Glossary of Terms


A plot of land consisting of 43,560 sqft.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM):

A mortgage loan in which the interest rate changes throughout the life of a loan as an index changes with the market.


A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items, which have not been selected and specified in the construction contract. This is typically used in custom home building.


The method of paying down the principal of a loan over a period of time. In a traditional 30 year loan the amount of the loan is repaid, or amortized, with payments that also include interest over 30 years.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR):

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


An expert valuation of property.


A curved structure that will support itself and the weight above its curved opening by mutual pressure.

Asphalt Singles:

Composition roof shingles made from asphalt impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.

Attic Access:

An opening that is placed in the dry walled ceiling of a home providing access to the attic. Sometimes found in halls, closets or garages.

Attic Ventilators:

In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space. They are located in the soffit area as inlet ventilators and in the gable end or along the ridge as outlet ventilators.


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


A deck projecting from the wall of a building above ground level.


Usually small vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and the stair treads or a bottom rail.


The finish board covering the interior wall where the wall and the floor meet.


A roll or sheet of insulation designed to be installed between members of frame construction.


A structural member transversely supporting a load.


A projecting structure supported on one end, such as a balcony.


Molding of various widths and thickness used to trim door and window openings at the jambs.


A waterproof material used to seal cracks.

Central Air Conditioning:

A system, which uses ducts to distribute cooling and/or dehumidified air to more than one room or uses, pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and which is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet.

Central Heating:

A system by which the heat from a single source is distributed with ducts.


A slot or continuous groove built in a masonry or frame wall to accommodate ducts, pipes, or conduits.


Two or more wires through which electrical power flows from the distribution panel to one or more outlets or fixtures, then back.

Circuit Breaker:

A safety device that breaks the flow of electrical current whenever a circuit becomes overloaded.

Coffered Ceiling:

A ceiling with recessed square panels, bordered with trim for ornamental purposes.


In architecture: A perpendicular supporting member, circular or rectangular in section, usually consisting of a base, shaft, and capital. In engineering: A vertical structural compression member which supports loads acting in the direction of its longitudinal axis.


In a building: Beads or drops of water (and frequently frost in extremely cold weather) that accumulate on the inside of the exterior covering of a building when warm, moisture-laden air from the interior reaches a point where the temperature no longer permits the air to sustain the moisture it holds. Use of louvers or attic ventilators will reduce moisture condensation in attics. A vapor barrier under the gypsum lath or dry wall on exposed walls will reduce condensation in them.

Construction Loan:

A short-term loan taken for the expressed purpose of building. Installment payments are made and when the building is complete, the loan is usually replaced by a longer-term mortgage.


An agreement between a seller and purchaser. The title is withheld from the purchaser until all required payments to the seller have been completed.


Refers to the transfer of heat by moving fluid (liquids and gases).

Crown Molding:

A decorative molding used at the top of cabinets, at ceiling corners, and under a roof overhang.


A street or court with no outlet, which provides a circular turn around for vehicles.


A movable plate, which regulates the draft of a stove, fireplace, or furnace.


Actually, any one of many conveyancing or financing instruments, but generally a conveyancing instrument, given to pass fee title to property upon sale.


Two vertical pieces held together by a head jamb forming the inside lining of a door opening.


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

Double Hung:

A window having two sashes that slide up and down

Dry Wall:

Interior covering material, such as gypsum board or plywood, which is applied in large sheets or panels


In a house, usually round or rectangular metal pipes for distributing warm air from the heating plant to rooms, or air from a conditioning device or as cold air returns. Ducts are also made of composition materials.

Earnest Money:

A partial payment made as part of the purchase price to bind a contract for property.


The exterior view of a home design that shows the position of the house relative to the grade of the land.


The market value less any loans against a property.


An agreement in which the parties deposit money and/or legal documents with a third party who handles the transaction.

Expansion Joint:

A bituminous fiber strip used to separate blocks or units of concrete to prevent cracking due to expansion as a result of temperature changes.


A flat board, band, or face, used sometimes by itself but usually in combination with moldings, often located at the outer face of the cornice.

Fire Stop:

A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs.


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


A masonry section, usually concrete, in a rectangular form wider than the bottom of the foundation wall or pier it supports.


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


The use of wood strips (or other materials) as a method of finishing the interior face of masonry wall. Furring provides a space for insulation, helps prevent moisture transmission, and provides a level surface for paneling or other surface finishing treatment.


The portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.


The surface of the ground around a building.


A plaster-like material used to seal between ceramic and other tile in kitchens, showers, and baths.


A channel along the fascia to direct rainwater to a downspout.


Wood produced from broad-leaved trees or trees that lose their leaves. Examples include oak, maple, walnut, and birch.

Hip Roof:

A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.


Materials for obstructing the passage of sound, heat, or cold from one surface to another.


The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.


A horizontal structural member, which supports the floor or ceiling system.

Kick Plate:

A metal, wood or plastic strip, placed at the lower edge of a door or on a riser of a step to protect it from damage by accidental kicking.

Knee Wall:

A low wall resulting from one-and-one-half-story construction.


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

Lap Siding:

Slightly wedge-shaped boards used as horizontal siding in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing. Varies in butt thickness from ½ to ¾ inch and in widths up to 12".

Load Bearing Wall:

Includes all exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder. Normally, any wall that has a double horizontal top plate.


A measured amount of property (land) having fixed boundaries.


An opening with a series of horizontal slats so an ranged as to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, sun. light, or vision. See also Attic ventilators.


The principle water pipe from which other pipes branch


The shelf above a fireplace, also used in referring or the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.

Monolithic Slab:

A slab foundation that is part of the footings.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS):

A real estate brokerage service organized by local brokers to share real estate listed for sale.

Newell Post:

A post supporting the handrail at the top or bottom of a stairway.

Nonbearing Wall:

A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.


The rounded edge of a stair treads.


Any type of electrical box allowing current to be drawn from the electrical system for lighting or appliances.


The slope of a roof usually expressed as a ratio.

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. Provided by the surveyor.

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


The top edge of the roof where two slopes meet.

Ridge Vent:

A vent mounted along the entire ridge line of the roof to allow the passage of air through the attic or cathedral ceiling.


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


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



Roofing or siding shingles made from split wood. Also, Vinyl Shakes: copy product of Shakes made out of vinyl


The structural covering, usually wood boards or plywood, used over studs or rafters of a structure. Structural building board is normally used only as wall sheathing.

Shed Roof:

A flat roof, slanting in one direction.

Shoe Mold:

The small mold against the baseboard at the floor.

Short Circuit:

An improper connection of a hot wire with another hot wire or neutral.

Square Footage, Licing:

The square footage in a home that is heated and/or cooled. The space occupied by two-story rooms and stairwells is counted once in the lower floor's square footage. Living square footage does not include garages, bonus rooms, or porches unless otherwise noted.


Any material, usually plywood, nailed directly to floor joists. The finish floor is attached over the sub-floor.

Termite Shield:

A shield, usually of non-erodible metal, placed in or on a foundation wall or other mass of masonry or around pipes to prevent passage of termites.


Usually refers to site characteristics such as contour of the land, trees, or other natural features.

Tray 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.


The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.


Structural members arranged and fastened in triangular units to form a ridge framework for support of loads over a long span.


A material placed under finish coverings, such as flooring or shingles, to provide a smooth, even surface for applying the finish.


Creates a positive flow of air that allows the house to "breathe" and helps prevent moisture build-up year-round.


Surfacing on the lower part of an interior wall when finished differently from the remainder of the wall.

Walk Through:

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


Narrower or jamb-width sections of thin metal or other material to prevent infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors. Compression weather stripping prevents air infiltration, provides tension, and acts as a counter balance.


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