of board suitable for insulating purposes.
  • Insulation: Materials designed to obstruct or prevent the transfer of sound, heat, or cold from one surface to another. Insulation is manufactured in a variety of forms such as sheets, rolls, or loose bagged material.
  • Interior Trim: A general, yet comprehensive term describing all the finished baseboards, casings, cornice and moldings applied on the interior of a building by the finish carpenters.

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J

  • Jack Rafter: A rafter that spans the distance from a valley to a ridge or from the wall plate to a hip.
  • Jamb: An upright side piece or surface or the head lining of a doorway, window or other opening.
  • Joist: Any of the horizontal structural members ranged parallel from wall to wall in a building such as a home or garage, which support the floor or ceiling system.
  • Junction Box: A small electrical box used for wire splicing.

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K

  • Keystone: A wedge-shaped piece of building material used at the top of an arch locking the other pieces in place.
  • Kick Plate: A strip of metal, plastic or wood fastened to the lower edge of a door or on the riser of a step protecting from damage by accidental kicking.
  • King Post: The centrally located, vertical piece in a roof truss.

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L

  • Lally Column: A steel column used to provide support for girders and beams.
  • Laminated Beam: A beam manufactured with superimposed layers of similar materials by binding them with extensive pressure and glue.
  • Landing: A level part of a staircase such as a platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs.
  • Lap Siding: Slightly wedge-shaped boards used as horizontal siding and attached in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing, finishing the exterior face of a structure.
  • Lath: A building material of gypsum, metal, wood or insulating board that is fastened to the framework of a building (in narrow strips or sheets) and used as a base for plaster.
  • Lintel: A horizontal structural member spanning and carrying the load above an opening such as a window or door.
  • Live Load: The load a structure supports in addition to its own weight such as furniture, people, snow and other objects placed upon the structure's surfaces
  • Load: 1. The power output from a source such as a power plant or the power consumption by a device. 2. The amount of power or watts on a circuit or distribution panel.
  • Load-Bearing Wall: All exterior walls and any interior walls aligned above a support beam or girder.
  • Lot: A measured tract of property having fixed boundaries.
  • Lot Line: The line forming the legal boundary of a lot (piece of property).

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M

  • Main: The principle water pipe, duct or circuit from which other lines branch and carry the tributary flow of a utility system.
  • Mantel: 1. A shelf above a fireplace. 2. The finished, decorative trim around a fireplace opening.
  • Masonry: Brick, concrete, concrete-block, gypsum-block, stone, tile or another substantial building material or any combination of these bonded together with mortar to form a buttress, pier, wall or similar mass.
  • Metal Wall Ties: Corrugated metal strips used to fasten a brick veneer wall to a framework.
  • Millwork: Lumber manufactured at a mill that is shaped to a given pattern or molded form such as baseboards, casing and stair rails.
  • Miter Joint: A joint produced with the edges or ends of two pieces of lumber cut at a 45-degree angle and fitted together.
  • Modular Construction: A type of construction by which the dimensions and size of all the building materials is based on a common unit of measure.
  • Moisture Barrier: A specially treated paper or other material that retards the passage of moisture and vapor into walls and prevents condensation on or within the walls.
  • Monolithic Slab: A slab foundation that is part of the footings.
  • Mortar: A mixture of cement, gypsum, plaster or lime, with sand and water which hardens and is used as a bonding agent for bricks and stone.

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N

  • Neutral: A wire in an electrical system used to carry the current when there is an unbalanced load. The neutral wire is usually white.
  • Newel: 1. An upright post supporting the handrail at the foot and the top of a stairway. 2. An upright post around which the stairs of a circular staircase wind.
  • Nonbearing Wall: A wall within a structure which supports no load other than its own weight.
  • Nosing: The typically rounded edge of a stair tread projecting over the riser.

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O

  • On Center (o.c.): A method of spacing joists, rafters, studs and other parallel framing members measuring from the center of one member to the center of the next.
  • Outlet: A receptacle for the plug of an electrical device allowing current to be drawn from the electrical system.
  • Overhang: A projecting area from the roof of the upper story that extends beyond the wall of the lower part.

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P

  • Paper, Building: A general term used for felts, papers and similar sheets of material used in construction without specifying their specific uses or properties
  • Particle Board: A composition board made of wood particles and chips bonded together with glue or an adhesive under high pressure.
  • Partition: An interior wall that subdivides spaces within any story or portion of a building.
  • PDF: A PDF file is a Portable Document Format of your garage plan. This is a computer document format designed to capture formatting information (i.e. fonts, graphics, color, etc.) from many different desktop publishing applications making it possible to send, open and print documents in their intended format regardless of the different applications used by the creator or the recipient.
  • Periphery: The outside boundary or edge of a tract of land or an object on a blueprint.
  • Pier: A masonry pillar constructed as a vertical structural support below a building and used to support the floor framing.
  • Pitch: The measure of the degree of the slope of a roof, often expressed as a ratio.
  • Plaster: A paste or mortar-like composition usually made of Portland cement mixed with sand or lime and water that hardens upon drying and is used for covering walls and ceilings.
  • Plate: A horizontal structural member that provides anchorage and bearing for other structural members such as a frame wall, roof truss or rafter.
  • Plot Plan: An overhead view of a piece of property reflecting the location of a building on the lot. The plot plan includes all easements, setbacks, property lines and legal descriptions of the building. It is usually provided by the surveyor and sometimes called a site plan.
  • Plumb: Exactly vertical. A term often used to describe the placement of doors and windows.
  • Plumbing Fixture: A device designed to dispense and/or drain water, such as a bath, toilet or faucet.
  • Plywood: AA structural building material consisting of multiple layers of veneer glued or cemented together with the grains or adjoining wooden layers arranged at right angles. Typically, an odd number of plies are used to provide balance in construction.
  • Polyethylene Vapor Barrier: Plastic film or sheet used to prevent moisture from passing through unfaced insulation.
  • Post and Beam Construction: A type of wall construction using posts rather than studs.
  • Precast: Concrete that is cast in the form of a structural element such as a beam, block or panel before being placed in its final position within the structure.
  • Pre-framed Panels: Fabricated panels composed of precut plywood and lumber manufactured to standard dimensions and ready for use at a construction site.
  • Preservative: Any substance used to coat or impregnate wooden building materials, and when properly applied, prevents boring insects of various kinds, the action of wood-destroying fungi, and similar destructive agents for a reasonable length of time.
  • Punch List: A list of discrepancies or incomplete items that need to be corrected or finished by the contractor at a construction site.
  • Purlin: A horizontal roof member attached to trusses.

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Q

  • Quarry Tile: A machine-made or man-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall typically measuring 6"x6"x1/4" thick.
  • Quarter Round: A small molding, often used with baseboards and other moldings that has the cross section of a quarter circle.
  • Quoins: Stone or other building materials set in the corners of masonry sections of a building, such as a house or garage, for appearance and usually differentiated from the adjoining walls by color, material, projection, size or texture.

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R

  • R-Value: A measurement used to describe the resistance to the flow of heat (or change of temperature) through a given thickness of insulation where higher numbers indicate better insulating properties.
  • Rafter: One of a series of parallel beams designed to support a roof and its live load such as snow.
  • Rail: 1. A horizontal bar extending from one support or post to another serving as a barrier or guard as on a porch. 2. A horizontal framing member of a panel door.
  • Rake: A term referring to the gable end of a sloped roof where the outside part of the overhang forms an upside down V.
  • Rebar: A ribbed, steel rod used to reinforce and strengthen concrete structures by installing the ridged metal bars in foundation walls, footers and other concrete structures.
  • Reinforced Concrete: Concrete in which metal, such as steel bars, is embedded for strength.
  • Retaining Wall: A wall that holds back or retains an earth embankment.
  • Ridge: The line of intersection along the top edge of a roof where opposite sides or slopes meet.
  • Ridge Board: A board installed on the edge at the ridge of the roof providing a fastening point for the upper ends of the rafters.
  • Ridge Vent: A vent installed along the ridge line of a roof allowing the passage of air through the attic.
  • Rise: The vertical distance from one step to the next in a flight of stairs.
  • Riser: A vertical member, usually a board, between two stair treads.
  • Rough In: The installation of all parts of a plumbing system that can be completed prior to the installation of fixtures. Rough in plumbing includes water supply, vent piping, drainage, and necessary fixture supports.
  • Roof Vent: A small louver or mounted dome installed close to the roof ridge allowing passage of air through the attic.
  • Rough Opening: A framed opening, commonly found in a wall, into which windows, doors and finished trim are set.
  • Run: The horizontal distance or the net width covered by a flight of stairs.

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S

  • Saddle: Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge. Commonly used between the back side of a chimney or other vertical surface and a sloping roof plane. Sometimes referred to as a cricket.
  • Salt Box Roof: A gable roof having one long side extending down to the first floor while the other side is short covering only the second floor.
  • Sash: The framework in which one or more pieces of glass are set in a window or door. This framework, together with its panes, usually forms the movable part of a window.
  • Scuttle: A small opening in a ceiling furnished with a lid, which provides access to an attic or roof.
  • Section: A piece of land in the survey system that is one square mile in area (640 acres) and bounded by section lines. The section may then be subdivided into halves, quarters, or other smaller units.
  • Septic Tank: A concrete or steel tank where the solid matter of continuously flowing sewage is disintegrated or partially reduced by bacterial action.
  • Setback: A zoning term describing the distance of a structure or another feature on a lot, such as a house, detached garage, well or septic system, from the property line.
  • Setback Lines: Boundary lines that specify the required distances for the location of a structure on a piece of property in relation to property boundaries.
  • Shakes: Shingles split from a log or another piece of wood. Commonly used for roofing or siding.
  • Sheathing: The first structural covering, usually of wood boards, plywood or a waterproof material, used over the studs of an outside wall of a frame house or the rafters and trusses of a roof system.
  • Shed Roof: A flat roof, which slants in one direction.
  • Shim: Small thin pieces of wood, metal, stone or another material used to fill in gaps, level surfaces, offer support or provide adjustment to fit.
  • Shoe Mold: The small mold against the baseboard at the floor.
  • Short Circuit: The improper connection of a hot wire (made either accidentally or intentionally) with another hot wire or neutral wire.
  • Siding: The finished or exposed covering of an outside wall of a frame building formed with horizontal weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, wood shingles, plastic pieces, metal or another material.
  • Sill: The lowest horizontal member of a framework forming the lower side of an opening, such as the base of a window or the threshold of a door.
  • Slab Foundation: A foundation consisting of a thick plate of poured concrete lacking piers or floor joists. The slab foundation serves as the floor system for the first floor of the building.
  • Sleeper: Wooden members embedded in concrete, such as a floor, and used to support and fasten the sub-floor.
  • Soffit: The underside of a member of a building such as the underside of an overhanging cornice.
  • Soil stack: The main vertical pipe, which receives wastewater from fixtures in a building such as a kitchen sink or toilet.
  • Solid bridging: A solid, structural building material used between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent the joists from twisting.
  • Span: The spread or distance between structural supports such as beams and girders.
  • Square: A unit of measure applied to roofing material. A square equals 100 square feet.
  • Square Footage, Heated: The finished living square footage of a garage apartment, flex space or carriage house that is heated and/or cooled. Heated square footage does not include workshops, unfinished lofts, garages, porches, storage spaces, decks, or patios unless otherwise noted.
  • Square Footage, Living: The finished living square footage in a home or garage apartment that is heated and/or cooled. The living square footage does not include bonus rooms, garages, porches or unfinished basements unless otherwise noted.
  • Square Footage, Unheated: Spaces of the structure that are not heated and cooled such as a garage, workshop, carport, attic space, unfinished loft, deck, porch, or storage closet.
  • Stick Framing: A method of roof framing using rafters and joists. These structural members are measured, cut, and hoisted into place building professionals at the jobsite during construction of a new structure. Also referred to as conventional framing.
  • Stool: The horizontal ledge or strip as part of the frame below an interior window.
  • Stringer: A long horizontal timber used to connect upright pieces in a frame or to support a floor. A stringer is used on the sides of a stairway supporting the treads and risers.
  • Stucco: A paste-like mixture often made of Portland cement, sand and lime and applied to an exterior wall to form a hard covering.
  • Studs: The vertical, framing members of any wall.
  • Sub-Floor: Any material, usually plywood, nailed directly to the floor joists forming a rough floor to serve as a base for the finished floor.
  • Survey: A method of describing the measure and marking of land including field notes and maps, which give a detailed description of the property.

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T

  • Take Off: The list of materials necessary to complete a construction job.
  • Taping: The process by which drywall joints are covered with strips of paper or mesh and coated with a paste-like joint compound to produce a smooth and seamless surface.
  • Termite Shield: Sheets or pieces of non-corrodible metal placed on or in a foundation wall or other masonry part of a building or around pipes to prevent termites from passing into a structure.
  • Thermostat: An automatic device used to regulate the temperature.
  • Threshold: A strip of wood, metal, or stone or a piece of timber with beveled edges placed over the finish floor and sill of exterior doors.
  • Title: All the elements or evidence constituting a person's legal ownership and possession of land or other property.
  • Topography: Usually refers to site characteristics such as contour of the land, trees, or other natural features.
  • Top Plate: The horizontal member fastened or nailed to the studding at the top of a wall.
  • Tract: A defined parcel or area of land.
  • Transom: A window installed above a door or another window.
  • Trap: A device, usually a U-shaped pipe, for drains and sewers positioned below plumbing fixtures and designed to create a liquid seal preventing gases and sewer odors from being release into living areas.
  • Tray Ceiling: A decorative ceiling treatment used to add volume and/or height to a room. 2 Common types are: 1) Angled area toward the center leading to a flat ceiling surface, and 2) Stepped square edged leading toward the center of the ceiling.
  • Tread: The horizontal part of a step in a stairway, usually a board, on which the foot is placed.
  • Trim: Moldings and other finished materials applied around openings in rooms, such as windows and doors, or at the tops and bottoms of walls, such as baseboards and cornice at the floor or ceiling.
  • Troweling: The finishing process which produces a smooth surface for poured concrete.
  • Truss: Structural members, such as beams, assembled and fastened in triangular units forming a rigid framework to support loads over a long span.
  • Truss Framing: A roof framing method using carefully designed framing members (trusses) that are composed of multiple triangles and connected to metal fastener plates. Pre-engineered roof trusses are designed and assembled by the truss manufacturer and shipped to the construction site.

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U

  • Underlayment: A material used under finish coverings to provide a smooth and even surface for applying the finish. Underlayment is often used beneath flooring and shingles.
  • Unfaced Insulation: Insulation that does not have an attached vapor retarder such as craft paper or foil-backed paper.

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V

  • Valley: The internal angle formed by the intersection two sloping roof planes.
  • Valley Rafter: The diagonal rafter used at the junction of two intersecting sloping roofs.
  • Vapor Barrier: A layer of material, such as a waterproof membrane or polyethylene film, used to prevent or retard the absorption of moisture into a constructed area such as a floor or wall.
  • Veneer: 1. Extremely thin sheets of wood of superior value or excellent grain which are glued to the surface of an inferior wood. 2. A protective or ornamental facing such as brick or stone.
  • Ventilation: 1. The positive flow or circulation of air. 2. A system of providing fresh air.
  • Vent Stack: A vertical soil pipe connected to the drainage system of a home or other building to allow pressure equalization and ventilation.

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W

  • Wall Tie: A steel wire or small metal strip used to fasten or bind tiers of masonry in cavity-wall construction, or to bind brick veneer to a wood-frame wall in veneer construction.
  • Weather Strip: A strip of metal or fabric used to cover the joint of a door or window and the sill, casing or threshold to reduce drafts and heat loss or to exclude rain, snow and cold air.
  • Weep Hole: A hole or opening at the bottom of a wall or in a foundation, which allows water to drain.
  • Window: An opening in a wall or roof of a building to provide air, light, view, etc., while keeping out the weather. They are usually closed by casements or sashes containing glass or another transparent material that can be open and shut.
  • Wood Grade: A designation or ranking rating the quality of manufactured lumber.
  • Working Drawing: A drawing, such as a blueprint, used by tradesmen in construction showing structural details such as floor and roof system information, window and door sizes, etc.

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X

  • X-Bracing: A type of cross-bracing used in floors and partitions of which the members form the letter X.

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Y

  • Yard of Concrete: A cubic yard of concrete is equal to 3'x3'x3' in volume or 27 cubic feet. A cubic yard of concrete will pour 80 square feet of 3 " sidewalk or other concrete slab such as a garage floor.
  • Yard Lumber: Lumber graded for general building purposes and typically found at a lumber yard.

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Z

  • Z-Bar Flashing: Bent flashing made of galvanized metal and installed above the horizontal trim board of an exterior door, brick run or window preventing water from seeping behind the trim or brick and into the home.
  • Zero Lot Line: The construction of a building by which the structure is built on any of the boundary lines for a lot. For example, a store built on the front line is built out to the sidewalk.
  • Zero Side Yard: The construction of homes in a subdivision by which each home is built on a side boundary line providing more usable yard space for narrow lots.
  • Zoning: The division of land (in a city, county, township or similar area) by ordinance into sections (zones) reserved for specified purposes such as business or residence.
  • Zoning Ordinance: A law controlling the use of land and construction of improvements, generally at the county or municipal level, in a given area or specified zone.

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