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House Plan Definitions and Terms

floor plan
   noun : scale drawing of a horizontal section through a building at a given level; contrasts with elevation




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ACRE

A parcel of land measuring 43,560 square feet.

ADOBE

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

ALCOVE

A recess opening off a wall of a larger room. Often used as a sitting area, coat room, or storage area.

AMPERE - AMPS

The standard measure of electric current. Residential electric circuits, for example, usually have has a capacity of about 20 amperes.

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 decorating of the late 1800s and marked by the overly ornate use of undulating imagery, such as waves, flames, flower stalks, and flowing hair.

ART DECO

A popular design style of the 1920s and 1930s characterized by bold outlines, and geometric and zigzag forms.

ATRIUM

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

AWNING

Crank windows, hinged on the top, that open upward. These usually go in the basement.

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BACKFILL

Earth that fills in the space around the outside of the foundation.

BACKSPLASH

The vertical section at the back of a countertop to protect the wall.

BALCONY

Platform projecting from a wall, enclosed by a railing or balustrade, supported on brackets or cantilevered outward.

BALUSTER - BALUSTERS

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

BARGEBOARD

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

BARREL TILES

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

BASEBOARD

The wide molding at the bottom of a wall, where it meets the floor.

BASEMENT

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.

BAY, BOW, AND ORIEL WINDOWS

Windows that 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

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

BEARING WALL

A supporting wall which holds up a ceiling or floor joist or a roof element.

BEARING PARTITION

A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

BOARD AND BATTEN

A type of exterior siding with vertical battens (narrow boards) nailed over wide boards (or more commonly today, plywood) to provide a rustic or country appearance.

BONUS ROOM

House plans with any space that can be finished after construction of a house is completed. Most often located over a garage or in an unfinished daylight basement, and consequently, not included in the total square footage listed on the house plan.

BRACKET

Small supporting piece of wood or stone, designed to bear a projected weight, such as a window. Often in the shape of scrolls or other decorative forms.

BREEZEWAY

House plans with 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 a comfortable outdoor living space.

BRICK VENEER

A facing of bricks or other masonry on an exterior wall.

BRIDGING - BLOCKING

A series of cross-braces between ceiling or floor joists to stabilize them and keep them from twisting under load.

BTU

"BRITISH THERMAL UNIT" - The amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree fahrenheit.

BULLNOSE

A ceramic tile or other material with a rounded edge, used to provide a finished appearance.

BUTLER'S PANTRY

House plans with a space that is located between the kitchen and dining room, and features cabinets and, typically, a serving area that serves as a staging area to the dining room. Amenities, such as a wine refrigerator, warming drawers, china storage, are often included.

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CANOPY

Projection or hood over a door, window, niche, etc.

CANTILEVER

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

Head or crowning feature of a column.

CARPORT

House plans with a garage without walls. A very economical way to protect you and your car from the elements.

CASED OPENING

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

CASEMENT WINDOW

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.

CATHEDRAL CEILING

Sloping ceiling with equally sloping sides, meeting in the middle of a room at a ridge.

CEMENT BOARD

A very rigid, cement based, structural sheet material. It is used as a base for ceramic tile instead of cement over lath

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

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

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. Available in three types: 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.

COVERED FRONT PORCH

House plans with porches big enough to accommodate two or more chairs. (Porches that are covered just enough to temporarily protect you from the elements have been excluded from this definition.)

COURTYARD

House plans with a broad expanse in the front or rear. Often the focal point of the home and adorned with features like a fountain.

COVE MOLDING

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

COVERED REAR PORCH

House plans with a space similar to a covered front porch but attached to the rear of the house. Includes house plans with a covered back porch large enough to provide ample escape from the elements, plus a protected spot for your barbecue.

CRAWL SPACE

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.

CUPOLA

Dome, especially a small dome on a circular or polygonal base crowning a roof or turret. Usually only decorative in modern homes. (Older cupolas, typically, are accessible by stairs.)

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DAYLIGHT BASEMENT

House plans with a full or partial basement well-suited for sloping lots. Can either be partially above ground, allowing larger windows exposed to daylight, or a walk-out basement that, typically, has a door leading to a walkway or lower patio.

DEN/OFFICE/COMPUTER

House plans with a private room that can be closed off from household traffic or serve as the location of the family computer. Also House plans for a computer alcove for children that is becoming increasingly more popular.

DETACHED GARAGE

House plans with a garage not connected to the house, regardless of its location. Often connected to the house with an open breezeway.

DOME

Arched roof or ceiling of a uniform 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

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

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

DUCTS - DUCT WORK

Ducts are large diameter conduits, that deliver heated/cooled air throughout the house. Older houses have ducts made from sheet metal, but today, ducts are usually insulated, flexible plastic tubes.

DUPLEX

Two independent residential dwellings situated within the same building.

DUPLEX RECEPTACLE

An electric outlet.

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EAVES - EAVE

Under part of a sloping roof that hangs over a wall.

ELL

Single-story lean-to wing of a building that usually contains a kitchen. Added to many houses with wooden frameworks in New England.

EMPTY-NESTER

House plans for homes that are focused on those of us who's children have grown and moved out. All of the bedrooms are no longer needed or, at the least, ready access to them. So more attention is given to more elegant master suites, main floor dens, centrally located great rooms, etc. Some returned house plans have all secondary bedrooms in a daylight basement for visiting family members.

EXERCISE ROOM

House plans with a space for exercise equipment.

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FACIA

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

FACING

Covering applied to the outer surface of a building.

FAMILY ROOM

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

FANLIGHT

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

FASCIA

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

FESTOON

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

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

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.

FLUTING

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

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.

FOYER

Entrance hall of a home.

FRENCH DOOR

Tall casement window that reaches to the floor and opens like a door. A popular accent that brings more light into a house.

FRIEND'S ENTRY

House plans with a casual entrance usually located on the side and close to the garage entrance. Often considered a "mud room" with laundry facilities included. Can also be a small side or rear entrance for guests to use without walking around to the front door. It is most often seen on house plans with a side entry garage.

FRIEZE - FRIEZEBOARD

Decorated band along the upper part of an interior wall.

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GABLE ROOF

Triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof. Typically has straight sides, but there are many variations.

GALLERY

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

GAMBREL ROOF

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.

GARAGE UNDER

House plans with a garage that is well suited to homes that are built on sloping lots. Most plans of this type are for lots that slope up from the street, but they are also well-suited for lots that slope to one side or the other or even in the rear.

GARAGE WITH APARTMENT

Detached building designed with an upper level living area. These garage plans are commonly referred to as coach or carriage houses. This does not include detached garage plans with storage on the upper level.

GARGOYLE

Figurine carved as a grotesque figure, human or animal that projects from a roof or the parapet of a wall or tower.

GAZEBO

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

Building that features a lightweight, domed frame covered with wood, plywood, glass, or aluminum. An inexpensive and effective shelter that can be built quickly and can cover a large area.

GREAT ROOM

House plans with a large room in an average-size home that accommodates a wide variety of functions. Typically handles the functions of the living and/or family room with casual dining spaces and entertainment centers, providing visibility to the kitchen areas.

GUEST/IN-LAW QUARTERS

House plans with a main-floor bedroom and bath, except it can be located anywhere. Often seen on main floors but also can be found in daylight basements, providing more privacy from the family quarters.

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HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE

House plans with provisions for people with mobility problems. Including, but not limited to, grab bars, wider doors and hallways, wheel chair maneuvering space, etc.

HANDICAP ADAPTABLE

House plans designed to make future accessibility features easy to add. Similar features to the fully accessible house, but without the hardware and accessories installed.

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, but 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, that is, 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.

HIP - HIPPED ROOF

Roof with sloped, instead of vertical, ends.

HOBBY/RECREATION ROOM

House plans with a space that is more casual than a family room. Often located away for the main floor, either in a basement or upper floor, providing a great space to lay out a project or for children to play in.

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ISLAND

House plans with a free-standing cabinet in the center of the kitchen that often includes an eating bar and room for bar stools. Can also include a smaller salad sink and/or cooking range.

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LATTICE WINDOW

Window with diamond-shaped leaded lights or glazing bars arranged like an openwork screen. Also, loosely, any hinged window, as distinguished from a sash window.

LIBRARY

House plans with a space that is normally set off from the normal noise of normal house traffic for reading or study.

LINTEL

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

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.

LOFT/BALCONY

House plans with any space that looks down onto another, whether inside or out. Can be a transition space in a second floor that looks down onto a great room or an exterior deck that looks over, for example, a duck pond. Loft is used to describe a second floor space that is most often seen in vacation house plans and usually is open to the floor below.

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. Also can be a separate structure, usually in a garden.

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MAIN FLOOR BEDROOM & BATH

House plans with a space normally intended as a guest room but usually not as large as a typical master suite.

MAIN FLOOR MASTER

House plans for two-story homes with the master bedroom suite on the main floor. Will also return main floor master bedroom suites if you select one story.

MANSARD ROOF

Flat on top, sloping steeply down on all four sides, thus appearing to sheath the entire top story of a house or building.

MANTELPIECE

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

MASTER SITTING AREA

House plans with a space designed for reading with a chair and side table.

MEDIA ROOM

House plans with a space for all high-tech gadgets, big-screen TV, home theater, and video games. Space can be acoustically designed to accommodate a movie theater-like sound system.

MULLION

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

MULTI-FAMILY

Residential dwellings that accommodate 3 or more families within the same building. This includes triplexes, rowhouses, and apartment buildings.

MULTI LEVEL

A home where the main living areas are located on different levels of the same story seperated by several steps.

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NICHE

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

NOOK/BREAKFAST

House plans with a space adjacent to the kitchen for casual dining and identified only when it is in addition to a formal dining room.

NURSERY

House plans with a bedroom for babies and small children, usually adjacent to and accessible from the master bedroom.

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OPEN FLOOR PLAN

House plans with open floor plans that accommodate the flow of today's casual lifestyles. Combines smaller single-purpose spaces to make large multifunction gathering areas, so, for example, the cooks aren't isolated in the kitchen while the rest of the family is in the next room socializing and playing games. Ideal for creating spacious, sunny rooms.

OVERHANG

Part of the roof that hangs over the wall.

OVERSIZED GARAGE

House plans with any garage space for parking, storage, or a workshop that can accommodate three or more cars.

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PALLADIAN WINDOW - PALLADIAN WINDOWS

A window with three openings: the central one arched and wider than the other two.

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 is decorative hardwood veneer glued in patterns to squares of softwood backing, then laid on a subfloor.

PATIO

Paved recreation area, usually at the rear of a home.

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. May be straight or curved, "broken" in the center, or solid.

PENINSULA/EATING BAR

House plans with a feature similar to an island, but a peninsula is normally attached to the main kitchen cabinets and, like its metaphor, open on three sides instead of four. A peninsula usually includes an overhanging eating bar that allows room for bar stools, but it is common for it to not have this feature. The sink or cooking range can also be located here.

PENTHOUSE

A separately roofed structure on the top of a tall block of apartments or condominiums. Also, 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.

PILASTER

A shallow pier or a rectangular column projecting only slightly from a wall that is primarily decorative.

PORCH

The roofed entrance to a house.

PORTICO

A roofed entrance to a house with columns, creating a temple-like facade.

PORTE-COCHERE

A roofed structure extending from the side or front entrance of a home over an adjacent driveway to shelter those entering or exiting a vehicle.

PRECAST CONCRETE

Concrete components cast in a factory or on-site before they're used in construction.

PREFABRICATION

The manufacture of entire buildings or their components cast in a factory or on-site before they're used in construction.

PRESTRESSED CONCRETE

Evolved from reinforced concrete by replacing the reinforcing steel with wire cables in ducts.

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QUOINS

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

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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.

REAR ENTRY GARAGE

House plans with a garage that 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

House plans with a garage that is located to the rear of the home regardless of the door location.

REINFORCED CONCRETE

The result of inserting steel rods in concrete beams to help them withstand longitudinal stress without collapsing. Enables the construction of very large structures using concrete beams.

RISERS

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

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.

SCREENED PORCH/SUNROOM

House plans with any space that either allows ample sunshine or protection from pests such as mosquitoes. Because most often it is not a heated or cooled space, it is not included in the total square footage.

SHED

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.

SHUTTERS

Window or door screens featuring horizontal slats that may be articulated, allowing control over air and light transmission. 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.

SIDE-ENTRY GARAGE

House plans with a garage whose doors are not located in front of the house. Can be located facing the side of the property, making them well-suited for a corner lot or one that is wide enough to allow a car to back up. Doors can also be located on the side facing inward so that cars pass the front entry to enter the garage.

SILL

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

SINGLE FAMILY HOME PLANS

Residential dwellings that accommodate one family.

SINGLE HUNG WINDOWS

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

SKYLIGHT

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

SLAB

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 any architectural element (for example, a building 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.

SPLIT BEDROOMS

House plans where the master bedroom is on one end of the house and the secondary bedrooms are on the other. Typically, the next stop after the nursery.

STANCHION

A vertical supporting beam that is mainly steel.

STORAGE

House plans with extra space ideal for seasonal storage: Christmas decorations, snow skis, sports equipment, and anything else you don't use everyday but want immediate access to if you need it.

STRAIGHT RUN

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

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.

SUITED FOR A NARROW LOT

House plans that are no wider than 50 feet.

SUITED FOR A SLOPING LOT

House plans that fit well into a sloping lot. Returned plans range from a full slope to the rear of the house creating a daylight basement to a simple side-to-side slope that can accommodate a garage tucked under a portion of the house.

SUITED FOR A VACATION HOME

House plans for homes that shouldn't be excluded from the mainstream residential market, but would also make a great vacation getaway home.

SUITED FOR A VIEW LOT

House plans that have 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.

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TANDEM GARAGE

House plans with a garage most often used with homes that are to be built on narrow lots but where an oversized garage is still desired. Provides a similar amount of square footage as a three-or-more car garage, but the entrance is only two doors. The disadvantage is having to park cars behind one another.

TEEN SUITE

House plans with a bathroom that serves two secondary bedrooms. Can be accessible from hallway but not necessarily. Also refers to a secondary bedroom that has its own private bath.

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.

TREAD - TREADS

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

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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UNFINISHED BASEMENT

House plans with 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 for escape that is the same size as a typical bedroom window.

UNFINISHED/FUTURE SPACE

House plans with any space, regardless of its location, that can be finished at a later date. Often refers to a bonus room or an unfinished daylight basement.

UPSTAIRS LAUNDRY

House plans with a laundry space upstairs.

UPSTAIRS MASTER

House plans for two-story homes with the master bedroom suite on the upstairs floor.

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VAULTED CEILING

Sloping ceiling with unequal sides or with just a single sloping side, or curved, or arched.

VOLUME/VAULTED CEILINGS

House plans with any ceilings that are over 9 feet or sloping. Can range from being just enough higher to create a greater sense of spaciousness to defining a space from which you can look down onto a room from an upper floor.

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WAINSCOTING

Decorative paneling covering the lower three to four feet of an interior wall. Usually wood in a plain design. May be painted or only varnished.

WALK-IN CLOSET

House plans with a bedroom closet that you can walk into.

WALK-IN PANTRY

House plans with 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 baking area and provide an abundance of storage space.

WEEPING MORTAR

This decorative mortar appears to be dripping out between the exterior bricks.

WIDOW'S WALK

A small, railed observation platform built out from the roof. Once used to scout for returning ships, such walks are usually square, done in elaborately-worked wrought iron or wood.

WINDERS

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.

WINE CELLAR

House plans with a special place for your wine collection. Today's wine cellars are often greatly embellished spaces that can even be climate controlled for the serious connoisseur.

WORKSHOP

House plans with a space usually adjacent to the garage but can also be located in an unfinished basement. Well suited for crafts and hobbies.

WRAP-AROUND PORCH

House plans with porches that conform to the outside shape of the house, from the front to the side or sides, although it may not extend to the back to join a rear porch.