The joint between two neighbouring surfaces, usually refers to the join between exterior walls and the roof.
AC (Alternating Current)
Current that flows in two directions in the conductor, as found in plugs and outlets.
Otherwise known as a pan coupling. Used to join the pan waste outlet to the soil pipe.
Product for gluing objects together. Different materials will require different types of adhesive.
Small stones or gravel mixed with cement used to make concrete.
A brick perforated with holes used to aid ventilation.
A blockage in a water pipe caused by trapped air.
A central heating system will have a series of air vents, which will be situated at the radiators, near the hot water cylinder and also in the loft.
The unit for the measurement of electric current.
The current carrying capacity of a fuse.
See Lead soakers.
Moulding fitted around windows and doors to conceal the joint between the frame and the wall.
The rail between fence posts to which fencing panels are fixed
This is the reversal in the normal directional flow of water in a plumbing system e.g. water being drawn back into the mains supply from the house.
A two-part ventilation duct allowing combustion gases from a boiler to escape and only fresh air to enter. As opposed to an open flue.
Ball valve (ballcock)
Valve operated by a float or ball, allowing water to enter a cistern when the water level drops.
Coarse stone used in mixing concrete.
Sometimes incorrectly called a banister, balusters are the vertical poles of wood connecting the handrail and string of a staircase.
The entire assembly of balusters, newels, handrails, and base rails on a staircase.
Also known as a vergeboard, a timber board covering the edge of the overhang on a gable roof.
A brick or block cut along the shortest edge. Half bat is half a brick, quarter bat is quarter of a brick. Also, a section of rigid material used in insulation.
A narrow length of square-edged timber
Of either a sealant product or a moulding used to decorate or conceal joints.
The process of laying tiles or slabs onto a bed of mortar or concrete.
Specifically made for a purpose or situation.
A layer of sand covering hardcore.
To join and hold two surfaces together. Also, the joint arrangement between brick walls e.g. the vertical joints between courses in brickwork is called a brick bond.
The hollow space that runs through a tube or pipe.
The horizontal member at the bottom of a stud wall.
A brace is the diagonal support fixed to the back of a timber frame and panel gate.
To support and strengthen a joint or a structural member keeping a frame rigid.
A projecting support , used to support shelves for example.
Brass blade terminals
A telephone socket terminal comprising of two thin brass blades that cut into the conductor's insulation and make the connection.
A process for joining metals together by melting a third metal or alloy. Much like soldering except that the filler metal used has a higher melting temperature.
A brickwork pattern where the bricks in each row overlap the joints between two bricks in the previous row.
Building control officer
Local authority Building Control Officers ensure that building regulations are adhered to.
The boundary line for construction of a house, established by the deeds or building control authorities.
The plastic socket that a light bulb is screwed into containing the terminals for connecting flex.
The rough edge after sawing or filing, particularly when referring to metal.
To join the ends of two objects or surfaces together to form a butt joint.
To apply mortar to the end of a brick before it is laid.
A flexible material available in sheets widely used for pond liners. Also, butyl rubber based materials are now being used for flat roof coverings.
A small pin with a plastic moulding used for fixing telephone wiring along skirting.
Plastic gripper strips for tying up cables. Also known as zip-ties.
Lead glazing bars holding panes of glass in place.
A beam or other structural part that is only supported on one side or projects beyond the support.
Plumbing joints where a section of solder is pre-fitted to the pipe, ready to be heated.
Uppermost nut on a compression joint, which tightens the whole joint.
The uppermost stone on a wall protecting the wall from damage and erosion, usually laid flush with the wall.
The turning handle of a rising-spindle tap.
Traditional window which opens out from a hinge.
A flexible compound used to seal cracks and fill holes on a variety of surfaces.
A cavity tray is a waterproof barrier fitted into the cavity of a wall. It is designed to collect moisture that has penetrated the cavity and direct it back outside. Cavity trays should be fitted over any point where the cavity has been bridged above the DPC (damp proof course): for example above an airbrick.
A wall comprised of two leafs or sections tied together with an air space in between to prevent the transfer of moisture and improve insulation.
Cavity wall tie
Fixing used to attach inner and outer leafs of a cavity wall.
The initials "CE" do not stand for any specific words but are a declaration by the manufacturer that his product meets the requirements of the applicable European Directive(s).
Adhesive used to bind ingredients to make concrete.
The central panel in a door into which panels are slotted.
Channel excavated in a wall to house electric cables or pipes.
Valve that allows water to flow in one direction.
A hood or covering fitted to the top of a chimney pot to solve downdraught problems and reduce the entry of rainwater.
Circuit cable / supply cable
The cable connected to the main circuit originating in the consumer unit.
A water storage unit, such as used in a toilet. A supply cistern is sometimes used as a term for a water storage tank.
Covering a surface with wood, plasterboard, stone etc. for protection or decoration.
Lumber with no knots or holes.
A strip of supporting wood, often fastened to a wall to support a shelf or to strengthen a door. Also, a horizontal section of wood fixing rafters together.
A strip of wood fixed between windows to which the sill may be attached.
A thin metal plate fitted onto the underside of the flush outlet of the cistern from a close-coupled toilet. This is the type of toilet where the cistern is seated on the back of the pan.
Used for connecting aerials to TV and radios and transferring high frequency signals.
A pivoted handle on a casement window.
A boiler that heats the central heating system and domestic water supply.
Plastic tubing protecting cables buried in the wall.
This is where the main on/off switch for the building's electricity supply is located, along with the earthing terminal block for the all the building's circuits and individual fuses or miniature circuit breakers for each circuit.
Stone or brick placed on top of walls as protection against weather damage, usually positioned so that it overhangs the wall.
A conductor or wire, sheathed in colour-coded insulation to distinguish live and neutral cores.
Decorative plaster or wood moulding in the joint between wall and ceiling.
A layer of battens placed at right-angles on top of an existing layer of battens to allow for ventilation in roofs or walls.
To recess the head of a screw so that it lies just beneath or flush with the surface.
A row of blocks or bricks. See also damp-proof course.
Decorative moulding between the top of the wall and ceiling.
A hinge that allows a door to open to 180 degrees, such as a parliament hinge.
A new timber support placed either side of an opening cut into a timber stud wall.
Papering with lining paper in horizontal strips.
The hardening process that concrete undergoes.
The flow of electric charge around a circuit measured in amps.
Painting technique for producing a neat edge in the joint between walls and ceiling or skirting.
DC (direct current)
Otherwise known as a splitter or combiner, a diplexer combines signals from two sources and transmits them through a single output e.g. to allow a TV to receive signals from an aerial and satellite dish.
An electrical appliance that has been insulated in such a way that it does not need earthing. In Europe a double insulated appliance must be labelled "Class II", "double insulated" or bear the double insulation symbol (a square inside another square).
A channel or tube passing through a building to convey air, cables etc.
A terminal to which the earth core is connected which will divert or shut off the power if the circuit is overloaded. Connects all circuits and metal components to the main earth terminal in a house.
At the point where the roof rafters and wall meet, the eaves form an overhanging edge comprised of the soffit (the underside covering) and the fascia.
A type of bit used to make decorative edging on wood.
White crystalline deposit caused by damp.
A hardwearing paint with a matt finish.
Pipe joint connecting pipes around a bend.
Part of the water heating system, as found in an immersion heater. It is comprised of an inner wire surrounded by filler material enclosed in a copper or stainless steel sheath and transfers heat from the coil to the water.
Exposed end of wood after cutting across the grain.
A type of brick bond. For more about types of brick bond, see Building a Wall.
Metal plate around a keyhole.
The narrow gap filled with treated fibreboard between bays of concrete to allow for expansion and contraction.
Four by two or 4x2
A protective device available in cartridge form or as fuse wires. For an appliance to work the current must pass through the fuse. If the current from the mains supply is too large the fuse will overheat and melt, breaking the circuit. Fuses are classed according to their performance requirements.
Fused connection unit (FCU)
The holder or slot for a fuse.
The outlet or set of terminals in a switch or socket. Two-gang switches allow two lights to be controlled from one switch position. Two-gang sockets have two outlets for plugs. Three-gang and four-gang sockets are also available.
A system for heating and circulating water that operates on the principle of hot water rising and cold water descending. Because hot water is lighter than cold water, the hot water from a boiler rises up to the cylinder and the heavier cooler water drops back to the boiler. With this type of system it is not possible to have heating without hot water.
A compound used to fill the gaps between ceramic tiles.
A brick wall consisting of a single 'skin' of bricks laid end to end. Looking at the wall side on, you will only see the short side of the bricks, which is equal to half a brick.
A type of low voltage lighting connected to a halogen transformer. Usually in spotlight form.
Where half of two pieces of timber are cut away and interlocked together. Used in the construction of frames. Different types of halving joint include: half lap; T-halving; and cross halving.
A thermostatic valve or knob at the base of a radiator which controls temperature.
Timber generally from deciduous trees, used in construction e.g. oak, ash, beach and birch. The terms hardwoods and softwoods describe the leaves, seeds and structure of the trees. They do not describe the type of timber produced e.g. Balsa is a light and very soft wood used in model making, yet it is a hardwood.
The turning handle of a non-rising spindle tap.
Horizontal timber beam that runs across the ceiling, forming part of the frame of a timber stud wall.
Bricklaying term for a brick laid end-on with the short side visible.
The part of the tap mechanism that screws into the top of the tap outlet. The tap washer is fitted to the underside of the headgear.
A retaining wall.
The floor of a fireplace extending out into the room, usually brick or stone.
A roof with sloping ends as well as sloping sides.
A traditional material made up of gravel, sand and clay, used as a sub-base for pathways and patios.
A wide connector attached to the top of a downpipe, or drainpipe, to filter water from multiple waste pipes into the downpipe.
Projections of timber on door and window stiles (the vertical side sections) to protect the corners while in storage or transit.
A groove or channel cut across the grain of timber to house another piece of timber the same width as the channel to form a joint.
Generally used to describe a knob or handle that has a series of fine grooves impressed on the surface to improve grip.
The insulation material used to wrap around pipes and tanks in unheated areas to prevent freezing. Also, used on hot water tanks to prevent heat loss.
Latch and striker
Metal components fixed to a gate to keep it closed. The latch is fixed to the gate and the striker to the gatepost.
In referring to lath and plaster walls the laths are the narrow strips of wood that are nailed to timber studs to produce the framework onto which the plaster is applied. This plastering method is only usually found in older buildings.
Painting technique where the paintbrush is drawn lightly over the wet paint to produce a smooth, clean finish.
The vertical edge of a window or door farthest away from the hinges.
A horizontal, loadbearing beam above a doorway or window opening for supporting the wall.
A valve on the side of a radiator that is used to balance the radiators in the system so they all heat up at the same rate. By opening or closing the lock-shield valve increases or restricts the flow of water into the radiator. The further the radiator is from the boiler the more the lock-shield valve should be open.
A projecting fixture on an object to allow it to be carried or fixed in place.
Miniature circuit breakers (MCB)
A length of string weighted at one end used to feed cable through narrow vertical gaps. With one end of the string tied securely to the cable, the weighted end is dropped down the narrow gap. The weight will end up at the bottom of the narrow gap enabling you to pull the cable through.
The central vertical section of a panel door.
The vertical post fitted between the handrail and base rail of a balustrade, which offers strength and support to the structure. Comprised of a newel turning (the main body of the post), newel base and newel cap.
Nogging or noggin
The front edge of a stair tread.
To temporarily hold a material or fitting in place to check its position, fixing points or to see how it looks.
A flat abrasive stone lubricated with oil or water, used for sharpening tools.
A metal ring used in plumbing to create a seal for brass compression joints.
One-piece-plastic joint block
Small plastic blocks used to create joints between two components, widely used in flat-pack furniture. For example, fixing a number of joint blocks approximately 1m (3ft 3in) apart to the inside face of a piece of plywood allows you to screw the plywood to a wall with its edge abutted against the wall.
A material or substance through which light cannot pass.
Plastic ring or gasket for sealing pipe joints, like a washer.
Piers are pillars that act as a support at various intervals along the length of a wall. They are constructed out of the same material as the wall itself and are usually square in shape. For single-skin walls, a pier needs to be included every 3m over the height of 400mm. For Flemish or English bond walls below 1.2m, a pier is not usually required.
Plug (also wall plug)
Pop-up waste system
This is an alternative to the traditional bath or washbasin plug. Usually supplied with mixer taps it comprises of a stopper connected by levers to a control knob on the mixer unit. When the knob is pushed down the stopper is lifted to allow water to drain away. When the knob is pulled up the stopper seals the plug hole.
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is a thermoplastic material used extensively in the construction industry. Uses include insulation for electric wire, roofing sheets, and soft floor tiles. PVC is also used in rigid form to manufacture guttering, drain pipes and window frames.
Residual current device (RCD)
RSJ (rolled steel joist)
RSJs are used when load-bearing walls are removed to knock two rooms into one. The RSJ supports the wall on the floor above.
The practise of covering the roof rafters with boards before fixing the felt.
A window comprised of sliding sections.
Shards of stone cut-offs or quarry waste used instead of hardcore or other aggregate.
A diagonal joint used for joining two lengths of timber together, employed in creating long runs of skirting board, dado rails or picture rails.
A first coat of plaster or render which is scored to create a key for the top coat of plaster.
A thin layer of mortar applied to the surface of a concrete floor to give it a smooth finish.
Scribe (also score)
Using a sharp, pointed tool to mark a line that is often used as a cutting guide. Also, to replicate the profile of an obstacle onto a sheet of material that is to be butted against it.
A flexible, waterproof substance used for sealing along joints. Normally applied using a cartridge applicator.
Completing the final stages of construction. For example, fitting the skirting boards after plastering or fitting the light switches after wiring up all of the electrics.
The supply cable bringing electricity into your house.
A tube or shaft housing mains cables or pipes in modern houses.
This relates to the amount of subsidence that occurs with a new foundation or structure.
The outer insulation covering electric cable or flex.
A small wedge of wood used to pack out a small gap e.g. between the door lining and the opening in the wall.
This is the curved outlet at the bottom of a drainpipe that directs water away from the building.
A timber framework that encloses an area that is to be concreted. The shuttering contains the wet concrete.
To fix nails or screws into timber at an angle.
To apply a thin top coat of plaster.
This relates to brick walls. Single skin walls are one brick thick. Double skin walls are two bricks thick.
Timber panelling that runs around the base of walls covering the joint between walls and floor.
A low wall for supporting ground floor joists.
A drainage pit below ground filled with hardcore to channel away rainwater.
This is the underside surface of an archway or of the eaves of a roof.
Timber from coniferous trees like cedar, redwood and pine. This type of timber is not always softer than hardwoods e.g. yew is a softwood yet extremely hard.
This is the main waste drainage pipe recognisable by its large diameter.
This is the horizontal timber beam that runs across the floor to which the vertical studs are fixed in a stud wall.
The base of a substance, usually a liquid. For example, water is the solvent for emulsion paint. The solvent of a substance is also the cleaning agent.
Plastic X-shaped dividers for spacing tiles evenly.
Flaking on the surface of masonry usually caused by moisture freezing and expanding in cold conditions.
This refers to the end of a pipe which fits into a socket to create a joint with another length of pipe.
Another word for a baluster which forms part of the balustrade.
An extension on a ring circuit from a socket or junction box.
Positioning of an object that is directly parallel, level or at a right angle to another.
Method of building a block wall where the joints are not staggered.
The metal arm attached to a casement window, which hooks over a pin on the frame to prop the window open securely.
The vertical side section of a door or sash window.
Creating a series of indentations to texture a surface, usually with paint or concrete.
Striker and latch
Metal components fixed to a gate to keep it closed. The latch is fixed to the gate and the striker to the gatepost.
The timber sides of a staircase supporting the treads. The string on the open side of a staircase is called the outer string; the wall string is positioned against the wall.
A timber or metal upright used to construct a frame for an interior wall or stud partition.
A floor material fitted under decorative flooring. For example, hardboard below carpets or plywood under ceramic floor tiles.
Serious ground movement around or under a building that may cause structural damage.
A building surveyor is an expert on all aspects of property and can offer advice on design, construction, maintenance, repair, refurbishment and restoration.
Timber framed wall
A method of closing up unwanted windows, doors or fireplaces using bricks. On either side of the opening the half bricks are removed from the existing brickwork. This allows new bricks to be tied-in to the original wall.
The thin cover on top of the head of a tap with a non-rising spindle concealing the retaining screw. A top plate will either have a red or blue index ring around the outer edge to indicate whether the tap provides hot or cold water.
A trap is a device that maintains a layer of water in the U-bend of a pipe to prevent sewer odours from coming up from the drain into the building. Common examples are P-traps, S-traps and bottle traps.
Trimming line (or cutting line)
Otherwise known as a splitter or combiner, a diplexer combines signals from three sources (satellite, TV, radio) and transmits them through a single output e.g. to allow a TV to receive signals from an aerial and satellite dish.
Protective metal or plastic conduits with a rectangular section used for covering pipes or cables that run along the surface of a wall.
UPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) is a rigid plastic material widely used in the construction industry in the form of pipes, guttering, window and doorframes, fascias and soffits.
A plastic material widely used in the manufacture of easy-to-clean floor coverings. Also used as a protective covering on wallpapers designed for the kitchen or bathroom to increase its durability and to allow it to be wiped clean.
The unit of electromotive force.
Disc-shaped rubber or metal rings with holes in the centre. Rubber washers are used on taps to prevent them from leaking. Metal washers are used with screws, bolts and nuts to relieve friction, prevent loosening and distribute pressure.
Pieces of wood tapered to a sharp edge and driven between two objects to force them apart or secure them. Wedges are also used to rectify the level of batten when fitting a wooden floor over concrete.
The wall adjacent to the staircase.