Built Green


A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.


A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.

Back Charge

Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. Owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general contractor’s bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something damaged by another subcontractor, such as a tub chip or broken window.


The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundation wall.


Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall. Carpet backing holds the pile fabric in place.


Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as 'pickets' or 'spindles'.


The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.

Base or Baseboard

A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.

Base Shoe

Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.


A section of fiber glass or rock wool insulation measuring 15 or 23 inches wide by four to eight feet long and various thicknesses.  Sometimes "faced" (meaning to have a paper covering on one side) or "unfaced" (without paper).


Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.

Bi-fold Door

Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.

Bypass Doors

Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.


Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.

Block Out

To install a box or barrier within a foundation wall to prevent the concrete from entering an area. For example, foundation walls are sometimes "blocked" in order for mechanical pipes to pass through the wall, to install a crawl space door, and to depress the concrete at a garage door location.

Blow Insulation

Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.

Board Foot

A unit of measure for lumber equal to 1 inch thick by 12 inches wide by 12 inches long. Examples: 1" x 12" x 16' = 16 board feet, 2" x 12" x 16' = 32 board feet.


A truck used to hoist heavy material up and into place. To put trusses on a home or to set a heavy beam into place.

Bottom Chord

The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.

Builder's Risk Insurance

Insurance coverage on a construction project during construction, including extended coverage that may be added for the contract for the customer's protections.


An abbreviation for "Certificate of Occupancy". This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.

Casement Window

A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a normal door.


Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.

Ceramic Tile

A man made or machine made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub and shower enclosures and on counter tops.

Chair Rail

Interior trim material installed about 3 4 feet up the wall, horizontally.

Change Order

A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.

Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC and Rs)

The standards that define how a property may be used and the protections the developer makes for the benefit of all owners in a subdivision.

Crown Molding

A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.

Double Hung Window

A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.


The amount of progress billings on a contract that is currently available to a contractor under a contract with a fixed payment schedule.

Drywall (or Gypsum Wallboard (GWB), Sheetrock or Plasterboard)

Wall board or gypsum A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. The panels are nailed or screwed onto the framing and the joints are taped and covered with a 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".

Elevation Sheet

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

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.


Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.

Fixed Price Contract

A contract with a set price for the work. See Time and Materials Contract.


Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.


Common word for concrete floors, driveways, basements, and sidewalks.

Footer, Footing

Continuous 8" or 10" thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.

Forced Air Heating

A common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal ducts to various areas of the house.

Glued Laminated Beam (Glulam)

A structural beam composed of wood laminations or lams. The lams are pressure bonded with adhesives to attain a typical thickness of 1 ½" . (It looks like 5 or more 2 X 4's are glued together).


A wet mixture of cement, sand and water that flows into masonry or ceramic crevices to seal the cracks between the different pieces. Mortar made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into the joints and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.

Hip Roof

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

Hose Bib

An exterior water faucet (sill cock).


An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.


Manufactured structural building component resembling the letter "I". Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two key parts: flanges and webs. The flange of the I joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1 ½" width. The web or center of the I rafters I joists is commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I joists are available in lengths up to 60 feet long.


The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening. Includes studs as well as the frame and trim.

Laminated Shingles

Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake like appearance. May also be called "architectural shingles" or "three dimensional shingles."


Generally all building materials made of finished wood and manufactured in millwork plants. Includes all doors, window and door frames, blinds, mantels, panelwork, stairway components (ballusters, rail, etc.), moldings, and interior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.


A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface.


A vertical divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings.

Newel Post

The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.

Oriented StrandBoard or OSB

A manufactured 4' X 8' wood panel made out of 1" 2" wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.

Particle Board

Plywood substitute made of course sawdust that is mixed with resin and pressed into sheets. Used for closet shelving, floor underlayment, stair treads, etc.


A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.

Paver, Paving

Materials—commonly masonry—laid down to make a firm, even surface.

Percolation Test or PERC Test

Tests that a soil engineer performs on earth to determine the feasibility of installing a leech field type sewer system on a lot. A test to determine if the soil on a proposed building lot is capable of absorbing the liquid affluent from a septic system.


The hot air supply duct leading from a furnace.


A panel (normally 4' X 8') of wood made of three or more layers of veneer, compressed and joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles to give the sheet strength.

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.


Curved, "U" section of drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through a fixtures water drain.

Punch List

A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the contractor.


Poly Vinyl Chloride A type of white or light gray plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines and waste pipe.


A grill placed over a heating duct or cold air return.

Roof Sheathing or Sheeting

The wood panels or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.

Rough Opening

The horizontal and vertical measurement of a window or door opening before drywall or siding is installed.


A measure of insulation. A measure of a materials resistance to the passage of heat. The higher the R value, the more insulating "power" it has. For example, typical new home's walls are usually insulated with 4" of batt insulation with an R value of R 13, and a ceiling insulation of R 30.


Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.

Septic System

An on site waste water treatment system. It usually has a septic tank which promotes the biological digestion of the waste, and a drain field which is designed to let the left over liquid soak into the ground. Septic systems and permits are usually sized by the number of bedrooms in a house.

Sheathing, Sheeting

The structural wood panel covering, usually OSB or plywood, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.

Sheetrock Drywall, Wallboard, or Gypsum

A manufactured panel made out of gypsum plaster and encased in a thin cardboard. Usually 1/2" thick and 4' x 8' or 4' x 12' in size. The 'joint compound'. 'Green board' type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other "wet areas".

Siding, (Lap Siding)

Slightly wedge shaped boards used as horizontal siding in a lapped pattern over the exterior sheathing. Varies in butt thickness from ½ to ¾ inch and in widths up to 12".


The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls. Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.


Round, large cardboard tubes designed to hold wet concrete in place until it hardens.

Specifications or Specs

A narrative list of materials, methods, model numbers, colors, allowances, and other details which supplement the information contained in the blue prints. Written elaboration in specific detail about construction materials and methods. Written to supplement working drawings.


The plate on a door frame that engages a latch or dead bolt.


The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate, floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.

T&G, Tongue and Groove

A joint made by a tongue (a rib on one edge of a board) that fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of another board to make a tight flush joint. Typically, the subfloor plywood is T&G.


Manufactured structural building component resembling the letter "I". Used as floor joists and rafters. I joist is commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I joists include two key parts: flanges and webs. The flange or from of the I joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1 ½" width. The web or center of the I- joists are available in lengths up to 60'' long.


An engineered and manufactured roof support member with "zig-zag" framing members. Does the same job as a rafter but is designed to have a longer span than a rafter.


A ¼" material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under finish coverings, such as vinyl flooring, to provide a smooth, even surface. Also a secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or water resistant installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other roof finishing layer.

Vapor Barrier

A building product installed on exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them. Normally, polyethylene plastic sheeting is used.


In construction there are two general types of warranties. One is provided by the manufacturer of a product such as roofing material or an appliance. The second is a warranty for the labor. For example, a roofing contract may include a 20 year material warranty and a 5 year labor warranty. Many new homebuilders provide a one year warranty. Any major issue found during the first year should be communicated to the builder immediately. Small items can be saved up and presented to the builder for correction periodically through the first year after closing.


A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a ceramic tile backing material. Commonly used on bathtub decks.

Yard of Concrete

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.