A/C- An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.
A/C Condenser - The outside fan unit of the Air Conditioning system. It removes the heat from the freon gas and "turns" the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.
A/C Disconnect - The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C Condenser.
Aerator - The round screened screw-on tip of a sink spout. It mixes water and air for a smooth flow.
Aggregate - A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.
Air space - The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings.
Anchor bolts - Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete , or masonry floor or wall.
Appraisal - An expert valuation of property.
Apron - A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill
Architect - One who has completed a course of study in building and design, and is licensed by the state as an architect. One who draws up plans.
Area wells - Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth
Astragal - A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.
Attic access - An opening that is placed in the drywalled ceiling of a home providing access to the attic.
Attic Ventilators - In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space.
Back Charge - Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. Owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general contractors bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something damaged by another subcontractor, such as a tub chip or broken window.
Backfill - The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.
Backing - Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall. Carpet backing holds the pile fabric in place.
Backout - Work the framing contractor does after the mechanical subcontractors (Heating-Plumbing-Electrical) finish their phase of work at the Rough (before insulation) stage to get the home ready for a municipal frame inspection. Generally, the framing contractor repairs anything disturbed by others and completes all framing necessary to pass a Rough Frame Inspection.
Ballast - A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.
Balusters - Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as 'pickets' or 'spindles'.
Balustrade - The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.
Barge - Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.
Barge board - A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a fascia board.
Base or baseboard - A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.
Basement window inserts - The window frame and glass unit that is installed in the window buck.
Base shoe - Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.
Bat - A half-brick.
Batten - Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
Bay window - Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
Beam - A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another.
Bearing partition - A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing point - A point where a bearing or structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation
Bearing wall - A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing header - (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).
Bedrock - A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.
Bifold door - Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
Binder - A receipt for a deposit to secure the right to purchase a home at an agreed terms by a buyer and seller.
Bipass doors - Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
Blankets - Fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation.
Blocked (door blocking) - Wood shims used between the door frame and the vertical structural wall framing members.
Blocked (rafters) - Used to keep rafters from twisting, and installed at the ends and at mid-span.
Blocking - Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.
Block out - To install a box or barrier within a foundation wall to prevent the concrete from entering an area. For example, foundation walls are sometimes "blocked" in order for mechanical pipes to pass through the wall, to install a crawl space door, and to depress the concrete at a garage door location.
Blow insulation - Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
Blue print(s) - A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction.
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.
Brace- An inclined piece of framing lumber applied to wall or floor to strengthen the structure. Often used on walls as temporary bracing until framing has been completed.
Breaker panel - The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.
Brick ledge - Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will rest.
Brick lintel - The metal angle iron that brick rests on, especially above a window, door, or other opening.
Brick mold - Trim used around an exterior door jamb that siding butts to.
Brick tie - A small, corrugated metal strip nailed to wall sheeting or studs. They are inserted into the grout mortar joint of the veneer brick, and holds the veneer wall to the sheeted wall behind it.
Brick veneer - A vertical facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a framed wall or tile wall construction.
Bridging - Small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists or rafters at mid-span for the purpose of bracing the joists/rafters & spreading the load.
Buck - Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door bucks used in reference to metal door frame. See Window Bucks
Builder's Risk Insurance - Insurance coverage on a construction project during construction, including extended coverage that may be added for the contract for the customer's protections.
Building codes - Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.
Building insurance - Insurance covering the structure of the building.
Building paper - A general term for papers, felts, and similar sheet materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses. Generally comes in long rolls.
Built-up roof - A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.
Bull nose (drywall) - Rounded drywall corners.
Butt edge - The lower edge of the shingle tabs.
Butt hinge - The most common type. One leaf attaches to the door's edge, the other to its jamb.
Butt joint - The junction where the ends of two timbers meet, and also where sheets of drywall meet on the edge. To place materials end-to-end or end-to-edge without overlapping.
Buy down - A subsidy (usually paid by a builder or developer) to reduce monthly payments on a mortgage.
By fold door - Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
By pass doors - Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
CO - An abbreviation for "Certificate of Occupancy". This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.
Caisson - The structural support for a type of foundation wall, porch, patio, monopost, or other structure. Two or more "sticks" of reinforcing bars (rebar) are inserted into and run the full length of the hole and concrete is poured into the caisson hole
Cantilever - An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall. For example at a fireplace location or bay window cantilever.
Cantilevered void - Foundation void material used in unusually expansive soils conditions.
Cap - The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.
Cap flashing - The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Casement - Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash. May be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.
Casement Window - A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a normal door
Casing - Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.
Caulking - (1) A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces e.g. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls. (2) To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.
CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) - A pesticide that is forced into wood under high pressure to protect it from termites, other wood boring insects, and decay caused by fungus
Ceiling joist - One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
Cement - The gray powder that is the "glue" in concrete.
Ceramic tile - A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub and shower enclosures and on counter tops.
CFM (cubic feet per minute) - A rating that expresses the amount of air a blower or fan can move. The volume of air (measured in cubic feet) that can pass through an opening in one minute.
Chalk line - A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.
Change order - A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.
Chase - A framed enclosed space around a flue pipe or a channel in a wall, or through a ceiling for something to lie in or pass through.
Chink - To install fiberglass insulation around all exterior door and window frames, wall corners, and small gaps in the exterior wall.
Chip Board - A manufactured wood panel made out of wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing.
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.
Clip ties - Sharp, cut metal wires that protrude out of a concrete foundation wall (that at one time held the foundation form panels in place).
Cold air return - The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room air back to the furnace for re-heating.
Collar - Preformed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing above the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve.
Collar beam - Serve to stiffen the roof structure.
Column - A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
Combustion air - The duct work installed to bring fresh, outside air to the furnace and/or hot water heater. Normally 2 separate supplies of air are brought in: One high and One low.
Combustion chamber - The part of a boiler, furnace or woodstove where the burn occurs; normally lined with firebrick or molded or sprayed insulation.
Compression web - A member of a truss system which connects the bottom and top chords and which provides downward support.
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'.
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.
Conduction - The direct transfer of heat energy through a material.
Conductivity - The rate at which heat is transmitted through a material.
Conduit, electrical - A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.
Construction Contract - A legal document which specifies the what-when-where-how-how much and by whom in a construction project. A good construction contract will include:
1. The contractors registration number.
2. A statement of work quality such as 'Standard Practices of the Trades' or 'according to Manufacturers Specifications'.
3. A set of Blue Prints or Plans
4. A construction timetable including starting and completion dates.
5. A set of Specifications
6. A Fixed Price for the work, or a Time and Materials formula.
7. A Payment Schedule.
8. Any Allowances.
9. A clause which outlines how any disputes will be resolved.
10. A written Warrantee.
Construction drywall - A type of construction in which the interior wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet materials or wood paneling as contrasted to plaster.
Construction, frame - A type of construction in which the structural components are wood or depend upon a wood frame for support.
Continuity tester - A device that tells whether a circuit is capable of carrying electricity.
Contractor - A company licensed to perform certain types of construction activities. In most states, the generals contractor's license and some specialty contractor's licenses don't require of compliance with bonding, workmen's compensation and similar regulations. Some of the specialty contractor licenses involve extensive training, testing and/or insurance requirements. There are various types of contractors:
Contractor (General) - responsible for the execution, supervision and overall coordination of a project and may also perform some of the individual construction tasks. Most general contractors are not licensed to perform all specialty trades and must hire specialty contractors for such tasks, e.g. electrical, plumbing.
Contractor (Remodeling) - a general contractor who specializes in remodeling work.
Contractor (Specialty) - licensed to perform a specialty task e.g. electrical, side sewer, asbestos abatement.
Contractor (Sub) - a general or specialty contractor who works for another general contractor.
Control joint - Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to "control" where the concrete should crack
Convection - Currents created by heating air, which then rises and pulls cooler air behind it. Also see radiation.
Conventional loan - A mortgage loan not insured by a government agency (such as FHA or VA)
Convertibility - The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate schedule to a fixed rate schedule.
Cooling load - The amount of cooling required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the summer, usually 78° F, regardless of outside temperature.
Coped - Removing the top and bottom flange of the end(s) of a metal I-beam. This is done to permit it to fit within, and bolted to, the web of another I-beam in a "T" arrangement
Coped joint - Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Corbel - The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds a mantel or horizontal shelf.
Corner bead - A strip of formed sheet metal placed on outside corners of drywall before applying drywall 'mud'.
Corner boards - Used as trim for the external corners of a house or other frame structure against which the ends of the siding are finished.
Corner braces - Diagonal braces at the corners of the framed structure designed to stiffen and strengthen the wall.
Cornice - Overhang of a pitched roof , usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
Counter flashing - A metal flashing usually used on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and used to prevent moisture entry.
Counterfort - A foundation wall section that strengthens (and generally perpendicular to) a long section of foundation wall
Course - A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof. Parallel layers of building materials such as bricks, or siding laid up horizontally.
Cove molding - A molding with a concave face used as trim or to finish interior corners.
Crawl space - A shallow space below the living quarters of a house, normally enclosed by the foundation wall and having a dirt floor.
Credit rating - A report ordered by a lender from a credit agency to determine a borrower's credit habits.
Cricket - A second roof built on top of the primary roof to increase the slope of the roof or valley. A saddle-shaped, peaked construction connecting a sloping roof with a chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away from the chimney joint.
Cripple - Short vertical frame lumber installed above a window or door.
Cross bridging - Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the center of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.
Cross Tee - Short metal "T" beam used in suspended ceiling systems to bridge the spaces between the main beams.
Crown molding - A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.
Culvert - Round, corrugated drain pipe that is installed beneath a driveway and parallel to and near the street.
Cupping - A type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their edges.
Curb - The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a roof. Normally a 2 by 6 box (on the roof) on which a skylight is attached.
Curb stop - Normally a cast iron pipe with a lid 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.
Dado - A groove cut into a board or panel intended to receive the edge of a connecting board or panel.
Damper - A metal "door" placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Dampproofing - The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall.
Daylight - The end of a pipe (the terminal end) that is not attached to anything.
Dead bolt - An exterior security lock installed on exterior entry doors that can be activated only with a key or thumb-turn. Unlike a latch, which has a beveled tongue, dead bolts have square ends.
Dead light - The fixed, non-operable window section of a window unit.
Deck, decked - To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the floor joists, rafters, or trusses.
Dedicated circuit - An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance (ie, dishwasher) or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.
Default - Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).
De-humidistat - A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.
Delamination - Separation of the plies in a panel due to failure of the adhesive. Usually caused by excessive moisture.
Disconnect - A large (generally 20 Amp) electrical ON-OFF switch.
Doorjamb, interior - The surrounding case into which and out of which a door closes and opens. It consists of two upright pieces, called side jambs, and a horizontal head jamb. These 3 jambs have the "door stop" installed on them.
Door operator - An automatic garage door opener.
Door stop - The wooden style that the door slab will rest upon when it's in a closed position.
Dormer - An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
Double glass - Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known as Insulating Glass.
Double hung window - A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.
Down payment - The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount. A downpayment is usually paid at closing.
Downspout - A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof's horizontal gutters.
Drain tile - A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom of the foundation wall and used to drain excess water away from the foundation. It prevents ground water from seeping through the foundation wall. Sometimes called perimeter drain.
Draw - The amount of progress billings on a contract that is currently available to a contractor under a contract with a fixed payment schedule.
Drip - (a) A member of a cornice or other horizontal exterior finish course that has a projection beyond the other parts for throwing off water.(b) A groove in the underside of a sill or drip cap to cause water to drop off on the outer edge instead of drawing back and running down the face of the building.
Drip cap - A molding or metal flashing placed on the exterior topside of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.
Dry in - To install the black roofing felt (tar paper) on the roof.
Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheet rock or Plasterboard) - Wall board or gypsum - A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".
Ducts - The heating system. Usually round or rectangular metal pipes installed for distributing warm (or cold) air from the furnace to rooms in the home. Also a tunnel made of galvanized metal or rigid fiberglass, which carries air from the heater or ventilation opening to the rooms in a building.
Due-on-sale - A clause in a mortgage contract requiring the borrower to pay the entire outstanding balance upon sale or transfer of the property.
Dura board, dura rock - A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a ceramic tile backing material. Commonly used on bathtub decks. Sometimes called Wonder board
DWV (drain-waste-vent) - The section of a plumbing system that carries water and sewer gases out of a home.
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.
Elbow (ell) - A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Electric lateral - The trench or area in the yard where the electric service line (from a transformer or pedestal) is located, or the work of installing the electric service to a home.
Electric resistance coils - Metal wires that heat up when electric current passes through them and are used in baseboard heaters and electric water heaters.
Electrical entrance package - The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the 'strike' or location where the overhead or underground electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much power is used and (3) The 'panel' or 'circuit breaker box ' (or 'fuse box') where the power can be shut off and where overload devices such a fuses or circuit breakers and located.
Electrical Rough - Work performed by the Electrical Contractor after the plumber and heating contractor are complete with their phase of work. Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation).
Electrical Trim - Work performed by the electrical contractor when the house is nearing completion. The electrician installs all plugs, switches, light fixtures, smoke detectors, appliance "pig tails", bath ventilation fans, wires the furnace, and "makes up" the electric house panel. The electrician does all work necessary to get the home ready for and to pass the municipal electrical final inspection
Elevation sheet - The page on the blue prints that depicts the house or room as if a vertical plane were passed through the structure.
Equity - The "valuation" that you own in your home, i.e. the property value less the mortgage loan outstanding.
Escrow - The handling of funds or documents by a third party on behalf of the buyer and/or seller.
Estimate - The amount of labor, materials, and other costs that a contractor anticipates for a project as summarized in the contractor's bid proposal for the project.
Escutcheon - An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending through a wall or floor to hide the cut out hole
Estimating - The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.
Evaporator coil - The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from air in your home. Also see condensing unit.
Expansion joint - Fibrous material installed in and around a concrete slab to permit it to move up and down (seasonally) along the non-moving foundation wall.
Expansive soils - Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present.
Exposed aggregate finish - A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture off the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.
Extras - Additional work requested of a contractor, not included in the original plan, which will be billed separately and will not alter the original contract amount, but increase the cost of building the home.
FHA strap - Metal straps that are used to repair a bearing wall "cut-out", and to "tie together" wall corners, splices, and bearing headers. Also, they are used to hang stairs and landings to bearing headers.
Face nail - To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header or beam.
Faced concrete - To finish the front and all vertical sides of a concrete porch, step(s), or patio. Normally the "face" is broom finished.
Facing brick - The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall. Usually these have a finished texture.
Fascia - Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.
Felt - Tar paper. Installed under the roof shingles.
Female - Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.
Ferrule - Metal tubes used to keep roof gutters "open". Long nails (ferrule spikes) are driven through these tubes and hold the gutters in place along the fascia of the home.
Field measure - To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs, shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead of using the blueprints.
Finger joint - A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings and are normally painted (instead of stained).
Fire block - Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also 'Fire stop'.
Fire brick - Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist high temperatures. Used in a fireplace and boiler.
Fireplace chase flashing pan - A large sheet of metal that is installed around and perpendicular to the fireplace flue pipe. It's purpose is to confine and limit the spread of fire and smoke to a small area.