Air Barrier

Product used to minimize air infiltration through the walls of a home. Housewrap is an example of an air barrier.

Architectural Requirements

Some local homeowners associations and/or municipalities have restrictions for building in their community. Typical requirements include minimum square footage, exterior material choices,...etc.

Architectural Review Board

Some munipalities or homeowner's associations have a group that must review all plans for construction with the goal of maintaining a certain quality or look to the community.

Balloon Walls

Where you have a ceiling over 10' tall and the wall is framed in one piece. This is a balloon wall.

Batts of Insulation

Pieces of fiberglass insulation that typically come in rolls and are pre-cut to fit in between studs or trusses.

Beam Pocket

A section of the foundation wall is left out to provide a place for the basement beams to rest on.

Bearing Point

Headers, beams and girder trusses carry heavy loads. The columns/walls underneath these carry concentrated heavy loads called a bearing point. All bearing pts. should have solid blocking underneath.

Bench Excavation

Safety measure to prevent walls of excavation from caving in.

Bid Package

The packet of information sent to each vendor requesting a bid. Contents include the plan, Scopes of Work and Specifications, Bid Sheet, and Subcontractor Information Sheet.

Bid Sheets

Sheets are given to each vendor for each home building activity during the bidding process. This sheet gives them the format for submitting a bid to do work. The Bid Sheet makes the builders job of bid comparison much easier.


The process of obtaining pricing from subcontractors by giving out bid packages for them to fill out and return to you.


When rock is encountered where excavation is required, explosives are sometimes used to remove the rock.


Pipes installed under the base of the foundation to connect the drain system. Bleeders connect the outside drainage pipe to the inside pipe or sump crock.

Blown attic Insulation

When insulation is mechanically installed with forced air. Cellulose is used in many attics to insulate flat ceilings over living space.


The makeup of soil below the surface can be determined by drilling down 8-10' and taking a sample back to the laboratory for testing. Test borings are commonly performed by developers to estimate costs to build a community.

Bowed stud

Because new lumber contains moisture, studs sometimes twist and warp when they dry out. Hence the term bowed stud.

Brace Basement walls

Wood members are placed up against the concrete foundation walls to provide lateral support during backfill operations


Lumber used to connect trusses together so they perform as a system.


4" wide shelf on the foundation wall that supports the brick.

Builder Consultant

A member of your team, this professional will be there whenever you have a question or need help with the process of building your home. You Builder Consultant will provide as much or as little help as you need.

Building Codes

Established to create minimum standards for building and to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of homes and other buildings.

Building Department

Part of your local government that issues permits, regulates building and enforces building codes and restrictions.

Building Envelope

The area in which the home can be built after applying all restrictions including setback requirements, easements,...etc.

Building Footprint

The exterior walls of a home form the building footprint.

Building Practices

Different regions of the country have different building methods and requirements due to climate conditions and local methods of construction. The construction business can be slow to change.

Butt Joint

Because trim typically does not come in lengths over 16', it can be necessary to put two pieces together in line. This is the joint between them.


The metal vent that carries exhaust gases from the furnace and/or hot water heater through the roof.


Concrete columns installed below the foundation footer that extend vertically down into the ground until suitable soil is found to support the home.

Cantilevered Floor

Floor decking that extends out past its support from below. Examples = fireplace, bay window…etc.

CD of Plans

Many stock plans are offered in digital format to allow the buyer to make changes to fit their needs and make copies as needed.


Some home deigns create unused(dead) space. This area will form a chase that needs to be sealed off at the top to prevent drafts.

Civil Engineer

Designs engineering plot plans to make certain a home site drains properly and meets all zoning requirements.

Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Polyurethane foam used to insulate walls and ceilings in a home. The advantages include strength, higher R-value, and its greater resistance to the leakage of air or water vapor over other insulation materials.

Cold Air Blocking

Material is used to cover openings at tops or sides of walls to prevent cold air drafting. This can be wood sheathing, insulation board…etc.

Concrete Admixtures

Additives used in concrete to speed setup time, improve strength, and/or help prevent freezing.

Concrete Washout

Unused concrete must be removed from the mixing truck to prevent hardening.

Construction to Permanent Loan

A bank loan with a one-time close, used to finance lot costs and building costs and then converts to a conventional mortgage when all work is complete.


A term used to describe the process of obtaining bids, choosing the best bid, and signing a contract with the subcontractor.

Control Joints

Shallow sawcuts made into the top of a concrete slab to weaken concrete to control the location of cracking


Exterior drywall corners are typically finished off with a metal trim or cornerbead. Drywall mud is then applied and sanded to form a corner.

Daily Schedule Guide

A guide created by a builder from years of experience, giving the critical items that need to be accomplished each day while building a home.

Dead Space

Areas on a plan that are not used as living space and cannot be accessed.

Dimensional Lumber

Lumber cut from trees . Examples include 2x4's, 2x10's...etc.

Dirt Balance

Design objective for house/plan to prevent soil from being hauled onto or off of the site. A site balances if no hauling is necessary.

Drainage Plane

The exterior surface of the walls of the home, typically behind the finished surface material (siding, brick, stone,...etc) used to prevent water from infiltrating into the wall


Perforated pipe with stone covering set next to the footer around the permiter of the basement. Water that accumulates near the foundation is collected by the draintile and gravity fed into the sump crock.

Drip Edge

Material that extends up to the underside of shingles at overhangs to block rain water from dripping back up under the shingle and causing a leak.

Drywall Backers

Wall board needs to be supported at all ends. 2x6's provide this support and give a surface to nail the drywall to.

Drywall Returns

The sides of the window opening used to cover the rough lumber, typically made of drywall or wood.

Drywall Stock Window

Window that comes apart on the second floor allowing drywall to be lifted up by crane or boom and loaded into the home so it does not have to be carried up the stairs.


The piping used to deliver air from the furnace or air handler throughout the home and then back again. Ductwork includes both the supply air and return air.

Duel Check

When a builder decides to pay the subcontractor and the subcontractor's supplier with two separate checks. This ensures the supplier will get paid for material supplied to your home.


Areas designated for utilities, drainage,...etc. The easement gives the municipality, utility company, or similar entity the right to enter you property to make repairs or upgrades. No structures can be built in the easement area.

Egress Windows

Most building codes require windows within sleeping rooms to have a minimum opening size and height off the floor.

Energy Mortgage

Homes that were built with the latest high efficiency building methods may qualify for a special mortgage that takes into consideration the monthly savings in lower energy bills.

Energy Seal

The process of filling all gaps and cracks in the building to prevent unwanted air movement. Typically foam and caulk are used.


The process of determining the quantities of material and/or labor needed to build a home or addition


The open area or hole created by digging into the earth.


Heavy equipment operator that operates the backhoe for digging for foundations.

Exposed Aggregate

Visible stone in a concrete wall caused by inadequate vibrating of concrete during pour operations.

Faux Wainscot

This is a builder secret that provides a look of real wainscot by applying trim (panel molding) boxes below chair rail directly to the drywall to look like real wainscot.

Federal I.D. Number

Tax number given to a business, similar to a social security number for individuals

Fingerjointed Studs

Framing members made with smaller pieces of lumber and joined together through a manufacturing process.

Fire Caulk

Caulk that is heat resistent used to seal up penetrations at the tops of walls, around b-vents, …etc.


Walls over 8' tall need 2x4 blocking every 8' in height. This prevents the wall cavity from acting as a chimney in a fire.

Flange (window)

Most vinyl windows come with a thin, 1-2" wide piece with holes extending out from the window providing a surface to nail and secure the window to the house.

Flashing (roof to wall)

Where a roof intersects with a wall, flashing is installed in the joint between the roof and the wall to prevent water leaks.

Flashing (valley)

Rubber material is placed under asphalt shingles where two roof planes meet to prevent the high volume of water from getting under the shingles and causing a leak.


Concrete poured horizontally, examples include basement & garage floors, entry walks, patios…etc.

Float Drywall

When drywall board is intentionally not secured to the roof trusses within 16" of an interior wall to allow roof trusses to move without cracking the wall/ceiling drywall finish.

Floor Break

Where different finished flooring materials come together.

Floor Deck

Made up of joists with subflooring secured to the top and forms the subfloor of a home.

Floor Trusses

Replaces typical floor joists where long spans are needed or where larger mechanical space is needed.


Part of the home's structure that spreads the weight of the home out onto the soil below to minimize settlement.


Structual element that supports the home.


The triangular portion of a wall between the lines of a sloping roof.

General Contractor

Person or company responsible for managing the construction of the home including bidding & contracting, budgeting, scheduling, quality control…etc. The general contract forms subcontracts with other trades to provide material and labor. Also called a homebuilder.


Structural members that roof trusses are sometimes supported by.

Green Building

Process of building a home while striving to minimize the affects on the environment and occupants during construction and over the home's lifetime.


Manufactured metal fasteners, "U" shaped, used to secure joists and trusses together.

Hard Costs

The part of the budget that contains all labor and material costs needed to build the home.

Hard Surface Flooring

Examples = vinyl sheet flooring, hardwood flooring, ceramic tile flooring.


Supports roof sheathing at midspan between trusses to prevent sagging, shaped like an "H".


Portion of wall above a door or window, A structural header is used to distribute the weight from above down to the sides of the opening.

Header Off

When floor joists are in the way of a toilet drain or a vent they must be cut, and a header installed across the cut edge to the adjacent joists. This can be prevented with proper planning by your framer.


Membrane (paper like) applied to the exterior of a home to minimize air infiltration and provide a secondary water barrier.

Hubs (offset)

Stakes placed by the surveyor 10' off of the house corners in two directions. The offset hubs allow the foundation contractor to string lines to find the exact spot the foundation goes.

Hurricane Clips

Manufactured metal pieces used to secure the roof trusses to the top of the wall.


Manufactured floor joist used in place of typical milled lumber.

Impact Fees

Municipalities sometimes charge fees for new homes being built in order to help pay for the extra costs associated with the new citizens. Examples of additional costs include: schools, road congestion, fire and police protection...etc.


Performed by a municipality in order to provide a check that building codes are followed.

Insurance Certificate

A peice of paper provided by the subcontrator's insurance company stating the types and amounts of coverage the subcontractor has.

Jack Stud

The stud closest to the opening for a window or door that supports the header.


"U" shaped piece of siding that covers the cut edge of vinyl siding.


A small portion of concrete on the top of a footer is left out to provide a bond between the foundation wall and the footer.

Lead Time

The minimum notification required for a supplier or subcontractor to perform the work or supply material.

Lien Waivers

Piece of paper that is signed by the subcontractor that provided materials or labor to improve real property (example is a home) stating that they have been paid for the work or materials supplied and are waiving all rights to file a mechanic's lien. A mechanic's lien is a security interest in the title to property.

Loan Officer

Bank employee that works with you to finance your building projects.

Local Codes

Municipalities adopt certain building requirements with the intention of building quality structures that will last. Each municipality has the ability to choose which code requirements will be enforced.

Low-E Window

A coating on the glass that reflects most ultraviolet rays, which are the type of rays that can cause the most damage to carpets and upholstery. The coating also reduces infrared rays or radiant heat.

Manual J Calculation

A common method for determining the size of the HVAC equipment needed to properly heat and cool a home. The calculations take into consideration window types, sizes and locations, insulation types and locations, orientation of the home, climate...etc.

Market Value

The price a buyer who is willing and able to pay, will pay.


To use material in such a way as to minimize waste.


Refers to HVAC, electrical, and plumbing in a home.


The joint between two pieces of trim at a corner.


Stands for National Association of Homebuilders. Provides guidance and support for homebuilders and the general public.

Nail Plates

Pieces of metal placed over studs in front of water pipes to prevent nails from puncturing them.

Offset Hubs

Surveyor puts in two reference stakes usually set 10' from the corner of the proposed building. These are needed once the foundation is excavated because the stakes will no longer be in place.


Builders offer specific changes and/or upgrades to a home. We call this an option or optional item.

Organic Soil

Soil with material in it that will continue to decompose causing settlement.


Oriented Strand Board. Sheathing manufactured from small pieces of wood glued together.


Occupation Safety and Health Administration, part of the federal government that enforces safety on job sites.


Basement excavation is made 3' larger than the foundation in order to provide space for workers to move.


A person that acts as the homebuilder, managing the construction of their own home. Also called a general contractor.

Perk Test

A soil test used to determine the type of septic system required.

Plan Tube

PVC pipe (4"dia.x36") that has a cap glued on one end and a removable cap on the other to keep plans dry.

Plot Plan

A drawing showing how the house sits on a lot & includes setbacks, drainage patterns, elevations, sewer&water locations…etc.

Plumbing Vent Flashing

A rubber boot used to seal up plumbing vents at the roof.

Pressure Test

When air/water pressure is used in plumbing lines at the rough stage to check for leaks. This is sometimes required by code and is a good practice.

Public Right of Way

In order to accomodate the road, utilities, sidewalks...etc., the municipality owns a certain amount of land on either side of the public road centerline. This is called the right of way.

Pump Truck

When concrete trucks can't get close enough to the project due to steep grades, trees…etc., the concrete must be pumped by a special truck.


Steel rods used to reinforce concrete.


Vertical portion of a set of stairs (the run is the horizontal portion).

Rolloff Truck

Garbage containers are carried by these to and from the site.

Roof Trusses

Manufactured structural members used to support the roof.

Roof Vent

Openings on top of the home that allow air to escape from the attic.

Rough Budget

The first cost estimate to build the home before any bidding is done.

Rough Opening

Used for windows and doors, gives the dimensions of the framing.


Used to describe the insulation properties of building materials. The rate that heat energy is transferred through a material or wall assembly.


A roof plane running down into a wall surface creates a strong potential for leaks. A saddle builds the roof up to divert the water away from the wall.

Sanitary Sewer

System that collects dirty household water & sewage and distributes to the water treatment plant.

Scope of Work & Specifications

Written description containing detail of work that is to be completed. Includes quality requirements, product types, job site procedures...etc.

Septic System

If your municipality has not run sanitary sewer service in your area, you will be required to install a system to handle waste water. The typical alternative to city sewer is a septic system.

Setback Requirement

The required distance, set by the municipality, from lot lines to the structure.

Sewer Cleanout

A vertical pipe coming up from the sewer line to just above the ground with a cap that allows access for cleaning.


Sheets of plywood, OSB, or insulation board used in framing roofs and walls.


Piece of wood that is cut very thin at one end and tapers back to a thicker portion. Used to support sides of doors/windows and fill gaps between studs and headers…etc.

Shingle Tins

Metal roof flashing used at roof/wall intersections to prevent leaks. Housewrap should be placed overtop the shingle tins and tape applied to top of tins and onto the wall sheathing.

Shoe Molding

Also called quarter round. Trim pieces used around the perimeter of hard surface flooring to hide the rough edges.

Siding Nailer

Treated wood strips installed into the exterior portion of a foundation wall to nail siding to.

Silt Fence

A fabric with stakes attached that is barried into the ground several inches and protrudes above ground 24" or more. Used to prevent sediments from leaving the work site.

Slab on Grade

Foundation type which puts the first floor at grade level with a concrete subfloor. Other foundation types include basement, crawl, elevated pier,…etc.


The horizontal underside of a roof overhang.

Soft Costs

The part of the budget that contains all costs other than labor and materials needed to build the home.

Soil Probe

Tool used by a soils engineer to determine if the the soil in the location of a proposed structure will support the weight.

Soils Engineer

Geotechnical engineer. Specializes in soil stability, compaction, identification of soil types…etc.

Spec Home

Home built on speculation. There is no buyer at the time contruction starts, so the builder is speculating that it will sell after work begins.


The term square means all angles are 90 degrees. A square room has 90 degree angles in each corner. How to quickly check? Measure diagonally from each corner. The diagonal measurements should be equal.


The surveyor places these to mark the future corners of the home, the lot corners,…etc.

Stock Plans

House plans predrawn and offered for sale.

Storm Sewer

Excess rainwater runoff is captured by this man made system and eventually returned to streams, rivers, and lakes.

Subcontract Package

The documents that make up the subcontract with your trades and suppliers. For our system they include the following: The house plan, insurance certificate, Scopes of Work and Specifications, and Subcontract agreement.


A term used to describe the process of obtaining bids, choosing the best bid, and signing a contract with the subcontractor. Also called contracting.


Also called subs, vendors, trades...By signing your contract documents, these companies agree to perform the work on your home per the Scopes of Work and Specifications, plans and schedule.

Subcontractor Information Sheet

Used as part of the bid package to provide all pertinent information about a subcontractor or supplier including references, contact names and numbers, tax I.D. number,...etc.


A developer buys a raw piece of property and subdivides the land into separate lots creating a subdivision.


Material set on top of the floor joists (typically 3/4" thick plywood or OSB).


Also called subcontractors, by signing your contract documents, they agree to perform the work on your home per the Scopes of Work and Specifications and plans.


A takeoff is a construction term for estimating the quantity of material and/or labor required to build your home. Also called an estimate.

Tap Fees

Municipalities typically charge a fee for connnecting to city water or sewer service in order to pay for maintenance and expansion costs.

Test Borings

Process of drilling down 8-10' into the earth to take samples of the soil for testing.

Test Cylinder

A small portion of concrete is poured into a small cylinder and saved for future testing

Thermoply Sheathing

Brand of insulated sheathing with minimal thickness to be used in tight spaces: Example = behind showers on exterior walls after insulating.

Top Plate

The horizontal 2x4 at the very top of the wall.


The variations in elevation along the earth's surface.


Also called subcontractors, vendors, subs...etc. By signing your contract documents, these companies agree to perform the work on your home per the Scopes of Work and Specifications, plans and your schedule.

Transition Strips

Trim pieces installed where two different pieces of flooring meet.

Transom Windows

Short fixed windows, Typically 12" high, installed near the ceiling to allow light to enter a room without giving up privacy or wall space for furniture.

Trench Spoils

When digging a trench for sewer or water lines the material coming out of the trench are called spoils. Since stone and pipe are put into the trench, there is excess dirt after backfilling.

Trenched footer

A footer with all or a portion of the depth dug into the soil.

Trim Carpenter

Subcontractor that installs the interior doors, interior trim and cabinets.


Manufactured structural members used to support roofs and sometimes floors. Roof trusses are designed specifically for each home and shorten the time required to frame a roof of a home.

Tuck point

The process of tooling (smoothing out) a mortar joint before it sets up.


Plywood or cement board used under vinyl or tile flooring to provide a strong, smooth base to support the finished floor above it.

Unit Price

Break down of cost per unit of measure. Examples would be dollars per square foot, or per lineal foot of wall, or similar

Vapor Barrier

Installed between concrete or masonry and wood to prevent moisture from rotting the wood. Examples = tar paper & rubber


Also called subcontractors, suppliers, subs, trades...etc. By signing your contract documents, these companies agree to perform the work on your home per the Scopes of Work and Specifications, plans, and schedule.

Virgin Soil

Earth/dirt that has not been disturbed.

Walkout Basement

A lot that drops in grade 8' or more allows for a basement with an exposed full framed wall and doors and windows.

Wall Panels

Poured concrete wall forms.

Wall Ties

Poured concrete wall forms have metal pieces that span through the wall to keep the forms from separating when concrete is poured in.

Water Stop Box

Valve on the municipal water supply located near the front property line that provides a means to shut off water to the home.

Water Table

The top level of soil and rock in which all voids are saturated.


A material used to seal around the waterline that enters home through the foundation wall.


Material applied to the exterior of a basement wall to prevent water from entering.

Weep Hole

Holes intentionally left at the bottom of a brick wall to allow water to escape.


If your municipality has not run water main to your area, you will need to drill a well to get to the water table for your home's water needs.

Window Crosshead

Architectural detail above a window.

Zoning Maps

Most municipalities have maps showing what types of buildings can be erected in each area of the city or village. These are called zoning maps.

Zoning Requirements

Each municipality has a comprehensive plan of development for the area within its village/city limits. This plan dictates what type of building can be done in each area. We call this Zoning.

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