Inspection Glossary


Currently Viewing 'P' (Top of Page)

P Trap: P-shaped section of drain pipe that prevents sewer odors from escaping into your home. Water is trapped in the pipe blocking gases from escaping through the drain.

Pad Out, Pack Out: To shim out or add strips of wood to a wall or ceiling in order that the finished ceiling/wall will appear correct.

Padding: A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.

Paint: A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings.

Pallets: Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping bundles of shingles.

Panel: In house construction, a thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door or fitted into grooves of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.

Parapet Wall: A low wall around the perimeter of a roof deck.

Parge Coat: A thin application of plaster for coating a wall.

Parking Strip: The area in front of a building between the sidewalk and the street usually landscaped with grass. The parking strip serves as a buffer between the road and pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.

Parting Stop or Strip: A small wood piece used in the side and head jambs of double-hung windows to separate upper and lower sash.

Partition: A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building.

Patterned Glass: A type of rolled glass having a pattern impressed on one or both sides. Used extensively for light control, bath enclosures and decorative glazing. Sometimes call "rolled," "figured," or "obscure" glass.

Paver Stones: Usually pre-cast concrete slabs used to create a traffic surface.

Payment Schedule: A pre-agreed upon schedule of payments to a contractor usually based upon the amount of work completed. Such a schedule may include a deposit prior to the start of work. Payments are often scheduled for the beginning of the month and allow the contractor to subcontractors and suppliers by the 10th of the month. There may also be a temporary 'holdout' at the end of the contract for any small items which have not been completed.

Pedestal Lavatory: A lavatory in which the bowl is supported by a single pedestal leg.

Penalty Clause: A provision in a contract that provides for a reduction in the amount otherwise payable under a contract to a contractor as a penalty for failure to meet deadlines or for failure of the project to meet contract specifications.

Penny: As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per hundred. The term now serves as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated by the letter "D."

Penthouse: A relatively small structure built above the plane of the roof.

Percolation Test (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.

Performance and Payment Bond: Guaranty by a surety company that if a contractor fails to perform under a contract, the surety company will complete the work.

Performance Bond: An amount of money (usually 10% of the total price of a job) that a contractor must put on deposit with a governmental agency as an insurance policy that guarantees the contractors' proper and timely completion of a project or job.

Perimeter Drain: 3" or 4" perforated plastic pipe that goes around the perimeter (either inside or outside) of a foundation wall (before backfill) and collects and diverts ground water away from the foundation. Generally, it is "daylighted" into a sump pit inside the home, and a sump pump is sometimes inserted into the pit to discharge any accumulation of water.

Perlite: An aggregate formed by heating and expanding siliceous volcanic glass.

Perm: A measure of water vapor movement through a material (grains per square foot per hour per inch of mercury difference in vapor pressure).

Permanent Set: The amount by which a material fails to return to its original dimensions after being deformed by an applied force or load.

Permit: A governmental authorization to perform a building process as in: Zoning\Use permit - authorization to use a property for a specific use e.g. a factory, a single family residence etc. Grading permit - authorization to change the contour of the land. Septic permit - a health dept. authorization to build or modify a septic system. Building permit - authorization to build or modify a structure. Electrical permit - a separate permit required for most electrical work. Plumbing permit - a separate permit required for new plumbing and larger modifications of existing plumbing systems.

Photo-Oxidation: Oxidation caused by rays of the sun.

Pier: A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members.

Pier Block: A concrete block used to support foundation members such as posts, beams, girders and joist.

Pigment: A powdered solid in suitable degree of subdivision for use in paint or enamel.

Pigtails, Electrical: The electric cord that the electrician provides and installs on an appliance such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, or range hood.

Pilot Hole: A small-diameter, pre-drilled hole that guides a nail or screw.

Pilot Light: A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler, or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.

Pitch: (a) The incline slope of a roof or the ratio of the total rise to the total width of a house, i.e., an 8-foot rise and 24-foot width is a one-third pitch roof. Roof slope is expressed in the inches of rise per foot of run. A term frequently used to designate coal tar pitch.

Pitch Pan or Pitch Pocket: A container, usually formed of sheet metal, around supporting connections with roof-mounted machinery. Filling the container with pitch, or better yet, plastic roof cement, helps seal out water even when vibration is present.

Pitch Pocket: An opening extending parallel to the annual rings of growth, that usually contains, or has contained, either solid or liquid pitch.

Pith: The small, soft core at the original center of a tree around which wood formation takes place.

PITI: Principal, interest, taxes and insurance (the four major components of monthly housing payments).

Plan Submittal: Submission of construction plans to the city or county in order to obtain a Building Permit.

Plans: See Blue Prints.

Plaster Grounds: Strips of wood used as guides or strike off edges around window and door openings and at base of walls.

Plastic Roof Cement: Used as a waterproofing medium in new construction and as a general-purpose exterior repair and maintenance material. Stops roof and other leaks fast. Available in both summer and winter grades.

Plat: A map of a geographical area as recorded by the county.

Plate: Sill plate: a horizontal member anchored to a masonry wall. Sole plate: bottom horizontal member of a frame wall. Top plate: top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.

Plate Line: The top horizontal line of a building wall upon which the roof rests.

Platform Framing (Platform Construction): A system of framing a building in which floor joists of each story rest on the top plates of the story below or on the foundation sill for the first story, and the bearing walls and partitions rest on the subfloor of each story. (Usually one story constitutes a platform.)

Plenum (or Plenum Chamber): Chamber or container for moving air under a slight positive pressure to which one or more ducts are connected.

Plot Plan: A bird’s eye view showing how a building sits on the building lot, typically showing setbacks (how far the building must sit from the road), easements, rights of way, and drainage.

Plough: To cut a lengthwise groove in a board or plank.

Plumb: Exactly perpendicular; vertical.

Plumb Bob: A lead weight attached to a string. It is the tool used in determining plumb.

Plumbing Boots: Metal saddles used to strengthen a bearing wall/vertical stud(s) where a plumbing drain line has been cut through and installed.

Plumbing Ground: The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.

Plumbing Jacks: Sleeves that fit around drain and waste vent pipes at and are nailed to the roof sheeting.

Plumbing Rough: Work performed by the plumbing contractor after the Rough Heat is installed. This work includes installing all plastic ABS drain and waste lines, copper water lines, bath tubs, shower pans, and gas piping to furnaces and fireplaces. Lead solder should not be used on copper piping.

Plumbing Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.

Plumbing Trim: Work performed by the plumbing contractor to get the home ready for a final plumbing inspection. Includes installing all toilets (water closets), hot water heaters, sinks, connecting all gas pipe to appliances, disposal, dishwasher, and all plumbing items.

Plumbing Waste Line: Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage waste.

Ply: A term to denote the number of thicknesses or layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.

Ply Sheet: A layer in built-up roofing.

Plywood: A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.

Pocket (Channel): A three-sided, U-shaped opening in a sash or frame to receive glazing infill. Contrasted to a rabbet, which is a two-sided, L-shaped sections as with face glazed window sash.

Point Load: A point where a bearing/structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation.

Pointing: The process where joints between masonry units, brick, etc., are filled with mortar.

Polished Wired Glass: Wired glass that has been ground and polished on both surfaces.

Polymer: A substance consisting of large molecules which have been formed from smaller molecules of similar make-up.

Polysulfide Sealant: Polysulfide liquid polymer sealant which is mercaptan terminated, long chain aliphatic polymers containing disulfide linkages. They can be converted to rubbers at room temperature without shrinkage upon addition of a curing agent.

Polyurethane Sealant: An organic compound formed by reaction of a glycol with an isocyanate.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Polymer formed by polymerization of vinyl chloride monomer. Sometimes called vinyl.

Ponding: A condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.

Pop Rivets: Fasteners used to join pieces of metal that are installed by either compressed-air-assisted or hand-operated guns. Unique in that they are installed from one side of the work.

Pop-Out: See Stucco Pop-Out.

Pores: Wood cells of comparatively large diameter that have open ends and are set one above the other to form continuous tubes. The openings of the vessels on the surface of a piece of wood are referred to as pores.

Porosity: The density of substance and its capacity to pass liquids.

Portland Cement: A mixture of certain minerals which when mixed with water form a gray colored paste and cure into a very hard mass.

Post: A vertical member of wood, steel, concrete or other material that transfers weight from the top of the post to whatever the post is resting on.

Post & Beam Construction: Most common type of wall framing, using posts which carry horizontal beams on which joists are supported. It allows for fewer bearing partitions and less material.

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.

Pot-Life: The time interval following the addition of an accelerator before chemically curing material will become too viscous to apply satisfactorily. See Shelf Life.

Potable: Water that is safe to drink.

Powder Coat: A technique for applying paint to metal surfaces. The metal is covered with a powder of dry paint particles and is baked in an oven. This causes the powder to melt and harden into a tough, colorful finish.

Power: The energy rate, usually measured in watts. Power equals voltage times amps, or W = E x 1. The heavier the flow of amps at a given supply, the higher the rate at which energy is being supplied and used.

Power Vent: A vent that includes a fan to speed up air flow. Often installed on roofs.

Pre-Shimed Tape Sealant: A sealant having a pre-formed shape containing solids or discrete particles that limit its deformation under compression.

Precast: Concrete building components which are formed and cured at a factory and then transported to a work site for erection.

Premium: Amount payable on a loan.

Preservative: Any substance that, for a reasonable length of time, will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive agents when the wood has been properly coated or impregnated with it.

Pressure Tank: Used in conjunction with wells to maintain pressure.

Pressure-Reducing Valve: Valve installed in the water service line where it enters the building to reduce the pressure of water in the line to an acceptable pressure used in buildings (40-55 psi desired).

Pressure-Relief Valve: Valve to relieve excess pressure in water storage tanks.

Pressure-Treated Lumber: Lumber that is treated in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood.

Primer: A material of relatively thin consistency applied to a surface for the purpose of creating a more secure bonding surface and to form a barrier to prevent migration of components. The first coat of paint in a paint job that consists of two or more coats. Also, the paint used for such a first coat.

Priming: Sealing of a porous surface so that compounds will not stain, lose elasticity, shrink excessively, etc. because of loss of oil or vehicle into the surround.

Principal: The original amount of the loan, the capital.

Projection: In roofing, any object or equipment which pierces the roof membrane.

Property Survey: A survey to determine the boundaries of a property. The cost depends on the complexity of the survey.

Protection Board: In roofing, heavy asphalt impregnated boards which are laid over bituminous coatings to protect against mechanical injury.

Pump Mix: Special concrete that will be used in a concrete pump. Generally, the mix has smaller rock aggregate than regular mix.

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

Punch Out: To inspect and make a discrepancy list.

Purlins: A horizontal structural member spanning between beams or trusses to support a roof deck. In slope glazing, purlins are the horizontal framing members.

Push Stick: In hardware, a tool used when cutting a short board on a table saw.

Putty: A type of cement usually made of whiting and boiled linseed oil, beaten or kneaded to the consistency of dough, and used in sealing glass in sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.

PVC or CPVC (PolyVinyl Choride): A type of white plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines.

PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition): A very durable titanium or zirconium coating that resists tarnish, scratches, and corrosion. It is used mostly to protect faucets with a brass finish.

PVDF: Architectural coating. See Kynar Coating.


Currently Viewing 'Q' (Top of Page)

Quarry Tile: A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally 6"X6"X1/4" thick .

Quarter Round: A small molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.

Quartersawn Grain: Another term for edge grain.

Quick-Setting Cement: An asphalt-based cement used to adhere tabs of strip shingles to the course below. Also used to adhere roll roofing laps applied by the concealed nail method.

Quote or Quotation: A price provided by a contractor, sub-contractor, or vendor to furnish materials, labor and/or both. Quotes differ from estimates in that an estimate is a best guess of the cost involved.


Currently Viewing 'R' (Top of Page)

R-Value: The thermal resistance of a glazing system. The R-value is the reciprocal of the U-value. The higher the R value, the less heat is transmitted throughout the glazing material.

Rabbet: A rectangular, longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.

Radial Saw: A circular saw which hangs from a horizontal arm or beam and slides back and forth. The arm pivots from side to side to allow for angle cuts and bevels. When sawing finish plywood, the good side should face up as the saw cuts on the down stroke.

Radiant Heating: A method of heating, usually consisting of a forced hot water system with pipes placed in the floor, wall, or ceiling, or with electrically heated panels.

Radiation: Any heated surface loses heat to cooler surrounding space or surfaces through radiation. The earth receives its heat from the sun by radiation. The heat rays are turned into heat as they strike an object which will absorb some or all of the heat transmitted.

Radiator: A heating unit which is supplied heat through a hot water system.

Radon: A naturally-occurring, radioactive gas which is heavier than air and is common in many parts of the country. Radon gas exposure is associated with lung cancer. Mitigation measures may involve crawl space and basement venting and various forms of vapor barriers.

Radon System: A ventilation system beneath the floor of a basement and/or structural wood floor and designed to fan exhaust radon gas to the outside of the home.

Rafter: A sloping roof member that supports the roof covering which extends from the ridge or the hip of the roof to the eaves. A common rafter is one which runs square with the plate and extends to the ridge. A hip rafter extends from the outside angle of the plate towards the apex of the roof. They are 2" deeper or wider than common rafters. A valley rafter extends from an inside angle of the plates toward the ridge of the house.

Rafter Tail: The portion of a rafter that extends past the building to form the eaves.

Rafter, Hip: A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.

Rafter, Valley: A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double 2-inch-thick members.

Raggle Block: A specially designed masonry block having a slot or opening into which the top edge of the roof flashing is inserted and anchored.

Rail: Cross members of panel doors or of a sash. Also the upper and lower members of a balustrade or staircase extending from one vertical support, such as a post, to another.

Railroad Tie: Black, tar and preservative impregnated, 6"x8" and 6'-8' long wooden timber that was used to hold railroad track in place. Normally used as a member of a retaining wall.

Rake: Trim members that run parallel to the roof slope and form the finish between the wall and a gable roof extension. The angle of slope of a roof rafter, or the inclined portion of a cornice.

Rake Edge: The overhang of an inclined roof plane beyond the vertical wall below it.

Rake Fascia: The vertical face of the sloping end of a roof eave.

Rake Siding: The practice of installing lap siding diagonally.

Ranch: A single story, one level home.

Random-Tab Shingles: Shingles on which tabs vary in size and exposure.

Rankin: Thermometer scale on which unit of measurement equals the Fahrenheit degree.

Raw Linseed Oil: The crude product processed from flaxseed and usually without much subsequent treatment.

Ready Mixed Concrete: Concrete mixed at a plant or in trucks en route to a job and delivered ready for placement.

Rebar: Reinforcing bar used to increase the tensile strength of concrete.

Receptacle: An electrical outlet. A typical household will have many 120 volt receptacles for plugging in lams and appliances and 240 volt receptacles for the range, clothes dryer, air conditioners, etc.

Recording Fee: A charge for recording the transfer of a property, paid to a city, county, or other appropriate branch of government.

Redline, Red Lined Prints: Blueprints that reflect changes and that are marked with red pencil.

Reducer: See bushing.

Reflective Glass: Glass with a metallic coating to reduce solar heat gain.

Reflective Insulation: Sheet material with one or both sun faces of comparatively low heat emissivity, such as aluminum foil. When used in building construction the surfaces face air spaces, reducing the radiation across the air space.

Refrigerant: A substance that remains a gas at low temperatures and pressure and can be used to transfer heat. Freon is an example and is used in air conditioning systems.

Register: A fixture through which conditioned air flows. In a gravity heating system, it is located near the baseboard. In an air conditioning system, it is located close to the thermostat.

Reglaze: To replace a broken window.

Reglet: A horizontal slot, formed or cut in a parapet or other masonry wall, into which the top edge of counter-flashing can be inserted and anchored. In glazing, a reglet is typically a pocket or keyway extruded into the framing for installing the glazing gaskets.

Reinforced Concrete: A combination of steel and concrete using the best properties of each. The steel consists of rebar or reinforcing bars varying from 3/8 " to 2 1/4 " in diameter and is placed before concrete is poured.

Reinforced Masonry: Masonry units, reinforcing steel, grout and/or mortar combined to act together to strengthen the masonry structure.

Reinforcing: Steel rods or metal fabric placed in concrete slabs, beams, or columns to increase their strength.

Relative Heat Gain: The amount of heat gain through a glass product taking into consideration the effects of solar heat gain (shading coefficient) and conductive heat gain (U-value).

Relative Humidity: The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, expressed as a percentage of the maximum quantity that could be present at a given temperature. (The actual amount of water vapor that can be held in space increases with the temperature.)

Release Tape: A plastic or paper strip that is applied to the back of self-sealing shingles. This strip prevents the shingles from sticking together in the bundles, and need not be removed for application.

Remote: Remote electrical, gas, or water meter digital readouts that are installed near the front of the home in order for utility companies to easily read the home owners usage of the service.

Resilient Flooring: A durable floor cover that has the ability to resume its original shape.

Resistance: The internal structure of wires even in the best conductors opposes the flow of electric current and converts some current into heat. This internal friction-like effect is called resistance and is measured in ohms. Resistance equals Voltage divided by Amperage.

Resorcinol Glue: A glue that is high in both wet and dry strength and resistant to high temperatures. It is used for gluing lumber or assembly joints that must withstand severe service conditions.

Retaining Wall: A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.

Retentions: Amounts withheld from progress billings until final and satisfactory project completion.

Return: In heating and cooling systems, a vent that returns cold air to be warmed. In a hot air furnace system, it is located near an inside wall.

Ribbon (or Girt): Normally a 1"x4" board let into the studs horizontally to support ceiling or second-floor joists.

Ridge: The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping roof surfaces.

Ridge Board: The board placed on edge at the ridge of the roof into which the upper ends of the rafters are fastened.

Ridge Cut: The end cut on a rafter that fits to the ridgeboard.

Ridgeboards: Horizontal support at the ridge of a roof to which opposing rafters are attached.

Rigid Metal Conduit: This conduit resembles plumbing pipe, protecting wires from damage.

Rise: In stairs, the vertical height of a step or flight of stairs.

Riser: Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.

Road Base: An aggregate mixture of sand and stone.

Rock 1, 2, 3: When referring to drywall, this means to install drywall to the walls and ceilings (with nails and screws), and before taping is performed.

Roll Roofing: Roofing material, composed of fiber and satin rated with asphalt, that is supplied in 36-inch wide rolls with 108 square feet of material. Weights are generally 45 to 90 pounds per roll.

Roll, Rolling: To install the floor joists or trusses in their correct place. (To "roll the floor" means to install the floor joists).

Romex: A non-metallic sheathed cable consisting of two or more insulated conductors having an outer sheath of moisture resistant, non-metallic material. The conductor insulation is rubber, neoprene, thermoplastic or a moisture resistant flame retardant fibrous material. There are two types: NM and NMC - described earlier.

Roof Deck: See deck.

Roof Sheathing: The boards or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.

Roof System: General term referring to the waterproof covering, roof insulation, vapor barrier, if used and roof deck as an entity.

Roofing Tape: An asphalt-saturated tape used with asphalt cements for flashing and patching asphalt roofing.

Root Cellar: Food storage area with a dirt floor.

Rough: In hardware, metal fastenings on cabinets which are usually concealed, like staples.

Rough Flooring: Materials used to form an unfinished floor. Floor sheathing.

Rough Opening: The opening in a wall into which a door or window is to be installed.

Rough Plumbing: All plumbing that should be done before the finish trades (sheetrock, painting, etc), including all waste lines and supply water lines that are in the walls or framing of the building. See also: Plumbing, Sub Rough, and Finish Plumbing.

RPM: Revolutions per Minute.

Rubber Emulsion Paint: Paint, the vehicle of which consists of rubber or synthetic rubber dispersed in fine droplets in water.

Rubber-Tired Roller: A roller with rubber tires commonly used for compacting trimmed sub grade or aggregate base or clay type soils.

Run (Roofing): The horizontal distance between the eaves and the ridge of the roof, being half the span for a symmetrical gable roof. Also, the net width of a step or the horizontal distance covered by a flight of stairs.