Building Surveying – Glossary of Terms

Building Surveying – Glossary of Terms

 

AggregateMaterial mixed with Portland cement to form concrete. Fine aggregate is sand, course aggregate is gravel.
AnaglyptaThick embossed lining paper for walls and ceilings
Anobium PunctatumThe Common Furniture Beetle, generally the most usual form of woodworm in the UK.
ArchitraveTrim fixed over joint between plaster and door frame
ArtexDecorative textured coating for walls and ceilings
AsbestosFibrous mineral with fire resistant qualities. Airborne fibres are a known health hazard
AshlarClose fitting square cut building stones, often of thin section used as a facing to other materials.
AsphaltA mixture of p, fine and coarse aggregate used for covering flat roofs.
Back additionProjecting rear wing of house, termed an outrigger in some areas.
Back boilerA boiler fitted at the back of the hearth of an open fire or behind a gas fire to provide hot water and/or central heating.
Back landSite with no road frontage surrounded by other development or land in other ownership
Balanced flueA metal flue terminal for the inlet of air and outlet of fumes through a wall from gas boiler or heater.
BalustradesStaircase and landing handrails and spindles.
Barge boardA sloping board along a gable covering the ends of roof timbers.
Bark borerWoodworm found only in bark and sapwood, generally harmless.
BattenA strip of timber, as used for the fixing of slates and tiles to the roof.
Bay windowA window formed in a projection of a wall beyond its general line.
BearerA horizontal timber used to spread loads, for example across ceilings or floors.
BenchingConcrete finish provided around the drainage channels in a manhole.
BinderA timber beam such as that used horizontally across ceiling joists to reduce the span of a ceiling.
BirdsmouthTriangular cut out of roof strut to tightly wedge purlin.
BitumenTar like material used in sealants, mineral felts and damp proof course.
Bituminous feltSheeting based on asbestos, fibreglass or other fibres impregnated with bitumen, used in various forms for covering flat roofs or for damp proof courses.
Blackash mortarIndustrial ash used instead of sand with dement and lime.
BlockworkMasonry of precast concrete blocks.
BlownDefective render of plaster lifting from base, hollow and loose.
BondingVarious patterns for laying bricks to maximise wall strength.
Borrowed lightWindow in internal wall between rooms, often over door.
Breather membraneTimber frame construction wall membrane allows moisture to escape.
Breeze blockBuilding blocks made of cinders and cement used for internal partitions and inner skin of cavity walls.
BressumerA long heavy lintel, usually timber, supporting brickwork or masonry, often over a shop window.
Building RegulationsNational regulations specifying minimum standards of construction for new buildings, extensions and alterations enforced by the local authority.
Building SurveyFormerly Structural Survey.
Built-up roofingTwo or more layers of bitumous felt laid in bitumen, used on flat roofs. Normally has a life expectancy of approximately 15 years.
Calcium ChlorideAdditive mixed in concrete may result in loss of strength.
Calcium Silicate BricksSubject to thermal expansion and contraction resulting in cracking
CalorifierHeating coil of pipework within copper hot water cylinder.
Capillary actionUpward movement of moisture in walls and floors.
CarbonationLoss of strength to concretes associated with chemical changes and rusting to steel reinforcement.
Casement windowA window in which one or more lights are hinged to open.
Cast-in-situConcrete or other material cost on site within timber or other formwork
CaulkingSealing to edges around baths and showers.
Cavity trayA damp proof course across a cavity wall, sloping downwards from the inner skin to the outer skin to prevent dampness crossing the cavity above door and window openings.
Cavity wallA wall, normally constructed of a brick outer skin and a block work inner skin, separated by a continuous gap, normally 2″ wide. In modern buildings the cavity is often filled with insulating material.
Cess pitA pit in which sewage collects and which has to be emptied regularly.
CheekThe side of a dormer.
CisternA water storage tank such as that installed in the roof of a house or the tank containing the water to flush a WC.
CladdingOn-load bearing covering to the walls or roof of a building, often of slate, tiling or timber.
  
CobThick rendered walls built of earth or clay often mixed with straw.
Code of Measuring PracticeRICS recommended rules for calculating floor areas etc.
Codes of PracticeNon statutory recommendations for the use of building materials and techniques
CollarA horizontal tie beam joining rafters, half way up their length.
ColumnAn upright post, generally of concrete, stone, brick, steel or timber supporting load from above.
Combination boilerA boiler in a hot water/central heating system which has a built-in cistern and requires no separate hot water cylinder.
Common Furniture BeetleWoodworm commonly encountered in older UK buildings
ComparablesOther properties sold or values to which reference is made when valuations are prepared.
ConcreteA hard, stone like mass consisting of a mixture of sand and stone by cement.
CondensationWater condenses on surface when it is colder than the dew point of the surrounding air.
Coniophora puteanaA common form of wet rot fungus.
Consumer unitFuse or circuit breaker box controlling electricity supply.
Continuity of CoverInsurance cover against subsidence or other risks carried on from one property owner to the next.
Conventional flueBoiler takes oxygen from air in room in which it is located with combustion gasses discharged via flue or chimney.
ConversionProperty now used differently, e.g. flat within former house.
CopingA brick, stone or concrete protection to the top of a wall.
CorbelA brick or masonry projection from the face of a wall
Core sampleDrilled out section of concrete or other material taken for analysis.
CorniceA moulding at the top of an outside wall or where an inside wall abuts the ceiling.
CovingA concave moulding at the abutment of an inside wall with the ceiling.
CowlA tile or metal cover, often fixed over a chimney.
Creasing tileOne or two courses of plain tiles laid under brick copings, projecting slightly from the face or the wall to prevent moisture running down.
CreepSpreading and folding of lead or asphalt on roofs and steps especially due to heat from sun.
Cross wallWall running from side to side.
CruckIrregular sections of tree trunk used for rafters and other rough carpentry.
Curtain wallLightweight thin outer panel wall.
CurtilageEnclosed garden area belonging to dwelling.
DadoA border or panelling over the lower half of the walls in a room.
Damp proof courseAn impervious layer of material in a wall, usually 6″ above ground level to prevent rising dampness.
Damp proof membraneA wide impervious sheet laid beneath the slab or finish of a floor to prevent rising dampness.
Death Watch BeetleLarge woodworm found in damp oak and other hardwoods
DentilTile fillet to seal joint at base of stack or parapet.
DetailingFlashings, upstands, soakers and other roof joint weather sealing.
DishingSagging to centre of floor or roof slope.
Dormer (window)A vertical window through a pitched roof, usually provided with its own flat or pitched roof.
Double glazingSealed units have two panes of glass factory sealed; Secondary double glazing has additional window fixed to main window, usually inside.
Dry liningA lining to the inside of a wall, usually plaster board fixed to battens or timber dabs.
Dry rotA form of decay in timber due to a particular type of fungus which needs relatively low moisture to develop and is difficult to eradicate.
EasementA legal term referring to the right a person has over another person’s land such as a ‘right of way’ or a ‘right of drainage’.
EaveThe lowest overhanging part of a sloping roof or the area under it.
EfflorescenceSalt deposits on masonry or roof tiles where dampness evaporates.
Electro-osmosisProprietary system for preventing rising damp by electrically earthing wall.
EndoscopeBorescope for inspecting inside wall cavities, etc.
Eyebrow windowSet into roof slope under curving rows of tiles.
FaçadeFront elevation of building.
Fascia boardA vertical board fixed under the eaves of a roof to which the rainwater gutters are often fixed.
FibreboardSoft porous building board used for insulation and lining.
FilletA narrow strip fixed at the angle between two surfaces, eg. cement fillet where a chimney stack abuts roof tiling.
Finlock guttersProprietary name for interlocking concrete gutter system.
FirringA timber strip laid along a joist to provide a gradual slope to a flat roof.
First fixingInstallation of services and fittings prior to plastering.
Flank wallThe wall at the side of a building.
FlashingA strip of impervious material such as lead or zinc which seals the junction of a roof with a wall, chimney stack or similar projection.
FlaunchingCement mortar bedding/weathering around a chimney pot.
FlightStraight run of staircase
FlueA duct in a chimney or leading to it for the discharge of fumes from a boiler or fire.
Flush doorA smooth faced door, normally of plywood or hardboard with either a hollow or solid core.
Flying freeholdIn England and Wales the ownership of airspace over another freehold.
Flying shoreTemporary support in gap between buildings, generally during redevelopment.
FoundationsThe below ground construction supporting the walls.
GableThe triangular part of the end wall of a building with a sloping roof.
GallopersTemporary timber struts under converging chimney brickwork in roof space.
Galvanic corrosionRusting of galvanised steel in presence of lead and copper.
GangNumber of sockets or switches.
Gang nailed trussesPrefabricated roof timbers fixed with metal plates.
GoingStaircase distance between risers.
GRPGlass fibre reinforced plastic.
Gravity circulationWide bore heating circulation without pump.
GroutFilling of joints in paving and tiling.
GulliesExterior drains into which water discharges.
GutterA channel along the edge of a roof to carry rainwater.
GypsumModern plaster material used in plasterboard and for plaster skim.
HaunchingCement work used to support drain work and manholes below ground.
HeaderBrick laid with end showing.
HeaveLifting of foundations due to clay swell or other expansion of support below.
Herringbone struttingTimbers laid in X-pattern between joists.
HipFormed at the junction of two roof slopes near ends of roofs which do not end with a gable.
Hip hookMetal bracket holding bottom hip tile in place.
HogginHardcore.
Honeycombe wallBricks laid with gaps to allow ventilation.
Hopper headAn enlarged top to a vertical pipe into which rainwater or waste water discharges
Hot water cylinderA cylinder for the storage of hot water, often fitted with an electric immersion heater.
InfillHardcore laid under solid floor
InterceptorA trap fitted between a house drain and a main sewer to separate in the air in each.
InvertBottom of manhole or drain. Invert level is distance below ground.
Jack rafterA short rafter between the hip and the eave of a roof.
JambVertical side face to window or door opening.
JoistA timber or steel beam directly supporting a floor, ceiling or flat roof.
Joist hangerA steel shoe which supports the end of a joist.
Lath and plasterThin timber strips with wet plaster coatings.
LintelA small beam over a door or window opening, supporting the wall above.
Mansard roofA roof which has a relatively flat top slope and a steeper lower slope on each side.
MasticAny permanently plastic and sticky waterproof material used for sealing exterior joints in buildings.
Microbore heatingNarrow flexible pipework
Mineral feltFlat roof covering, usually bitumen based.
Mono pitch roofHas only one slope from high wall to low wall.
MortarSand with a mixture of cement and/or lime used for joining and pointing brickwork, blockwork and masonry.
MullionA vertical dividing member of a frame between the lights of a window or door.
Newel postA post in a flight of stairs supporting the ends of a balustrade.
No fines concreteAggregate (gravel) without sand (fines) or other small particles.
NogginsA short horizontal timber which stiffens the vertical studs in a framed partition.
NosingThe overhanging edge of stair tread.
OrielUnderside of projecting window bay, shaped or rounded.
Oversite concreteA concrete slab laid over the earth beneath the ground floor of a house.
Panelled doorA door built of a framed surround with the spaces between filled with panels of thinner material, normally timber.
PantilesUndulating shaped interlocking tiles.
ParapetA low wall around the edge of a roof or balcony.
PargingCement lining around inside of chimney flue.
ParquetTongued and grooved, secret nailed, hardwood flooring.
PartitionA non-load bearing wall between rooms.
Party wallOn boundary between properties in separate ownership.
PilesConcrete columns driven or cast in subsoil as foundations.
PIR Sensor (Passive InfraRed SensorA Pyro Electric InfraRed Sensor is an electronic device which measures InfraRed (light radiating from objects in its field of view).
PlasterboardGypsum plaster sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard.
PlateHorizontal timber on wall to spread load of joist and rafter ends.
PlinthWidening at base of wall, typically cement rendered.
PlumbVertical. Hence plumb line to test for verticality.
PointingThe finish of the joints between bricks in a wall.
PondingWater lying on flat roofs.
PurlinA horizontal beam in a roof supporting the rafters.
QuoinExternal corner of wall.
RafterA sloping timber in a roof extending from the ridge to the eave.
RenderA coat of mortar applied to the inner face of a wall prior to plastering or the external face as weathering.
Retaining wallHolds back land behind and may thus support structures behind also.
RevealThe visible part of a jamb in a door or window opening, not covered by the frame.
RidgeTop of pitched roof.
RiserThe upright face of a step.
RoughcastUnevenly finished external render.
Sarking feltBituminous felt laid under slates or tiles on a roof as a secondary barrier against rainwater.
Sash windowA window in which two opening lights slide up and down in a cased frame, balanced by weights on sash cords over pullies.
ScreedA layer of mortar usually 2″ to 3″ thick laid over a concrete floor to provide a smooth finish.
ScrimHessian type material used to seal joints in plasterwork.
Septic tankA sewage purification system consisting of a number of chambers from which water can be allowed to soak into the ground, where no sewer is available.
SetsSmall stones used for paving.
SettlementDownward movement of structure on site.
ShearVertical crack due to part of wall moving down.
ShellingBreaking away of surface to plasterwork or other finish.
ShinglesThin timber tiles used for roofs and wall cladding.
ShiplapOverlapping boarding as cladding to external face of wall.
Sleeper wallA low brick wall supporting the floor joists of a suspended timber ground floor.
SleughLand drain with pipes butted together.
SnaggingMinor building works to be finished off after practical completion.
SoakawaysLand drains and sumps allowing water to drain into soil.
SoakerA small piece of metal placed at the edge of roof slates or tiles beneath flashing to prevent rainwater entering the junction of a roof and wall.
SoffitThe under surface of an eave, stair or beam.
Soil stackAbove ground pipework taking waste water.
Soldier archBricks laid on end as lintel to opening
SpallingCement render finished with small white stones.
SpindelsVertical uprights to balustrades and staircase handrails.
Spine wallInternal wall running front to back.
SprocketAngled timber at end of rafter which lifts bottom tiles.
Stitch bondingRepair to brickwork, cutting in new bricks.
StretcherBrick laid sideways
StringSloping board at either side of the treads on a staircase, supporting the treads and risers.
StruttingAngled timbers supporting purlins and rafters.
StuccoSmooth cement rendering as external finish.
StudVertical member of a framed partition.
SubsidenceDownward shift of building due to movement in ground beneath.
SubsoilMaterial below topsoil which supports foundations.
TankingHorizontal and vertical water proof membrane beneath the floor and up the walls of a basement.
Tell-taleGauge fixed over crack to monitor movement in wall.
Tie barMetal restraint inserted in buildings with end plates on wall.
TingleA strip of flexible metal used to hold a replacement slate in position on a roof.
TradaTimber Research and Development Association.
TrapA U-shaped bend in a waste pipe forming seal to prevent foul air escaping from the pipe.
TreadThe horizontal part of a step.
Trimmer joistA short timber which encloses one side of a rectangular hole in a floor or ceiling, such as that found around a loft hatch or stairway.
TrussA steel or timber frame such as that found in modern houses, to replace the more conventional roof frame consisting of rafters and purlins.
UndercloakA course of asbestos cement or natural slate or clay tiles supporting the verge of a gable roof.
UnderpinningInsertion of new foundation beneath existing foundation.
UPVC (Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride)A fairly stiff plastic material from which rainwater gutters and other building components are often made.
ValleyThe intersection between two sloping surfaces of a roof.
Vapour barrierAn airtight skin such as metal foil or polythene used to prevent vapour passing from the warm side to the cold side of insulation and condensing within the element of a building
VerdigrisA green chemical formed on the surface of copper when exposed to the air.
VergeThe edge of a sloping roof which overhangs a gable.
Wainscot WoodPanelling on boards up to dado height in a room.
WainscotingMaterial used to make wainscot.
Wall plateA horizontal timber along the top of a wall to which rafters or joints are fixed.
Wall tieMetal fixing in cavity wall connecting two skins.
WeatherboardOverlapping boarding used as external wall cladding.
Weep holesAllow drainage from wall cavity or from behind retaining wall.
Wet rotDecay of timber in alternate wet and dry conditions caused by fungi. Less difficult to eradicate than dry rot.
WoodwormFurniture beetle and other wood boring insects.

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