Glossary of House Terms

Terms L - P


Lath – A building material of wood, metal, gypsum, or insulation board, that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a plaster base.

Lavatory – A minor enclosed space in a building equipped with washbasin or washbasins and usually with one or more water-closets; a wash-basin.

Lean-to – A wing or extension of a building having a single pitched roof, and usually projecting from a higher structure with a double pitch or complete roof.

Lease Hold – An agreement which, for a consideration, conveys the right of use and occupancy of a property for a specified term, and under specified conditions.

Ledger – A horizontal board forming the top rail of a simple fence, the hand-rail to a balustrade or the like; also any of the flooring boards of a scaffolding.

Lien – A charge against property whereby the property is made security for the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation.

Lintel – A horizontal structural member which supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.

Littoral – A shore and the country contiguous to it; the zone comprised between high- and low-water marks.

Louvers – Slatted openings for ventilation in which the slats are so placed as to exclude rain, light, or vision.

Lumber – The product of the saw and planning mill not further manufactured than by sawing, re-sawing, and passing lengthwise through a standard planing machine, cross-cutting to length and working.

Lumber - Boards – Yard lumber less than 2 inches thick, 8 or more inches wide.

Lumber – Dressed Size – The dimensions of lumber after planing; usually 3/8” less than the nominal or rough size.

Lumber – Kiln-Dried – Lumber dried by artificial heat to a moisture content which is less than can normally be obtained through the natural process commonly known as air seasoning.

Lumber – Matched – Lumber that is edge dressed and shaped to make a close tongue-and-groove joint at the edges or ends when laid edge-to-edge or end-to-end.

Lumber – Rough – Lumber undressed as it comes from the saw.


Mansard Roof – A type of curb roof in which the pitch of the upper portion of a sloping side is slight and that of the lower portion steep. The lower portion is usually interrupted by dormer windows.

Marquise – A permanent hood that projects over an entrance to a building and is not supported by posts or columns.

Millwork – The finished wood portions of a building which are customarily obtained from a planing mill, such as doors, window and door frames, sash, pane-work, etc. It does not include lumber used for structural purposes or siding, which are items of yard lumber.

Mitered – Pieces matched and united upon a line bisecting the angle of junction, especially when the pieces form a right angle.

Mortgage – A contract under the terms of which ( 1 ) the legal (but not equitable) title to property of one person (the mortgagor) is conveyed conditionally to a second person (the mortgagee) as security for the payment of a debt or ( 2 ) a lien created against the property for the same purpose.

Mortgage Loans:

Mortgage Types:

Mortgagee – A financial institution or individual that loans money for house building or buying, and receives a mortgage on the property as security.

Mortgagor – A prospective home owner who negotiates a loan with a financial institution or individual, secured by a mortgage on the property.


Newel Post – A post form which the steps of a winding stair radiate; a post at the end of a stair- or hand-rail.


Operative Builder – One active in carrying on the operation of building.

Orientation – The arranging or facing of a building with respect to the points of the compass. Orientation may be determined by the sun, direction of the wind, a view, etc.


Parapet – A wall serving as a guard at the edge of a roof, terrace, bridge, balcony, or the like.

Pier – An independent mass of brickwork, masonry or concrete, which gives support to beams or arches.

Pilaster – A part of a wall that projects not more than one-half of its own width beyond the outside or inside face of a wall, acting as an engaged pier.

Plank – A broad board, usually more than 1” thick, laid with its wide dimension horizontal and used as a bearing surface.

Plat – A plan, chart, or map of a subdivision, section, town, or city, indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties.

Plate – A horizontal structural member placed on a wall or supported on posts, studs, or corbels to carry the trusses of a roof or to carry the rafters directly; a shoe or base member, as of a partition or other frame; a small relatively flat member usually of metal placed on or in a wall to support girders, rafters, etc.; a nonstructural protective unit, such as a push-plate, kick-plate, etc.

Platform Framing – A system of framing a building on 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.

Plot – A parcel of land or an assemblage of adjacent parcels of land in a single unit; a relatively small area of land.

Pointing – The treatment of joints in masonry for appearance or protection by filling with mortar under tool pressure and usually to a definite form; the filling placed in joints of roofing of slate, tile, etc., as a closure.

Portico – An open space having a roof supported by columns, located outside an entrance to or exit from a building.

Prefabricated House – A type of construction so designed as to involve a minimum of assembly at the site, usually comprising a series of large units manufactured in a plant.

Purlin – A horizontal member usually laid at right angles to main rafters or trusses of a roof to support elements of the roof framing.

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