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ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act.

AIR CONDITIONING: The process of treating air so as to control simultaneously its temperature, humidity, cleanliness, and distribution to meet comfort requirements of the occupants of the building's conditioned space.  

AIR DUCT: A pipe, usually made of sheet metal, or flexible material, that conducts air to rooms in a home or building from a central source.

AIR TRAP: A U-shaped pipe filled with water and located beneath plumbing fixtures to form a seal against the passage of gases and odors.

ALCOVE: A recessed space connected at the side of a larger room.

ALLIGATORING: A defect in roofing material consisting of intersecting cracks and ridges in the surface.

APRON:  A wood finish piece under a window sill, in the corner formed at the wall surface.

AMPERE: The unit used in the measure of the rate of flow of electricity. Informally called “Amp.”

ANCHOR BOLT: A threaded rod inserted in masonry construction for anchoring the sill plate to the foundation of a home.

ARBOR: A light, open structure having a lattice framework, usually supporting intertwined vines or flowers.

ARCADE: A series of arches supported by a row of columns.

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

ASHI: Acronym for American Society of Home Inspectors.

ASHPIT: The area below the hearth of a fireplace that collects the ashes.

ASPHALT: Bituminous sandstones used for paving streets and waterproofing flat roofs.

ASPHALT SHINGLES: Composition roof shingles made from asphalt-impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.

ASTM: The American Society for Testing and Materials.

ATRIUM: An open court within a building or home.

ATTIC: The accessible space between the ceiling framing of the topmost story and the underside of the roof framing. Inaccessible areas are considered “structural cavities and are not subject to inspection.”

AWNING WINDOW: An out-swinging window hinged at the top.

GABLE: The vertical triangular end of a building or home, from the eaves to the ridge.

GALVANIC CORROSION: An electrochemical action which takes place when dissimilar metals are in contact in the presence of an electrolyte, resulting in corrosion.

GALVANIZE: A lead and zinc bath treatment to prevent rusting.

GALVANIZED PIPE: A steel or iron pipe which has been galvanized by coating it with a thin layer of zinc.

GAMBREL ROOF: A roof style on a home with 2 slopes on each side, the lower slope steeper than the upper.

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GARRET: An attic in a home.

GINGERBREAD: Highly decorative, elaborate woodwork used in architecture, especially in the trim of a house.

GIRDER: A horizontal beam supporting the floor joists in a building or home.

GLAZING: Installation of glass in windows and doors in a building.

GRADE: (1) Finished surface of ground around a commercial building or home. (2) Refers to classification of the quality of lumber or plywood.

GRADIENT: Inclination of a road, piping, or the ground, expressed in percent.

GRAVEL STOP: Strip of metal with a vertical lip used to retain the gravel around a built-up roof.

GREEN LUMBER: Lumber that still contains moisture or sap.

GROUND: Intentional or accidental connection (bonding) between a circuit or equipment and the earth or other conducting material.

GROUND-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTER (GFCI): An electrical device that breaks an electric circuit when an excessive leakage current is detected. Intended to eliminate shock hazards to people.

GROUT: Thin cement mortar used for leveling and filling masonry cavities.

GUSSET: Plywood or metal plate used to strengthen joints of a truss.

GUTTER: Metal or wood trough on a building or home for carrying rainwater to downspouts.

MANSARD ROOF: A roof with two slopes on each side, with the lower slope being nearly vertical and the upper nearly horizontal.

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MANTEL: A shelf over a fireplace.

MASONRY: General term for brickwork, stonework, concrete blockwork or similar materials.

MASTIC: Flexible adhesive for adhering building materials.

MATTE FINISH: Finish free of gloss or highlights.

MEMBER: A single piece of building material used in a structure.

MILLWORK: Finish carpentry work or that woodwork done in a mill and delivered to the site; relates to interior trim.

MITER JOINT: Joint made with ends or edges of two pieces cut at 45-degree angles and fastened together.

MONOLITHIC: Term used for concrete work poured and cast in one piece without joints.

MORTAR: A mixture of cement, sand, and water, used as a bonding agent by the mason for binding bricks and stones.

MOSAIC: Small colored tile, glass, stone, or similar material arranged to produce a decorative surface.

MUD ROOM: A small room or entranceway in a house where muddy overshoes and wet garments can be removed before entering other rooms of the home.

MULLION: Structural support member between a series of windows.

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MUNTIN: Small bar separating the glass lights in a window sash.

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TEGULAR TILES: Ceiling tiles with recessed edges that allow the tile to hang below the ceiling grid of a commercial building.

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TENSION: Pulling or stretching force. Opposite of compression.

TERRAZZO: Wear-resistant flooring in commercial buildings made of marble chips or small stones embedded in cement matrix that has been polished smooth.

THERMOCOUPLE: A safety device on most gas- or oil-fired appliances that shuts off the supply of fuel if the pilot light blows out. Commonly found on furnaces and water heaters.

THERMOSTAT: A device for automatically controlling the supply of heat and air.

THRESHOLD: Wood, metal, or stone member at the floor within the door jamb. Its purpose is to provide a divider between dissimilar flooring materials, or serve as a thermal, sound or water barrier. 

THROAT: A passage located directly above the fireplace opening where a damper is set.

TIE: A structural member used to bind others together.

TIE BEAM: A horizontal timber connecting two opposite rafters at their lower ends to prevent them from spreading.

TIE ROD: A rod in tension, used to bind parts of a building together.

TIMBER: Lumber at least five or more inches in dimension for posts, sills, and girders.

TOENAILING: To drive a nail at a slant with the initial surface in order to permit it to penetrate into a second member.

TRANSOM: The bar or horizontal construction that divides a window. More commonly applied to the sash over the door.

TRANSOM WINDOW: A narrow horizontal window above a window or door, named for the cross bar on which it rests.

TRAP: U-shaped pipe below plumbing fixtures which provides a water seal to prevent sewer odors and gases from entering habitable areas in a building or home.

TREAD: The step or horizontal member of a stair.

TRUSS: Structural unit of members fastened in triangular arrangements to form a rigid framework for support over long spans.

TRUSS RAFTER: Truss spaced close enough (usually 24" o.c.) to eliminate the need for purlins.

TURRET: A small tower usually on the corner of a building, most common in Victorian-style homes.


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Glossary of Inspection, Architectural, and Construction Terms
Commeercial Building Inspection Seattle Building Inspector Construction Architetcure