Home Construction Terminology: G thru L

Home Construction Terminology:  G thru L


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Home Construction Terminology

Home Construction Terminology


GFCI, or GFI:  Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter- an ultra moisture sensitive plug designed to shut off all electric current. Used in bathrooms, kitchens, exterior waterproof outlets, garage outlets, and “wet areas”. Has a small reset button on the master outlet.

Gable:  The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.

Garage Door Buck:  A frame of wood or metal set in a partition, to support door hardware.

Girder Truss:  A large or principal truss used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

Glulam (Glued Laminated Beam):  A structural beam composed of wood laminations or lams. The lams are pressure bonded with adhesives to attain a typical thickness of 1 ½” . (It looks like multiple 2x’s are glued together). Be sure to identify and install TOP side up.

Grade:  Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also, the work of leveling dirt, or the designated quality of a piece of wood.

Grain:  The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in wood.

Green Board:  ‘Green board’ type drywall has a greater resistance to moisture and mil-dew than regular (white) plasterboard and is used in bathrooms and other “wet areas”.

Grid:  The decorative slats (muntins) installed between glass panels.

Ground Wire:  The green or un-insulated wire, always connected to metal, to prevent electrical shock.

Gusset:  A flat member used to provide a connection at the intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints of wood trusses.

HVAC:  An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

HVAC Rough:  Work performed by the Heating Contractor after the interior walls are built. This includes installing all duct work and the air handler.

HVAC Trim:  Work done by the Heating Contractor to get the home ready for the municipal Final Heat Inspection. This includes installing all vent grills, registers, air conditioning condenser, and thermostats, and venting range hoods.

Header:  The horizontal structural member over an opening (e.g. over a door or window).

Heat Pump:  A mechanical device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.

Heel Cut:  A notch cut in the end of a rafter to permit it to fit flat on a wall and on the top, doubled, exterior wall plate.

Hip:  A roof with four sloping sides. The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.

Hip Roof:  A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.

Home Run (Electrical):  The electrical cable that carries power from the main circuit breaker panel to the first electrical box, plug, or switch in the circuit.

Hose Bib:  An exterior water faucet (sill cock).

Hot Wire:  The wire that carries electrical energy to a receptacle or other device (normally the black wire) —in contrast to a neutral (the white wire), which carries electricity away again.

Hurricane Clip:  Metal connectors (usually H2.5s) that are nailed, and secure the roof rafters or trusses to the top horizontal wall plate.

I-Beam:  A beam with a cross section resembling the letter I.

I-Joist:  Manufactured structural building component resembling the letter “I”. Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two key parts: flanges and webs. The flanges of the I joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1 ½” width. The web or center of the I-joist is commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I-joists are available in lengths up to 60 feet long.

Incandescent Lamp:  A lamp employing an electrically charged metal filament that glows at white heat. A traditional light bulb.

Infiltration:  The passage of air from indoors to outdoors and vice versa; term is usually associated with drafts from cracks, seams or holes in buildings.

Inside Corner:  The point at which two walls form an internal angle, as in the corner of a room.

Insulating Glass (aka Thermal Glass):  Window or door glazing in which multiple panes of glass are used with a sealed gas space between.

Insulation:  (1) Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure will reduce the rate of heat flow. (2) the material around an electrical wire to prevent the transmission of electricity.

Irrigation:  Plant watering system.

J Channel (aka Weep Screed):  Metal edging used on stucco to give the edge a better finished appearance and to allow water to drain.

Jamb:  The side and head lining of a doorway.

Joint:  The location between the touching surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.

Joint Compound (aka Drywall Mud.):  A powder that is usually mixed with water and used for joint treatment in gypsum-wallboard finish. Often available in pre-mixed containers.

Joist:  Wooden members that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and are supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.

Joist Hanger:  A metal “U” shaped fastener used to support the end of a joist or truss and attached with hardened nails to another bearing member.

Jump Duct (aka Transfer Grill):  A duct/vent between two spaces to allow air movement and pressure equalization between them.

Kilowatt (KW):  One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption.

King Stud:  The vertical, full height “2 X” framing member that runs continuously from the bottom plate to the top plate.

Knot:  In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears on the edge or face of the piece.

L Flashing:  L-shaped galvanized metal shingle flashing.

Ladder Blocking:  Pieces of cross blocking used to connect building members.

Laminated Shingles (aka Architectural or 3 Dimensional Shingles):  Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance.

Laminating:  Bonding together two or more layers of materials.

Landing:  The floor at each story in a flight of stairs.

Lap:  To overlap the surface of one piece with another (e.g. shingles or wood siding).

Latch:  A beveled metal tongue operated by a spring-loaded knob or lever. The tongue’s bevel lets you close the door and engage the locking mechanism, if any, without using a key, unlike a dead bolt.

Lath:  A building material of metal wire that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a base for stucco or plaster.

Ledger:  A structural member attached to the face of a wall which supports a joist or truss.

Level:  True horizontal.

Load Bearing Wall:  Any wall that carries structural load. Normally, any wall that has a double horizontal top plate.

Lookout (aka Outrigger):  A wooden cantilever that supports the overhanging portion of a rake roof.


If there is a term that you are looking for and you do not find it here, please let me know by leaving a Comment in the Comments section below. If appropriate, I will add it to the list.


Thank you,

CJ Dodaro