Glossary of House Terms

Terms D - K


Datum – An assumed horizontal reference plane used as a basis for computing elevations.

Debenture – A loan bond which is not a specific lien upon any of the real property of the issuer and for the collection of which no remedy exists save the ordinary action of law.

Deed – A written instrument whereby an estate in real property is conveyed by a grantor to a grantee.

Dormer – A vertical window, in a relatively small internal recess, projecting from a sloping roof.

Double Header – Two beams instead of one placed perpendicular to joists in framing for a chimney, stairway or other opening.

Double Trimmer – Two joists instead of one into which a header is framed.

Downspout – A spout or pipe leading downward to carry off rain water from a roof.

Dry Wall – A type of construction in which the interior wall finish is of a material other than plaster or similar material.

Dry Well – A covered pit with open-jointed linings through which drainage from roofs, basement floors, or areaways may seep or leach into the surrounding porous soil.


Easement – A vested or acquired right to use land other than as a tenant, for a specific purpose; such right being held by someone other than the owner who holds title to the land.

Elevation – A scale drawing of the upright parts of a structure.

Equity – Broadly, any interest which will receive recognition in a court of equity, whether or not such interest rests on legal ownership; specifically, the interest, usually expressed in money, of the equitable owner of a property over and above all liens against the property.


Façade – The face of a building.

FHA – Federal Housing Administration.

FHA Title 1 – A system of insurance of modernization loans for alteration, repair or improvement of existing structures.

FHA Title 2 – A system of mutual insurance of mortgages secured by residential property under the National Housing Act.

Fenestration – Arrangement of windows.

Fire Stop – A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke though such a space.

Flashing – Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from seepage of water.

Flue – The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes ascend. Each passage is called a flue, which together and including the surrounding masonry make up the chimney.

Footing – The spreading course or courses at the base or bottom of a foundation wall, pier, or columns.

Foyer – An entrance hallway within a living unit or building.

Framing – A system of parts put together to support floors, walls, roofs, etc.

Frieze – Any sculpture or richly ornamental band in a building.

Frontage – The extent of a building or of land along a public road or a public waterway.

Furring – Strips of wood or metal applied to a wall or other surface to even it, to form an air space, or to give an appearance of greater thickness.


Gable – The vertical triangular portion of the end of a building, from the level of the cornice or eaves to the ridge of the roof.

Gambrel Roof – A gable roof each slope of which is broken into a lower steeper slope and an upper flatter one.

G.I. Bill of Rights – The amended Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which provides for guaranteed loans for veterans up to $4,000 in real estate transactions.

Girder – A large or principal beam used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

Gypsum Board – Wallboard made of gypsum, with a covering of paper.


Header – A beam placed perpendicular to joists and into which joists are framed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening.

Hip – The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof, which have their wall plates running in different directions.

Hip Roof – A roof which has four sloping sides that meet at four hips or at four hips and a ridge.


Increment – The amount by which a varying quantity increases between two of its stages.

Insulation – A non-conductor used to separate conducting bodies to prevent transfer of electricity, heat or sound.


Jamb – An upright piece forming the side of an opening, as a door or fireplace.

Jerry Built – Built cheaply and unsubstantially.

Joints – The space between the adjacent surfaces of two bodies, as bricks, joined and held together, as by means of cement mortar, etc.

Joist – One of a series of parallel beams used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.


Kalsomine– A white or tinted paint medium containing zinc oxide, water, glue, and color that is used as a wash for walls and ceilings.

Just want to look at the pictures? Subscribe to our image feed. Includes scans from our collection of original ephemera and current images of homes.

The Daily Bungalow