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.
- a horizontal
supporting member placed above a door or window that is used to
support the weight above.
- see rim
- the distance
measured between the floor and ceiling. The code specifies minimum
head room for different applications.
that has high amount of luster or shine. It is easily cleaned
without damaging the surface. However, it shows flaws that semi-gloss
or flat paint can hide. It is often used for trim such as window
casing and baseboard.
- a pyramid
shaped roof where each part of the roof has an equal slope.
straps that are embedded in the foundation to hold the house to
the foundation in case of earthquakes. Hold down straps are require
by building codes in seismic zones 3 and 4.
lightweight door that is filled with cardboard or wood fibers.
- a water faucet
that is threaded to accept a garden hose.
- a metal
fastener that attaches from the top of the exterior walls to the
roof trusses. These clips help to hold the roof structure to the
house under severe wind loads.
- stands for heating
ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC tradesmen generally specialize
in forced air systems, while plumbers specialize in hydronic heating
- the chemical
reaction which occurs when cement and water mix. The reaction
- heat and
cooling systems that used water as a means of causing a temperature
change. Hydronic baseboards are the most popular type of hydronic
heating system in residential construction.
- beam made in
the shape of "I". Metal I beams are used in basements
as girders. Wood I beams are used for joists.
- a visual
survey of the work in progress or in at completed stage. Inspection
are carried out by the owner or his representative to ensure compliance
with the construction documents. Inspections are also undertaken
by building officials for compliance with building code.
used in construction which resists heat and sound transfer. A
materials resistance to heat transfer is stated in R value. The
higher the R value the better the resistance. Insulation in residential
construction is often made from fiberglass, cellulose or urethane
siding that interlocks the top of one piece with the bottom of
another allowing for hidden nailing. Vinyl, steel and aluminum
siding are usually made to interlock.
- the wood frame
surrounding a window or door. The door hinges attach to one side
jamb, the latch on the other.
of two pieces of material by a specified method.
- the structural
members that are used to horizontally support the floor and ceiling.
Joist are usually 2 x 6 or larger, and are laid on edge. In modern
construction manufactured "I" beams are commonly used
for joists because of their uniformity, and strength.
- a metal
strap that supports the end of the joist when no bearing point
- a groove placed
in part of a concrete joint to make it stronger. Footings are
often keyed to make a stronger joint between footing and foundation.
is often dried in a kiln to a specified moisture content (usually
- a door
that carries a U.L. (Underwriters' Laboratory) listed fire-rating.
The fire-rating information is usually on the hinged edge. Garage
person doors usually are required to have a minimum of a 20 minute
- a leveling
instrument which uses a laser beam to check the relative ground
elevation. laser levels are used by excavators and foundation
contractors to ensure that the house is perfectly level. See transit.
system popular before the 1950's where thin strips of wood (lath)
were attached horizontally to framed walls. Plaster was trowelled
on top to provide a smooth durable finish surface for painting
or wallpaper. The introduction of drywall panels made the labor
intensive lath and plaster system obsolete.
- a legal right
to sell another person property to satisfy a debt (see mechanics
- a horizontal
structural supporting member that is used to support weight over
an opening such as a door or window. Lintels made of angle iron
are used to support brick or block over doors or windows.
- a load that
is imposed on a building due to the use of the building. A person
walking across a floor is an example of a live load.
- the forces that
are impose on a structure or structural member. For example, a
ridge beam supports the load of the rafters and other materials
that sit on top of it. It also supports the wind and snow loads.
see dimensional lumber
any house that is assembled off site and then transported to the
building lot. Manufactured housing construction isn't required
to follow the international building code.
composed of small units called bricks or blocks which are made
from stone clay, concrete, tile and so forth. Units are held together
by cement mortar mixture.
- an adhesive
use to attach ceramic tile to smooth wall surfaces.
- medium density
fiberboard; is a board made of wood fiber and glue. MDF is often
used for moldings, casing, finish trim and cabinets. MDF will
not split or crack easily.
- a joint
made of by cutting two piece of material at equal angles, usually
both are cut at 45° angle.
concrete pour where the concrete is cast in a single pour, thus
it contains no joints. A monolithic pour is often used when pouring
footings and foundations, thereby saving time and money.
- truss that
has only one sloping angle. Often one end of the truss is set
on an interior bearing wall and the tail end sets on an exterior
- wood or mdf
strip used for decorative purpose. Crown molding and chair rail
are two common types of molding.
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