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The principal function of a house is to provide protection from the elements. Our present society, however, requires that a home provide not only shelter, but also privacy, safety, and reasonable protection of our physical and mental health. A living facility that fails to offer these essentials through adequately designed and properly maintained interiors and exteriors cannot be termed "healthful housing."

  1. Ash dump – A door or opening in the firebox that leads directly to the ash pit, through which the ashes are swept after the fire is burned out. All fireboxes are not equipped with an ash dump.

  2. Attic space – The open space within the attic area.

  3. Backfill – The material used to refill an excavation around the outside of a foundation wall or pipe trench.

  4. Baluster – One of a series of small pillars that is attached to and runs between the stairs and the handrails. The spacing between the balusters should be less than 4 inches to prevent small children from getting stuck between the balusters. Balusters are considered a safety item and provide an additional barrier.

  5. Baseboard trim –T ypically a wood trim board that is placed against the wall around the perimeter of a room next to the floor. The intent is to conceal the joint between the floor and wall finish.

  6. Basement window – A window opening installed in the basement wall. Basement windows are occasionally below the finish grade level and will be surrounded on the exterior by a window well.

  7. Blind or shutter – A lightweight frame in the form of a door located on each side of a window. They are most commonly constructed of wood (solid or louvered panels) or plastic. Originally they were designed to close and secure over the windows for security and foul weather. Most shutters now are more likely decorative pieces that are secured to the house beside the windows.

  8. Bridging – Small pieces of wood or metal strapping placed in an X-pattern between the floor joists at midspan to prevent the joists from twisting and squeaking and to provide reinforcement and distribution of stress.

  9. Building paper/underlayment – Building material, usually a felt paper that is used as a protective barrier against air and moisture passage from the area beneath the flooring as well as providing a movement/noise isolator in hardwood flooring.

  10. Ceiling joist – A horizontally placed framing members at the ceiling of the top-most living space of a house that provides a platform to which the finished ceiling material can be attached.

  11. Chair rail (not shown) – Decorative trim applied around the perimeter of a room such as a formal dining room or kitchen/breakfast nook at the approximate same height as the back of a chair. It is sometimes used as a cap trim for wainscoting (see wainscoting).

  12. Chimney – A masonry or in more modern construction wood framed enclosure that surrounds and contains one or more flues and extends above the roofline.

  13. Chimney cap – The metal or masonry protective coveringat the top of the chimney that seals the chimney shaft from water entry between the chimney enclosure and the flue tiles.

  14. Chimney flues – The space or channel in a chimney that carries off the smoke and other combustion gases to the outside air. Most homes will have a terra cotta tile flue or a metal flue.

  15. Collar beam/tie – A horizontal piece of framing lumber that provides intermediate support for opposite rafters. They are usually located in the middle to upper third portion of the rafters. It is also known as a collar beam or collar brace.

  16. Concrete slab floor – Typically approximately 4 inches thick, the concrete slab floor provides a number of uses. It creates a solid level surface to walk and work on. It provides a separation between the grade/soil and a potentially livable area. It also provides lateral compression resistance for the foundation walls, preventing soil pressure from outside the foundation from pushing the foundation walls and footings inward.

  17. Corner brace – Diagonal braces placed at the corners of framed walls to stiffen them and provide extra strength.

  18. Cornice – An overhang of a pitched roof at the eave line that usually consists of a fascia board, a soffit, and any appropriate moldings or vents.

  19. Cornice molding – The individual pieces of wood trim that are applied to the cornice area at the eaves.

  20. Door casing/trim – The finish trim details around the perimeter of the door on the interior finished wall.

  21. Door frame/jamb – The top and sides of the door to include the wall framing as well as the actual door frame and trim.

  22. Downspout – A pipe, usually of metal or vinyl, that is connected to the gutters and is used to carry the roofwater runoff down and away from the house.

  23. Downspout gooseneck – Segmented section of downspout that is bent at a radius to allow the downspout to be attached to the house and to follow the bends and curves of the eaves and ground.

  24. Downspout shoe – The bottom downspout gooseneck that directs the water from the downspout to the extension or splash block at the grade.

  25. Downspout strap – Strap used to secure the downspout to the side of the house.

  26. Drain tile – A tube or cylinder that is normally installed around the exterior perimeter of the foundation footings that collects and directs ground water away from the foundation of the house. The tile can be individual sections of clay or asphalt tubing or, in more recent construction, a perforated-plastic drain tile that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. The drain tile leads either towards a sump or to an exterior discharge away from the house.

  27. Entrance canopy – A small overhanging roof that shelters the front entrance.

  28. Entrance stoop – An elevated platform constructed of wood framing or masonry at the front entry that allows visitors to stand above or out of the elements. The platform should be wide enough to allow someone to stand on the platform while opening an outward swinging door such as a storm door even if one is not present.

  29. Exterior siding – The decorative exterior finish on a house. Its primary function is to protect the shell of the house from the elements. The choice of siding materials varies widely to include wood, brick, metal, vinyl, concrete, stucco, and a variety of manufactured compositions such as compressed wood, compressed cellulose (paper), fiber-reinforced cement, and synthetic stucco.

  30. Fascia – The visible flat front board that caps the rafter tail ends and encloses the overhang under the eave that runs along the roof edge. The gutter is usually attached at this location.

  31. Fascia/rake board – The visible flat front board that caps the rafter tail ends and encloses the overhang under the eave that runs along the roof edge and at the edge of the roofing at the gables. The gutter is usually attached to this board at the eaves.

  32. Finish flooring (not shown) – The final floor covering inside the living space of a house. The most common types of finishes are carpeting; hardwood flooring; ceramic, composite, or laminate stone tile; parquet panels; or vinyl sheet flooring.

  33. Finished grade line – A predetermined line indicating the proposed elevation of the ground surface around a building.

  34. Firebox – The cavity in the open face of the fireplace in which the fire is maintained. The firebox leads directly to the fireplace flue. The firebox is constructed of fire or refractory brick set in fireclay or reinforced mortar in traditional masonry fireplaces. The firebox may also be constructed of metal or ceramic-coated metal panels in more modern prefabricated fireplaces. The walls of the firebox are usually slanted toward the living space both to direct smoke up toward the flue and to reflect heat into the room.

  35. Fireplace cleanout door – The access door to the ash pit beneath the fireplace. On a fireplace that is located inside the house, the cleanout door is usually located in the lowest accessible level of the house such as the basement or crawl space. On a fireplace that is located at the outside of the house, the cleanout door will be located at the exterior of the chimney. Not all fireplaces are equipped with a cleanout door.

  36. Fireplace hearth – The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.

  37. Flashing (not shown) – The building component used to connect and cover portions of a deck, roof, or siding material to another surface such as a wall, a chimney, a vent pipe, or anywhere that runoff is heavy or where two dissimilar materials meet. The flashing is mainly intended to prevent water entry and is usually made of rubber, tar, asphalt, or various metals.

  38. Floor joists – The main subfloor framing members that support the floor span. Joists are usually made of engineered wood I-beams or 28 or larger lumber.

  39. Foundation footing – The base on which the foundation walls rests. The foundation is wider than the foundation wall to spread out the load it is bearing and to help prevent settling.

  40. Foundation wall – The concrete block, concrete slab or other nonwood material that extends below orpartly below grade, which provides support for exterior walls and other structural pans of the building.

  41. Framing studs – A 24 or 26 vertical framing member used to construct walls and partitions, usually spaced 12 to 24 inches apart.

  42. Gable framing – The vertical and horizontal framing members that make up and support the end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. A gable is the triangular end of an exterior wall above the eaves.

  43. Garage door – The door for the vehicle passage into the garage area. Typical garage doors consist of multiple jointed panels of wood, metal, or fiberglass.

  44. Girder – A large beam supporting floor joists at the same level as the sills. A larger or principal beam used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

  45. Gravel fill – A bed of coarse rock fragments or pebbles that is laid atop the existing soil before pouring the concrete slab. The gravel serves a dual purpose of breaking surface tension on the concrete slab and providing a layer that interrupts capillary action of subsurface moisture from reaching the concrete slab. Typically, a polyethylene sheeting will be installed between the gravel fill and the concrete slab for further moisture proofing.

  46. Gutter – A channel used for carrying water run-off. Usually located at the eaves of a house and connected to a downspout. The primary purpose of the gutters and downspouts is to carry roof water run-off as far away from the house as possible.

  47. Insulation – A manufactured or natural material that resists heat flow that is installed in a house's shell to keep the heat in a house in the winter and the coolness in the house in the summer. The most common form of insulation is fiberglass, whether in batts or blown-in material, along with cellulose, rigid foam boards, sprayed-in foam, and rock wool.

  48. Jack/king stud – The framing stud, sometimes called the trimmer, that supports the header above a window, door, or other opening within a bearing wall. Depending on the size of the opening, there may be several jack studs on either side of the opening.

  49. Mantel – The ornamental or decorative facing around a fireplace including a shelf that is attached to the breast or backing wall above the fireplace.

  50. Moisture/vapor barrier – A nonporous material, such as plastic or polyethylene sheeting, that is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and attics and prevent condensation in them. A vapor barrier is also installed in crawl space areas to prevent moisture vapor from entering up through the ground.

  51. Newel post – The post at the top and bottom of the handrails and anywhere along the stair run that creates a directional change in the handrails is called the newel post. The newel post is securely anchored into the underlying floor framing or the stair stringer to provide stability to the handrails.

  52. Reinforcing lath – A strip of wood or metal attached to studs and used as a foundation for plastering, slating or tiling. Lath has been replaced by gypsum board in most modern construction.

  53. Ridge board/beam – The board placed on edge at the top-most point of the roof framing, into which the upper ends of the rafters are joined or attached.

  54. Roofing – The finished surface at the top of the house that must be able to withstand the effects of the elements (i.e., wind, rain, snow, hail, etc.). A wide variety of materials are available, including asphalt shingles, wood shakes, metal roofing, ceramic and concrete tiles, and slate, with asphalt shingles making up the bulk of the material used.

  55. Roof rafters – Inclined structural framing members that support the roof, running from the exterior wall the to the ridge beam. Rafters directly support the roof sheathing and create the angle or slope of the roof.

  56. Roof sheathing – The material used to cover the outside surface of the roof framing to provide lateral and rack support to the roof, as well as to provide a nailing surface for the roofing material. This material most commonly consists of plywood OSB or horizontally laid wood boards.

  57. Sidewalk – A walkway that provides a direct, allweather approach to an entry. The sidewalk can be constructed of poured concrete, laid stone, concrete pavers, or gravel contained between borders or curbs.

  58. Sill plate – The horizontal wood member that is anchored to the foundation masonry to provide a nailing surface for floors or walls built above.

  59. Silt fabric – A porous fabric that acts as a barrier between the backfilled soil (see backfill) and the gravel surrounding the drain tile. This barrier prevents soil particles from blocking the movement of groundwater to the drain tile.

  60. Soffit/lookout block – Rake cross-bracing between the fly rafters and end gable rafters that the soffit is nailed to.

  61. Stair rail – A sturdy handhold and barrier that follows the outside, and sometimes inside, perimeter of the stairs. The stair rail is used to prevent falls and to provide a means of additional support when walking up or down the stairs.

  62. Stair riser – The vertical boards that close the space between each stair tread on a set of stairs (see stair stringer and stair tread).

  63. Stair stringer – The supporting members in a set of stairs that are cut or notched to accept the individual treads and risers (see stair riser and stair tread).

  64. Stair tread – The horizontal board in a stairway that is walked upon (see stair riser and stair stringer).

  65. Subfloor – Boards or plywood, installed over joists, on which the finish floor rests.

  66. Support post – A vertical framing member usually designed to carry or support a beam or girder. In newer construction a metal lally (pronounced "lolly") column is commonly used, as well as 44- or 66- inch wood posts.

  67. Tar – Otherwise known as asphalt, tar is a very thick, dark brown/black substance that is used as a sealant or waterproofing agent. It is usually produced naturally by the breakdown of animal and vegetable matter that has been buried and compressed deep underground. Tar is also manufactured – a hydrocarbon by-product or residue that is left over after the distillation of petroleum. It is commonly used as a sealant or patch for roof penetrations, such as plumbing vents and chimney flashing. Tar is also used as a sealer on concrete and masonry foundation walls before they have been backfilled.

  68. Termite shield – A metal flashing that is installed below the sill plate that acts as a deterrent to keep termites from reaching the sill plate.

  69. Top plate – The topmost horizontal framing members of a framed wall. Most construction practices require the top plate to be doubled in thickness.

  70. Dado – The wooden paneling of the lower part of an interior wall up to approximately waistheight or between 36 and 48 inches from the floor.

  71. Wall insulation – A manufactured or natural material that resists heat flow that is installed in a house's shell to keep the heat in a house in the winter and the coolness in the house in the summer. Fiberglass batts are the most common form of wall insulation.

  72. Wall sheathing – The material used to cover the outside surface of the wall framing that provides lateral and shear support to the wall as well as a nailing surface for the exterior siding.

  73. Window casing/trim – The finish trim details around the perimeter of the window on the interior finished wall.

  74. Window cripple – Short studs placed between the header and a top plate or between a sill and sole plate.

  75. Window frame/jamb – The top and sides of the window, to include the wall framing and the actual window frame and trim.

  76. Window header – A beam placed perpendicular to wall studs above doors, windows, or other openings to carry the weight of structural loads above the window or door.

  77. Window sash – The framework that holds the glass in a door or window.

  78. Window well (not shown) – An excavation around a basement window that prevents the surrounding soils from collapsing into the window. The window well surround is normally constructed of formed corrugated galvanized metal, built-up masonry, or pressure-treated wood.


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