Glossary of Construction Terms

Reyna Homes wants you to be informed with terms that may be used during the home building process. We have compiled a list that will assist you in becoming knowledgeable of common verbiage in our industry.

  • Beam

    A framing structural member used to support a series of joists, trusses, or rafters, in place of a continuous wall.

  • Building Code

    An official list of rules that a building or construction site is legally obliged to follow. Building Codes are generally state, province or country wide but local governments can add their own rules. The rules in Building codes are generally well thought out and have a practical reason behind them. Even if there is no legal obligation for someone to follow Building Codes, it is still a very good idea to know and use them. (For more info see The National Building Code).

  • Casement Window

    A window where the sash swings on its vertical edge so it can swing in or out.

  • Cement Board

    A factory-manufactured panel, ¼ to ¾ thick, 32” to 48” wide and 3’ to 10’ long, made from aggregated and reinforced Portland cement.

  • Crawlspace

    A low space under a floor of a building, which lets workers access wiring or plumbing.

  • Drywall

    Generic term for interior surfacing material, such as gypsum panels, applied to framing using dry construction methods, e.g., mechanical fasteners or adhesive. See SHEETROCK brand gypsum panels.

  • Elevation

    An elevation is the view of the side of the house or a wall in a room as if the viewer is standing back and looking straight at it. This drawing shows each side of the house including the foundation and roof. It shows the configuration of the windows (sliding, casement, awnings, etc.) the outside doors, handrails, gutters, the pitch and overhang of the roof, the siding, roofing, and any chimneys. Usually the dimensions are left off, but the drawing is to the scale noted. This drawing is used to determine the shape and openings of windows, with bathroom windows noted as obscure, the look of the exterior doors and the shape of the roof. The height of the house can easily be determined, as well.

  • Engineered Wood

    Wood Products that are manufactured to precise national and international standards by binding together wood strands, fibers, or veneers with adhesives. These include plywood, MDF, OSB, particle board, glulam, LSL, LVL,PSL, and structural I-beams. Engineered wood is used instead of dimensioned lumber. Often made with rye straw, wheat straw, or sugar cane rind, instead of wood.

  • Fascia

    The trim piece nailed to the ends of a series of rafters or trusses to tie them together at the lower, level end of the roof. The fascia supports the sheathing on the edge of the roof as well as the front edge of the soffit.

  • Fascia Board

    The exterior finish nailed to the fascia that is nailed to the rafter or truss ends that runs horizontally around the roof on which the gutters are mounted. The fascia board forms a drip edge for rain water, as well as hides the end of the roof sheathing and soffits.

  • Fire Wall

    Fire resistant partition extending to or through the roof of a building to retard spread of fire.

  • Flashing

    Strips of metal or waterproof material used to make joints waterproof, as in the joining of curtain wall panels.

  • Floor Plan

    This drawing shows each floor of the house (main, second, etc.) and indicates the floor or ceiling joists above it or the recommended truss layout. It should show the layout of the kitchen cabinets along with the appliances and cabinets. It will show the exterior wall and interior partitions and any stair layout. It also may show the layout of the switches and lights and plugs, as well as hose bibs, plumbing fixtures and heating ducts. This drawing may refer to a Section or Cross Section it wants to detail and the direction it is looking at in the section. This is shown on the plan in a circle with a point on it. Inside the circle is the letter of the section and the page on which to find it. The point or arrow on the circle refers to the direction the viewer is looking from. The circle is attached to a line which cuts the drawing along a certain part to depict the internal section of that part.

  • Flush

    Having ends or surfaces that are even.

  • Footing

    The spreading course at the base of a foundation wall, pier, or column. Usually a concrete footing for an 4” wall is 12” wide by 24” deep.

  • HVAC

    Heating, ventilating and air conditioning.

  • Hip

    Any material that measurably retards heat transfer. There is wide variation in the insulating value of different materials. A material having a low density (weight/volume) will usually be a good thermal insulator.

  • Jamb

    One of the finished upright sides of a door or window frame.

  • Joist

    Small beam that supports part of the floor, ceiling or roof of a building.

  • Lintel

    A horizontal structural member that supports the load over a window or door opening. Also known as a header.

  • MDF

    Stands for (Medium Density Fiberboard). An engineered wood made from softwood fibers that were mechanically separated, then randomly combined, glued and pressed so the material has no grain, but it is consistent throughout. It swells if wet unless treated.

  • Nail Pop

    The protrusion of the nail usually attributed to the shrinkage of or use of improperly cured wood framing.

  • OSB

    Stands for (Oriented Strand Board). An engineered wood made of thin strips of wood (about 1”x6” lengthwise grain) cross oriented, glued and pressed together. Commonly used to sheath walls, floors and roofs.

  • Plans

    Also called blueprints. A set of plans consists of drawings showing different views of the house from different perspectives. The term “plan” is used to designate a bird’s eye view. The viewer is above the house looking down at it. Plan views include the Plot Plan, the Foundation Plan, The Floor Plan and the Roof Plan. In some sets of plans we can come across a Reflected Ceiling Plan, which shows the ceiling as if laying on your back looking up, rather than flying above it and looking down. A set of plans usually is not limited to plan views. It should include Elevations and Sections. An elevation is the view of the side of the house or a wall in a room as if the viewer is standing back and looking straight at it. A section is a drawing of the internal aspects of a wall or floor, etc., as if the viewer cut the wall floor in two with a knife to see what it is made of. Common to each drawing in a set of plans is the Scale. To fit the size of the house on a sheet of paper the drawing is reduced in size. This reduction is known as the scale of the drawing. Most drawings in a set of house plans show – Scale: ¼= 1’0” This means that every ¼ inch on the drawing represents 1 foot on the house or 1/48th scale.

  • Plate

    Any of the following:
    *Top Plate: A horizontal member placed on a wall and supported on studs to carry the trusses or rafters of a roof or the joists of a floor.
    *The double plate is nailed on this top plate to facilitate overlapping of joints of the top plate at corners and intersections.
    *Bottom plate is a horizontal member on which the studs of a wall sit, providing a means of attachment to the foundation or floor.
    *Sill Plate is a bottom plate attached the foundation.

  • Portland Cement

    Finely powdered limestone material used to bond the aggregate together in concrete and mortar.

  • Pressure-Treated Wood

    Wood that has been soaked in a preservative solution under pressure making it highly resistant to rot or insects and therefore suitable to long-term outside use.

  • Rafter

    The slanting boards that give the roof its slope and support. They are like wall studs except they are slanted for the roof.

  • Rafter Tail

    That part of a rafter that extends beyond the wall plate—the overhang.

  • Rebar

    Reinforcing steel bars used in concrete to enable the concrete to take on the properties of steel.

  • R-factor

    Also called r-value. Resistance factor or value. R is resistance to heat loss in given materials. A good insulation material has a high R-value.

  • Ridge

    Peak of a roof where the roof surfaces meet an angle. Also may refer to the framing member that runs along the ridge and supports the rafters.

  • Rise

    1) The height of one stair in a staircase. This is the amount of vertical distance someone moves when he or she steps from one stair onto the next. Per most Building Codes, the rise should be between 5 inches and 7 7/87 inches with the ideal rise for a residence being 7 inches.

    2) With a roof, the rise is the vertical distance between the top of a section of roof and its lower edge. The section being measured always has a run (horizontal distance) of one foot (12”). The rise is used with the run to describe the pitch of the roof, for example if the roof rises 5” with each foot of run, it’s called a 5 and 12 pitch. If the roof rises 7” with each foot of run, it’s called a 7 and 12 roof.

  • Riser

    The vertical part of the stair between a tread and the underside of the tread above it.

  • Scale of plan

    Common to each drawing in a set of plans is to Scale. To fit the size of the house on a sheet of paper the drawing is reduced in size. This reduction is known as scale of the drawing. Most drawings in a set of house plans show-Scale: ¼ =1’-0”. This means that every ¼” on the drawing represents 1 foot on the house or 1/48th scale.

  • Sheathing

    Plywood, gypsum, wood fiber, expanded plastic or composition boards encasing walls, ceiling, floors and roofs of framed buildings. May be structural or no-structural, thermal-insulating or non-insulating, fire-resistant or combustible.

  • Sheetrock

    Leading brand of gypsum panel for interior wall and ceiling surfaces, developed and improved by United States Gypsum Company. There is only one SHEETROCK brand Gypsum Panel.

  • Sill

    Horizontal member at the bottom of door or window frames to provide support and closure.

  • Sill Plate

    Horizontal member laid directly on a foundation on which the framework of a building is erected.

  • Slab

    Flat (although sometimes ribbed on the underside) reinforced concrete element of a building that provides the base for the floor or roofing materials.

  • Soffit

    The underside of elements of a building, such as overhangs, staircases, and beams.

  • Vaulted Ceiling

    The ceiling area of a house that follows the line of the roof or is shaped as an arch.