Building Terminology

Here are a few terms frequently used when designing and building a new custom home.


A method of spanning an opening, usually a curved or pointed structural member; however, there are many different types.




The raised lip on the back edge of a countertop to prevent water from running down the backs of the cabinets.



Board and Batten

Vertical siding where wood strips (battens) hide the seams where other boards are joined.



Can Lighting (aka Recessed Lighting)

A flush mounted ceiling light in which the fixture is recessed and the only part visible is the bulb and trim ring.



Casement Window

A window that is hinged at one side so the opposite side opens outward.




Door and window framing.



Chair Rail

Wooden molding on a wall around a room at the level of a chair back.


Collar Tie

A horizontal piece of lumber that connects rafters opposite each other and prevents them from spreading apart.



Crown Molding

A molding where the wall and ceiling meet, uppermost molding on cabinetry.




The projecting frame of a recess in a sloping roof.



Double-Acting Door

A door hinged that swings both inward and outward.



Double-Hung Windows

Windows with an upperand lower sash, each supported by cords and weights.



Dry Wall

A wall surface of plasterboard or material other than plaster.




A right of access to a property. There are several types of easements. A drainage easement is for storm water runoff and allows the developer access to create a slope in the ditch on the edge of your property. A utility easement is for the water, phone, sewer, & electric company to be able to install or repair their lines. Most easements run along the side or rear lot lines.




Lower parts of walls on which the structure is built. Foundation walls of masonry or concrete are mainly below ground level.




The rough lumber of a house-joists, studs, rafters, and beams.




The triangular part of a wall under the inverted "v" of the roof line.



Heated Square Feet

The square feet of a building that is climate controlled as opposed to square feet under roof which includes garage and porches.



Hip Roof

A roof that slants upward on three or four sides



Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning.



Low E Glass

Low E stands for “low emissivity,” a microscopic metallic coating on glass that helps keep your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.



LP TechShield Radiant Barrier

LP® TechShield® Radiant Barrier Sheathing helps block radiant heat from entering the attic. The result: LP TechShield can reduce monthly air conditioning costs up to 17%. It installs just like regular roof sheathing, with no additional labor costs. And unlike other radiant barriers, LP TechShield features VaporVents™ technology, which helps the panel dry quickly if it’s exposed to moisture during the construction process.



OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

An engineered wood product formed by layering strands (flakes) of wood in specific orientations. In appearance, it may have a rough and variegated surface with the individual strips of around 2.5 x 15 cm / 1 x 6 inch, lying unevenly across each other.




The projecting area of a roof or upper story beyond the wall of the lower part.



Pedestal Sink

A bathroom sink with a china bowl hung on the wall and supported by a china pedestal.




A drawing of surveyed land indicating the location, boundaries, and dimensions of the parcel. The recorded plat, usually sent to an appropriate governmental office or the county recorders office, also contains information as to easements, restrictions, and lot number.



Plot Plan or Site Plan

This is a drawing of your lot that has the area in which your house plan must fit. Some house plans may not fit on your lot. This drawing will include the house plan and driveway laid out within the setbacks, outlined by the architectural review committee, onto the survey of your lot.



Powder Room

A trade term referring to a room containing a toilet and a lavatory, without a bathtub or shower.



Punch List

A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the contractor.



Quarter Round

A small molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.




Handcut wood shingles.




Sheets, usually of plywood, which are nailed to the top edges of trusses or rafters to tie the roof together and support the roofing material.




Thin tapered piece of wood used for leveling or tightening a stair or other building element.




Pieces of wood, asbestos or other material used as an overlapping outer covering on walls or roofs.




The visible underwide of structural members such as staircases, cornices, beams, a roof overhang or eave.




A wood member which binds a pair of principal rafters at the bottom.



Transom Window

A narrow horizontal window above a door or window, named for the cross bar on which it rests.




The horizontal part of a stair step.



Trey Ceiling

A decorative ceiling treatment used to add volume and/or height to a room. 2 Common types are: 1) Angled area toward the center leading to a flat ceiling surface, and 2) Stepped square edged leading toward the center of the ceiling.




A combination of structural members usually arranged in triangular units to form a rigid framework for spanning between load-bearing walls.




Vaulted Ceiling

A ceiling that slopes up to a peak.



Ventilated Shelving

Ventilated shelving refers to wire shelving coated with epoxy or vinyl, typically white, that supports lighter items such as linens, towels and folded clothing and allows the textiles to breathe. Wide-mesh ventilated shelving works well in clothes closets, and you can install heavy-duty, narrow-mesh shelving to store weighty boxes and cans in the garage or pantry. 



Vinyl Siding

Durable, low maintenance type of exterior siding. Vinyl siding is available in a number of colors and does not require painting.




The lower three or four feet of an interior wall when lined with paneling, tile or other material different from the rest of the wall.




A final inspection of a home before "closing" to look for and document problems that need to be corrected.




The division of a city or county by legislative regulations into areas (zones), specifying the uses allowable for the real property in these areas.




An abbreviation for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It is the most commonly used measure of the efficiency of consumer central air conditioning systems. The "14"model surpasses stringent government standards, saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

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