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.
platform structure that workers use to reach high places.
- the first
coat of stucco plaster that is scratched with a rake which helps
subsequent coats to bond.
- The process
of leveling concrete especially in concrete flatwork. A straight
edge (usually a straight 2 x 4) is drawn back and forth across
concrete forms to make the surface flat and level.
- a liquid coating
that is applied to an permeable surface such as wood or masonry
to seal out moisture.
- a view
used in architectural plans where a cross-section of a object
or structure is shown.
- a system
created to facilitate the dispersal of sewage. Usually, the raw
sewage flows to a holding tank where it decomposes and then is
deposited into a field using perforated pipes.
electrical box on the exterior of the house where the electrical
supply enters the house. modern service panels have a meter base,
and a shutoff breaker.
- see breaker panel.
pipe that connects the house waste line to the city sewer, or
- a structural
wall design to resist lateral forces. Shear walls are designed
to resist lateral forces commonly caused by earthquakes.
and OSB panels which are used to cover the exterior (roof and
exterior walls). The panels are 4' x 8' and 7/16" to 3/4"
- finish material
that cover the outside of a framed building. Siding can be made
from many materials, however, wood, plastic, steel and aluminum
- the wood
member that connects directly to the foundation to which the floor
is connected. The sill plate is made of treated lumber or redwood.
- a flat piece
of concrete such as a driveway or floor.
- a measurement
of the fluidity of concrete. A slump test helps to determine the
strength of the concrete before it has hardened.
- the under side
of the roof that extends past the exterior walls.
placed in the soffit which facilitate attic venting.
- a vertical
line of piping that extends through one or more floors which is
used to drain water closets, urinals and similar fixtures.
- the horizontal
distance between bearing points. Trusses, beams and joists are
used to span between to bearing points (supports).
- an abbreviated
word which means "specifications".
- 100 square
feet. Sales unit used when referring to shingles and sometimes
siding. For example, "the roof requires 20 squares of shingles"
(2000 square feet).
- Is the
unit that area is measured in residential construction. 12"
x 12" equals one square foot.
- a generic term
which describes a vertical waste line (plumbing).
- a vertical
pipe which extends from a soil or waste stack and usually penetrates
the roof. It vents sewer gases and provides air circulation in
the plumbing system.
- a vertical
waste pipe used for the washing machine drain.
- a small
inexpensive home market to first-time homebuyers.
- a short
foundation wall used when building a crawlspace foundation. Generally
the wall is 24 - 48" tall.
a roof framed by individual pieces not using manufactured roof
trusses. Most roof built before the 1950's were stick built.
of the stairs which consists of two or three parallel members
to which are attached treads and risers.
- a structural
framing member used to make structural and partition walls.
- the sheathing
or material that is attached to the floor joists on which the
finish floor laid. 3/4" plywood or OSB are commonly used
- a small cistern
used to collect water which collects around the footings or foundation.
- a pump that
is placed in the sump to remove the water.
which is made to resist shattering. Building codes require tempered
glass be installed next to doors, in showers and areas near the
electrical switch that is used to activated a fixture from two
- a thin rectangular
unit used to cover floors walls and roofs. Tiles are usually made
from cement or fired clay.
- lumber that
is 5" x 5" or greater in width and thickness.
- the nailing
of boards by driving a nail in at an angle to the surface.
boards that are milled to have a tongue on one side and a groove
or slot on the other, so that pieces will fit together snugly.
- a powered
excavation machine with a large boom mounted bucket. Track hoes
are used for medium to large excavation jobs.
- an optical
instrument used by surveyors to measure and layout horizontal
and vertical lines. Contractors us a transit-level to ensure that
footings and foundation are perfectly level. See also laser-level.
- the horizontal
step surface of a staircase.
that has been treated with chemicals to withstand moisture and
a footing which is formed by digging a trench in the soil. The
vertical walls of the trench serve as the forms.
a foundation formed by digging a trench. The vertical walls of
the trench serve as the foundation wall forms.
- the short
stud located on each side of a door or window opening, which support
a custom hand finish used when texturing drywall plaster, stucco
- engineered structural
component used to form the roof or floor of a structure. The materials
are connected in a triangle pattern with metal fasteners called
- a paint
scheme consisting of two complementary colors. An example of a
two-tone paint job is where the walls and ceiling are painted
in one color and the trim work another.
panels laid on the floor to provide a smooth surface to attach
- a fitting designed
to connect two pipes without turning either pipe.
rating. It is the inverse of R-value. The lower the u-value the
better insulating capacity. Windows are often rated in U-value.
material used to stop the flow of moisture from the ground into
with a thin veneer laminated to one or both. Used extensively
in cabinet construction.
- a vertical
plumbing pipe system designed to vent noxious gases and prevent
siphonage from traps.
- a tool used
to consolidate concrete. Vibration consolidates concrete, removing
air pockets and dead spaces.
made from wood wafer pieces. Has replaced plywood in many residential
- a covering
on the lower part of the wall that is different than the rest
of the wall. The wainscot is typically about three feet high.
Tongue and groove wood is a popular wainscot covering.
the pipe that runs from the potable water supply to the house.
The pipe is usually made of copper, or plastic.
- the distance
from the earths surface to where water accumulates in the ground.
wire mesh that is used in concrete slabs for reinforcement.
wall made of corrugated metal that retains dirt around a basement
triangle that if formed by the traffic pattern between the range,
refrigerator, and sink.
- a set or pair
of cross braces.
- a plumbing
pipe fitting that is the shape of a "Y". One arm intersects
the main fitting usually at a 45° angle.
- in heating, an
area that is controlled independently from another.
- the process
of dividing a community or area by building type and land use.
For example, most cities are divided into residential, commercial
and industrial zones.
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