Welcome to our online construction dictionary. The dictionary
is in a continual evolution. Since this site is about residential
construction the dictionary will reflect this. If you can't find
a certain term email us and we will add it to our list.
- building material
made of sun baked earth/clay. Adobe is often made into brick shaped
units. It is quite durable in arid climates. It continues to be
used in the Southwestern U.S. Adobe is sometimes referred to as
- sand and
gravel that is mixed in with cement to create a concrete.
which is stacked and left in the open to dry. usually has a higher
moisture than kiln-dried lumber.
- the space between
the attic insulation and the roof decking. This space allows air
movement and attic venting.
bolt that is embedded in the foundation that is used to secure
the sill plate and subsequently the house to the foundation.
asphalt shingles that are thicker and heavier than normal 3-tab
shingles. The shingles thickness creates a depth more characteristic
of wood shingles or shakes.
made of felt base, with asphalt and coated on the exterior with
aggregate (stone) particles. Asphalt shingles are popular because
of their low cost and ease of installation. They are sometimes
called composition shingles. Asphalt shingles should not be used
roofs with a slope less than 3/12.
- an opening
in the ceiling which is usually covered by a hatch which gives
access to the attic space.
of window that is hinged at the top and swings outward.
a fee or reducing the amount owed to a subcontractor. This is
usually done when a contractor has not completed a portion of
the work or is unable to complete the work on time. A replacement
is hired to complete the remaining portion.
- soil or fill
that is used to replace previously excavated earth. For example,
the dirt that is placed around a recently constructed foundation.
- a versatile
excavating machine that has a boom mounted bucket on one side
used for digging ditches, and a dozer blade on the other for
pushing large quantities of earth.
- furring placed
on the inside corners of framed walls or partitions to support
the ends of drywall panels.
a style of wood framing where the outside wall structural
members extend from foundation to roof. The floor joists are
attached to the inside of the exterior wall using a ledger
- a vertical
member of a stair rail that supports the handrail.
- the pieces
of a system that form the complete stair rail system. The pieces
used are balusters, handrail, post and sometimes a bottom rail.
- a method
of nailing which allow the nail to be hidden.
- board feet
is one method lumber is measured and priced. One board foot is
12" x 12" x 1". For example, an Eight foot long
2 x 12 contains sixteen board feet of lumber.
- the construction
plans which contain the details necessary to construct the home.
-a small corrugated metal strip used to anchor
brick veneer to the wood frame walls.
- an electrical box from where each circuit in
the house is controlled by a safety switch called a circuit
breaker. Circuit protect the wiring during overloads.
brick wall that covers the wood framed house.
that is installed diagonally between floor joist or wall studs
at the mid span which stiffen the structure.
british thermal units the standard measurement unit of heat in
residential construction. One BTU is equal to the amount of energy
require to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
the written warranty provided by the builder to the homeowner
which defines the guarantee of quality. Usually begins at
from the local building department to build a structure in accordance
with the permit.
rules which may appear in building codes, title documents
or covenants which control size, materials used, location
of structure, etc
a vertical slat of wood used to fill gaps between box cabinets
or the adjacent walls.
The boxed frame work above the upper kitchen cabinets.
- a slight convex
curvature placed in beams and trusses used to counteract the force
placed upon it by the structural load.
- a element
or structure that is unsupported on one end. However, in residential
construction the element is usually supported near the end.
Cantilever floors are common in residential construction.
used as a trim around window and door jambs.
window that is hinged on it's side. It is generally opened with
a hand crank.
- the bonding
agent used to bond aggregates and create concrete.
c- a document issued by the local building authority
stating that a new residence is suitable for habitation. It is
usually issued after the final inspection.
- a tool
that uses a string and chalk dust to create straight lines.
It is stretched across a surface and "snapped" with
the fingers which leave a straight edge.
- an access
in a plumbing line used to clean out obstructions.
- legal rules
and regulations which govern building construction and occupancy.
The regulation of the code is intended to safeguard public
health and safety and welfare.
- a horizontal
rafter that connects and supports common rafters which are opposite
- a load bearing
post made of wood or steel or masonry.
- a mixture
of Portland cement, water and
aggregate. The strength of concrete is measured in psi. The
higher the cement content the stronger the concrete; all else
being equal. The aggregate usually contains various sized
particle from fine sand to gravel.
formation of water droplets which occur when warm moist air
meets cold air. It is a common occurrence on interior windows,
toilets and sinks, for example.
a short-term loan (usually 4-12 months). Draws are taken from
the construction loan to pay for the house as it is built.
Once the house is near completion long-term financing is procured.
- a joint
where one piece is cut to the contour of the other piece. The
contoured piece then butts against the coped piece.
long strip of plastic or metal used to reinforce outside corners
- any decorative
overhang or molding located at the junction where the roof
overhangs the exterior walls.
process of systematically calculating the projected cost for all
building activities in a project, which includes labor, materials,
profit, overhead, permits, and fees etc.
a contract where the owner agrees to pay the contractor the cost
of the materials and labor and overhead plus a specified profit,
restriction that are created and enforced by a neighborhood
- the space
located underneath the floor of a single level house. It is usually
surrounded by foundation stem walls.
shorter stud that is found on either side of the door or window
- a measurement
used to measure concrete, gravel or earth. It measures 3'
x 3' x 3' equivalent to 27cubic feet.
a contractor who specializes in building one-of-a-kind specially
diagonal brace made of wood that cut into the stud wall so
that it fits flush with the outside surface.
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