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Maria Tompson
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Century 21 Example Inc, Brokerage
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Presale Condos
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Construction Glossary

The terminology utilized by construction contractors can be very difficult to understand thus here is a glossary of some of the most common terms used in construction so that even first time home owners can translate the contractors' language into layman's English.





The material for plastic pipes generally installed as a waste water conduit.



A specific amount of money which is allocated separately to allow for any aspects which may come up and were not specifically noted in a construction contract.


Amperage (or Amps)

A measure of the total electrical capacity of a house. The general range is between 60 to 200 amps.


Anchor Bolts

Bolts in the form of a J which are set into the foundation's concrete in order to anchor the framing of the house.



A fibrous type of insulation and fire resistance substance which is extremely dangerous if inhaled. Older buildings tend to have significant amounts of asbestos.





A major horizontal structural element which carries a load through the spanning of an open space.



A set of architectural drawings for the design, planning, estimating, permitting and construction of a building which take their name from the bluish hue of the traditional large-format copying process.


Builders' Lien

A legal claim placed by a contractor or other construction supplier against the title of a property to compensate for work not duly paid.



Casement Window

A style of window which is designed with a series of hinges on the vertical side(s) facing the frame and that swings open and closed in a similar fashion to a door.


Change Order

A document which specifies the modifications to the existing construction plans for a building.


Circuit Breaker

An electrical control switch which is generally located inside a circuit breaker box or electrical panel in a structure. A main circuit breaker will cut off all electrical flow to an entire residential unit, while a regular circuit breaker will control the flow of electricity only to a specific part of the structure, and sometimes to a single high drawing appliance plug, such as a dryer or stove.


Concrete Block

A common basic construction element widely used in low rise commercial and retail, as well as some residential construction. It is a hollow concrete form which is approximately 16 inches wide, 8 inches high and deep, and thus is a relatively inexpensive manner to build a masonry structure wall.



An individual or business entity which is specifically licensed by the regional jurisdiction to perform general activities related to construction. Although the standards vary from region to region, many contractor licenses have extensive training and testing requirements as well as hefty insurance prerequisites.


Curtain Drain

A conduit land feature often filled with gravel which directs drain water and storm flows away from a building.





The gable of a roof line which is generally found at right angles to the main structure of the roof and which allows for greater headroom in sloped attic areas.


Double Hung Window

An older, primarily wooden window composed of two sashes which slide vertically.




Earthquake Strap

A strap generally made of metal which is utilized to affix gas heating units to the structure in order to reduce the possibility of the unit tipping over in a seismic shock and provoking a dangerous gas leak.



A chalk-like material which when present on concrete surfaces indicates that the material has been exposed to penetration by moisture. It is often called calcium carbonate as that is the substance which is leached out of concrete by water.


Electrical Entrance Package

The point where the electrical service enters a building. It generally consists of the "strike" where the cables enter the structure; the meter; and the electrical panel, circuit breaker box or fuse case.


Exposed Aggregate

A style of concrete finishing which either removes the existing outer membrane of cement paste, or seeds coarse aggregate onto the surface to leave a rough but decorative surface with high traction potential.


Exterior Envelope

The portion of the structure which acts as a barrier towards the natural elements. This includes siding, roofing, exterior doors and windows, caulking, flashing trim, venting systems, and other exterior components.




The front of a building as seen from the entrance direction.



A cover board or framed metal structure located at the edge or eaves of a sloping, flat, or overhanging roof that is assembled in a vertical position in order to protect the edges of the roof.



The openings in the wall of a structure which accommodate glass panes or windows, as well as doors or skylights.



A weatherproofed material which is installed between the roof or wall sheathing and the finishing materials in order to isolate moisture away from sheathing.



Gypsum Wallboard

A common wall finish which is a manufactured panel of a gypsum plaster core enveloped by thin specialty cardboard. Gypsum wallboard comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses but the most common is one half inch thick and 4 by 8 feet in overall size. Also known as drywall, plasterboard, or sheet rock.



A construction material which is generally composed of sand, cement, or crushed slag and water forced through a special cement gun under high pneumatic pressures, and utilized primarily in the construction of swimming pools.



Hip Roof

A style of roof design which increases in height via inclining planes from all the sides of the building.




An addition to a property which is structural in basis and is thus generally considered as a major fixture.



A process whereby outside air can infiltrate or leak into a building leading to heat losses.




A horizontal framing member which supports floors.



Key Lot

A single piece of property which is considered to be pivotal to a particular proposed development's market success.



Laminated Glass

Two or more panes of glass with one or more inter layers which are permanently bonded into a single unit.


Latent Defect

A problem or defect which is concealed or hidden in such a way that it would not likely be discovered through the course of a conventional inspection.



A horizontal element generally of metal or wood which acts as a header over an opening for a door or window.




Maximum Occupancy Load

The maximum number of people allowed by law to be in a specific room at any one time.

Metes And Bounds

A form of description of land where all of the lines of boundaries are established through the utilization of directors, angles, and terminal points. The bounds refer to the actual boundary lines and the metes are a reference to the limiting marks.


The stress or tensile strength manifested on a construction member at any specific, given strain.




A formal document demonstrating a state of indebtedness between one individual or entity and another, and promising payment under specific terms. In some cases, a note can avoid the placement of a lien against a property by a contractor who has not received sufficient compensation..




A part of a roof structure which horizontally extends beyond the plane formed by the vertical exterior walls of a structure.



Performance And Payment Bond

A form of guaranty issued by a surety company that ensures that should a contractor fail to perform the specified duties under a contractual agreement, the surety company will step in to have the work completed properly.


Plot Plan

An overhead view demonstrating how a structure is located on a building lot which is utilized for visualizing setbacks, drainage, and easements.



Quantum Meruit

A legal principle named and derived from the Latin "as much as they deserve". This aspect of the law is called into practice when faced with a situation whereby a specific price for a particular product, service, labour and / or materials supplied was not agreed to prior to its provision, and enforces the payment of what is generally considered reasonable market value.




A sloping member of a roof which acts to support the roof covering and that extends from the hip or ridge of the roof all the way to the eaves.


Reinforced Concrete

A form of concrete construction which reinforces the element by utilizing steel rebars within the structure of poured concrete.



The thermal resistance of a given insulative or glazing element. The higher the R-Value, the greater the resistance to thermal transfer and thus better the insulation effect.



Slab On Grade

A form of construction in which little if any foundations are used, and the structure sits upon a poured slab of concrete.



A type of exterior finish which is usually roughly troweled onto a vertical surface.


Sweat Equity

A part of equity which is garnered not through financial contribution but by provision of labour and project management, usually in the case of renovations or additions to a property.




The process of applying a joint tape over a plaster embedding compound in order to smooth out the joints in drywall construction.


Tongue And Groove

A form of flooring design where each board has a tab, or tongue at the end which is engineered to fit into the groove of the end of the adjacent board.


Turn Key

A package offered by contractors and developers whereby all functions right to occupancy date, are handled by that party.




Urban Renewal

The process whereby urban properties are acquired and redeveloped in order to increase their utility, marketability, or profitability.




Vapour Barrier

A plastic barrier or membrane which is placed the insulation and the wall or ceiling finish in order to retard the transmission of moisture.



Wind Uplift

The upward force which is exerted by a wind blowing across a roof surface.




An extended covered portico which is gaining popularity as a design feature in higher end villas.




Yard Lumber

Conventional grade fairly inexpensive lumber which is generally used for lower end residential and commercial construction in contrast to more expensive and "truer" lumber incorporated into the higher end properties.




A specific area in a structure that is kept at the same temperature according to the design and function of the HVAC system.


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