Construction Terms


The initial part of a driveway that intersects a street or alley.


Trim board underneath window stool.

Barge Rafter

A 2×4 that is used to support gable fascia. The gable soffit is also nailed to this.




Trenches in foundation make-ups, engineered specifically to stregthen the slab.

Bottom Plate

Any 2-inch thick Wolmanized lumber that is permantently attached horizontally to the slab. Usually this is at the bottom of a framed wall.

Brick Frieze

Any type of trim work that is used to cover the area where siding, soffit or brick intersect.

Brick Ledge

A 2×6 is used, so actually width of brick ledges is 5 1/2”. A brick ledge is needed everywhere that brick goes.

Post Tension Cable

3/8” or 1/2” steel cables encased in plastic sleeve that are used in a post tension foundation.

Cast Stone

Formed concrete pattern for architectural accents.

Ceiling Joist

Any 2-inch thick lumber used to construct a flat ceiling.


Any plastic device used to raise foundation cable off the poly and locate it in the center of concrete. These come in assorted types, the most common being a black plastic pyramid shaped device.


Wooden shelf supports used in closets or pantries

Collar Ties

A horizontal framing member that is located 2/3 up the rise roof and connects two opposing rafters. Its purpose is to prevent the rafters from pushing the exterior wall outward. A collar tie should be used on every other rafter.

Common Rafter

Any rafter that connects at one end to the ridge and the other on the top plate

Control Joint

Tooled joint to help control the location of cracking concrete.


Outside trim work, which generally involves the use of one-inch thick lumber or cement (hardi plank) siding


False roof used to shed water. Usually found on backside of fireplace.


Support between the top plate and a header.

Cubic Yard

1 cubic yard of concrete. Measured as a 3′ x 3′ x 3′ area. One cubic yard is 27 cubic feet.


The cast iron fitting that comes pre-attached to the no-stressing end of a post tension foundation cable.

Douglas Fur

Strong lumber, used on spans of 20′ or longer.


Exterior plan of the way the front of the house is designed to look.

Expansion Joint

Any material installed to allow either masonry or concrete to expand or contract due to weather. Usually this material is either redwood or asphalt impregnated gyps.


The 1×6 trim that runs directly beneath the shingles. In general, this trims the rafter ends and closes off the gable ends.

False Rafters

Any 2-inch lumber used to construct a sloped ceiling.


Tacked down on decking before shingles are installed to help prevent water penetration.


Driveways, sidewalks and patios.

Flatwork Material

Assorted lumber and expansion joints used to construct the flatwork forms.


Any piece of lumber and expansion joints used to construct the natwork forms.


Wooden forming used to hold concrete in place until it hardens.

Form Lumber

Assorted lumber used in the construction of the foundation form.

Form Sand Formula

Total square footage x 0.027 = cubic yards of sand needed.


The wooden skeleton of the home (2×4 or bigger).

Frame I

Any 2-inch thick lumber used in construction of the frame from the bottom of the plate to the ceiling joists.

Frame II

Any 2-inch thick lumber used in constructing the frame above the ceiling joists.

Full Round

Closet pole.

Gable Furr Outs

Any type of framing in which the purpose is to extend a gable out over a brick ledge and provide a place for siding to be nailed to.

Gable Roofs

A roof constructed to be sloped on two sides.

Green Rock

Water resistant sheetrock used in showers and around bath tubs.


A horizontal framing member (excluding the top plate itself) located at the top of any framed opening (i.e .. the top of the window or door).

Hip Rafter

Any rafter running from a corner top plate to thc ridge, that has jack connecting to it and the top plate only.


Any header over five feet in length constructed out of 2×8 or larger material.

Jack Rafter

Any rafter that does not connect to both the ridge and top plate at the same time (i.e .. top plate to hip rafter or ridge to valley rafter)

Jack Stud

Located under a header to provide the header with support


The angle brace used in connection with a stake to support the walls of the foundation form.

Lamb Leg

The triangular shaped trim used to seal the soffit and where the gable fascia intersects the horizontal fascia.


Used to seal walls on flat part of roof.


Any type of trim or support over an opening, typically to support brick or stone (fireplace lintel, window lintel, door lintel)

Live End

The stressing end of a post tension cable that protrudes from the foundation form.

Living Area

Square footage of air conditioned floor space.

On Center

Distance between the center of one object to the center of another (i.e., studs = 24″ on center or 16″ on center depending on city codes)


The sum of total distance of all sides of a slab or closed plane figure.


A horizontal framing member attached and running perpendicular to the rafters. Purlin braces should be attached to both the rafter and the purlin. Any rafter over 12 feet long should be supported by a purlio and purling brace.

Purlin Brace

A roof brace that ideally runs at a 90 degree angle from a rafter to a wall. There should be one purling brace for every other rafter over 12 feet long.


The slope of the roof itself described by a ratio (example 8/12 pitch). The denominator indicates horizontal distance and the numerator is the vertical rise.

Plot Plan

A plan that shows whieh house will go on what lot. It also tells you of any easements and the setback measurements in which the house must be away from the property line.

Plumb Line

The procedure used to make sure a wall is both straight horizontally and vertically.

Plumb Material

Any temporary bracing material used to help plumb and line a wall.

Pocket Former

A plastic con shaped device used to prevent concrete from reaching the area where the foundation cable passes through the live end. This creates a pocket to allow the foundation to be stressed.


Rolls of black 6 mil. plastic used as a moisture barrier between the form sand and concrete in a foundation make up.


lnsulating foam caulking.

Poly Formula

Total slab area + total beam lengths x 3 = total poly square footage.

Potable Water

Water that is fit for consumption by humans, drinking water.

Pre-Finished Mold

Molding that is finished like the cabinets. It comes in different styles.

Privacy Lock

A push-button type locking device.

Passage Lock

Regular 2-sided door handle (no way to lock door).


The parallel framing members that support the actual roof.


Synonym for slope

Random Length Lumber

Lumber delivered in assorted lengths. usually 12 feet or longer.


Assorted thickness steel rods used in foundation and flatwork for additional strength.


The horizontal framing member that the rafters connect to at the peak of the roof


The actual height of room from top plate to ridge.

Rise Formula

Pitch x Run = Rise

Roll Roofing

Goes in all valleys.


Brick laid where the cnd of the brick is faced outward.


One half on the span. It is also the distance from the corner of a hip roof to the first common rafter


Trim for soffit joints.

Shingle Felt

Rolled material that goes over entire decked arca. Shingles go on top of this.


The under side of the eaves of the home.


Brick laid vertically on end.


The width of the area or building involved that is perpendicular to the ridge.

Spruce Pine Fir

SPF (Spruce Pine Fir) – used for ceiling joists. rafters. etc. Used on spans shorter than 20′.

Square Footage

Actual area of a slab, home or room. (Length x Width)


The vertical support used in foundation form construction. Also a stake is used for marking in surveying.

Step Flashing

Used to seal walls down the pitch of a roof’.

Strong Back

A device constructed out of one 2×6 and one 2×4 used to help prevent ceiling joists from sagging. It is installed on top of the Joists and attached to the nearest weight bearing wall or rafter. One strong back should be installed for every 8 feet of joist span.


Pre-cut 2-inch thick lumber used as the vertical framing members in a wall


The part of the rafter that extends past the extcrior wall of the building.

Take Off

All material required to build your own home

Top Plate

Any 2-inch thick lumber used horizontally to construct the top of a framed wall

Total Square Footage

Total square footage of a slab, including porches, garages, etc. Abbreviation =T.S.


Consists of interior doors. shelving materials, baseboards. cleat material, full round, window stool, attic stairway, masonite, deadbolts, door hardware, shoe mold, closet poles, bathroom accessoires

Truss Joint

Engineered floor joist system made up of component parts.

Valley Rafter

Any rafter running from a corner lop plate to the ridge that has jack rafters connecting to it and the ridge only.

Wall Footage

Actual total lengths of all walls in the home added up to give you a lotal wall footage.

Wind Brace

1×4 lumber recessed in the exterior framed walls for permanent bracing. Wind braces should be installed for every 25 feet of exterior wall.

Window Opening

The actual area displaced by a window unit or units. Example: a twin 3/0 6/0 window would have a 6 foot window opening.

Wire Mesh

Assorted gauged wire that is delivered in 6-foot wide rolls used in foundations and f1atwork to give it additional tensile strength.