Definitions of the Words & Phrases that I use in a Home Inspection Report


Definitions of the Words & Phrases that I use in a Home Inspection Report



Above Grade Wall. A wall more than 50 percent above grade and enclosing conditioned space. This includes between-floor spandrels, peripheral edges of floors, roof and basement knee walls, dormer walls, gable end walls, walls enclosing a mansard roof and skylight shafts.

ABS. acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene; a type of plastic pipe used mostly for drain lines and vents. 

Approachable or enterable for visual inspection without the risk of damage to any property or alteration of the accessible space, equipment, or opening.

Air Barrier. Material(s) assembled and joined together to provide a barrier to air leakage through the building envelope. An air barrier may be a single material or a combination of materials.

Amp. (Ampere) A unit measure of electrical current; watts divided by volts

Anchor Bolts. Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete or masonry floor or wall.

Anti-Siphon Valve. A one-way valve used to prevent contaminated water from siphoning back into the potable water system.

Appears to be Functional. Indicates that the system or item is functioning properly at the time of the inspection. To be effective; perform, work in a required manner (an object may be functional even though cosmetically damaged) 

Asbestos.  Fire resistant, fibrous mineral used in fireproofing, roofing, electrical and some insulations. 

ASHI. American Society of Home Inspectors

Asphalt. Most native asphalt is a residue from evaporated petroleum.  Used widely in building for waterproofing roof coverings of many types, exterior wall coverings, flooring tile, and the like.

Assembly.  A fitting together of parts to make a whole; several parts to create one unit to perform a specific function or functions.

As Shown on Architectural Drawings:
If the item or system is not visually accessable but is shown on the architectural drawings. ASHI standards state that these are  non evasive inspections, meaning if the inspector has to move or dismantal anything then the inspection reverts to the drawings.

Attic. A space under the roof of a structure but limited to above the top story of a section of building--such space may or may not be passable.

Attic Ventilators:
 In houses, screened opening 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. They can also consist of power-driven fans used as an exhaust system.

Automatic. Self-acting, operating by its own mechanism when actuated by some impersonal influence, as, for example, a change in current strength, pressure, temperature or mechanical configuration.

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

Backwater Valve. A valve set in a lateral sewer line which automatically prevents sewage from flowing back to its source; an anti-siphon valve for sewer lines.

 Is one or more floors of a building that are either completely or partially below the ground floor.

Basement Wall.
A wall 50 percent or more below grade and enclosing conditioned space.

 A supporting member that transfers weight from one location to another. A structural member, usually horizontal, whose main function is to carry loads transverse to its longitudinal axis.

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

Blue stain. A bluish or grayish discoloration of the sapwood caused the growth of certain mold like fungi on the surface and in the interior of a piece, made possible by the same conditions that favor the growth of other fungi.

Bottom Plate. The wooden members that lay on the subfloor upon which the vertical studs are installed. Also called the “sole plate”.

Brick. Building material usually made from clay that is molded and heat treated.

BTU. (British Thermal Unit) Unit of heat needed to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit

Building. Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.

Building Code. A set of laws which govern the construction of buildings, designs, materials used, use, repairs, remodeling, and/or other similar factors.

Building Paper
. A waterproof, heavy paper, used in the construction of a roof or wall that helps to prevent water that may pass through the siding, or roofing material, from entering the ceiling or wall cavity

Building’s Thermal Envelope.
The basement walls, exterior walls, floor, roof, and any other building element that enclose conditioned space. This boundary also includes the boundary between conditioned.

Built-up roof.
 A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch, or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.

Butt joint.
The junction where the ends of two timbers or other members meet in a square-cut joint.

C-Factor  (THERMAL CONDUCTANCE). The coefficient of heat transmission (surface to surface) through a building component or assembly, equal to the time rate of heat flow per unit area and the unit temperature difference between the warm side and cold side surfaces

Cantilever. A projecting beam or joist, not supported at one end, used to support an extension of a structure.

Cant strip. A triangular shaped piece of lumber used at the junction of a flat deck and a wall to prevent cracking of the roofing which is applied over it.

Carpenter Ants.  Ants that bore through wood.  Like termites, carpenter ants like warm, moist areas such as those found in wood structures in this part of the country.  Carpenter ants differ from termites in several important ways.  Carpenter ants do not ingest the wood; rather, they tunnel through the wood leaving a residue of sawdust.  Also differing from termites, carpenter ants can nest anywhere; it is not uncommon to find a carpenter ant nest in an attic.  Carpenter ants can do a great amount of structural damage.  By the time the sawdust residue is visible, structural damage may already have occurred.  Exterminating carpenter ants is difficult.  To exterminate them, one must first find the nest.  Finding the nest is the most difficult part of exterminating carpenter ants.

Caulk. To make watertight or airtight by filling or sealing. To apply caulking (example: he caulked all around the door frame)

Caulking. A usually impermeable substance used to caulk openings. Also called caulking compound. A soft pliable material used to seal cracks (such as around window and door frames) and is normally applied from a tube in a caulking gun.

Ceiling joist. A joist that carries the ceiling beneath it but not the floor over it. Normally the ceiling is carried on the underside of floor joists, but to improve the noise insulation between floors, the ceiling joists may be separate.

Cement. Cement is a powdery type substance made from a mixture of earths materials such as limestone and shale, which is sintered (cause to become solid mass by heating without melting),ground, and mixed with small amounts of calcium sulphate and calcium carbonate. Cement is activated by water and when mixed with gravel and sand, forms concrete. A building material that is a powder made of a mixture of calcined limestone and clay; used with water and sand or gravel to make concrete and mortar. Cement is usually grey in color, but white cement can be obtained.

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

Chase. An enclosed opening through a floor and/or ceiling to install pipes, ductwork or electrical lines.

Chimney.  A structure for venting hot flue gases or smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. Chimneys are typically vertical, or as near as possible to vertical, to ensure that the gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion in what is known as the stack, or chimney, effect. The space inside a chimney is called a flue. Chimneys may be found in buildings, steam locomotives and ships. In the United States, the term smokestack (colloquially, stack) is also used when referring to locomotive chimneys. The term funnel is generally used for ships' chimneys and sometimes to refer to locomotive chimneys. Chimneys are tall to increase their draw of air for combustion and to disperse pollutants in the flue gases over a greater area so as to reduce the pollutant concentrations in compliance with regulatory or other limits.

Chimney cap.
Concrete or metal covering over and above the chimney opening to prevent rain from entering the chimney.

Circuit breaker. Safety devices that open or break an electrical circuit automatically when it is overloaded.

Cistern.  Tank that is used for storing rain water usually for use in areas where there is no water brought to the property by plumbing; holding area for water.

Cladding. The exterior surface of a building. Siding. Cladding as siding includes vinyl siding, wood siding, cementious (Hardy Board), plywood sheet, aluminum siding or other.

CO. Carbon monoxide; colorless, odorless and highly toxic gas

Colorado Home inspection.
A home inspection completed in Colorado

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.

Collar Tie. Horizontal member tying a pair of roof rafters together.

Commercial Building. For this code, all buildings that are not included in the definition of “Residential buildings.”

Commercial Inspection. Inspections of industrial, multi-family properties, office buildings, retail Buildings, residential properties of 5 and over occupancies.


Component. means a readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up the component.

Concrete. A strong hard building material composed of sand and gravel and cement and water. A mixture of sand, gravel, water and Portland cement which hardens to a stone like condition when dry.

Condensation. 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.

Conductor. Material used to transmit electrical current or heat

Conduit.  A pipe, usually metal, in which electrical wire is installed.

Conditioned Floor Area. The horizontal projection of the floors associated with the conditioned space.

Condition Space. An area or room within a building being heated or cooled, containing non insulated ducts, or with a fixed opening directly into an adjacent conditioned space.

Copalum Connector.  A special type of crimp connector the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends when pigtailing Copper wires to Aluminum wiring.

Corrosion. The action of corrode corrosive:   Describing the chemical or method (electrolysis) leading to corroding

. A flashing usually used on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and to prevent moisture entry.

. The transfer of heat by the circulation of heated air or liquid

Crawl space.
 A shallow, unfinished space beneath the first floor of a house that has no basement, used to visually inspect and to access pipes and ducts.

Cross connection
. means any physical connection or arrangement between potable water and any source of contamination.

Curing. The hardening of concrete. The process of becoming hard or solid by cooling or drying or crystallization. In concrete application, the process in which mortar and concrete harden. The length of time is dependent upon the type of cement, mix proportion, required strength, size and shape of the concrete section, weather and future exposure conditions. The period may be 3 weeks or longer for lean concrete mixtures used in structures such as dams or it may be only a few days for richer mixes. Favorable curing temperatures range from 50 to 70 degrees F. Design strength is achieved in 28 days.

Curtin Wall. Fenestration products used to create an external non load-bearing wall that is designed to separate the exterior and interior environments.

Damper. A plate which is adjusted inside the flue or vent of a fireplace or furnace that controls the draft from the flame or that may prevent loss of conditioned air from within a building or back drafting of outside air.

Dead-Front Cover
. The cover that holds and protects from accidental contact the circuit breakers within a service panel.

Dead load
: the weight of all the components of the structure and permanent equipment (excludes furniture, people or inventory of a business structure)

. A flat floored roofless area adjoining a house. Timber deck: An outside floor structure comprising of posts, bearers, joists and decking boards.

Demand Control Ventilation (DCV).
A ventilation system capability that provides for the automatic reduction of outdoor air intake below design rates when the actual occupancy of spaces served by the system is less than design occupancy.

Deterioration. An action of becoming worse diagonal extending slantingly between opposite corners of a theoretical square or rectangle.

Direct steam system
. A radiator system fed from a steam boiler.

Disposal field
. A system of clay tiles, or special pipes, and gravel used to dispose of waste water draining from a septic tank.

Distribution box
. An underground box which receives the waste from a septic tank and distributes it laterally to a disposal.

 (or downpipe) is a verticalpipe for carrying rainwater from a rain gutter to ground level. There the water is directed away from the building's foundation and to a sewer, rainwater harvesting, or let into the ground through seepage.

Diverter valve
. Valve that diverts; most over means to turn aside from a course or direction, to redirect as in from a tub spout to a shower head.

. A drain or a system to draw off, the slope around a building, the ability to remove water from a surface or a designated area of property. 

Drain, Waste, & Vent Lines. 
(or DWV) is a system that removes sewage and grey water from a building and vents the gases produced by said waste

Panels made primarily from gypsum installed over the framing to form the interior walls and ceilings. A brand name of gypsum wallboard. Drywall is often called gypsum board and/or sheatrock.

A tube or conduit utilized for conveying air. The air passages of self-contained systems are not to be construed as air ducts.

Duct System. A continuous passageway for the transmission of air that, in addition to ducts, includes duct fittings, dampers, plenums, fans and accessory air-handling equipment and appliances.

Dwelling Unit. A single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.

Eaves. The part of the roof which extends beyond the exterior side wall. The projecting lower edge of a roof where the gutters are located. The eaves are made up of both the soffit (covering for underside of an overhang) and the fascia (A horizontal trim fixed to the ends of the roof rafters).

Efflorescence. A whitish powdery material resulting from moisture migrating through cement based materials or stone. 

Energy Recovery Ventilation System.
Systems that employ air-to-air heat exchangers to recover energy from exhaust air for the purpose of preheating, pre cooling, humidifying or dehumidifying outdoor ventilation air prior to supplying the air to a space, either directly or as part of an HVAC system.

Entrance Door. Fenestration products used for ingress, egress and access in nonresidential buildings, including, but not limited to, exterior entrances that utilize latching hardware and automatic closers and contain over 50-percent glass specifically designed to withstand heavy use and possibly abuse.

Expansion Joint. A connection of two members which allows for movement of the members when affected by pressure toward or away from the connecting joint--allows for expansion and contraction; usually found in concrete work, stucco, etc.

Expansion Tank.  Part of a hot water heating system that is filled with air. Its purpose is to provide a cushion for the expansion of the hot water in the heating system.  (Many people confuse expansion tanks with hot water storage tanks.)

Exterior Wall. Walls including both above-grade walls and basement walls.

Fascia. Exterior horizontal visible flat front trim board that caps the rafter tail ends. Runs horizontally across the ends of the roof rafters ends, creating the "edge" of the roof. The front facing surface of trim on a house above the soffit but below the roofline.

Felt Paper. A highly absorbent, porous paper, used with tar or asphalt as a roofing paper, or over studs as an insulation or moisture barrier.

Fenestration. Skylights, roof windows, vertical windows (fixed or moveable), opaque doors, glazed doors, glazed block and combination opaque/glazed doors. Fenestration includes products with glass and non glass glazing materials.

Final Walk-Through. Before the closing or you take possession, the last review of the property, structure, fixtures, and appliances should be operated or demonstrated again as to their ability to perform. Many times an item has quit working or functioning and no one finds out until they move in. It is at this time the buyer should exert the initiative to review specific performances of items if any doubt or questions should arise. 

Firebrick. A brick made of special clay to be exposed to extreme heat and high temperatures without extensive damage. 

. An architectural structure to contain a fire for heating and, especially historically, for cooking. A fire is contained in a firebox or firepit; a chimney or other flue directs gas and particulate exhaust to escape. Fireplaces are a central household feature, as the flames and crackling sounds are comforting, even when not necessary for heat or cooking.

Fireplace mantels
are a focus for interior decoration.

Fire Stop
.  A means of preventing fire and smoke from traveling through a structure by filling concealed air spaces with fire resistive materials (noted to be required in most structures between floors or next levels)

Flat stones, from one to four inches thick, used for rustic walks, steps, floors, and the like.

Flashing. Any piece of material, usually metal or plastic, installed to prevent water from penetrating the structure. Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage. Sheet metal or roll roofing pieces fitted to the joint of any roof intersection, penetration or projection (chimneys, copings, dormers, valleys, vent pipes, above windows and doors, etc.) in order to prevent water leakage.

Flue. Although often thought of as a vent or chimney the flue is that portion of a fossil fuel burning appliance just proceeding the vent and which exhausts gasses from the appliance into the vent system or chimney. 

Footing. A base, in or on the ground that will support the structure. A masonry section, usually concrete, in a rectangular form wider than the bottom of the foundation wall or pier it supports. The base or bottom of a foundation pier, wall, or column that is usually wider than the upper portion of the foundation. The added width at the bottom spreads the load over a wider area.

Forced Hot Air Heating.  Heating system where a fan circulates air over a heat exchanger in a furnace, and back through the building to heat the building.  Forced hot air heating systems are used in many buildings today.  Contrary to popular belief, forced hot air heating ducts are not well suited to conversion to central air conditioning.  This is because forced hot air ducts are at floor level, while air conditioning ducts should be at ceiling level for optimum cooling.  Most forced hot air systems have filters that need to be changed frequently.

Frost Line. The depth of frost penetration in soil. This depth varies in different parts of the country. Footings should be placed below this depth to prevent movement.

Furnace.  Strictly speaking, an enclosed area for heating air.  In common usage, a furnace is taken to mean any piece of equipment where fossil fuel is converted to heat.

Gable. The roof ends and walls that form an inverted V. The upper triangular-shaped portion of the end wall of a house above the eave line of a double sloped roof.

Gable roof. The most common roof design consisting of two planes that meet at a central peak and slope down to the building’s long walls.


Galvanized. Covered with a protective coating of zinc. Coated with zinc to prevent rusting of iron or steel. Metal (usually steel) coated with a thin layer of zinc to provide corrosion resistance; i.e., rust proofing. Galvanizing methods are (1) "hot-dipped galvanizing", which consists of passing the continuous length of sheet, wire, rod, or shape through a molten bath, followed by an air stream "wipe" that controls the thickness of the zinc finish; and (2) "electro-galvanizing", which continuously zinc-coats an uncoiled sheet or unwound wire or rod electrolytically. Galvanized sheet also is known in the market as "coated sheet".

Grade. The degree of the slope of land gradient the degree of the slope of land.

Ground, Electrical. 
Part of the electrical system having zero voltage, electrically connected to the earth.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, are safety devices now routinely installed where electrical outlets and appliances are used in close proximity to water, (and are now required in those areas by the electrical code).  GFCIs sense the current flowing into the conductors of the outlet.  If there is a small imbalance (such as would occur were someone getting an electric shock) the power is rapidly turned off.  This makes the operation of kitchen and bathroom electricalappliances safer.  GFCIs occasionally trip for other reasons, such as a small amount of water being splashed on the outlet.

Ground Water. Water in the subsoil; shallow spring or well.

 Grout. Thin mortar used in masonry work to fill joints in ceramic tiles, brick, blocks, etc.

. Rail or other object used to protect from falling off a ledge, deck, or porch.

Habitable Room
. A room used for living area; this encompasses the bedroom, dining room, kitchen; as opposed to bathrooms, closets, halls and similar spaces.

. Most over describes a condition that something can be dangerous or destructive to mankind's health or his property. 

. (Lintel). A beam placed perpendicular to wall studs above doors, windows or other openings, to carry the weight of structural loads. A framing member crossing and supporting the ends of joists, studs, or rafters so as to transfer their weight to parallel joists, studs, or rafters

Heated Slab.
Slab-on-grade construction in which the heating elements, hydronic tubing, or hot air distribution system is in contact with, or placed within or under, the slab.

Home Buyer. Investor/investors, a person or group of people who want to buy a property.

Home Inspection. Is a limited, unbiased, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home

Home Inspection Report. A concise, unbiased, report of the property by a trained inspector

Home Inspector. A trained individual that inspects the different systems of a home.

Home Seller. Someone who wants to sell a property they own.

Humidifier. A unit, usually part of the heating system, which raises the relative humidity in a room or building by the emission of water vapor into the air. 

A regulatory device, actuated by changes in humidity, used for automatic control of relative humidity.

Hydronic Heating.  Heating system where water is heated in a boiler, then circulated through radiators to heat a building. 

Hot water heating systems are used in many modern one and two-family residences.  In older buildings, the radiators become blocked by dust, and heating efficiency is reduced.  Radiators need to be vacuumed every several years.  Some older systems have no circulator and use convection (the tendency of heated water to rise) to circulate the water in a building.  These are called convection hot water or gravity hot water systems.  Convection hot water heating is inefficient and considered obsolete.  Many people with convection hot water heating choose to convert to circulating hot water when feasible.

Infiltration.  The uncontrolled inward air leakage into a building caused by the pressure effects of wind or the effect of differences in the indoor and outdoor air density or both.

Insulating Sheathing.  An insulating board with a core material having a minimum R-value of R-2.

Intrusion. The act of intruding; to thrust or bring in unwanted or damaging elements such as water, snow, dirt or wind  

Jamb. The frame in which a door or window sits. The top and two sides of a door or window frame that contact the door or sash. A vertical member at the side of a window frame, or the horizontal member at the top of the window frame, as in head jamb.

J-Box.  Junction box used for the enclosure of electrical wires where they connect 

. The space or opening between two or more adjoining surfaces. The gap or space created when two building materials come together, such as where two pieces of molding join or where the bathtub and bathroom wall meet.

Joist. The horizontal framing members that support the floors. One of a series of parallel framing members used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls. A secondary structural member used repetitively to support floors or ceilings, usually spanning between beams or walls.

Kiln Dried. Lumber that has been dried in a kiln. Lumber that has been seasoned in a kiln to a calculated moisture content reducing shrinkage, twisting, splitting and strengthening the finished product.

Labeled. Equipment, materials or products to which have been affixed a label, seal, symbol or other identifying mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, inspection agency or other organization concerned with product evaluation that maintains periodic inspection of the production of the above-labeled items and whose labeling indicates either that the equipment, material or product meets identified standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose.

Lag Screws. Large, heavy screws used where great strength is required, as in heavy framing, or when attaching ironwork to wood.

Leach Field.  An area away from home & water source for removal of liquid waste material from sewage by filtration through sand, gravel, tiles, stones, etc.  leaching trenches: ducts, either dug in ground having filtration qualities (gravel, sand, etc.), or in which filtration materials are placed to remove the liquid wastes from sewage 

Listed. Equipment, materials, products or services included in a list published by an organization acceptable to the code official and concerned with evaluation of products or services that maintains periodic inspection of production of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services and whose listing states either that the equipment, material, product or service meets identified standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose.

Low-Voltage Lighting. Lighting equipment powered through a transformer such as a cable conductor, a rail conductor and track lighting.

Manufactured. The making of a product usually at a location other than where it is installed.

Mineral Deposits
. Inorganic substances left behind by minerals, especially in water pipes.

.  A growth of minute fungi forming on a surface, commonly as a downy or furry coating, and associated with decay or dampness. 

. A material used in masonry work as the "glue" holding stones or bricks together (almost always a cement product containing lime) 

Nonbearing Wall
. A wall used only to separate areas, and which carries only its own weight.

OSB (orientated strand board
). Chip board; like plywood except that the plies are chips of wood glued together

 Structures used for the benefit of a central or main building, such as a tool shed, garage, or similar structure.

. A sheet of glass within a window frame. A panel used to fill a framed section of a window or door. Usually glass or other transparent material.

Pier. A vertical support member, usually of concrete or block which supports a post

Plywood. A sheet of wood made of three or more layers of wood veneer laminated together with glue. An assembled product made of layers of veneer held together by an adhesive, the chief characteristic of which is the alternate cross layers, distributing the longitudinal wood strength. It consists of three or more layers of veneer, firmly glued together with the grain direction of the middle layer at right angles to that of the two parallel outer layers. Pieces of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.

Porch.  An extension from a structure, usually serving as part of the entrance, whether front , rear or sides--may be large enough for relaxation and most often has its own roof, rather than a part of the structure (the porch is the part walked on while the porch roof is the overhead cover) 

Post. An upright consisting of a piece of timber or metal fixed firmly in an upright position. A column of wood or steel or concrete that is driven into the ground to provide support for a structure.

Potable. Drinkable; for human consumption.

Powder Post Beetle.  Beetles that lay their eggs in wood.  The holes in the wood are the exit holes where the beetle's offspring exits.  Powder post beetle damage is usually found in structural wood/a> in older structures.  If a significant amount of wood is damaged, it can affect structural soundness.

Pre Sale Inspection. Home inspection for sellers own knowledge of what if anything is wrong with their home.

Pressure Treated. Lumber that is treated in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood. Lumber pressure sprayed with chemicals to lengthen its life expectancy for outside use or in ground applications.

P/T Valve. A valve that once it reaches a preset temperature or pressure, opens up to allow pressure or temperature to be alleviated (relieved)

PVC (Poly vinyl chloride) - a type of plastic pipe 

Purlin. Timber used to support roofing sheets. Usually fixed on top of rafters. A horizontal structural member spanning between beams or trusses to support a roof deck A horizontal member attached perpendicular to the truss top chord for support of the roofing (i .e., corrugated roofing or plywood and shingles).

PVC. (Polyvinyl chloride). A common thermoplastic resin, used in a wide variety of manufactured products, including rainwear, garden hoses, phonograph records, and floor tiles. A plastic made from the gaseous chemical vinyl chloride. PVC is used to make pipes, records, raincoats and floor titles.

Rafter. Parallel members of a roof that support battens/purlins and roofing materials. One of a series of structural members of a roof designed to support roof loads. The rafters of a flat roof are sometimes called roof joists. The framing member which directly supports the roof sheathing. A rafter usually follows the angle of the roof, and may be a part of a roof truss. The supporting framing member immediately beneath the roof deck, sloping from the ridge to the wall plate. A sloping roof member that supports the roof covering which extends from the ridge or the hip of the roof to the eaves. A common rafter is one which runs square with the plate and extends to the ridge. A hip rafter extends from the outside angle of the plate towards the apex of the roof. A valley rafter extends from an inside angle of the plates toward the ridge of the house.

Rail. The top and bottom frame member of a door or window (not the jamb). Cross member of panel doors or of a sash. Also the upper and lower member of a balustrade or staircase extending from one vertical support, such as a post, to another. The horizontal member of a fence.

Rain Gutter. A channel along the eaves to direct rainwater to a downspout; a channel formed by the meeting of the street and curb. 

Readily Accessible.  Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal or inspection without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders or access equipment (see “Accessible”).

Realtor. An individual that helps home sellers and buyers with their real estate transactions

Repair. The reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing building.

Residential Building.  For this code, includes R-3 buildings, as well as R-2 and R-4 buildings three stories or less in height above grade.

Retaining Wall. To hold back; water, earth or other materials; a wall or barrier used to restrict or retain 

Ridge Board. Upper-most horizontal framing member on a roof, to which the tops of the rafters are fixed. A horizontal board that serves as the apex of the roof structure. A framing member at the roof peak to which opposing rafters are attached.

Roof Assembly. A system designed to provide weather protection and resistance to design loads. The system consists of a roof covering and roof deck or a single component serving as both the roof covering and the roof deck. A roof assembly includes the roof covering, underlayment, roof deck, insulation, vapor retarder and interior finish.

Roofing Underlay. A building paper that covers roof sheathing prior to the roofing being installed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress.

Roof Sheathing. A building material (plywood) that covers roof framing prior to the underlay being installed.

R-Value(THERMAL RESISTANCE).The inverse of the time rate of heat flow through a body from one of its bounding surfaces to the other surface for a unit temperature difference between the two surfaces, under steady state conditions, per unit area (h _ ft2 _ °F/Btu) [(m2 _ K)/W].

Rural Home Inspection. An inspection done outside city limits. Usually with septic system and water well.

Septic Tank.  A sewage settling tank in which part of the sewage is converted into gas and sludge before the remaining waste is discharged by gravity into a leaching bed underground.  Septic tanks should be pumped at least every three years.

Sink. A washbowl with drain and faucets; sink used to wash ones hands and face;

Skylight. Glass or other transparent or translucent glazing material installed at a slope of 15 degrees (0.26 rad) or more from vertical. Glazing material in skylights, including unit skylights, solariums, sunrooms, roofs and sloped walls is included in this definition.

Spalling. Cracking or flaking that develops on a concrete surface.

Span. The distance between structural supports such as walls, columns, piers, beams, girders, and trusses.

Spark Arrester. Wire screen secured to the top of an incinerator to confine sparks and other products of burning .

Splash block. A small masonry block laid with the top close to the ground surface to receive roof drainage from downspouts and to carry it away from the building.

Stairs, Riser. (Rise: The height of each step)The vertical board rising from the back of each step in a stairway.

Stairs, Run. The width from front to back of each step.

Steam Heat.  One of the first types of central heating systems, still found in many private residences and buildings today. 

Steam heating systems were used until the 1950s, and even later in large buildings.  Steam heat offered many advantages in the early part of the century when central heat became popular:  Steam heating systems were simple to install in existing buildings.  There were few moving parts.  Steam could easily heat large buildings that could not be practically heated by any other system of the day.  By today’s standards, steam heat is noisy and inefficient.  There is also a long delay between the time the thermostat calls for heat to the time heat becomes available.  Once the radiators warm up, they continue to radiate heat after the boiler has shut off.

Storm Window. An extra window usually placed outside of an existing one, as additional protection against cold weather.

Stucco. Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with Portland cement as its base.

Stud. One of a series of slender wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.

Sub-Floor. Boards or plywood laid on joists over which a finish floor is to be laid.

Sump Pit. 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.

Sunroom. A one-story structure attached to a dwelling with a glazing area in excess of 40 percent of the gross area of the structure’s exterior walls and roof.

Suspended Ceiling. A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.

System. means a combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.

Temperature Pressure Relief Valve (TPR Valve): a valve that once it reaches a preset pressure or temperature point opens up to relieve the action.

Termites. Insects that superficially resemble ants in size, general appearance, and habit of living in colonies; hence, they are frequently called "white ants." Subterranean termites establish themselves in buildings not by being carried in with lumber, but by entering from ground nests after the building has been constructed. If unmolested, they eat out the woodwork, leaving a shell of sound wood to conceal their activities, and damage may proceed so far as to cause collapse of parts of a structure before discovery.

T & G. (Tongue and groove) A joint in which a protrusion (tongue) that runs along the edge of a board fits into a matching groove that runs along the edge of another board. Boards shaped with a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other so that they can be fitted together without gaps.

Thermostat. An automatic control device used to maintain temperature at a fixed or adjustable set point.

Threshold. A strip of wood or metal with beveled edges used over the finish floor and the sill of exterior doors.

Top plate. Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.

Trap. A bend in a water pipe to hold water so gases will not escape from the plumbing system into the house.

Tread. The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed. Also called the “Run”

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. A frame or jointed structure designed to act as a beam of long span, while each member is usually subjected to longitudinal stress only, either tension or compression.

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

Valley. The concave angle formed by the two sloping sides of a roof; low spot between higher points.

Vapor Barrier. Insulating materials used to prevent the buildup of moisture, whether by condensation or penetration in walls, floors and other parts of a building

Veneer. Thin sheets of wood or other material, such as brick or plaster, usually covering less costly material veneered construction the placing of a facing material over the external surface of a structure. 

Ventilation. The natural or mechanical process of supplying conditioned or unconditioned air to, or removing such air from, any space.

Ventilation Air.  That portion of supply air that comes from outside (outdoors) plus any recirculated air that has been treated to maintain the desired quality of air within a designated space.

Vermiculite. A mineral closely related to mica, with the faculty of expanding on heating to form lightweight material with insulation quality. Used as bulk insulation and also as aggregate in insulating and acoustical plaster and in insulating concrete floors.

Volt.  A unit of measure of electrical potential.

Wainscoting. The lower three or four feet of an interior wall, when lined with paneling, tile or other material different from the rest of the wall.

Wall cladding.(Siding). The exterior surface of a wall. A material used to cover the exterior wall of a building.

Water Heater.  Any device for producing hot water.  Most common are tankless coils used in conjunction with a furnace, or an oil, gas, or electric heater combined with a storage tank.  Most non-commercial water heaters are of limited capacity; that is, they are not designed for continuous or heavy use.

Water  Supply Quality. means water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical, mineral, and solids content of the water.

Water  Supply Quantity. means the rate of flow of on-site well water.

A unit of power equal to the volts applied times the current flowing (measured in amps). One kilowatt is 1000 watts.  A kilowatt-hour is the product of watts times the time (measured in hours).  It is watts, not volts or amps, that determines if a building has sufficient power.

Weather Stripping. Metal, wood, plastic or other material installed around door and window openings to prevent air infiltration.

Weep Holes. Holes built in or cut into retaining walls in which water will seep through to alleviate the damaging effect of the water to the wall; holes found in the bottom of stucco.

Weep Screed. The openings at the bottom edge of windows that allow water to drain out of the window channel (weep holes are designed to allow the relief of moisture or water)

Wood Rot.  Is a fungal growth that consumes the cellulose in timber and leaves behind a skeleton that is easily reduced to powder or comes apart in cube-shaped chunks.  Rot occurs in damp and moist areas.  When rot becomes apparent, it is often the tip of the iceberg.  Rot is often not visible until it becomes a serious problem.  Rot frequently appears suddenly.  It is not that rot spreads so rapidly, although rot can spread rapidly; rather, sound wood often obscures rotted wood.  It is therefore important to frequently check any wood that is exposed to moisture for rot.  Raised decks, porches, wood handrails, and other exterior improvements are hazardous when they rot and should be checked frequently.

Wythe. A partition in a chimney which contains more than one flue, separating the flues

 Z-Flashing. Bent, galvanized metal flashing that's installed above a horizontal trim board of an exterior window, door, or brick run. It prevents water from getting behind the trim/brick and into the home.

Zone. A space or group of spaces within a building with heating or cooling requirements that are sufficiently similar so that desired conditions can be maintained throughout using a single controlling device.

Zone valve. A device, usually placed near the heater or cooler, which controls the flow of water or steam to parts of the building; it is controlled by a zone thermostat.