This glossary is provided as a general reference tool for learners to consult as regards technical terminology referred to in the SAHITA modules and also to commonly used terms used in South African building.


A/C: An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.

A/C Circuit: Alternating Current. The flow of current through a conductor first in one direction, then in reverse. It is used exclusively in residential and commercial wiring because it provides greater flexibility in voltage selection and simplicity of equipment design.

A/C Condenser: The outside fan unit of the air conditioning system. It removes the heat from the Freon gas and turns the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.

A/C Disconnect: The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C condenser.

Above Grade Wall: A wall more that is mostly above ground and enclosing conditioned space.

Acrylic: A glassy thermoplastic material that is vacuum-formed to cast and mould shapes that form the surface of fiberglass bathtubs, whirlpools, shower bases, and shower stalls.

Adhesion: The property of a coating or sealant to bond to the surface to which it is applied.

Aggregate: Crushed stone, slag or gravel that comes in a wide range of sizes which is used to mix with sand and cement to form concrete.

Algae: Microorganisms that may grow to colonies in damp environments, including certain rooftops. They can discolor shingles. Often described as a “fungus.”

Allowable Span: The distance between two supporting points for load bearing lumber such as joists,

Amperage: The rate of flow of electricity through wire – measured in terms of amperes.

Amps (AMPERES): The rate at which electricity flows through a conductor.

Anchor Bolts: In residential construction, bolts used to secure a wooden sill plate to a concrete or masonry floor or wall.

Angle Valve: A shutoff valve in which the inlet connects to the water supply pipe in the wall and the outlet angles 90 degrees upward toward the tap or toilet.

Annealing: In the manufacturing of float glass, the process of controlled cooling done in a Lahr to prevent residual stresses in the glass.

Apron: An impervious strip (concrete or paving) installed around the base of walls to prevent water seeping under the foundations.

Apron flashing: A horizontal flashing installed where the top end of a roof slope meets a vertical projection, such as a chimney or parapet wall.

Arbitration Service: A service to resolve complaints, as in NACHI’s Arbitration Service.

Architrave:  Decorative moulding, beyond the reveal, of a door or window frame.

Asbestos: A common form of magnesium silicate which was used in various construction products due to its stability and resistance to fire. Asbestos exposure (caused by inhaling loose asbestos fibers) is associated with various forms of lung disease. The name given to certain inorganic minerals when they occur in fibrous form. Though fire-resistant, it’s extremely fine fibres are easily inhaled, and exposure to them over a period of years has been linked to cancers of the lung or lung-cavity lining and to asbestosis a severe lung impairment. A naturally occurring mineral fibre sometimes found in older homes. It is hazardous to your health when a possibility exists of exposure to inhalable fibres. Homeowners should be alert for friable (readily crumbled, brittle) asbestos and always seek professional advice in dealing with it.

Asphalt: A dark brown to black highly viscous hydrocarbon produced from the residue left after the distillation of petroleum. Asphalt is used on roofs and highways as a waterproofing agent.  Also know and bitumen or tarmac.

Astragal: A moulding which is attached to one of a pair of swinging doors against which the other door strikes.

Auger Underpinning: The underpinning of foundations by drilling a series of auger holes under the foundations. By part filling with concrete it is possible to lift the foundation with hydraulic jacks, before totally filling with concrete

Awning Window: A window with hinges at the top allowing it to open out and up. Also known as a top-opening sash.


Backfill: The slope of the ground adjacent to the house. In any previously excavated area, i.e., the replacement of excavated earth into a trench around and against a basement foundation.

Backhoe: Self-powered excavation equipment that digs by pulling a boom mounted bucket towards itself. It is used to dig basements and/or footings and to install drainage or sewer systems.

Bagged brickwork:  A coat, or the application of a coat, of cement render (slush) to the surface of stone masonry or brickwork, to improve the appearance or to waterproof it. Technical term is “parging”.

Balcony: Exterior floor projecting from and supported by a structure without additional independent supports.

Balloon Framing: In carpentry, the lightest and most economical form of construction in which the studding and corner plates are set up in continuous lengths from the first floor line or sill to the roof plate to which all floor joists are fastened.

Balusters: Usually small vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and the stair treads or a bottom rail.

Balustrade: A railing made up of balusters, top rail, and sometimes bottom rail, used on the edge of stairs, teal conies, and porches.

Barge: A finishing at the gable end of a roof, fixed parallel to the roof slope.

Barge Board: A decorative board covering the rafter ends at the gable end of the roof.

Basement: That portion of a building which is partly or completely below grade.

Basement Wall: A wall of a building that is mostly below grade.

Batten:   Pieces of wood 38X38mm) used to span rafters (trusses) over which the lugs of a roof tile are hooked.  The same size wood is fixed to the bottom (tie beams) of truss and is used to carry suspended ceilings.

Bay Window: Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square, polygonal in plan.

Bead: In glazing, an applied sealant in a joint irrespective of the method of application, such as caulking bead, glazing bead, etc. Also a moulding or stop used to hold glass or panels in position.

Beam: A supporting member either of wood or steel. Structural support member (steel, concrete, lumber) transversely supporting a load that transfers weight from one location to another.

Bearing Header: (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

Bearing Point: A point that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

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

Bedrock: A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.

Bedroom: A room used for sleeping purposes.

Below Grade: The portion of a building that is below ground level.

Bevel: The angle of the edge of a piece of timber – usually 45 degrees. See also chamfer.

Bifold Door: Doors that are hinged in the middle to allow them to open in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for cupboard doors.

Bitumen: Any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons occurring naturally or obtained through the distillation of coal or petroleum. (See Tarmac and Asphalt).

Bleed Water: Water that rise to the surface of freshly poured concrete during the process of laying, vibrating and screeding.

Bleeding: The migration of a liquid to the surface of a component or into/onto an adjacent material.

Blind Nailing: Nailing in such a way that the nail heads are not visible on the face of the work—usually at the tongue of matched boards.

Blister: An enclosed raised spot evident on the surface of a building. They are mainly caused by the expansion of trapped air, water vapour, moisture or other gases.

Blistering on Concrete:  Faults on finished concrete, caused by entrapped air or bleed water below the surface.

Boiled Linseed Oil: Linseed oil that has been thickened in viscosity by suitable processing with heat or chemicals. Boilied or bodied oils are obtainable in a great range in viscosity from a little greater than that of raw oil to just short of a jellied condition.

Bond Breaker: A substance or a tape applied between two adjoining materials to prevent adhesion between them.

Bonding: The permanent joining of metallic parts to form an electrically conductive path that ensures electrical continuity and the capacity to conduct safely any fault current likely to be imposed.

Bonding Strip (Electrical): A thin strip of metal inside armoured or BX cable. This strip is meant to back up the primary ground.

Bottom Chord: The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.

Box Gutter: A gutter not at an eave, typically at the base of two opposing roof slopes.

Brace: An inclined piece of timber used to stiffen a roof (or other) the structure.

Branch Circuit (Electrical): Wiring that runs from a service panel or sub-panel to outlets. Branch circuits are protected by fuses or breakers at the panel.

Breaker Box: A metal box that contains circuit breakers or fuses that control the electrical current in a home.  See Distribution Board

Breaker Panel: The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.  Usual known as a distribution board (DB).

Breeze Way: A roofed, open-sided passageway connecting two structures, such as a house and a garage.

Brick:  Man-made masonry unit (usually burnt clay or concrete).

Brick Force: Ladder-shaped steel reinforcing wire of differing widths laid in the mortar bed between courses of brickwork.

Brick Bond: Different methods of laying bricks in different patterns. Header: brick laid so that the end only appears on the face of the wall. Stretcher: brick laid so that the side only appears on the face of the wall. English Bond: method of laying bricks so that alternate courses or layers on the face of the wall are composed of headers or stretchers only. Flemish Bond: method of laying bricks so that alternate headers or stretchers appear in each course on the face of the wall.

Broom Finish Concrete: A simple and basic non-skid finish to concrete paved areas created by drawing a stiff brush or broom over the surface.

Building Envelope: The enclosure that defines the area of a building, namely the exterior walls and roof.

Built-in: Permanently installed.

Bull Nose: Rounded front edge of tile.

Bushing: A pipe fitting for joining pipes with different diameters. A bushing is threaded on the inside and outside.

Butt Glazing: The installation of glass products where the vertical glass edges are without structural supporting mullions.

Butt Joint: Where the ends of two timbers or other materials meet in a square-cut joint.

Butterfly Roof: A roof assembly, which pitches sharply from either side toward the centre.

Butterfly wall ties: Galvanised butterfly shaped wire wall ties used in cavity wall construction with a downward pointing drip in the centre.

Buttering: In bricklaying to place mortar on the end of a brick.

Buttress:  An external masonry mass set against or built into a masonry wall to resist forces at right angles (lateral) to the wall. For example the outward thrust of a retaining wall.

Butyl: Type of non-curing and non-skinning sealant made from butylene. Usually used for internal applications.


Canopy: An overhanging roof.

Cantilever: A projecting beam or other structure supported only at one end. Any part of a structure that projects beyond its main support and is balanced on it.

Cap: The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, moulding, and the like.

Cap Flashing: The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Capping:  A cover at the top of a gap that weather-proofs – typically at the ridge of a pitched roof.

Casement Frames and Sash: Frames of wood or metal enclosing part or the entire sash, which may be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.

Casement Window: A side-hinged window that opens on hinges secured to the side of the window frame.

Casing: Moulding of various widths and thicknesses used to trim door and window openings at the jambs.  Also known in South Africa as an architrave.

Cast in-situ: Concrete that is cast in place. Formwork is used to hold the wet concrete in place.

Cast Iron: Heavy metal formed by casting on moulds. The metal is covered with a porcelain enamel coating to make fixtures such as the cast iron tubs.

Cast-Iron Pipe (Plumbing): Drain and vent lines. Most older drain-waste venting systems are made of cast-iron pipes. Now increasingly supplanted by PVC. Pipes were originally joined with molten lead, but most plumbers now join them with no-hub couplers.

Catch Basin: A drain for a low or wet spot, with pipe exiting the side and a pit at the bottom to collect sediment.

Cat Ladder: In scaffolding and while working on steep roofs. A ladder that lays on top of the roof surface as an aid to walking and working on a roof surfaces. Also known as a crawling board.

Caulk: The application of sealant to a joint, crack or crevice. A compound used for sealing that has minimum joint movement capability; sometimes called low performance sealant.

Cavity Wall:  Two “skins” or “leaves” of masonry, usually brickwork used as an external wall. The wall cavity provides thermal insulation and a moisture barrier.

Caulking: Material used to seal exterior cracks and openings such as windows or foundations.

CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate): A pesticide that is forced into wood under high pressure to protect it from termites, other wood boring insects, and decay caused by fungus.

Ceiling Joist: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.

Cells (Masonry): The hollow spaces in concrete blocks.

Cellulose Insulation: Ground-up newspaper that is treated with a fire retardant.

Cement: The grey powder that is the “glue” in concrete. Portland cement. Also, any adhesive.

Cement Mixtures: Rich – 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, 3 parts coarse aggregate. Used for concrete roads and waterproof structures. Standard – 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, 4 parts coarse aggregate. Used for reinforced work floors, roofs, columns, arches, tanks, sewers, conduits, etc. Medium – 1 part cement, 2 1/2 parts sand, 5 parts coarse aggregate. Used for foundations, walls, abutments, piers, etc. Lean – 1 part cement, 3 parts sand, 6 parts coarse aggregate. Used for all mass concrete work, large foundations, backing for stone masonry, etc. Mixtures are always listed Cement to Sand to Aggregate.

Ceramic Disk Valve: A type of valve that relies on two-part revolving disks in a sealed cylinder. Each disk has a port in it that, when aligned with the other, will allow water to pass through.

Ceramic Tile: A glazed clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub and shower enclosures and on counter tops.

Certificate of Occupancy: A document stating that a building is approved for occupancy. The Local Authority (municipality) issues the Certificate of Occupancy.

Certified: Having a formal document testifying to qualification or completion of requirements.

Chair Rail: A moulding that runs horizontally along the wall at about one metre from the ground.

Chalk Line: A line made on the roof by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.

Chamfer: Surface made by cutting across the square angle of a stone block, piece of wood, etc., at an angle of 45° to the other two surfaces.

Change Order: A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the Construction Contract.  See Variation Order (or VO)

Chase: A channel cut into a wall to accommodate a water pipe or electrical conduit.

Chimney: A structure containing one or more flues for removing gases to the outside atmosphere.

Chip Board: A manufactured wood panel made out of wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing.

Circuit: A network of wiring that typically commences at a distribution board feeds electricity to outlets and ultimately returns to the DB.

Circuit Breaker: A protective device which automatically opens an electrical circuit when it is overloaded.

Cistern: Reservoir for water. Common in houses built prior to 1950.

Cladding:  External covering or skin applied to a structure – usually walls, but can also apply to roof coverings.

Cleat: A wedge-shaped piece (usually of metal) which serves as a support or check. A strip fastened across something to give strength or hold something in position.

Clerestory: High-level windows above the first roof level.

Cold Joint:  An unplanned joint in concrete work which should never happen. When one batch of concrete in a continuous pour starts to set (kick) before the next batch is available.

Collar: In roofing, a conical metal cap flashing used in conjunction with vent pipes or stacks usually located several cm above the plane of the roof for the purpose of shedding water away from the base of the vent.

Collar-beam: Tie-beam applied higher up the slope of the roof – joining two opposing rafters.

Collar-jointed wall:  A double skin brick wall with no cavity – the skins are joined by means of brick force or wall ties.

Column: In architecture: 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.

Combustion Chamber: The part of a boiler, furnace or woodstove where the burn occurs; normally lined with firebrick or moulded or sprayed insulation.

Common Rafter: Rafter that extends from the wall plate to the ridge.

Component: A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.

Composite Board: An insulation board which has two different insulation types laminated together in 2 or 3 layers.

Compression Fitting: Used to join or connect pipes and conduit by causing a ring to compress against the connecting tube when tightening with a wrench.  Also known as an O-ring.

Compression test: A laboratory test of the compressive strength of concrete samples.

Concealed: Rendered inaccessible by the structure or finish of the building. Wires in concealed conduits are considered concealed, even though they may become accessible by withdrawing them.  Water downpipes are sometimes concealed within the masonry.

Concealed-fastened: A method of fixing roof sheeting by means of hidden, fixing clips or brackets (sometimes called secret fixing).

Concrete Block: A hollow concrete ‘brick’ of various sizes. Often used in low rise commercial and some residential construction.

Concrete Corefill: A concrete mix designed for filling the hollow cores of reinforced CMU blocks.

Concrete Fill: A mix of concrete designed to fill the cavity of cavity brick walls from the foundation to the damp proof course level.

Concrete Formwork: The materials (wood or metal) that are used to keep wet concrete in the correct position until it has set. After a period of time it is usually removed.

Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU): A hollow concrete building block. The CMU system allows for masonry walls to be built in a range of sizes and applications including the use of reinforced concrete vertical cores.

Concrete Pavers: Factory made products in all shapes and sizes for creating paved areas.

Concrete Rebar: Steel reinforcing bars of various diameters, patterns and steel grades used for reinforcing concrete.

Concrete Suspended Slab: A slab spanning between walls, columns or other supports. Distinct from a slab on the ground.

Conductivity: The rate at which heat is transmitted through a material.

Conductor (Electrical): Anything that conducts or carries electricity.

Conduit: A hollow pipe casing through which electric lines run. Old conduit was metal – modern conduit is PVC.

Conduit (Electrical): Tubing used to protect wiring.

Continuity Tester: An electrical tool used to identify and diagnose a circuit as either open or closed.

Control Joint: A control joint controls or accommodates movement in the surface component of a structure.  Also known as a movement joint or slip joint.

Control Joint Grouting: The injection of grout or mastic into control joints.

Coping:  Protective course of masonry or brickwork capping a wall. Often a parapet or balustrade wall.

Coping Joint: The intersection of a roof slope and an exterior vertical wall.

Corbel: Projecting block supporting something above.

Corbelling:  Brick or masonry courses built out beyond one another to support a chimney-stack, window, etc.

Corbel Out: To build out one or more courses of brick or stone from the face of a wall to form a support for timbers.

Cornice: The decorative moulding in the angle between wall and ceiling. Also refers to the flat-topped ledge with moulded underside, projecting along the top of a building or feature.  Also refers to a horizontal projecting course on the exterior of a building, usually at the base of the parapet.

Corrosion: The deterioration of metal by chemical or electrochemical reaction resulting from exposure to weathering, moisture, chemicals or other agents or media.

Corrugated: Folded or shaped into parallel ridges or furrows so as to form a symmetrically wavy surface.

Counter Flashing: The formed metal secured to a wall, curb, or roof top unit to cover and protect the upper edge of a base flashing and its associated fasteners. This type of flashing is usually used in residential construction on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and to prevent moisture entry.

Coupling: In plumbing, a short collar with only inside threads at each end, for receiving the ends of two pipes which are to be fitted and joined together. A right/left coupling is one used to join 2 gas pipes in limited space.

Course: A single layer of brick or stone or other building material.

Cove Molding: A moulding with a concave face used as trim or to finish interior corners.

Crater: Pit in the surface of concrete resulting from cracking of the mortar due to expansive forces associated with a particle of unsound aggregate or a contaminating material, such as wood or glass.

Crawl Space: A shallow open area between the floor of a building and the ground, normally enclosed by the foundation wall.

Crazing: A series of hairline cracks in the surface of weathered materials, having a web-like appearance.

Cross Tee: Short metal “T” beam used in suspended ceiling systems to bridge the spaces between the main beams.

Cross-Bridging: Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the centre of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.

Crosscutting: Cutting across the wood grain; to crosscut a board is to cut across its width.

Crown: The sloped top of a masonry chimney designed to shed water away from the flue; also called a splay or a wash.

Culvert: Drain pipe that is installed beneath a driveway or road.

Cupola: A small dome at the peak of a pitched roof.

Cupping: A type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their edges.

Curing: 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. Design strength is achieved in 28 days.

Curing (Paint): The process of paint bonding to a surface. Curing and drying are not the same.

Curing Agent: One part of a multi-part sealant which, when added to the base, will cause the base to change its physical state by chemical reaction between the two parts.

Cut-off Valves: Valves used to shut water off, generally located under sinks or behind bathtub and shower access panels. They cut off hot and/or cold water at the source without cutting all water off throughout the house.  Also known as “shut-off” valves.


Dado:  The finishing (often with panelling) of the lower part of a wall in a classical interior.

Dado rail: The moulding along the top of the dado. See also “chair rail”.

Damper: An air valve that regulates the flow of air inside the flue of a furnace or fireplace.

Damp-proof course:  Impervious barrier (plastic, malthoid or in the old days slate) laid beneath of a course of bricks to prevent damp wicking through the masonry.  Commonly “DPC”.

Damp-proofing: A process used on concrete, masonry or stone surfaces to repel water, the main purpose of which is to prevent the coated surface from absorbing rain water while still permitting moisture vapour to escape from the structure. (Moisture vapour readily penetrates coatings of this type.) “Damp-proofing” generally applies to surfaces above grade; “water-proofing” generally applies to surfaces below grade.

Dead Load: The constant, design-weight (of the roof) and any permanent fixtures attached above or below.

Decay: Disintegration of wood or other substance through the action of fungi.

Deck: An elevated platform. “Deck” is also commonly used to refer to the above-ground floors in multi-level parking garage.

Decorative: Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems and components of a home.

Decorative Concrete: Concrete pavements and floors that have the surface modified in some way to provide a decorative effect.

Defensible Space: An area around a building designed to slow the rate of an advancing wildfire.

Deflect: To bend or deform under weight.

Deflection: The amount of bending movement of any part of a structural member perpendicular to the axis of the member under an applied load.

Direct Nailing: To nail perpendicular to the initial surface or to the junction of the pieces joined. Also termed Face Nailing.  Compare skew nailing.

Doorjamb (Interior): The surrounding case into which and out of which a door closes and opens. It consists of two upright pieces, called stiles or side jambs, and a horizontal head jamb.

Dormer:  Window placed vertically in the sloping plane of a roof.

Double-Glazing: In general, any use of two panes of glass, separated by an air space within an opening to improve insulation against heat transfer and/or sound transmission. In insulating glass units, the air between the glass sheets is thoroughly dried and the space is sealed, eliminating possible condensation and providing superior insulating properties.

Dowel Bars:  Reinforcing bars used in concrete work across an expansion joint or construction joint that allow movement horizontally but keep the vertical movement across the joint in a minimum

Downpipe: The pipe that carries water down from the gutter.

Dressed Stonework: Stonework that has worked to shape with the faces that are seen brought to a smooth (ish) finish.

Drip: (a) A member of a cornice or other horizontal exterior finish course that has a projection beyond the other parts for throwing off water. (b) A groove in the underside of a sill or drip cap to cause water to drop off on the outer edge instead of drawing back and running down the face of the building.

Drip Cap: A moulding placed on the exterior top side of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.

Drip Edge: A device designed to prevent water from running back or under an overhang.

Dry Rot: See Fungal Wood Rot.

Dry Stone Wall: Stonework where the stones are laid dry with no mortar joint. The term chiefly refers to walls in rural areas that perform the function of a wall using natural rocks from the adjacent land, thus helping to also clear the land for other use.

Dry Stack Cladding:  Decorative wall cladding formed by small pieces of stone with no horizontal mortar joint.

Drywall: A gypsum board material used for walls or ceilings.

Drywall Construction: A type of construction in which the interior wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet materials or wood panelling as contrasted to plaster.

Duct: A cylindrical or rectangular “tube” used to move air either from exhaust or intake, and for distributing warm air from the heating plant to rooms, or air from a conditioning device or as cold air returns. The installation is referred to as “duct work.”

Ductwork: A system of distribution channels used to transmit heated or cooled air from a central system (HVAC) throughout a home.

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

DWV (Drainage, Waste & Vent): The pipes in a plumbing system that remove waste water.


Earthed: refers to electricity’s habit of seeking the shortest route to earth. Neutral wires carry current there in all circuits. An additional earthing wire (green/yellow striped) or the sheathing of the metal-clad cable or conduit protects against shock if the neutral leg (blue or black) is interrupted. Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

Earthing spike: Rod used to ground an electrical system and distribution board.

Eaves: The part of the roof which overhangs the side wall. The under part of eaves are referred to as the “soffit”.

Eaves Flashing: Additional layer of roofing material applied at the eaves to help prevent damage from water backup.

Eaves Gutter: A roof gutter attached at an eaves overhang.

Efflorescence: A white powder on the surface of walls due to evaporation of water. It forms on the surface of bricks.

Elbow: An angled fitting that alters the direction of the water line.

Elevation: A side of a building.

Elevation Sheet: The page on the blue prints that depicts the house or room as if a vertical plane were passed through the structure.

Emulsion: In roofing, a coating consisting of asphalt and fillers suspended in water.

End Lap: The amount or location of overlap at the end of a roll of roofing felts in the application.

 Escutcheon: A trim piece or decorative flange that fits over a keyhole.  Also used for the decorative flange or bezel beneath a tap or mixer handle to conceal the stem and the hole in the fixture or wall.

Evidence: Plainly visible and conspicuous material objects or other things presented to the senses that would tend to produce conviction in the mind of an ordinary person as to the existence or non-existence of a fact.

Examine: To visually look. See Inspect.

Exhaust Fan: Extracts air or excess heat or smoke from the interior of a home.

Expansion Coefficient: The amount that a specific material will vary in any one dimension with a change of temperature.

Expansion Joint: A device used to permit a structure to expand or contract without breakage. In residential construction, a bituminous fibre strip used to separate blocks or units of concrete to prevent cracking due to expansion as a result of temperature changes. Also used on concrete slabs.

Expansive Soils: Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present.

Exposed: Capable of being inadvertently touched by a person because it is not suitably guarded, isolated, or insulated.

Exposed Aggregate: A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture of the top layer of the aggregate – usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.

Exposed Aggregate Finish: A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture off the top layer of the aggregate – usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.

Exterior Wall: An outside wall of a building, either above or below grade.

Extermination: The control or elimination of insects, rats, vermin, or other pests.


Facade: The front of a building. Frequently, in architectural terms an artificial or decorative effort.

Face Brick: Brick made especially for exterior use with special consideration of colour, texture and size, and used as a facing on a building.

Fall (slope): The slope of a roof, gutter, or ground, often expressed in degrees, or as a ratio of vertical height to horizontal distance (e.g. 1 in 20).

Fascia: A flat, horizontal board enclosing the overhang under the eave.

Fasteners: A general term covering a wide variety of screws and nails, which may be used for mechanically securing various components of a building.

Female Thread: Pipe connection where the threads are on the inside of the fitting. See FIP.

Fenestration: Architectural term – any glass panel, window, door, curtain wall or skylight unit on the exterior of a building.

Ferrous: Refers to objects made of or partially made of iron, such as ferrous pipe.

Ferrule:  Short, insulated tubes which are used to clamp and join wire carrying electricity.

Fillet: Triangular shape of concrete or mortar often laid at the bottom (inside) of a cavity wall or where a slab roof abuts a parapet wall.  Also refers to lengths of timber or plastic used to form chamfers in concrete.

Finger Joint: A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of timber. Often used in jambs and casings and normally painted (instead of stained).

Finish Carpentry: The hanging of all interior doors, installation of door moulding, skirting boards, chair rail, built in shelves, etc.

Finish Coat: The last coat applied in plastering intended as a base for further decorating or as a final decorative surface. Finish coat usually consists of calcified gypsum, lime and sometimes an aggregate. Some may require the addition of lime or sand on the job. The three basic methods of applying it are trowel, flat and spray.

Fire Brick: Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist high temperatures. Used in fireplaces and boilers.

Fire Rated: Descriptive of materials that have been tested for use in fire walls and fire doors.

Fire Resistance Rating: The time that materials or assemblies can withstand fire exposure.

Fire Retardant Chemical: A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce flammability or to retard spread of flame.

Fire Wall: Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls of solid masonry or concrete generally sub-divide a building from the foundations to the plane of the roof.

Fish Tape (Fish Wire): Material used to advance wire through a conduit.

Fixture: In plumbing, the devices that provide a supply of water and/or its disposal, e.g. sinks, tubs, toilets.

Flagstone (Flagging or Flags): Flat stones, from 25-100mm thick, used for rustic walks, steps, floors, and the like.

Flapper Valve (Plumbing): A valve that replaces a tank stopper in a toilet. Creates a seal between the tank and the bowl.

Flashing: A material, usually metal, used to waterproof the junction between two intersecting roof and/or wall surfaces. At a masonry wall, it is often built into the mortar.

Flat Glass: A general term that describes float glass, sheet glass, plate glass, and rolled glass.

Flat Paint: An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lustreless finish.

Flex Hose: A flexible pipe or tube usually made of braided stainless steel. Commonly used with widespread or Roman tub faucets to provide variable centres.

Flexible Metal Conduit: Conduit similar to armoured cable in appearance but does not have the pre-inserted conductors.

Float Glass: Glass formed on a bath of molten tin. The surface in contact with the tin is known as the tin surface or tin side. The top surface is known as the atmosphere surface or air side.

Floating: The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when it is smoothed and water is brought to the surface by using a hand float or bull float.

Floor Plan: The basic layout of building or addition, which includes placement of walls, windows and doors as well as dimensions.

Flue: A pipe used to exhaust smoke, gas or air.

Flue Collar: Round metal ring which fits around the heat flue pipe after the pipe passes out of the roof.

Flue Damper: An automatic door located in the flue that closes it off when the burner turns off; its purpose is to reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or boiler.

Fluorescent Lighting: A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphor coating on the inside, normally with two pins that extend from each end. Gas inside the tube is ionized by electricity which causes the phosphor coating to glow.

Flush Valve: The valve separating the water in the tank from the bowl.

Flux: A material applied to the surface of copper pipes and fittings to assist in the cleaning and bonding process.

Foot Print: See Floor Plan.

Footing: The underground support for a foundation wall or support post.

Footings: Wide pours of cement reinforced with re-bar (reinforcing bar) that support foundation walls, pillars, or posts. Footings are part of the foundation and are normally poured before the foundation walls.

Form: Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.

Form Oil:  A generally low viscosity oil that is easily sprayed onto ply or steel form surfaces to stop the concrete sticking to the forms. Also called release oil or release agent.

Foundation: The supporting portion of a structure below the ground floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.

Framing: The structural wood and/or metal elements of timber or fibre cement (Nutec) homes. The floor and ceiling framing is called the joist work. Wall framing is usually made out of vertical studs. See Rafters, Posts, and Beams.

Frog: An indentation in the bottom surface of a brick.

Fungal Wood Rot: A common wood destroying organism which develops when wood containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a long (6 months +) period of time. Often and incorrectly referred to as dry rot.

Fungi (Wood): Microscopic plants that live in damp wood and cause mould, stain, and decay.

Fungicide: A chemical that is poisonous to fungi.


Gable: The end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. The triangular end of an exterior wall from the level of the eaves to the ridge of a double-sloped roof. In house construction, the portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.

Gable End: An end wall having a gable.

Gable Roof: A type of roof with sloping planes of the same pitch on each side of the ridge. Often has a gable at each end.

Galvanize: To coat a metal with zinc by dipping it in molten zinc after cleaning.

Gambrel Roof: A type of roof which has its slope broken by an obtuse angle, so that the lower slope is steeper than the upper slope. A double sloped roof having two pitches.  See also “Dutch gable”

Gang Nail Plate: A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint of a truss. Sometimes called a Fishplate or Gusset.

Gate Valve: A valve that lets you completely stop, but not modulate, the flow within a pipe.

l amount of current is flowing through the grounding system.

GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete): Material used in wall systems that resembles but generally does not perform as well as concrete. Usually a thin cementitious material laminated to plywood or other lightweight backing.

Girder: A main beam upon which floor joists rest. Used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length, usually made of steel or wood.

Girder truss: Reinforced truss (often just a double truss) used to carry loads in hipped roofs.

Glass: A hard, brittle substance, usually transparent, made by fusing silicates under high temperatures with soda, lime, etc.

Glazing: A generic term used to describe an infill material such as glass, panels, etc. Also the process of installing an infill material into a prepared opening in windows, door panels, partitions, etc.

Glazing Bead: In glazing, a strip surrounding the edge of the glass in a window or door which holds the glass in place.

Glazing Channel: In glazing, a three-sided, U-shaped sash detail into which a glass product is installed and retained.

Gloss (Paint or Enamel): A paint or enamel that contains a relatively low proportion of pigment and dries to a sheen or lustre.

Gloss Enamel: A finishing material made of varnish and sufficient pigments to provide opacity and colour, but little or no pigment of low opacity. Such an enamel forms a hard coating with maximum smoothness of surface and a high degree of gloss.

Glued Laminated Beam (Glulam): A structural beam composed of wood laminations or lams. The lams are pressure bonded with adhesive.

Grain: The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in wood.

Granules: The mineral particles of a graded size which are embedded in the asphalt coating of shingles and roofing.

Gravel: Loose fragments of rock.

Gutter: A channel that collects roof water and carries it to an outlet.

Groundwater: Water from an aquifer or subsurface water source.

Grout: A hydrous mortar whose consistency allows it to be placed into small joints or cavities, as between pieces of ceramic clay, slate, or tile. Also, various mortar mixes used in foundation work to fell voids in soils, usually injected through drilled holes.

Grout or Grouting: A cement mortar mixture made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into joints and cavities of masonry work to fill them solid.

Gunite: A construction material composed of cement, sand or crushed slag and water mixed together and forced through a cement gun by pneumatic pressure, used in the construction of swimming pools.

Gusset: A flat wood, plywood, or similar type member used to provide a connection at intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints of wood trusses. They are fastened by nails, screws, bolts, or adhesives.

Gutter:  Plastic or metal trough at the eaves of a roof to carry rain water from the roof to the downpipe.

Gutter Brackets: Metal bands used to support the gutter.

Gypsum Plaster: Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of sand and water for base-coat plaster.  Cretestone is a common gypsum plaster.


H Clip: Small metal clips formed like an “H” that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.

Habitable Space: Space in a structure for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, closets, halls, storage areas and utility spaces are not considered habitable spaces.

Handrail:  A safety rail or railing at a convenient height to be grasped by the hand. Used on stairs, landings, platforms, elevated ramps etc.

Hardware: Metal accessories such as door knobs, towel bars, toilet paper holders, etc.

Hatch: An opening in a deck, floor or roof. The usual purpose is to provide access from inside the building.

Header: Framing members over windows, doors, or other openings. A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for chimney, stairway, or other opening. Also, a wood lintel.

Header Course:  Masonry units that are seen end on.

Hearth: The inner or outer floor of a fireplace usually made of brick, tile, or stone.

Hearth Extension: Non-combustible material in front of and at the sides of a fireplace.

Herringbone Bond:  A decorative brick pattern used in brick paving and walls. The bricks are laid in alternating rows at 45 degrees to each other.

Hinge: A jointed or flexible device that allows the turning or pivoting of a part, such as a door or lid, on a stationary frame.

Hip: The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.

Hip Rafter: A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.

Hip Roof: A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.

Honeycomb: Areas in a foundation wall where the aggregate (gravel) is visible. Honeycombs can be usually be remedied by applying a thin layer of grout or other cement product over the affected area. Also, a method by which concrete is poured and not puddled or vibrated, allowing the edges to have voids or holes after the forms are removed.

Hood: A device that directs and captures grease-laden vapours and gases from a cooking appliance.

Horizontal: Parallel to or in the plane of the horizon.

Live Wire: The wire that carries electrical energy to a receptacle or other device—in contrast to a neutral, which carries electricity away again. Normally the black wire. Also see Earth.

Hurricane Clip: Metal fitting that is used to secure the purlins to the top of the roof trusses (rafters).  See Swing Clip

HVAC: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.


Incandescent Lamp: A lamp employing an electrically charged metal filament that glows at white heat. A typical light bulb.

Incompatibility: Descriptive of two or more materials which are not suitable to be used together.

Infestation: The presence of insects, rats, vermin, or other pests.

Inspected Property: The readily accessible areas of the buildings, site, items, components, and systems included in the inspection.

Installed: Attached or connected such that the installed item requires tool for removal.

Insulating Glass: Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known as Double Glass.

Insulation: Generally, any material which slows down or retards the flow or transfer of heat. Building insulation types are classified according to form as loose-fill, flexible, rigid, reflective, and foamed-in-place. All types are rated according to their ability to resist heat flow (R-Value). In electrical contracting, rubber, thermoplastic, or asbestos wire covering. The thickness of insulation varies with wire size and type of material, application or other code limitations.

Interior Finish: Material used to cover the interior areas of walls and ceilings.

Irrigation: Lawn sprinkler system.


Jack Rafter: A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.

Jamb: The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.

Joint: The space between the adjacent surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.


Key coat: A chemical or cement (slurry) undercoat used to improve the adhesion of plaster or other finishes to a wall.

Kick:  A term used to describe the initial setting process of concrete.  The concrete “kicks”.

Kick plate: The baseboard of a built-in cupboard.  Also referred to as a “plinth”.

Kilowatt (KW): One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see Watt.

King-post: Upright timber connecting a tie-beam and collar-beam with the ridge beam.

Knot: In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears on the edge or face of the piece.


Laminated Glass: Two or more panes of glass permanently bonded together with one or more inter-layers.

Laminating: Bonding together two or more layers of materials.

Landing: A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs.

Lap: To extend one material partially over another; also, the distance so extended.

Laitance: A layer of weak powdery material on the surface of hardened concrete that is caused too much water for any reason, segregation, or over-vibration.

Leach field (Soak-away): A method used to treat/dispose of sewage in rural areas not accessible to a municipal sewer system. Sewage is permitted to be filtered and eventually discharged into a section of the property called a leech field or soak-away.

Lead: A malleable metal once extensively used for flashings.

Lead Based Paint: Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioural problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.

Lean-To Roof: The sloping roof of a building addition, having its rafters or supports pitched against and supported by the adjoining wall of a building.

Ledger: Dimensional timber attached to the building framing and used for supporting the section of a deck adjacent to the building.

Ledger Strip: A strip of timber nailed along the bottom of the side of a girder on which joists rest.

Level: Term use to describe any horizontal surface whereby all sides are at the same elevation.

Level (Spirit Level): A tool used to check for level.

Life Expectancy: Average function time in years assuming regular maintenance.

Light: Space in a window sash for a single pane of glass. Also, a pane of glass.

Lintel: A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

Live Load: Loads produced by use and occupancy of the building or other structure and do not include construction or environmental loads such as wind load, snow load, ice load, rain load, seismic load, or dead load.

Live Wire: Refers to the live wire in an electrical installation (colour-coded brown or red).

Load Bearing Wall: A wall which is supporting its own weight and some other structural elements of the house such as the roof and ceiling structures.

Louver: An opening with a series of horizontal slats arranged so as to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, sun. light or vision.

Lumens: Unit of measure for total light output. The amount of light falling on a surface.


Male Thread: Pipe connection where the threads are on the outside of the fitting

Mansard Roof: A roof which rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building. The sloping roofs on all four sides have two pitches, the lower pitch usually very steep and the upper pitch less steep.

Mantel: The shelf above a fireplace. Also used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.

Manual: Capable of being operated by a person.

Manufactured Wood: A wood product such as a truss, beam, Glue Lam or joist which is manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued or mechanically fastened to form a larger piece. Often used to create a stronger member which may use less wood. See Oriented Strand Board.

Manufacturers Specifications: The written installation and/or maintenance instructions which are developed by the manufacturer of a product and which may have to be followed in order to maintain the product warranty.

Masonry: Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, gypsum block, or other similar building units or materials or a combination of the same, bonded together with mortar to form a wall, pier, buttress, or similar mass.

Masonry Primer: An asphalt-based primer used to prepare masonry surfaces for bonding with other asphalt products.

Mastic: Heavy-consistency compound that may remain adhesive and pliable with age. Is typically a waterproof compound applied to exterior walls and roof surfaces.

Material Defect: A condition of a property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the real property or that involves unreasonable risk to people on the property. The fact that a structural element, system or subsystem is near, at or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such a structural element, system of subsystem is not by itself a material defect.

Maximum Occupancy Load: The maximum number of people permitted in a room

Membrane: A generic term relating to a variety of sheet goods used for certain built-up roofing repairs and application.

Metal Lath: Sheets of metal that are slit and drawn out to form openings. Used as a plaster base for walls and ceilings and as reinforcing over other forms of plaster base.

Migration: Spreading or creeping of a constituent of a compound onto/into adjacent surfaces. See bleeding.

Mitre Joint: The joint of two pieces at an angle that bisects the joining angle. For example, the miter joint at the side and head casing at a door opening is made at a 45° angle.

Mixing Valve or Mixer: A valve that mixes hot and cold water in the valve to obtain a set temperature prior to delivery.

Moisture Content of Wood: Weight of the water contained in the wood, usually expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven-dry wood.

Mould: A form of fungus. Some moulds can cause disease in humans.

Moulding: A wood strip having a coned or projecting surface used for decorative purposes, e.g., door and window trim.

Monitor: A large structure rising above the surrounding roof planes, designed to give light and/or

Mortar: Mixture of cement, sand and water – used for joining masonry units and for plastering.  Also known as “dagga”

Mortise: A slot cut into a board, plank, or timber, usually edgewise, to receive tenon of another board, plank, or timber to form a joint.

Mortise lock:  Mortise extends through the striker plate on the door jamb (style) when the key is turned. Also called a “deadlock”.

Mullion: A vertical bar or divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings that supports.

Muntins: Horizontal or vertical bars that divide the sash frame into smaller lights of glass. Muntins are smaller in dimensions and weight than mullions.

Muriatic Acid: Commonly used as a brick cleaner after masonry work is completed.


Neutral Wire: Colour-coded blue or black, the neutral wire carries electricity from an outlet back to the distribution board. Also see Live Wire and Earth.

Newel: A post to which the end of a stair railing or balustrade is fastened. Also, any post to which a railing or balustrade is fastened.

Non-Load-Bearing Wall: A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

Non-combustible: A substance that will not burn when subjected to fire.


O-Ring: Round rubber washer or gasket that is compressed to create a watertight seal, typically in a plumbing pipe compression fitting.

Oakum: Loose hemp or jute fibre that is impregnated with tar or pitch and used to caulk large seams or for packing plumbing pipe joints.

Occupancy Load: The number of people permitted in a building based on the means of egress.

Occupant: Any individual living, sleeping, or having possession of a space within a building.

Ohm’s Law: States that, in a given electrical circuit, the amount at current in amps is equal to the pressure in volts divided by the resistance in ohms. The formula is: I (Current) = V voltage or V = I x R R resistance or R = V/I.

Ohmmeter: In electrical contracting, a device to measure the resistance across a load. They are never used on a live circuit. Used to track down broken wires.

Open Valley: Method of valley construction in which shingles on both sides of the valley are trimmed along a chalk line snapped on each side of the valley. Shingles do not extend across the valley. Valley flashing is exposed.

Overhang: That part of the roof structure which extends horizontally beyond the vertical plane of the exterior walls of a building.

Oxidize: To combine with oxygen in the air.


P Trap: P-shaped section of drain pipe that prevents sewer odours from escaping into the building. Water is trapped in the pipe blocking gases from escaping through the drain.

Pad Foundations:  Also known a pier foundation. A foundation designed to carry a point load from a column, post or a pier. Often square, rectangular or circular in plan

Paint: A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings.

Panel: In house construction, a thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door or fitted into grooves of thicker material with moulded edges for decorative wall treatment.

Parapet: A wall on the perimeter of a building that projects above the line of the eaves.

Parging: A coat, or the application of a coat, of cement render (slush) to the surface of stone masonry or brickwork, to improve the appearance or to waterproof it. Mostly referred to in South Africa as “bagged brickwork”.

Partition: A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building.

Paver Stones: Usually pre-cast concrete slabs used to create a traffic surface.

Percolation Test (Perc Test): Tests that a soil engineer performs on earth to determine the feasibility of installing a soak-away type sewer system. A test to determine if the soil on a proposed building lot is capable of absorbing the liquid affluent from a septic system.

Perpend:  In masonry the vertical joints. From perpendicular. Commonly called Perps. Used to form weepholes along the DPC course in cavity walls.

Pier: A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members.

Pier Block: A concrete block used to support foundation members such as posts, beams, girders and joist.

Pigment: A powdered solid in suitable degree of subdivision for use in paint or enamel.

Pillar: Free-standing upright member of any section.  Not necessarily structural – may be decorative – see also “pier” – always supports and “column”.

Pitch:  The incline slope of a roof measured in degrees.

Plinth: A base which supports a structure above.  Usually refers to a foundation wall with projecting courses at the foot of a wall or column, often chamfered or moulded at the top.  Also sometimes used to refer to the baseboard (kick plate) of a built-in cupboard.

Plumb: Exactly perpendicular; vertical.

Plumb Bob: A lead weight attached to a string. It is the tool used in determining plumb.

Plumbing Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Plumbing Waste Line: Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage waste.

Ply: A term to denote the number of thicknesses or layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.

Plywood: A piece 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.

Pointing: Exposed mortar jointing of masonry or brickwork. Types include flush, recessed and tuck (with a narrow channel filled with finer, whiter mortar).

Polished Concrete: Concrete pavements or floors that have the surface ground and polished to provide a decorative effect.

Polysulfide Sealant: Polysulfide liquid polymer sealant. These sealants are flexible and can be converted to rubbers at room temperature without shrinkage upon addition of a curing agent.

Polyurethane Sealant: An organic compound formed by reaction of a glycol with an isocyanate.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Polymer formed by polymerization of vinyl chloride monomer. Sometimes called vinyl.

Ponding: A condition where water stands on a roof or paving for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the surface.

Pop Rivets: Fasteners used to join pieces of metal that are installed by either compressed-air-assisted or hand-operated guns. Unique in that they are installed from one side of the work.

Porosity: The density of substance and its capacity to pass liquids.

Portica:  Centrepiece of a house or a church with classical detached or attached columns and a pediment.

Portland Cement: A mixture of certain minerals which when mixed with water form a grey coloured paste and cure into a very hard mass.

Post: A vertical member of wood, steel, concrete or other material that transfers weight from the top of the post to whatever the post is resting on.

Post-and-Beam: A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with stud framing.

Pot-Life: The time interval following the addition of an accelerator before chemically curing material will become too viscous to apply satisfactorily. See Shelf Life.

Potable: Water that is safe to drink.

Powder Coat: A technique for applying paint to metal surfaces. The metal is covered with a powder of dry paint particles and is baked in an oven. This causes the powder to melt and harden into a tough, colourful finish.

Power: The energy rate, usually measured in watts. Power equals voltage times amps, or W = E x 1. The heavier the flow of amps at a given supply, the higher the rate at which energy is being supplied and used.

Power Float: A machine for applying the final finish to concrete slabs by means of rotating steel floats.

Precast: Concrete building components which are formed and cured at a factory and then transported to a work site for erection.

Preservative: Any substance that, for a reasonable length of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or impregnated with it.

Pre-stressed Concrete:  Reinforced concrete in which internal stresses are introduced deliberately by using tensioned steel wire tendons to counteract the calculated tensile forces that the finished element will be subjected to. Extra length lintels are usually pre-stressed.

Pressure Drop: The loss in pressure due to friction or obstruction in pipes, valves, fittings, regulators and burners and the length of pipes and the number of elbows.

Primer: A material of relatively thin consistency applied to a surface for the purpose of creating a more secure bonding surface and to form a barrier to prevent migration of components. The first coat of paint in a paint job that consists of two or more coats. Also, the paint used for such a first coat.

Priming: Sealing of a porous surface so that compounds will not stain, lose elasticity, shrink excessively, etc. because of loss of oil or vehicle into the surround.

Projection: In roofing, any object or equipment which pierces the roof membrane.

Purlins: A horizontal structural timber member spanning between beams or trusses to support roof sheeting.

Putty: A type of cement usually made of whiting and boiled linseed oil, beaten or kneaded to the consistency of dough, and used in sealing glass in sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.

PVC or CPVC (PolyVinyl Choride): A type of white plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines.


Quarry Tile: A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall.

Quarter Round: A small moulding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.

Queen-posts:  Roof timbers – two struts placed symmetrically on a tie-beam or collar-beam.


R-Value: The thermal resistance of a glazing system. The R-value is the reciprocal of the U-value. The higher the R value, the less heat is transmitted throughout the glazing material.

Rafter: 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.

Rafter Tail: The portion of a rafter that extends past the building to form the eaves.

Rafter, Hip: A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.

Rafter, Valley: A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double members.

Raft Foundation (Raft Slab): A continuous concrete slab foundation usually reinforced. With perimeter beams and slab thickenings under internal load bearing walls. Used in poor ground conditions.

Ready Mixed Concrete: Concrete mixed at a plant or in trucks en route to a job and delivered ready for placement.

Rebar: Reinforcing bar (usually high tensile steel of different thicknesses) used to increase the tensile strength of concrete.

Rebar Cage: A made up cage of reinforcing steel main bars held in place by smaller bars.

Reflective Glass: Glass with a metallic coating to reduce solar heat gain.

Reflective Insulation: Sheet material with one or both sun faces of comparatively low heat emissivity, such as aluminum foil. When used in building construction the surfaces face air spaces, reducing the radiation across the air space. Also called sisalisation.

Refrigerant: A substance that remains a gas at low temperatures and pressure and can be used to transfer heat. Freon is an example and is used in air conditioning systems.

Reglaze: To replace a broken window.

Reglet: A horizontal slot formed or cut in a parapet or other masonry wall, into which the top edge of counter-flashing can be inserted and anchored. In glazing, a reglet is typically a pocket or keyway extruded into the framing for installing the glazing gaskets.

Reinforced Concrete: A combination of steel and concrete using the best properties of each. The steel consists of rebar or reinforcing bars and is placed before concrete is poured.

Reinforced Masonry: Masonry units, reinforcing steel, grout and/or mortar combined to act together to strengthen the masonry structure.

Reinforcing: Steel rods or metal fabric placed in concrete slabs, beams, or columns to increase their strength.

Reinforcing Mesh: Steel welded mesh sheets using bars of various diameters, patterns and steel grades used mainly for reinforcing concrete slabs.

Remaining Useful Life: A subjective estimate or guess made by the inspector based upon his observations and experience as to the number of remaining years that a component will be functional before needing replacement.

Retaining Wall: A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.

Ridge: The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping roof surfaces.

Ridge Board: The board placed on edge at the ridge of the roof into which the upper ends of the rafters are fastened.

Ridge Capping: Formed metal, or concrete/clay tiles designed to weather-proof the junction at the apex of opposing roof slopes.

Rise: In stairs, the vertical height of a step or flight of stairs.

Riser: Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.

Roof anchors (tie-downs):  Metal straps (usually hoop iron or wire) that are nailed to secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate.

Run (Roofing): The horizontal distance between the eaves and the ridge of the roof, being half the span for a symmetrical gable roof. Also, the net width of a step or the horizontal distance covered by a flight of stairs.


Sash: A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass.

Sash Balance: A device, designed to counterbalance sliding sash windows.

Scaffolding:  A temporary work platform inside or on the face of a building to allow worker and materials access to work areas above the ground.

Scratch Coat: The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for the second coat.

Screed or Screeding: The wood or metal straightedge used to strike off or level newly placed concrete when doing cement work. Screeds can be the leveling device used or the form work used to level or establish the level of the concrete. Screeds can be hand used or mechanical.  Also called “topping”.

Sealant: An elastomeric material with adhesive qualities applied between components of a similar or dissimilar nature to provide an effective barrier against the passage of the elements.

Sealer: A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over uncoated wood for the purpose of sealing the surface.

Seasoning: Removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its serviceability.

Seat: The fixed part of a valve. The stem assembly will move up and down against the seat to open and close the valve.

Seeded Finish Concrete:  A concrete finish having a layer of decorative chips of stone, pebbles or the like scattered over the wet surface of the main concrete mix.

Self-Healing: A term used to describe to a material which melts with the heat from the sun’s rays, and seals over cracks that were earlier formed from other causes. Some waterproof membranes are self-healing.

Self-Leveling: A term used to describe a viscous material that is applied by pouring. In its uncured state, it spreads out evenly.

Semi-gloss (Paint or Enamel): A paint or enamel made with a slight insufficiency of nonvolatile vehicle so that its coating, when dry, has some luster but is not very glossy.

Settlement: Shifts in a structure, usually caused by ground movement.

Sewer Stub Stack: A short vent pipe topped by an air admittance valve.

Shed Roof: A roof having only one slope or pitch, with only one set of rafters which fall from a higher to a lower wall.

Shingles: Roof covering of asphalt, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thicknesses, which are laid in a series of overlapping rows as a roof covering on pitched roofs.

Shoe: Open concrete channel placed beneath a downpipe to lead rainwater away from the base of walls.

Shoring: A temporary support erected in a trench or other excavation to support the walls from caving in.

Short Circuit: A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against fire that could result from a short.

Shrinkage Cracks:  Unsightly and unplanned cracks in a concrete slab. Can be caused in an otherwise good slab by lack of control joints or because of faults and bad concreting technique

Shutoff Valve: The valve that allows water supply to be cut off to one fixture without affecting the water supply to the entire house or building. Common for use with clawfoot tubs, sinks, and toilets.

Shutter: Usually lightweight louvered or flush wood or nonwood frames in the form of doors located at each side of a window. Some are made to close over the window for protection; others are fastened to the wall as a decorative device.

Side Sewer: The portion of the sanitary sewer which connects the interior waste water lines to the main sewer lines. The side sewer is usually buried in several feet of soil and runs from the house to the sewer line. It is usually ‘owned’ by the sewer utility, must be maintained by the owner and may only be serviced by utility approved contractors. Sometimes called sewer lateral.

Silicone Sealant: A sealant having as its chemical compound a backbone consisting of alternating silicon-oxygen atoms.

Sill: The lowest member of the frame of a structure, resting on the foundation and supporting the floor joists or the uprights of the wall. The member forming the lower side of an opening, as in a door sill, window sill, etc.

Single Family Dwelling (SFD): A house built for the purpose of a single family as opposed to multi families such as a duplex or apartment complex.

Single Ply: A descriptive term signifying a roof membrane composed of only one layer of material such as EPDM, Hypalon or PVC.

Sky Dome: A type of skylight exhibiting a characteristic translucent plastic domed top.

Skylight: A structure on a roof that is designed to admit light and is somewhat above the plane of the roof surface.

Slab on the ground: A type of construction in which footings are needed but little or no foundation wall is poured.  Also called a “raft foundation”.

Slab, Concrete: Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways, garages, and basement floors.

Slate: A dark gray stratified stone cut relatively thin and installed on pitched roofs in a shingle like fashion.

Sliding sash windows:  Sliding glazed frames running in vertical grooves – usually with counter-balancing weights.

Sloped Glazing: Any installation of glass that is at a slope of 15 degrees or more from vertical.

Slump:  A distance measurement that gives an on- site indication of the wetness of a mix of concrete. A standard sized steel cone is filled with wet concrete and compacted. It is then removed and the amount that the concrete sags or slumps is an indication of the amount of water in the mix

Slump-Test: Measures the consistency of a concrete mix or its stiffness. An on-site method of testing fresh concrete to determine if it has the correct amount of slump.

Smoke Alarm: A single or multiple alarm responsive to smoke and not connected to a sprinkler system.

Smoke Detector: A device that senses particles of combustion.

Soaker (gutter): A small gutter located on the upper side of a chimneystack.

Soaker (flashings): Formed metal designed to weather-proof the perimeter of roof protrusions or penetrations. Soaker flashings are usually positioned under rather than over the surrounding metal roof.

Soffit:  Underside of an arch, lintel, slab or eaves.

Soil Stack: A general term for the vertical main of a system of soil, waste, or vent piping.

Spiral Newel: The central load bearing post in a spiral stair. Also simply called a Newel.

Spiral Stairs: A circular staircase, the treads consisting of winders only. Often called a helical stair.

Spalling: The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or other masonry where improper drainage corrosion of the rebar occurs.

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

Sponge Finish Concrete:  A simple and basic non-skid finish to concrete paved areas created by the surface with a sponge. See also broom finish concrete.

Spreader: A downpipe-tee or elbow fixed at 90 degrees to the roof slope used to spread storm water over a greater area of the roof.

Stack: The vertical pipe of a system of soil, waste or vent piping.

Stack Vent: Also called a waste vent or soil vent, it is the extension of a soil or waste stack above the highest horizontal drain connected to the stack.

Stain: A form of oil paint, very thin in consistency, intended for colouring wood with rough surfaces, such as shingles, without forming a coating of significant thickness or gloss.

Staircase: A flight of stairs or series of flights used as a means of getting between floors or levels. Includes all supports, and handrails and safety features.

Stair Flight: A continuous series of steps with no intermediate landings.

Stair Formwork: The formwork for stairs is usually ply on timber, apart from jobs that have many repetitions or curves, in which case purpose made steel forms are used.

Stair Headroom: The minimum required height of any floors or bulkheads above a staircase

Stairs in Concrete: Stairs that are formed and poured with cast in-situ concrete or precast elements that are used to form stairs and stair flights.

Stairway Landings: Horizontal spaces or platforms at the ends of stairs. Or breaks between flights of stairs, Used for convenience, to turn corners and as a safety feature to halt someone who is falling.

Stair Nosing: 1.) The part of the tread that overhangs the riser. The often rounded last edge of a tread. 2.) Anti Slip Nosing Proprietary fittings for fixing to tread edges to prevent slipping.

Stair Strings: The sloping members of a flight of stairs that support the treads.

Stairwell: A vertical shaft through the floors of a building which contains the staircases.

Stamped Concrete: Concrete pavements that have the surface stamped before the final set to provide a decorative effect.

Stanchion: Upright structural member, of iron, steel or reinforced concrete.

Starter Bars: Steel reinforcing bars cast into two separate pours of concrete. With lap joints to main bars they continue the reinforcement through the concrete joint.

Steel Trowel: Tool used for non-porous smooth finishes of concrete. It is a flat steel tool used to spread and smooth plaster, mortar or concrete. Pointing trowels are small enough to be used in places where larger trowels will not fit. The pointing trowel has a point. The common trowel has a rectangular blade attached to a handle. For smooth finish, use a trowel when the concrete begins to stiffen.

Stenciled Concrete: Concrete that has the surface textured and patterned with a stencil process.

Step – Rise and Tread: A step is a rise from one level to another. A single step is just the vertical rise between two levels. In stair construction a step has two components, the vertical distance of travel known as the rise or riser and the horizontal distance of travel known as the tread or go.

Step Flashing: Individual small pieces of metal flashing material used to flash around chimneys, dormers, and such projections along the slope of a roof. The individual pieces are overlapped and stepped up the vertical surface.

Stile: An upright framing member in a panel door.

Storm water drain: A drain system designed to collect storm water and is separated from the waste water system.

Story: That part of a building between any floor and the floor or roof next above.

String (or Stringer): A timber or other support for cross members in floors or ceilings. In stairs, the support on which the stair treads rest; also Stringboard.

String Line: A nylon line usually strung tightly between supports to indicate both direction and elevation, used in checking grades or deviations in slopes or rises. Used in landscaping to level the ground.

Strip Flooring: Wood flooring consisting of narrow, matched strips.

Strip Footing: A footing (concrete foundation) that is longer in one direction than the other. Typically under walls.

Structural Component: A component which supports the building’s dead and live loads.

Structural Floor: A framed lumber floor that is installed as a basement floor instead of concrete. This is done on very expansive soils.

Structure: An assemblage of various systems and components to function as a whole.

Strut: Upright timber connecting the tie-beam with the rafter above it.

Stucco: A type of exterior finish. Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with Portland cement as its base.

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

Stud Framing: A building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with Post-and-Beam.

Stud Shoe: A metal, structural bracket that reinforces a vertical stud.

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

Substrate: A part or substance which lies below and supports another.

Suggested Remedy: An opinion offered as to a course of action to repair a deficiency.

Sump: 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.

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

Swarf:  Iron filing contamination (rust) of metal roof sheeting caused by failure to clean the surface after cutting or drilling.

Switch: A device that completes or disconnects an electrical circuit.

System: An assembly of various components which function as a whole.


Tee: A T-shaped fitting with three openings.

Tempered: Strengthened. Tempered glass will not shatter nor create shards, but will “pelletize” like an automobile window. Required in bath and shower enclosures, entry door glass, sidelight glass and in windows where the window sill is less than 500mm to the floor.

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 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.

Terracotta: A ceramic material moulded into masonry units.

Texture Paint: Paint which may be manipulated by brush, trowel or other to give various patterns.

Thermal Insulation: Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, will reduce the rate of heat flow.

Thermal Movement: The measured amount of dimensional change that a material exhibits as it is warmed or cooled.

Thermostat: A device which relegates the temperature of a room or a hot water heater by switching heating or cooling equipment on or off.

Three-Phase: In electrical contracting, a three-phase wiring system consisting of 4 wires and used in industrial and commercial applications. This system is suitable for installations requiring large motors. It consists of three hot wires and one earth wire. The voltage in each hot wire is out of phase with the others by 1/3 of a cycle, as if produced by 3 different generators.

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

Tie-In: In roofing, a term used to describe the joining of a new roof with the old.

Tie-beam: Beam connecting the two slopes of a roof across at its foot, usually at the height of the wall plate, to prevent the roof from spreading. The bottom (horizontal member) of a roof truss.

Tinted Glass: Glass with colourants added to the basic glass batch that gives the glass color as well as light and heat-reducing capabilities. The colour extends throughout the thickness of the glass.

Toe-Nailing: To drive a nail at a slant to the initial surface in order to permit it to penetrate into a second member.  Also known as skew-nailing.

Tongue and Groove (T&G): A type of flooring or ceiling where the tongue of one board is joined to the groove of another board.

Top Chord: The upper or top member of a truss.

Torch- on (Single Ply or Modified Bitumen): A water-proofing material mostly used on flat roofs. This material usually comes in rolls and is applied to the roof with an open flame or ‘torch.’

Torching: Applying direct flame to a membrane for the purpose of melting, heating or adhering.

Transmitter (Garage Door): The small push-button device that causes the garage door to open or close.

Trap: A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and vermin from backing up into a fixture. Also known as a water seal.

Tread: The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.

Trench Mesh: Narrow welded mesh sheets using heavy bars for the long bars and lighter bars for the cross bars. Used for reinforcing concrete strip footings and beam sections in raft slabs.  Also known as welded mesh.

Truss: A frame or jointed roof timber structure (normally factory manufactured) and formed with top chords (rafters); bottom chords (tie-beams); a web (support struts) and a king-post (central vertical member).

Tuck-Pointing: The re-grouting of defective mortar joints in a masonry or brick wall.

Turpentine: A volatile oil used as a thinner in paints and as a solvent in varnishes. Chemically, it is a mixture of terpenes.

Two-Part Sealant: A product composed of a base and curing agent or accelerator, necessarily packaged in two separate containers which are uniformly mixed just prior to use.


Undercoat: A coating applied prior to the finishing or top coats of a paint job. It may be the first of two of three coats. In some usage of the word it may become synonymous with priming coat.

Underlay: A plastic sheet placed under roof tiles to prevent the ingress of moist air and rust into the roof cavity. Also helps prevent tile lifting as a result of pressure build-up within the roof cavity.

Underpinning: Strengthening sub-standard or weak foundations.

Union: A plumbing fitting that joins pipes end-to-end so they can be dismantled.

Union Nut: A fitting that joins two sections of pipe.

Unsafe: A condition of an area, system, component, or procedure which, in the inspector’s opinion, poses a significant risk to the personal safety of either the occupants and/or him/herself. The danger to the occupants may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, a change in accepted standards, etc. The danger to the inspector may be due to electrical, fuel, height, sewage, water, debris, weather or other environmental conditions, and may restrict his/her access and limit or prevent the inspection.


Vacuum Breaker: An anti-siphon device that prevents waste water from being drawn back into supply lines, potentially contaminating the water supply. A type of backflow preventer.

Valley: The internal angle formed by the junction of two sloping sides of a roof.

Valley Boards: Timber or profiled metal laid under a valley gutter to support it.

Valley gutter (flashing): Usually galvanised or aluminium guttering sometimes supported by valley boards.

Valley Rafter: A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double members.

Valve: A device to stop, start or regulate the flow of liquid or gas through or from piping.

Variation Order (VO): A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the Construction Contract.

Varnish: A thickened preparation of drying oil, or drying oil and resin suitable for spreading on surfaces to form continuous, transparent coatings, or for mixing with pigments to make enamels.

Veneer: Thin sheets of wood made by rotary cutting or slicing a log.

Vent: A pipe or duct which allows flow of air as an inlet or outlet.

Vent Pipe: A vertical pipe of relatively small dimensions which protrudes through a roof to provide for the ventilation of gasses.

Vent Stack: A vertical vent pipe installed for the purpose of providing circulation of air to and from any part of a drainage system.

Vent System: In plumbing, a system to provide a flow of air to or from a drainage system or to provide circulation of air within such system to protect traps seals from siphonage and back pressure.

Ventilation: The natural or mechanical process of supplying and removing air from any space.

Ventilator: Device installed on the roof for the purpose of ventilating the interior of the building.

Venting: The process of installing roof vents in a roof assembly to relieve vapor pressure. The process of water in the insulation course of the roof assembly evaporating and exiting via the roof vents.

Vermiculite: An aggregate somewhat similar to perlite that is used as an aggregate in lightweight roof decks and deck fills. It is formed from mica, a hydrous silicate with the ability 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.

Vertical: Being or situated at right angles to the horizon; upright.

Visible: That which may be easily observed during the walk-through survey portion of the inspection.

Vitreous China: A non-porous ceramic that is coated with a ceramic glaze to form toilets and other sanitary ware.

Volatile Thinner: A liquid that evaporates readily and is used to thin or reduce the consistency of finishes without altering the relative volumes of pigment and non-volatile vehicles.

Voltage: The driving force behind the flow of electricity somewhat like pressure is in a water pipe. Most homes are wired with ‘110’ and ‘220’ volt lines. The ‘110’ volt power is used for lighting and most of the other circuits. The ‘220’ volt power is usually used for the kitchen stove, water heater and dryer. (The terms ‘110’ and ‘220’ volts are a short hand, e.g. a ‘110’ volt line is usually rated at 117 volts plus or minus 10%).

Voltmeter: Measures the voltage flowing through a circuit.


Walkways: Designated areas for foot traffic.

Wall Plate: Timber laid longitudinally on the top of a wall and on which the roof rests.

Warping: Any distortion in a material.

Waste and Overflow: A bathtub or basin drain assembly that has an outlet at the top to remove overflow water when filling the tub and an outlet at the bottom to remove waste water when the tub is drained.

Waste Pipe and Vent: Plastic plumbing pipe that carries waste water to the municipal sewage system.

Water Closet: Toilet – also known as a WC.

Water Meter: The cast iron box or concrete rings that contain the water meter.

Water Repellent Coating: Transparent coating or sealer applied to the surface of concrete and masonry surfaces to repel water.

Water Repellent Preservative: A liquid designed to penetrate into wood and impart water repellence and a moderate preservative protection

Water Table: The location of the underground water, and the vertical distance from the surface of the earth to this underground water.

Water-Cement Ratio: The strength of a concrete or mortar mixture depends on the water cement ratio. The water and cement form a paste. If the paste is made with more water, the concrete or mortar becomes weaker. Cement and water are the two chemically active elements in concrete and mortar and, when combined, form a paste or glue which coats and surrounds the particles of aggregate (sand and stone) and upon hardening binds the entire mass together.

Waterproofing: The process where a building component is made totally resistant to the passage of water and/or water vapor.

Wattage: The electrical unit of power. A kilowatt is 1000 watts and electric customers are billed on how many kilowatts of power they have used.

Wax Ring: Used to create a seal between the toilet and the waste pipe.

WC: An abbreviation for water closet (toilet).

Weatherboarding:  Wall cladding of overlapping horizontal boards.

Weather step: Change in levels (usually a 50mm step-up between an (outdoor) balcony slab and the (indoor) floor slab.

Weather strip: Jamb-width or narrower sections of thin metal or other material to prevent infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors. Compression weather stripping prevents air infiltration, provides tension, and acts as a counter balance.

Weep Hole: A hole which allows for drainage of entrapped water from masonry or glazing structures.

Weld: The joining of components together by fusing. In thermoplastics, refers to bonding together of the membrane using heat or solvents.

Wet Seal: Application of an elastomeric sealant between the glass and sash to form a weather tight seal.

Window Frame: The stationary part of a window unit; the window sash fits into the window frame.

Window Sash: The operating or movable part of a window; the sash is made of window panes and their border.

Wood Filler: A heavily pigmented preparation used for fining and leveling off the pores in open-pored woods.

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