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DALLAS HOME DESIGN GLOSSARY

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DALLAS HOME DESIGN GLOSSARY

Awning

Crank windows, hinged on the top, that open upward.

Bargeboard

Trim work at the top of gable end walls below the soffit.  

Basement (Foundation)

A basement has a slab bottom, and it uses steel or engineered wood members for floor framing. These members are stronger and span farther, eliminating the need for a lot of columns. This in turn opens up the basement and makes it functional

Bungalow (Home Style)

Popular in California, bungalows provide simple and affordable middle class housing. They are small and easy to build with a square floor plan, gables, usually one large middle dormer, and porches with big square columns that are larger on the bottom. Bungalows are usually 1200 square feet or smaller. 

Cape Cod (Home Style)

Cape cods are generally symmetrical plans. The front door is in the middle, and they usually have dormers. There is not a lot of overhang or ornamentation, and it is typically one or one-and-a-half stories.

Cased Opening

A doorway with no door, shown on the blueprint with two parallel dashed lines.

Casement

Crank windows that are hinged on one side and open like a door. In our plans, these windows usually go over the sink in the kitchen.

Circular (Stairs)

Stairs built on a radius.

Colonial (Home Style)

Dates back to historical New England. Two story home with a symmetrical façade. The main roof ridge will run parallel to the street. The main entry door is in the center of the façade, and windows are symmetrically placed on either side. The second level will have its windows symmetrically placed around the door as well. Additional wings might be "tacked-on" to the house proper. Bedrooms are typically on the second level.

Contemporary 70's (Home Style)

Clerestory windows, roofs that pitch in one direction, large overhangs on just two sides of the home, vertical wood siding and patches of stonework are the main characteristics. Solar adaptation is also a key feature.

Contemporary 80's (Home Style)

Trendy details like glass block and pipe railings. Strong geometric forms.

Contemporary Traditional (Home Style)

Traditional homes with modern design elements, particularly open spaces.

Country (Home Style)

Typical country homes have a front porch, dormer(s), and a roof ridge that runs parallel to the street. The most notable characteristic is a large front porch with an open rail. "Dog-house" dormers are frequently on the roof. The exterior material is usually clapboard siding. Regardless of the size of the home, they appear to be small and quaint. Historical country homes had a fireplace on either side of the home to function as the heat source. The historical country home also had a "dog trot" hallway, which was one main hallway that runs through the middle of the house, also known as a double loaded hallway. During warmer months, the front and rear doors can be opened to allow a breeze to come through and cool the house. 

Crawl Space (Foundation)

A crawl space foundation means an elevated first floor system that is usually high enough off of the ground to crawl beneath. Piers are made up of 8" x 16" blocks, and the foundation wall is made up of brick and 8" blocks. The foundation wall contains foundation vents, which allow air to circulate throughout the foundation so that moisture does not build up.

Dormer Windows

Also referred to as dog houses, dormer comes from the French word dormir, which means "to sleep." Dormers are located on the second floor, usually in bedrooms or bathrooms, and project through the roof to provide a window in this space.

Double Hung Windows

Both lower and upper sashes can move up or down. 

Early American (Home Style)

This is reserved for homes that are replicas of historic American homes. A true Saltbox, Cape, or Federal home would be grouped together in this category. 

Eave

Made up of both the soffit and the fascia. This is the term that is given to that edge of the overhang beyond the wall.

European (Home Style)

These are homes with a lot of visual excitement. There can be many roof lines and generally many gables. The undulating façade gives it a "castle" feel. The exterior material would be stone, brick, stucco, or a combination of two or more materials. 

Farmhouse (Home Style)

This is an adaptation of the "country" home. The main difference between a country house and a farmhouse is that a farmhouse has a wraparound porch. The porch wraps around the home. The roof ridge runs parallel to the street with or without dormers. The roof pitch breaks to a shallow pitch at the porch. One main roof covers the main body of the home. The exterior material is clapboard siding.

Fascia

Runs horizontally across the ends of the roof rafters ends, creating the "edge" of the roof.

Fixed Windows

These windows cannot be opened. 

Floor Framing

Built up on the foundation wall and piers out of 2 x 10 floor joists and beams. The direction and the length of the framing are shown on the blueprints, and they typically are placed 16 inches apart.

Footing

Trenches of poured concrete around the perimeter of the house and below each pier or column that supports and distributes the weight of the house to the ground. Two steel rods, known as rebar, run through the trench of the foundation. 

Foundation

Technically, the foundation is the part of a building that meets the ground, where all loads are transferred to the ground. 

Friezeboard

Trim work that follows the eve horizontally below the soffit on the wall. 

Gable Roof

A roof that consists of two sloping planes that meet at the ridge (peak). The planes are supported at their ends by triangular, upward extensions of walls known as gables.

Hip Roof

A roof that consists of four sloping planes that meet at the ridge (peak). The roof seems to sit on top of the supporting walls, creating a pyramid shape when viewed from the side. 

Hopper

Crank windows, hinged on the bottom, that open outward from the top. 

Load Bearing Walls

Load bearing walls carry the load from above, down to the foundation. Load bearing walls brace from the floor to the roof. They are noted on the blueprint with hatch lines. 

Mediterranean (Home Style)

Warm climate homes with many windows and an open floor plan. The exterior is usually stucco with a tile roof. A hip roof with large overhangs is most common. Some of these elements are characteristic of the Southwestern home style also.

Overhang

Part of the roof that hangs over the wall. 

Palladian Window

One larger window with a circle top window above and flanked by two smaller, rectangular windows. These are usually fixed windows. 

Rake

Refers to the slope of the roof at the end of a gable, where the outside part of the overhang forms an upside down V. 

Ranch (Home Style)

Single level home with a low pitched roof that runs parallel to the street. These homes tend to be long and narrow, with the longest dimension facing front. Porches may or may not be present.

Risers (Steps)

Height of the step, which varies per house (vertical surface). 

Salt Box (Home Style)

Early American home that is one-and-a-half stories and looks like a trapezoid when viewed from the side. It is two stories in the front, and the back slopes down to one story.

Scissors (Stairs)

Also known as U-shaped stairs, scissors stairs reverse direction half way up to return back the way it started.

Shed (Roof)

A shed is actually a half gable. One slopping plane is supported by walls. This usually comes off the back side or out of another roof. Shed roofs are also used over some porches. 

Single Hung Windows

Only the bottom sash moves up and down, the top is fixed. 

Slab (Foundation)

For a slab foundation, the site is leveled off, and a trench is dug around the perimeter of the home site. Gravel is then spread across the site, and concrete is poured approximately four inches thick over wire mesh and a moisture barrier. In areas of load bearing walls, trenches need to be dug to allow for additional thickness at this location. Slab foundations have no piers or floor joists, and the concrete slab is the floor system.

Sliders

Windows that slide open, like sliding glass doors.

Soffit

The underside of the roof overhang or porch ceiling that covers the rafter bottoms. This horizontal surface usually has vents to allow air into the attic.

Straight Run (Stairs)

These are just like they sound, they run straight up to the second floor.

Traditional (Home Style)

These homes usually do not have porches, but several will have covered entryways. They usually have hip main roofs and bold, front facing gables.There will be several main ridge lines running both parallel and perpendicular to the street. The exterior material could be clapboard or masonry (brick,stucco, stone). These homes strive for a grand appearance.

Treads (Steps)

Top of the step, usually 10-½ inches to 11 inches deep (horizontal).

Vacation (Home Style)

These are usually very open houses that may be elevated off the ground. They tend to have a modern or cottage feel.

Victorian(Home Style)

Gingerbread detailing is the key element. Most have multiple roof lines withvarying roof pitches. Some have octagonal turrets (towers). The exterior is always clapboard. Lattice work and decorative railings are often used.

Winders (Steps)

Steps that wind around a corner or post, turning 90 degrees from the original direction and typically having several triangular shaped treads at the turn.

Covered Front Porch

By this definition we mean a porch that is big enough to sit on and drink lemonade. Entries that are simply covered enough to get out of the rain have been excluded from this definition.

Wrap-around Porch

In this category, we have included any house with a porch that 'wraps' from the front to the side or sides, even if it doesn't wrap all of the way to the back and join up with a rear porch.

Covered Rear Porch

Similar to a covered front porch, a covered back porch is one that is large enough to provide ample escape from the hot summer sun or shelter from the spring rain plus a protected spot for you barbecue.

Screened Porch/Sunroom

Any space that either allows ample sunshine or protection from pesky mosquitoes is included in this category. Often this space is not included in the total square footage as it is most often not heated or cooled space.

Breezeway

A breezeway is a covered portion of open space that connects a detached garage to the main house. This can be as narrow as a hallway or be wide enough to create at comfortable outdoor living space. 

Courtyard

A courtyard most often occurs on homes that have a broad expanse in the front or rear. Often adorned with a fountain this space is the focal point of the home.  

Suited for a View Lot

To qualify for this category, we have chosen homes that have the majority of their living spaces positioned in such a way to take advantage of a view. This can be from any direction, not just out the back. Many beautiful view properties have their views out the front.  

Suited for a Narrow Lot

It seems like building lots in more and more subdivisions are becoming smaller and smaller. If you have one of these lots, this will help you save a little time by only showing you homes that are no wider that 50'-0".

Suited for a Sloping Lot

This category includes homes that fit well into a sloping lot. Ranging from a full slope to the rear of the house creating a "daylight basement" to a simple side-to-side slope that maybe has a garage tucked under a portion of the house.

Suited for a Corner Lot

This category includes homes that have any type of garage or carport that enters from the side while the main "front" of the house faces the street. This includes basement garages, drive under carports and the like. It also includes homes that have an obvious fit to a corner, as well as homes that have two prominent facades that are attractive from two adjacent sides.

Suited for a Vacation Home

You may have already noticed, but we have a special category for vacation homes. This definition is used on houses that we feel shouldn't be excluded from the mainstream market, but that we also feel would make a great vacation get away.

KITCHEN TERMS:  

Island

A free- standing cabinet in the center of the kitchen that often includes an eating bar and room for bar stools. It can also include a smaller salad sink, or the cook-top. 

Peninsula/Eating Bar

Similar to the island, a peninsula is attached to the main cabinets and is open to only three sides. Most often a peninsula will include an overhanging eating bar that allows room for bar stools, but not always. The sink or cook-top can also be located here.

Walk-in Pantry

A generous storage area either in, or adjacent to the Kitchen. Unlike a cabinet attached to the others in the Kitchen, a walk-in pantry can also include a bake center and provides an abundance of storage space.

Nook/Breakfast

This term is reserved for a space that is adjacent to the Kitchen that is used for casual dining, and identified only when it is in addition to a formal Dining Room.

 

Butler's Pantry

This is a space that is located between the Kitchen and Dining Room. It features cabinets and usually a serving area that serves as a staging area to the Dining Room. It can include amenities such as a wine refrigerator, warming drawers, China storage, etc.

GARAGE TERMS:  

Side Entry Garage

This term refers to a garage whose doors are not located in the front facade of the house. They can be located facing the side of the property making them well suited to a corner lot or one that is wide enough to allow for backing out space. The doors in this type of garage can also be located on the side facing inward to where cars enter past the front entry to drive into the garage.

Rear Entry Garage

Similar to the side entry garage, this garage has doors that are not visible from the front. This type of garage is well suited to corner lots or lots with alley access.

Rear Garage

Similar to the previous two, this term refers only to a garage that is located to the rear of the home regardless of the door location.

Tandem Garage

This type of garage is most often used with homes that are to be built on narrow lots, but an oversized garage is still desired. It provides a similar amount of square footage as a three or more car garage, but will only have the ability to enter through two doors. The disadvantage is that a car (or cars) would have to be parked behind one another.

Oversized Garage

This refers to any garage that is larger than the normal 2-car type. It can be big enough for 3 or more cars or space for storage or even a workshop.

Detached Garage

This is a garage is, obviously, not connected to the house regardless of its location. It often is connected to the house with an open breezeway. 

Garage Under

This type of garage is well suited to homes that are going to be built on sloping lots. Most designs of this type are for lots that slope up from the street, but can also be good for lots that slope to one side or the other or even the rear. 

Carport

This is simply a garage without walls. It is a very economical method of providing protection from the elements for you and your car.

Workshop

This is space usually adjacent to the garage but can also be located in an unfinished basement. It is space that is well suited for crafts and hobbies. 

INTERIOR TERMS:  

Volume/Vaulted Ceilings

This refers to any ceilings that are over 9'-0" or sloping. This can range from just being enough higher to create a greater sense of spaciousness to allowing you to look down into a room from an upper floor.  

Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans flow with today's casual lifestyles. They combine single-purpose spaces to make multifunction gathering areas--so the cooks aren't isolated in the kitchen while the rest of the family is in the next room playing video games. But openness doesn't stop there; it also means you'll want spacious, sunny rooms.

Great Room

This space truly is the biggest room in an average-size home and accommodates a wide variety of functions. A great room typically handles the functions of the living/family room with casual dining spaces, entertainment centers, and visibility to the kitchen areas.

Family Room

A casual living space, usually adjacent to the kitchen and nook where most of the family activities take place. Most often located to the rear of the home with access to the back yard. 

Bonus Room

This refers to any space that can be finished later. Most often located over a garage or in an unfinished daylight basement. It is most often not included in the listed square footage.

Den/Office/Computer

This term refers to a variety of spaces. It be a private room that can be closed off from the daily chaos, or serve as the location of the family computer. Speaking of computers, we also use this category for the kid's computer alcove that is becoming more and more popular.

Exercise

A space for those with New Years resolutions hanging over their heads. It also serves some of us with a great place to store all of that pesky exercise equipment. 

Hobby/Recreation Room

This is most commonly a space that is a bit more casual than a Family Room and is often located away for the main floor. This can either be in a basement or upper floor. It's a great space for the kids to scatter their stuff.

Loft/Balcony

We use the term 'balcony' to refer to any space that looks down to another, whether inside or out. It can be a transition space in a second floor that looks down into a Great Room, or an exterior deck that looks over the duck pond. The term 'loft' is used to describe a second floor space that is most often seen in vacation type houses and usually is open to the floor below.

Upstairs Laundry

A fairly obvious one. A growing number of people prefer this arrangement because upstairs is most often the source of most of the laundry.

Friend's Entry

This term refers to a casual entrance usually located on the side and close to the garage entrance. It is often considered a 'mud room' with laundry facilities included, or more of a tidy entrance for guests to use without walking around to the front door. It is most often seen on homes with a side entry garage.

Media Room

This is most often a space for all the high-tech gadgets, big screen TV, home theater and video games. In its extreme, this space can acoustically designed to be just like going to the movies.

Library

A space that is normally set off from the normal noise as a quite space for reading or study.

BEDROOM TERMS:  

Main Floor Master

This term is only used for 2 story homes with the master bedroom suite on the main floor. If you only have one story, the master is obviously located on the main floor. 

Walk-in Closet

This is a bedroom closet that you can walk into. (You don't need help with this one.)

Master Sitting Area

This is a nice space to have a chair and side table to read the paper while the 'Missus' is getting ready.

Nursery

This term refers to a separate room that is usually adjacent to and accessible from the master bedroom for the little ones to be in until they start making too much noise.

Split Bedrooms

This term most often refers to an arrangement in which the master bedroom is on one end of the house and the secondary bedrooms are on the other. This is where the kids that have been kicked out of the nursery go.

Teen Suite

This refers to a bathroom that serves two secondary bedrooms. I can be accessible from that hallway but doesn't need to. We also use this term to refer to a secondary bedroom that has its own bath that is not shared with any other spaces.

Main Floor Bedroom & Bath

Similar to a main floor master, this space normally is more intended as a guest room and not usually as large as a typical Master suite.

Guest/In-law Quarters

This is similar to the main floor bedroom and bath, except it can be located anywhere. They are often seen on a main floor but also in a daylight basement that affords a bit more privacy from the families quarters. 

MISCELLANEOUS TERMS:  

Unfinished/Future Space

This term is a catch-all that refers to any space, regardless of its location, that can be finished at a later date. It often refers to a Bonus Room, or an unfinished daylight basement

Storage

Extra space tucked anywhere that you can put the Christmas decorations, snow skis, or boxes of stuff that you just hang onto.  

Wine Cellar

A special place for you prized collection. Today's wine cellars are often greatly embellished spaces that can even be climate controlled for the serious connoisseur.

Unfinished Basement

Unlike 'unfinished/future space' this term is used to point out the presence of a full 'dark' basement that is built under a home on a flat lot. Building codes require that this type of basement have at least one window that is the same size as a typical bedroom window that can escape through. 

Daylight Basement

A full or partial basement that is well suited for a sloping lot. They can either be only partially in the ground allowing them to have larger windows for daylight or a full 'walk-out' type that usually has door that lead to a lower patio.

Handicap Accessible

This refers to any house plan that has made definite provisions for people with mobility problems. Including but not limited to grab bars, wider doors and hallways, wheel chair maneuvering space, etc.

Handicap Adaptable

Any plan that has been designed to make future accessibility features easy to add. Normally, you would see similar features to the fully accessible house, without having the accessories actually present.

Empty-Nester

This is a very broad term. We have used it most often for homes that we felt focused on those of us who's chicks have left the nest. We don't need all of the bedrooms anymore and at least ready access to them, so more attention is given to more elegant master suites, main floor dens, centrally located Great Rooms, etc. There are some plans that have all of the secondary bedrooms in a daylight basement for when the kids do come home for a visit.  

ARCHITECTURAL TERMS:

Select a letter to jump to the applicable section.

Adobe

Unburnt brick dried in the sun, commonly used for building in the American Southwest, Spain and Latin America. Usually covered with stucco in homes.

Arch

The curved or pointed top on a door or open entryway. Arches come in many different shapes and styles.

Art nouveau

A style of architecture and interior decor dating from the late 1800s marked by the overly ornate use of undulation, such as waves, flames, flower stalks and flowing hair.

Art deco

A popular design style of the 1920s and '30s characterized by bold outlines, geometric and zigzag forms.

Atrium

An inner courtyard of a home or other building that is open to the sky or covered by a skylight.

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Balcony

A platform projecting from a wall, enclosed by a railing or balustrade, supported on brackets or cantilevered out.

Baluster

A short post or pillar in a series that supports a rail, thus forming a balustrade. May be curved or straight.

Barrel tiles

Rounded clay roof tiles most often used on Spanish-style houses. Usually red, but available in many colors.

Bay, bow and oriel windows

These windows project out from the front or side of a house. Oriel windows generally project from an upper story, supported by a bracket. Bay windows are angled projections that rise up from the ground on the first floor. Bow windows are rounded projections, often formed of the window glass itself.

Bead molding

A small, cylindrical molding enriched with ornaments resembling a string of beads.

Bracket

A small supporting piece of wood or stone, often formed of scrolls or other decorative shapes, designed to bear a projected weight, such as a window.

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Canopy

A projection or hood over a door, window, niche, etc.

Cantilever

A horizontal projection from a building, such as a step, balcony, beam or canopy, that is without external bracing and appears to be self-supporting.

Capital

The head or crowning feature of a column.

Casement window

A metal or wooden window that opens outward or inward.

Castellated

Decorated with battlements (a parapet with alternating indentations and raised portions); also called crenellation. Buildings with battlements are usually brick or stone.

Ceramic tile

Any of a wide range of sturdy floor and wall tiles made from fired clay and set with grout. May be glazed or unglazed. Colors and finishes vary. May be used indoors or out.

Chair-rail molding

A wooden molding placed along the lower part of the wall to prevent chairs, when pushed back, from damaging the wall. Also used as decoration.

Clapboard

Overlapping horizontal boards that cover the timber-framed wall of a house.

Clerestory window

A window (usually narrow) placed in the upper walls of a room, usually at an angle, to provide extra light.

Concrete

Cement mixed with coarse and fine aggregate (pebbles, crushed stone, brick), sand and water in specific proportions. There are three types of concrete: precast, reinforced and prestressed.

Corinthian column

In classical architecture, a column decorated at the top with a mixed bag of curlicues, scrolls and other lavish ornamentation.

Cornice

Any projecting ornamental molding that finishes or crowns the top of a building, wall, arch, etc.

Cove molding

The large concave molding produced by the sloped or arched junction of a wall and ceiling. Popular accent for dramatic living rooms.

Cupola

A dome, especially a small dome on a circular or polygonal base crowning a roof or turret. Usually only decorative in modern homes. Older cupolas can be reached by stairs.

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Dome

An arched roof or ceiling of even curvature erected on a circular or square base. Domes can be segmented, semicircular, pointed or bulbous. Often decorated with stained or painted glass. Adds light, color and drama to a room or foyer.

Doric column

A Greek-style column with only a simple decoration around the top, usually a smooth or slightly rounded band of wood, stone or plaster.

Dormer window

A window placed vertically in a sloping roof that has a tiny roof of its own. Most often seen in second-floor bedrooms.

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Eaves

The underpart of a sloping roof overhanging a wall. [top of page]

Ell

A single-story lean-to wing of a building that usually contains a kitchen. Ells were added to many houses with wooden frameworks in New England.

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Facing

A covering applied to the outer surface of a building. [top of page]

Fanlight

A window, often semicircular, with radiating glazing bars suggesting a fan that is placed over a door.

Fascia

A horizontal piece (such as a board) covering the joint between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves; also called fascia board.

Festoon

A carved or painted ornament in the form of a garland of fruit and flowers tied with ribbons and suspended at both ends in a loop; also called a swag.

Fieldstone

Rough, irregularly shaped pieces of rock that can be used to cover the surface of a building, make a walkway, line a garden bed, etc.

Finial

A formal ornament at the top of a canopy, gable, pinnacle, etc., usually in the general shape of a fleur-de-lis.

Fluting

Shallow, concave grooves running vertically on the shaft of a column, pilaster or other surface.

Foyer

The entrance hall of a home.

French door

A tall casement window that reaches to the floor and opens like a door. It is a popular accent that brings more light into a home. [top of page]

Frieze

A decorated band along the upper part of an interior wall.

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Gable

The triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof. It typically has straight sides, but there are many variations.

Gallery

A long room, often on an upper floor, for recreation, entertainment or display of artwork.

Gambrel roof

A roof with one low, steep slope and an upper, less-steep one on each of its two sides, giving the look of a traditional American hay barn.

Gargoyle

A figurine that projects from a roof or the parapet of a wall or tower and is carved into a grotesque figure, human or animal. [top of page]

Gazebo

A small lookout tower or summerhouse with a view, usually in a garden or park, but sometimes on the porch or roof of a house; also called a belvedere.

Geodesic dome

A building that features a lightweight, domed frame covered with wood, plywood, glass or aluminum. Created as a way to provide a cheap and effective shelter that can be built quickly and covers a large area.

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Half-timbering

A method of construction featuring walls built of timber framework with the spaces filled in by plaster or brickwork. Often, some of the exposed planks are laid at an angle to create a pattern. In modern homes, half-timbering is usually not authentic, used only as decoration in small areas.

Header

A brick laid in a wall so that only its end appears on the face of the wall. To add a varied appearance to brickwork, headers are alternated with "stretchers," bricks laid full length on their sides.

Herringbone work

Stone, brick or tile work in which the components are laid diagonally instead of horizontally, forming a distinctive zigzag pattern along a wall face.

Hipped roof

A roof with sloped instead of vertical ends. [top of page]

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Ionic column

A Greek-style column topped by a single scroll just below the top.

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Lattice window

A window with diamond-shaped leaded lights or glazing bars arranged like an openwork screen; also, loosely, any hinged window, as distinct from a sash window.

Lintel

A horizontal beam or stone bridging an opening, most often a door.

Log-construction

A form of timber construction in which walls are made of tree trunks (or logs planed down to create flat or rounded sides) that are laid horizontally on top of each another.

Loggia

A gallery open on one or more sides, sometimes pillared. It may also be a separate structure, usually in a garden.

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Mansard roof

This roof is flat on top, sloping steeply down on all four sides, thus appearing to sheath the entire top story of a house or other building.

Mantelpiece

The wood, brick, stone or marble frame surrounding a fireplace, sometimes including a mirror above.

Mullion

A vertical post or other upright that divides a window or other opening into two or more panes. Sometimes only ornamental.

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Niche

A recess in a wall (interior or exterior), especially for a statue. Usually curved at the back.

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Palladian window

A window with three openings, the central one arched and wider than the others.

Parapet

A low wall placed to protect any spot where there's a sudden drop, such as at the edge of a bridge or housetop.

Parquet flooring

Flooring of thin hardwood laid in patterns on a wood subfloor. Inlaid parquet consists of a veneer of decorative hardwood glued in patterns to squares of softwood backing, then laid on a subfloor.

Patio

Paved recreation area, usually at the rear of a home. [top of page]

Pedestal

In classical architecture, the base supporting a column or colonnade.

Pediment

In classical architecture, a low-pitched gable above a portico; also a similar feature above doors in homes. It may be straight or curved, "broken'' in the center, or solid.

Penthouse

A separately roofed structure on the top of a tall block of apartments/condominiums, or simply the top-floor unit in a residential high-rise.

Pergola

A covered walk in a garden, usually formed by a double row of posts or pillars with joists above and covered by climbing plants. [top of page]

Pilaster

A shallow pier or a rectangular column projecting only slightly from a wall. Primarily decorative.

Porch

The roofed entrance to a house.

Portico

A roofed entrance to a house that is columned like a temple front.

Porte-cochere

A roofed structure extending from the side or front entrance of a home over an adjacent driveway to shelter those getting in or out of vehicles.

Precast concrete

Concrete components cast in a factory or on site before being placed in position.

Prefabrication

The manufacture of whole buildings or components cast in a factory or on site before being placed in position.

Prestressed concrete

A development of ordinary reinforced concrete. The reinforcing steel is replaced by wire cables in ducts.

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Quoins

The dressed stones at the corners of buildings, usually laid so their faces are alternately large and small. Usually in contrasting color of brick from the rest of the wall. Common accent in Georgian homes.

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Reinforced concrete

Steel rods are inserted in concrete beams to help them withstand longitudinal stress without collapsing. This development has allowed the construction of very large structures using concrete beams.

Rustication

Masonry cut in massive blocks separated by deep joints, used to give a rich, bold texture to an outside wall. Common in Romanesque homes. Effect sometimes simulated in stucco and other building materials.

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Sash window

A window formed with sashes, or sliding frames running in vertical grooves.

Shutters

Window or door screens featuring horizontal slats that may be articulated, allowing control over air and light transmission. They are usually made of wood. While they may be hinged, modern exterior shutters are often decorative and remain fixed to the wall alongside the window or door opening.

Sill

The lower horizontal part of a window frame. Materials vary widely, from wood to marble.

Skylight

A window set into a roof or ceiling to provide extra lighting. Sizes, shapes and placement vary widely.

Soffit

The underside of any architectural element (as of an overhang or staircase). In modern homes, the wood or metal screening used to cover such areas.

Solarium

A glass-enclosed porch or room, often used to display flowers and other plants; also called a sunroom or garden room.

Stanchion

A vertical supporting beam, nowadays mainly of steel. [top of page]

Strut

A roof timber, either upright and connected to the rafter above it, or sloping, connecting another post to the rafter.

Stucco

A sturdy type of plaster used on exterior walls; often spread in a decorative pattern.

Studs

Smaller upright beams in a house, to which drywall panels or laths for plaster are attached.

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Terrace

A level promenade in front of a building; usually made of stone and accented with plants, statuary, etc.

Terracotta

Fired but unglazed clay, used mainly for floor and roof tiles. Can be fired in molds to produce a wide range of shapes. Usually red.

Terrazzo

A sturdy flooring finish of marble chips mixed with cement mortar. After drying, the surface is ground and polished.

Thatch

A roof covering of straw, reeds or even living grass. In modern homes, most "thatching'' is only decorative, simulated with shingles.

Thermal windows

Windows designed with multiple panes to trap air and provide greater insulation.

Tie-beam

The main horizontal beam in a roof, connecting the bases of the rafters, usually just above a wall.

Transom

Small, usually rectangular or fanlight window over a door. Some transoms open to cross-ventilate a home, while others are only decorative.

Trim

The framing or edging of openings and other features on the facade of a building or indoors. Trim is usually a different color or material than the adjacent wall.

Truss

A number of wood planks framed together to bridge a space, such as a roof truss.

Turret

A very small, slender tower. In modern homes, usually only ornamental.

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Wainscoting

Decorative paneling covering the lower 3-4 feet of an interior wall. Usually wood in a plain design; may be painted or only varnished.

Weeping mortar

This decorative mortar appears to "drip'' out between the exterior bricks in a home.

Widow's walk

A small, railed observation platform atop a house. Once used to scout for seamen, such walks are usually square, done in elaborately-worked wrought iron or wood.

Terms courtesy of Timber Frame Design - timberframedesign.net

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