Glossary of House Terms

Terms A - C



An Abstract is a summary of the pertinent items in a document or documents, such as a deed.

Abstract of Title

An Abstract of Title is a summary of all conveyances, such as deeds or wills and legal proceedings, giving the names of the parties, the description of the land, and the agreements, arranged to show the continuity of ownership.


Accrual is sums which have been accumulated or a sum to be accumulated in a regularly recurring period.


Amenities are satisfactions derived from ownership or occupancy, or both, of a property because of qualities of excellence which characterize the property and its surroundings. In appraising: The term is most frequently used in connection with considerations relating to properties which typically are strongly appealing to prospective buyers for owner occupancy.


Amortization is the scheduled liquidation of a long-term debt.


Appraisal is the process of deriving valuations and other estimates pertaining to property; the valuations and estimates so derived.


An Apron is the flat member of the inside trim of a window placed against the wall immediately beneath the stool.

Area, Blighted

A blighted area is a decadent area without apparent prospect of improvement.



Backfill is the replacement of excavated earth into a pit or trench or against a structure.

Balloon Framing

Balloon Framing is a system of framing a building in which all vertical structural elements of the bearing walls and partitions consist of single pieces extending from the top of the foundation sill to the roof plate and to which all floor joists are fastened.


Balusters are upright supports of a hand-rail or balustrade.

Area, Blighted

A Balustrade is a hand-rail supported by balusters.

Base Line

A Base Line is any imaginary line on the earth’s surface running due east and west, from which township lines are established; a definitely located arbitrary line for reference control purposes.


A Bay is one of the intervals or spaces into which a building plan is divided by columns, piers, or division walls.


A Beam is a structural member transversely supporting a load.


Blocking is a wooden block or other device used as a support.


A Breezeway is a covered passage open at the sides between two buildings.


Bridging is small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists acting both as tension and compression members for the purpose of bracing the joists and spreading the action of the effect of loads.


A Buttress is a structure built against a wall to strengthen it.


BX is flexible conduit consisting of wires encased in a metal band wound as a spiral.



A Cantilever is a projecting beam or member supported only at one end.


Chattel is a material object constituting the subject of personal property.


A Collar in a roof truss, a tie beam connecting the rafters at a level considerably above the wall plate.


A Conduit is a pipe, usually metal, in which wiring is installed.

Construction Mortgage

A Construction Mortgage is a mortgage given to secure a loan of money to be used to defray the cost of a building. The money is usually advanced to the borrower as construction progresses.

Contour Line

A Contour Line is an imaginary line or its representation on a map, following all points of the same heights above or below a given datum; a level line typified by a water or shore line.


Coping is a capping at the top of a wall, serving to shed water.


A Cornice is a decorative element made up of molded members usually placed at or near the top of an exterior or interior wall.


Covenants are one of the stipulations of an agreement between two or more persons or parties.


A Cricket is a small roof structure of single or double slope placed at the junction of larger surfaces that meet at an angle for the purpose of diverting drainage.


A Cripple is a supporting staging, as for use in washing windows.


Cross-Bridging is small wood or metal members that are inserted in a diagonal position between the floor joists for bracing.


Cubage is the cubic content of a building as determined by any prescribed method for use in estimating total construction costs.

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