Richmond Virginia Home Inspector
The ABCs of Home Ownership (A Glossary)
Here are some common terms relevant to home ownership. For a complete list, visit www.nachi.org and click on Glossary.
A/C: An abbreviation for Air Conditioner, Air Conditioning, or Alternating Current.
Access Panel: An opening in the wall or ceiling near the fixture that allows access for servicing the plumbing/electrical system.
Approach: The area between the sidewalk and the street that leads to a driveway or the transition from the street as you approach a driveway.
Awning Window: A window with hinges at the top allowing it to open out and up.
Backsplash: A raised integral portion of a wall mount sink or lavatory located at the rear to protect the wall.
Baseboard: Usually wood or vinyl installed around the perimeter of a room to cover the space where the wall and floor meet. A board placed against the wall around a room next to the floor to properly finish between the floor and the plaster.
Bearing Wall: A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Breeze Way: A roofed, open-sided passageway connecting two structures, such as a house and a garage.
Casement Window: A sidehinged window that opens on hinges secured to the side of the window frame.
Casing: Molding of various widths and thicknesses used to trim door and window openings at the jambs.
Ceiling Joist: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
Chair Rail: A molding that runs horizontally along the wall at about 3 feet from the ground. In storefront, window wall, or curtain wall systems, a chair rail is an aluminum extrusion applied horizontally to the inside of the system 3 feet from the floor to create a barrier in floor-to-ceiling glazing applications.
Circuit: A network of wiring that typically commences and returns at a panel box, and feeds electricity to outlets.
Composite Board: An insulation board which has two different insulation types laminated together in 2 or 3 layers.
Compression Valve: A type of valve that works by raising or lowering a stem. Water passes through the valve by turning the faucet handle, which causes the stem to drop or rise.
Condensing Unit: The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.
Crawl Space: A shallow open area between the floor of a building and the ground, normally enclosed by the foundation wall.
Crown Molding: A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered.
Culvert: Round, corrugated drain pipe (normally 15" or 18" in diameter) that is installed beneath a driveway parallel to and near the street.
Deck: An elevated platform. "Deck" is also commonly used to refer to the above-ground floors in multi-level parking garage.
Dormer: A converted attic with windows projecting through a sloping roof.
Double Hung Window: A window with sashes that slide vertically and allow opening from the top and bottom.
Drywall: A gypsum board material used for walls or ceilings.
Easement: A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose, e.g. a sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbor's property.
Eave: The part of the roof which extends beyond the side wall.
Egress: A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4x4 window is the minimum size required.
Energy Efficiency Ratio: An air conditioning efficiency rating system which indicates the number of BTU's delivered per watt of power consumed.
Expansive Soils: Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present.
Facade: The front of a building. Frequently, in architectural terms an artificial or decorative effort.
Fenestration: Any glass panel, window, door, curtain wall or skylight unit on the exterior of a building.
Field Measure: To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs, shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead of using the blueprints.
Fitting: A general term that usually refers to faucets, shower valves, tub fillers, or various piping parts such as tees or elbows.
Fixture: In plumbing, the devices that provide a supply of water and/or its disposal, e.g. sinks, tubs, toilets.
Floor Plan: The basic layout of building or addition, which includes placement of walls, windows and doors as well as dimensions.
Footing: The underground support for a foundation or support post.
Foundation: The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
Source: NACHI's home inspection glossary. Copyright 2005, all rights reserved. Click here to view more terms related to home ownership and home inspection
David DiRienzo is a premier Home Inspector providing Virginia State Certified home inspections in Richmond, Midlothian, Chesterfield, Chester, Henrico, Mechanicsville, Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Hopewell, Ashland, Prince George, Dinwiddie and all of Central and Southside Virginia.