The Association of Construction Inspectors has published [this] glossary of construction terms for the association members, identifying terms which are special or unique to their industry.

"It is the long term intent of [this] document to help unify construction terms important and unique to this industry."


It is Gateway Home Inspection's goal to alleviate, mitigate, and erradicate any barriers, such as communication and terminology, between the home owner and contractor.

There was some effort to use the most common definition placed forward by ISA, AIA, and CSI.


The principles followed in this glossary were to, first include meanings that are important to construction inspection in the banking and finance industry, second to include special terms related to the construction industry.

Standard dictionary terms which are self explanatory were excluded. The failure of a term to be included does not imply that the term has less value or importance.

Lastly, it is our hope that the members and page users alike will participate with [this] glossary of terms to help correct terms they feel are missing or insufficiently define.


Anchor Bolt: A bolt used to attach steel or wood members to concrete.

Apron: Window trim or molding placed below the stool to finish the joint formed by the wall and the window frame opening.

Armored Cable: Rubber-insulated electrical wires which are encased in a flexible steel covering. See also Conduit

Asbestos: A fibrous mineral which has heat resistive qualities; used to make asbestos-cement shingles and other materials for fire resistance.

Ash Dump: A trap door accompanied by a shoot and cleanout area used to remove soot and ash from the fire box.

Asphalt: A substance containing tar like materials found naturally and as a result of petroleum refinement; used in construction for many different waterproofing requirements. While not affected by water, asphalt can be dissolved in gasoline or other organic solvents, melts when heated, and decomposes under direct UV light.

Asphalt Shingles: Shingles which have asphalt as their base, in combination with other materials.

Balloon Frame: A type of wood frame construction in which the exterior wall studs run continuously from the sill plate to the roof.

Baluster: The verticle support for a stair railing, usually a number of spindles extending form theTread to the rail or from a bottom rail to a top rail.

Barge Board: An ornamental board sometimes covering the fly rafters of a gable roof. With a cornice, it is the facia board. May also be called verge board.

Base or Baseboard: A narrow board or member placed at the juncture of the floor and wall to cover the joint.

Base Cap: A strip of wood or other molding used to finish the upper edge of the baseboard.

Base Shoe: A trim piece of wood or other material used at the bottom of the baseboard.

Batten: Narrow strip of wood which may be used functionally to cover joints or as a decorative piece, applied vertically over boards.

Beam: Any member placed to support a load. Also called a girder.

Belt: A strip of siding used to join two adjacent contoures.

Bevel Siding: Wood siding which is tapered on one edge to overlap the untapered edge of the next course of siding. Also called clapboard siding.

Blinds: Narrow flat strips of material used to shade light or vision from windows or doorways.

Book Shelves: A good place to put books or small trophies.

Boiler or Furnace: Methods used to condition the ambient house air during cold periods.

Boston Ridge: A method of finishing a roof at the ridge or hips. Asphalt shingles are folded over the ridge and lapped over each other 5 to 6 inches for double coverage. Wood shingles are alternately lapped and blind-nailed.

Brace: A slanted support of framing lumber used to stiffen the structure at specific points.

Brick Veneer: A single layer of brick used as a flush on frame construction, as opposed to a solid brick wall.

Bridging: A form of bracing in which short wood or metal strips placed between joists to provide additional support and distribute the weight of the structure more evenly over the floor system. Sometimes called struts

Buck: One of the side frames of a door; equivalent to the side jamb.

Building Paper: Paper which has been siezed with rosin or saturated with asphalt for water-resistance. It is not waterproof. May be used between sheathing and finish converings, between floors and subfloors, and at rough openings such as window and doors.

Built-Up-Roof: Roof covering built up in layers of asphalt felt, each mopped with hot tar or asphalt. A final layer of gravel mixed with pitch may finish the roof.

Bundle: One third of a square of shingles. Actual count varies by type of shingle.

Butt Joint: A square cut joint where two members meet. The place where any two pieces of material meet.

Cap Plate: Horizontal lumber nailed to the vertical studding in wall framing. Also called a top plate.

Cased Opening: An opening (door or window) in which the unit framing is supported within the structural framing to allow for differential load (weight) deflection and distribution.

Casing: Molding used to finish the top and sides of windows and doors where they fit within the frame.

CCI: Certified Construction Inspector.

CCRA: Certified Commercial Real Estate Appraiser.

CEI: Certified Environmental Inspector.

Cement: A building material which, when mixed with water and other materials, hardens and becomes a binding agent. May refer to mortar, Portland cement, plaster of Paris (gypsum), and others.

Ceramic Tile: A finish tile made by firing a nonmetallic mineral at high temperatures.

CER: Certified Environmental Reviewer.

CES: Certified Environmental Specialist.

Chair Rail: A wood finish molding used at chair back height around the walls of a dining room to protect the walls. It is generally considered to be more decorative rather than functional.

>Chip Board: A building baord made from wood chips bound with resin glue. May be used as sheeting or for other non-structural purposes.

Chimney Cap: The weatherproof top of the chimney ventilation structer

Chimney Post: The main poriton, or trunk of the chimney designed to lift fumes from the fire box, up and out of the living space via gas gravity (passive ventilation).

Chord: The bottom horizontal member of a truss

Cinder Fill: Backfill used to fill spaces next to the foundation after it has been poured.

Clapboard: A board installed horizontally as the exterior wall covering of a building. Also called bevel siding.

Cleanout Door: Provides cleaning access for removing fire box debris after it has been discarded through the ash dump.

Collar Beam: A horizontal beam nailed to each of two opposing rafters to provide support to the rafters.

Common Rafter: Each of the pairs of full sized rafters used to frame a roof.

Composition Board: A building board made into sheets by compressing shredded wood chips with a binder. Also called hardboard.

Concrete: A mixture of cement, sand, and an aggregate such as crushed stone or gravel, with water.

Conductor Pipe: Galvanized steele or plastic pipe used to shed roof water run-off from the gutter to the extension or french drain. See also a downspout.

Conductor Head: Attaches the gutter sleeve to the conductor pipe.

Conduit: see also Armored Cable; A flexible or rigid steel encasement for electrical wires.

Corner Bead: A metal strip used on plaster or drywall corners for reinforcement.

Cornerite: Metal lath or wire fabric used on the corners and wall and ceiling joints for reinforcement.

Cornice: The roof overhang at the eaves. Its main parts are the soffit board, fascia board, and trim moldings.

Corrugated: Formed into alternating ridges and grooves.

Course: One level or layer of a number of succeeding levels of building materials such as bricks, shingles, cement blocks, etc.

Cove Molding: a trim molding with a concave face used to finish interior ceiling and wall joints.

CRA: Certified Review Appraiser.

CREA: Certified Real Estate Appraiser.

CREO: Certified Real Estate Owner Appraiser.

Cricket: A small gable like projection from a slanted roof used shed water away from a projection comimg up through the roof. See also dormer.

Cripple: Any wood member which is cut less than full size, such as a cripple stud beneath a window opening. Also called jack when used as an adjective.

Cross Bridging: See bridging.

vCrown Molding: A molding used to cover any joint. Commonly refers to ceiling molding.

Damper Control: A mechanical or manual lever designed to open and shut a fireplace or furnace flue damper door to prevent drafts of cool air decending down the flue when the unit is not in operation.

Decking: Another name for sheathing applied to a roof. It may be boards, plywood or similar wood products.

Deformation: A change in shape of a structure or structural element caused by a load or force acting on the structure.

Dining Nook: A good place to eat your FRUITY PEBBLES.

Distribution Rib: A transverse beam at the midspan of a one-way concrete joist structure used to allow the joists to share concentrated loads.

Dolly Varden Siding: Wood siding which is beveled on one end and shiplapped on the opposite end, so that the siding lies flat rather than slanted as true beveled siding is.

Door Stop: Trim lumber attached to the door frame to prevent the door from passing through the frame.

Dormer: A projection from a slanted roof used as a door or window. See also cricket.

Double Hung Window: A window with two sashes, each of which moves up or down in its own track within the frame.

Downspout: Galvanized steele or plastic pipe used to shed roof water run-off from the gutter to the extension or french drain. See also a conductor pipe.

Drain Tile: A hollow plastic flexible pipe, perforated along its surface, designed to collect and carry ground water.

Drip Cap: A molding used on the top of exterior doors and windows to carry rain water away from the window or door framing.

Dry Wall: Wallboard made of gypsum and used in place of lath and plaster as a wall system. Also called sheetrock (trademark) and gypsum board.

EAA: Environmental Assessment Association.

Eave:The end part of a roof which projects over the exterior wall.

Easing: Landing of a stairway.

Eave Trough: A device set at the eave line of a roof to receive and carry away rainwater. Also called a gutter.

Edge Bead: A strip of metal or plastic used to make a neat, durable edge where plaster or gypsum board abuts another material.

End Dam: A turned-up piece of End Nail: A nail driven through the side of one piece of lumber and into the end of another.

Entrance Frame and Door: The functional unit of a doorway, including the door, frame, and jamb.

Exposure: The portion, generally stated in inches, of a shingle or siding which is exposed to the elements after installation.

Extension: See Gutter Extension

Facade: An exterior face of a building.

Face Shell: The portion of a hollow concrete masonary unit that forms the face of the wall.

Fascia (facia): The board which forms the outer side of a cornice.

Felt Paper: Another name for Asphalt-saturated felt building paper.

Fiberboard: Sheets of compressed wood fibers formed into boards for building purposes; ie. roof sheathing.

Fiberglass: Glass in fiber form used to manufacture building materials such as insulation and shingles.

Fink Truss: A three triangle symmetrical truss, commonly used in supporting large , sloping roofs.

Finish Floor: Decorative portion, visible from the living space after work has been completed, of the floor system. Not including the deadening building paper, diagonal sub-floor, floor joists, and cross bridging.

Firestop: Wood blocking, usually 2X4, used to retard the spread of fire, and installed between studding. Required by building codes in some areas, expecially for ballon framing.

Flashing: Usually sheet metal placed at joints of similar ro non-similar materials to prevent water from entering.

Flux: A substance applied where soldering will take place to clean the parts and promote bonding.

Fly Rafter: An end rafter on a long gable overhang which runs parallel to the common rafters and is attached to the lookout rafter.

Footing: A support for the foundation wall. Commonly made of concrete and twice the width of the foundation wall.

Foundation: The major supporting unit for a structure, including its footings. The total load of the building and its components is deflected to the foundation, which is in turn deflected into the earth or bedrock. Commonly concrete in modern construction.

Framing: The rough carpentry skeletal portion of any structure. A building frame includes the interior and exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and roof, and excludes the finished surfaces.

French Drain: The portion of the gutter system which is piped under ground to avoid any terestrial obsticles. Usually "daylighted" far away from the foundation, but within the property.

Frieze: The board at the termination point of the exterior wall siding just below the roof line on the gable side.

Furring: Strips of wood used as a leveling or nailing base for other members.

Gable: The triangular portion of an end wall from the ridge board to the end of the Gable Roof: A roof which slopes up from two opposite sides and meets at equal angles to the Galvanized: Coated with zinc to prevent oxidation (rusting) of iron or steele.

Gambrel Roof: A roof with an upper and a lower slope, the lower pitched more steeply than the upper (like a barn). Also called a Dutch roof.

Girder: Any member which supports a load. Also called a beam. Sometimes used with the term, post.

Glazing: any type of glass work. Commonly refers to the glass in a door or window.

Globe Valve: A valve with a rounded disc that shuts off the flow when closed.

Grade: The ground surface surrounding the structure. Usually sloped away from the building at a 1:10 or 1:5 ratio for water drainage in modern construction.

Grade Beam: A reinforced concrete beam that transmits the load from a bearing wall into spaced foundations such as pile caps or caisons.

Gravel Fill: Gravel used to "backfill" excavations in the soil or bedrock which provided space to pour the foundation.

Grille: A component of the HVAC system which promotes air circulation by means of directive louvers.

Grounds: Narrow strips of wood used as guides around openings to regulate the thickness of lath and plaster wall systems.

Grout: A cement made very thin by the addition of water so it flows into the joints of masonary work to completely fill them.

Gusset: A flat metal or wood brace wused to strengthen joints, most commonly on wood trusses. Also called a grip plate or gang nail.

Gutter: A device set at the eave line of a roof to receive and carry away rainwater. Also called an eave trough.

Gutter Extension: Portion of the gutter conductor pipe designed to shed water far away from the foundation.

Guy Cable: A cable anchored at one end and supporting or stabilizing an object at the other end.

Hardboard: A building board made into sheets by compressing shredded wood chips with a binder. Also called composition board.

Header: Lumber set on edge around openings, oftem to receive ends of pieces such as joists, studs, etc. and to provide additional overhead support above the openings. Also called a lintel when it is above door or window openings.

Head Jamb: The top of the frame of a door or window. Also called the yoke.

Hearth: Landing to the fireplace.

Hip Rafter: One of the rafters which form the hip of a roof as distinguished from the common rafters. Extends diagonally from the