Glossary of Terms

Acoustics

Science dealing with the production, control, transmission, reception and effects of sound, and the process of hearing.

Aggregate

Sand, gravel, crushed stone or other material that is a main constituent of Portland Cement, concrete and aggregated gypsum plaster. Also, polystyrene, perlite and vermiculite particles used in texture finishes.

Air Space

The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings. Normally a 1" air gap.

Amortization

A payment plan by which a loan is reduced through monthly payments of principal and interest.


Amortization Period

he Amortization Period is the actual number of years it will take to repay a mortgage in full. This period can be longer than the loan's term.

Anchor

Metal securing device embedded or driven into masonry, concrete, steel or wood.

Anchor Bolt

Heavy, threaded bolt embedded in the foundation to secure sill to foundation wall or bottom plate of exterior wall to concrete floor slab.

Annual Percentage Rate

Also known as APR: Annual cost of credit over the life of a loan, including interest, service charges, points, loan fees, mortgage insurance, and other items.


Apron

A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill.

Architect

One who has completed a course of study in building and design, and is licensed by the state as an architect. One who draws up plans.

Area Separation Wall

Residential fire walls, usually with a 2- to 4-hour rating, designed to prevent spread of fire from an adjoining occupancy; extends from foundation to or through the roof. Identified by codes as either "fire wall", "party wall" or "townhouse separation wall."

Assessment

A tax levied on a property, or a value placed on the worth of a property.


Assumption

Allows a buyer to assume responsibility for an existing loan instead of getting a new loan.

Astragal

A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.

Attic Access

An opening that is placed in the drywalled ceiling of a home providing access to the attic.

Back Blocking

A short piece of gypsum board adhesively laminated behind the joints between each framing member to reinforce the joint.


Back Charge

Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed.

Backfill

The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement foundation wall.

Backing

Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars.

Balloon

A loan that has a series of monthly payments with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment at the end.


Balusters

Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads.

Balustrade

The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.

Bar Joist

Open-web, flat truss structural member used to support floor or roof structure. Web section is made from bar or rod stock, and chords are usually fabricated from "T" or angle sections.

Barge

Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.


Base Shoe

Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.

Baseboard

A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.

Batten

Narrow strip of wood, plastic, metal or gypsum board used to conceal an open joint.

Beam

Load-bearing member spanning a distance between supports.


Bearing Wall

A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

Bedrock

A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.

Bifold Door

Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.

Binder

A receipt for a deposit to secure the right to purchase a home at an agreed terms by a buyer and seller.


Bipass Doors

Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.

Blocking

Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.

Blue Print

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.

Bridging

Support area upon which something rests, such as the point on bearing walls where the weight of the floor joist or roof rafter bears.


Building Codes

Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.

Butt Joint

The junction where the ends of two timbers meet, and also where sheets of drywall meet on the 4 foot edge. To place materials end-to-end or end-to-edge without overlapping.

Cantilever

An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall.

Cap

The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.


Cap Flashing

The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Capital

The principal part of a loan, i.e. the original amount borrowed.

Casement

Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash. May be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.

Caulking

A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces e.g. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls.


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.

Change Order

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

Closing

A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.

Cold Air Return

The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room air back to the furnace for re-heating.


Column

A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.

Condensation

Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a building.

Condensation

Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a building.

Contractor

A company licensed to perform certain types of construction activities.


Contractor

A company licensed to perform certain types of construction activities.

Convection

Currents created by heating air, which then rises and pulls cooler air behind it.

Conventional Loan

A mortgage loan not insured by a government/regulatory agency

Convertibility

The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate schedule to a fixed rate schedule.


Corner Bead

A strip of formed sheet metal placed on outside corners of drywall before applying drywall mud.

Corner Boards

Used as trim for the external corners of a house or other frame structure against which the ends of the siding are finished.

Credit Rating

A report ordered by a lender from a credit agency to determine a borrower's credit habits.

Crown Molding

A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.


Damper

A metal door placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Damp-Proofing

The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall.

Dedicated Circuit

An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance (ie, dishwasher) or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.

Default

Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).


De-humidistat

A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.

Discount Rate

A mortgage interest rate that is lower than the current rate for a certain period of time.

Door Jamb

The surrounding case into which and out of which a door closes and opens.

Down Payment

The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount. A downpayment is usually paid at closing.


Downspout

A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof's horizontal gutters.

Ducts

Usually round or rectangular metal pipes installed for distributing warm (or cold) air from the furnace to rooms in the home.

Easement

A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.

Egress

A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4' X 4' window is the minimum size required.


Elbow

A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.

Electrical Rough

Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation) by the Electrical Contractor.

Electrical Rough

Work performed by the Electrical Contractor after the plumber and heating contractor are complete with their phase of work. Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation).

Equity

The "valuation" that you own in your home, i.e. the property value less the mortgage loan outstanding.


Escrow

The handling of funds or documents by a third party on behalf of the buyer and/or seller.

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.

Estimating

The process of calculating the cost of a project.

Expansion Joint

Fibrous material installed in and around a concrete slab to permit it to move up and down (seasonally) along the non-moving foundation wall.


Exposed Aggregate

A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture off the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel.

Extras

Additional work requested of a contractor, not included in the original plan, which will be billed separately and will not alter the original contract amount, but increase the cost of building the home.

Fascia

Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables.

Felt

Tar paper installed under the roof shingles.


Fixed Rate

A loan where the initial payments are based on a certain interest rate for a stated period. The rate payable will not change during this period regardless of changes in the lender's standard variable rate.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage with an interest rate that remains the same over the years.

Flashing

Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.

Flatwork

Common word for concrete floors, driveways, basements, and sidewalks.


Floating Wall

A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down.

Floating Wall

A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down. Normally built on basements and garage slabs.

Flue

Large pipe through which fumes escape from a gas water heater, furnace, or fireplace.

Fluorescent Lighting

A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphur coating on the inside.


Footing

Thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.

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.

Form

Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.

Foundation

The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.


Frame Inspection

The act of inspecting the home's structural integrity and its compliance to local municipal codes.

Framer

The carpenter contractor that installs the lumber and erects the frame, flooring system, interior walls, backing, trusses, rafters, decking, installs all beams, stairs, soffits and all work related to the wood structure of the home.

Gable

The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.

Grade

Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also the work of leveling dirt.


Grade Beam

A foundation wall that is poured at level with or just below the grade of the earth.

Grout

A wet mixture of cement, sand and water that flows into masonry or ceramic crevices to seal the cracks between the different pieces.

GST Rebate

A rebate given to the purchaser for a portion of the GST they pay on the purchase price or cost of building a new home. Conditions apply.

Gutter

A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and along the (fascia) eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.


H V A C

An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

Header

A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed inframing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening.

Humidifier

An appliance normally attached to the furnace, or portable unit device designed to increase the humidity within a room or a house by means of the discharge of water vapor.

I-Beam

A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter I, used for long spans.


Insulating Glass

Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between.

Insulation

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

Interest Rate

The amount paid on the money borrowed. It is represented as an annual percentage rate applicable to the mortgage. It is the annual percentage amount charged in return for borrowing funds.

Interior Finish

Material used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings.


Joist

Wooden boards that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling.

Joist Hanger

A metal "U" shaped item used to support the end of a floor joist and attached with hardened nails to another bearing joist or beam.

Landing

A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs.

Lattice

An open framework of criss-crossed wood or metal strips that form regular, patterned spaces.


Lien

An encumbrance that usually makes real or personal property the security for payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation.

Lintel

A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

Load Bearing Wall

Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder.

Loan

The amount to be borrowed.


Mantel

The shelf above a fireplace opening.

Masonry

Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials.

Molding

A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface.

Monopost

Adjustable metal column used to support a beam or bearing point.


Mortgage

A loan secured by land.

Mortgage Amount

The amount initially borrowed (in total) from a financial institution or lender. When purchasing a new home, the mortgage amount is often the balance of the total price of the new home minus any down-payment you make prior to acquiring the mortgage.

Mortgage Broker

A broker who represents numerous lenders and helps consumers find affordable mortgages; the broker charges a fee only if the consumer finds a loan.

Mortgage Company

A company that borrows money from a bank, lends it to consumers to buy homes, then sells the loans to investors.


Mortgage Deed

Legal document establishing a loan on property.

Mortgage Rate

A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4' X 4' window is the minimum size required.

Mortgage Term

The length of time a lender will lend mortgage funds to a borrower. Most mortgage terms run from six months to five years. After this period, the borrower can either repay the balance, or renew the mortgage for another term.

Mortgagee

The lender who makes the mortgage loan.


Non-Bearing Wall

A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

Nosing

The projecting edge of a molding or drip or the front edge of a stair tread.

Overhang

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

Parapet

A wall placed at the edge of a roof to prevent people from falling off.


Partition

A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.

Payment Frequency

How often a payment is made on a mortgage (ie: monthly frequency = 12 payments per year).

Payment Schedule

A pre-agreed upon schedule of payments to a contractor sually based upon the amount of work completed.

Permit

A governmental municipal authorization to perform a building process.


Plot Plan

An overhead view plan that shows the location of the home on the lot. Includes all easements, property lines, set backs, and legal descriptions of the home.

Post

A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam.

Principal

The original amount of the loan, the capital.

Rebar

Ribbed steel bars installed in foundation concrete walls, footers, and poured in place concrete structures designed to strengthen concrete.


Receptacle

An electrical outlet.

Relief Valve

A device designed to open if it detects excess temperature or pressure.

Retaining Wall

A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.

Riser

Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.


Roughing-in

The initial stage of a plumbing, electrical, heating, carpentry, and/or other project, when all components that won't be seen after the second finishing phase are assembled.

Scratch Coat

The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for a second coat.

Scribing

Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.

Sealer

A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over raw wood for the purpose of sealing the wood surface.


Settlement

Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles underground.

Shake

A wood roofing material, normally cedar or redwood.

Shingles

Roof covering of asphalt, wood, tile, slate, or other material.

Shutter

Usually lightweight louvered decorative frames in the form of doors located on the sides of a window.


Siding

The finished exterior covering of the outside walls of a frame building.

Slab

Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways, garages, and basement floors.

Soffit

The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls.

Spec Home

A house built before it is sold.


Specifications

A narrative list of materials, methods, model numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information contained in the blue prints.

Subfloor

The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate, floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.

Sump

Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside the home designed to collect ground water from a perimeter drain system.

Sump Pump

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


Taping

The process of covering drywall joints with paper tape and joint compound.

Thermostat

A device which relegates the temperature of a room or building by switching heating or cooling equipment on or off.

Threshold

The bottom metal or wood plate of an exterior door frame. Generally they are adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.

Title

Evidence (usually in the form of a certificate or deed) of a person's legal right to ownership of a property.


Toe-Nailing

To drive a nail in at a slant. Method used to secure floor joists to the plate.

Trap

A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and vermin from backing up into a fixture.

Trim

The finish materials in a building, such as moldings applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, cornice, and other moldings).

Truss

An engineered and manufactured roof support member.


Undercoat

A coating applied prior to the finishing or top coats of a paint job.

Utility Easement

The area of the earth that has electric, gas, or telephone lines.

Valuation

An inspection carried out for the benefit of the mortgage lender to ascertain if a property is a good security for a loan.

Vapor Barrier

A building product installed on exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them.


Variable Rate

An interest rate that will vary over the term of the loan.

Veneer

Extremely thin sheets of wood. Also a thin slice of wood or brick or stone covering a framed wall.

Vent

A pipe or duct which allows the flow of air and gasses to the outside.

Walk-Through

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


Weatherstrip

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

Weeping Tile

A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom of the foundation wall and used to drain excess water away from the foundation.

Zoning

A governmental process and specification which limits the use of a property.