Glossary

Common Construction Contractor Terms

Below are common construction contractor terms often used in home additions, remodeling repairs & new construction.

  • Architect: (Back to previous page)
    One who has completed a course of study in building and design, and is licensed by the state as an architect. One who draws up plans.
  • Asphalt Shingles: (Back to previous page)
    Roofing material that consists of a base material, which is coated with asphalt and granulated minerals.
  • Bay Window: (Back to previous page)
    Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
  • Beam: (Back to previous page)
    A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads/weight from one support to another.
  • Bedrock: (Back to previous page)
    A sub-surface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.
  • Blue Print: (Back to previous page)
    A type of copying method often used for architectural drawings. Usually used to describe the drawing of a structure which is prepared by an architect or designer for the purpose of design and planning, estimating, securing permits and actual construction.
  • Caulking: (Back to previous page)
    A flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces e.g. between pieces of siding or the corners in tub walls. To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt plastic cement to prevent leaks.
  • Certificate of Use (Miami-Dade County Ordinance No. 08-133): (Back to previous page)
    The new CU (Certificate of Use) requirement is a consumer-protection legislation. The process of the new CU is to document and disclose to the public/buyer, the extent to which residential properties (i.e. single family, condominium, townhouse, or duplex) acquired in this way comply with all applicable building codes and zoning codes.
  • Change Order: (Back to previous page)
    A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.
  • Circuit: (Back to previous page)
    The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.
  • Circuit Breaker: (Back to previous page)
    A switch like device usually located inside the electrical breaker panel or circuit breaker box. It is designed to shut of the power to portions or all of the house and to limit the amount of power flowing through a circuit.
  • Clean Out: (Back to previous page)
    An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with a threaded plug.
  • Cleanout: (Back to previous page)
    The cleaning of a property and removing of debris in preparation for the sale, auctioning, remodeling or occupancy of the property.
  • Column: (Back to previous page)
    A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
  • Condensation: (Back to previous page)
    The change of water from vapor to liquid when warm; moisture-laden at contact with a cold surface.
  • Construction Contract: (Back to previous page)
    A legal document which specifies “what”, “when”, “where”, “how”, “how much” and “by whom” in a construction project.
  • Contractor: (Back to previous page)
    A company licensed to perform general or specific types of construction activities.
  • Eave: (Back to previous page)
    A roof edge that extends past the exterior wall line.
  • Electrical Rough: (Back to previous page)
    Work performed by the Electrical Contractor consisting of conduit, electrical wires & electrical boxes installed before drywall installation.
  • Electrical Trim: (Back to previous page)
    Work performed by the electrical contractor when the house is nearing completion including installation of all plugs, switches, light fixtures, smoke detectors, appliance preparation and “makes up” the electric house panel. The electrician does all work necessary to get the home ready for the final electrical inspection.
  • Engineer: (Back to previous page)
    A person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering.
  • Footer / Footing: (Back to previous page)
    Continuous 8” or 10” thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.
  • Foundation: (Back to previous page)
    The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
  • Framer: (Back to previous page)
    The contractor that installs and erects the frame, flooring system, interior walls, backing, trusses, rafters, decking, installs all beams, stairs, soffits and all work related to the frame structure of the home. The framer builds the home according to the blueprints and must comply with local building codes and regulations.
  • Furring Strips: (Back to previous page)
    Strips of wood, often 1 X 2 and used to shim out and provide a level fastening drywall for a wall or ceiling.
  • Truss: (Back to previous page)
    A structure comprising one or more triangular units constructed with straight slender members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes Trusses are typically used in parallel to form roofs.
  • Hip: (Back to previous page)
    The external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes; from the ridge to the eaves.
  • Hot Tar: (Back to previous page)
    Oil-based material applied first by heating to melting point in order to saturate individual ply of felt. Used on low slope or flat roofs. Can be covered with gravel in order to protect from harmful ultraviolet rays of sun.
  • Laminated Shingles: (Back to previous page)
    Strip shingles made with fiberglass mat and asphalt. Also commonly called Architectural or dimensional shingles.
  • Pitch: (Back to previous page)
    The degree of roof incline, expressed as the ratio of the rise, in feet, to the span.
  • Rafter: (Back to previous page)
    The structural member supporting the deck and roof system components, extending from the downslope perimeter to the ridge or hip.
  • Remodeling: (Back to previous page)
    To model again, reconstruct or make over.
  • Ridge: (Back to previous page)
    The uppermost, horizontal external angle on a roof formed by the intersection of two slopes.
  • Roll Roofing: (Back to previous page)
    Asphalt roofing material manufactured in roll form; usually set aside for flat roofing or placed in valleys.
  • Roof Shingles: (Back to previous page)
    Asphalt Shingles, Laminated Shingles & Three-Tab Shingle (links)
  • Roof Ventilation: (Back to previous page)
    A static, wind- or power-operated system for removing hot air and moisture from the air under your roof. Includes ridge vents.
  • Saturated Felt: (Back to previous page)
    An asphalt-impregnated felt used as an underlayment between the deck and the roofing material.
  • Sheathing: (Back to previous page)
    Exterior grade plywood or boards used as roof deck material.
  • Slope: (Back to previous page)
    The degree of roof incline expressed as a ratio of the rise in inches to the run of roof.
  • Tar Paper / Underlayment: (Back to previous page)
    A layer of asphalt saturated which is installed over deck before shingles are installed, which provides additional protection for water intrusion.
  • Three-tab shingle {3-tab}: (Back to previous page)
    The most economical type of asphalt shingle.
  • Utility Easement: (Back to previous page)
    The area of the earth that has electric, gas, or telephone lines. These areas may be owned by the homeowner, but the utility company has the legal right to enter the area as necessary to repair or service the lines.
  • Waste Pipe and Vent: (Back to previous page)
    Plumbing plastic pipe that carries waste water to the municipal sewage system or septic tank.
  • Window Frame: (Back to previous page)
    The stationary part of a window unit; window sash fits into the window frame.
  • Yard of concrete: (Back to previous page)
    One cubic yard of concrete is 3’ X 3’ X 3’ in volume, or 27 cubic feet. One cubic yard of concrete will pour 80 square feet of 3 ½” sidewalk or basement/garage floor.
  • Zoning: (Back to previous page)
    A governmental process and specification which limits the use of a property e.g. single family use, high rise residential use, industrial use, etc. Zoning laws may limit where you can locate a structure. Also see building codes.