The following terms and definitions are generic in nature and provided for general information only. They should not be understood as being complete nor definitive definitions.

A/C An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.

Appraisal – An expert valuation of property.

Attic access - An opening that is placed in the dry walled ceiling or knee wall of a home providing access to the attic.

Attic Ventilators In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space typically located on the gable wall ends of roof or on roof surface.

Blown insulation - Fiber insulation or loose cellulose material in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.

Blueprint(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. 'Blue' refers to the colour of the plans. Plans are typically black and white today.

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.

Casing - Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.

Caulking - (1) A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces, eg. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls. (2) To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.

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. Portland cement. Also, any adhesive.

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 floors.

Change order - A written document which modifies the plans, specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.

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 (normally 15″ or 18″ in diameter) that is installed beneath a driveway and parallel to and near the street. A culvert allows for continuous uninterrupted flow of water in a ditch.

Dormer - An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings. Can be functional or false.

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.

Drywall (Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheetrock, Plasterboard) Wall board or gypsum- A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin layer of cardboard. Usually 1/2″ thick and 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 12′ in size. The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a joint compound. Greenboard-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 to and from the furnace to rooms in the home.

Eaves - The horizontal exterior roof overhang.

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.

Fascia - Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Typically covered with aluminum cladding. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.

Forced air heating - A common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal ducts to various areas of the house.

Framing - Lumber used for the structural members of a building, eg. studs, joists and rafters.

Frost line - The depth of frost penetration in soil and/or the depth at which the earth will freeze and swell. This depth varies in different parts of the country.

Gable Beneath the roof, the end, upper, triangular area of a home.

Grade Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. The work of leveling dirt. The designated quality of a manufactured piece of wood.

Grout - A wet mixture of cement, sand and water that flows into masonry or ceramic crevices to seal the cracks between the different pieces. Mortar made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into the joints and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.

Hose bib An exterior water faucet (sill cock).

I-beam- A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter

I. – It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings, such as a double garage door, when wall and roof loads bear down on the opening.

I-joist - Manufactured structural building component resembling the letter 'I'. Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two key parts:

The flange of the I-joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1.5” width.

The web or center of the I-joist is commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I-joists are available in lengths up to 60 feet long.

Insulation Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling or floors of a structure will reduce the rate of heat flow.

Joist - Wooden 2x8′s, 10′s or 12′s that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls.

Masonry - Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.

Overhang - Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof. The part of the roof that hangs out or over the outside wall.

Permit A governmental municipal authorization to perform a building process as in:

  • Zoning/Use permit - authorization to use a property for a specific use, eg. garage, single family residence, etc.
  • Demolition permit – authorization to tear down and remove an existing structure.
  • Grading permit – authorization to change the contour of the land.
  • Septic permit – health department authorization to build or modify a septic system.
  • Building permit – authorization to build or modify a structure.
  • Electrical permit – separate permit required for most electrical work.
  • Plumbing permit – separate permit required for new plumbing and larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.

Septic system An on-site waste water treatment system. It usually consists of a septic tank which promotes the biological digestion of the waste and a drain field which is designed to let the leftover liquid soak into the ground. Septic systems and permits are usually sized by the number of bedrooms in a house.

Service entrance panel - Main power cabinet where electricity enters a home wiring system.

Shingles, roofing - Roof covering of asphalt, wood, tile, slate or other material cut to stock lengths, widths and thicknesses.

Shingles, siding - Various kinds of shingles used over sheathing for exterior wall covering of a structure.

Sump pump - A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess ground water to the outside of the home.

Weatherstrip - Narrow sections of thin metal or other material installed to prevent the infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.