Home Inspector Structural Encyclopedia


Structural Encyclopedia

Anchor Bolt

Anchor bolts are utilized to secure the sill plate of the house framing to the foundation walls. Typically, anchor bolts are embedded in the foundation walls during construction of the foundation walls and are sized and spaced in accordance with municipal codes.

Beam

A beam is any structural member of a home; a beam can be wood or metal.

Cantilever

A structure which protrudes from a support (such as a wall) and is supported only on one side.

Certificate Of Occupancy

A certificate of occupancy is issued by the local municipality after a home, or alterations to home, have passed all municipal codes and are ready for occupancy.

Cinder Block

A pre-fabricated structural component constructed of concrete and cinders that is utilized to construct foundation walls, retaining walls, etc.

Code

Rules and regulations that detail accepted construction practices.

Collar Beam

A collar beam (collar tie) is a structural component that is utilized to tie together oppossing sets of roof rafters and helps to prevent roof spreading.

Contractor

A person who constructs all or portions of a home.

Column

A column is a structural component that is utilized to support a beam; a column can be constructed of steel or wood.

Concrete Block

A pre-fabricated structural component constructed of concrete  that is utilized to construct foundation walls, retaining walls, etc.

Crawl Space

A space located in a house which does not have sufficient height for a person to stand erect; a crawl space can be in a basement or in an attic.

Damage

Damage occurs due to a sudden condition, such as a falling tree.

Dead Men

Dead men are members of a railroad tie retaining wall that are installed perpendicular to the face of the wall to provide strength to the wall.

Deferred Maintenance

Maintenance that has not been conducted in a timely manner that sometimes results in accelerated damage.

Deflection

Deflection (sagging) occurs to structure when the structure is subject to imposed loads such as the weight of the structure itself, furnishings, people, etc. It is normal for structure to deflect, there are codes that detail accepted deflection.

Deterioration

Deterioration occurs over a period of time such as long term exposure to water.

Design

A home for sale is designed by a Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) or Registered Architect (R.A.). Note that home inspectors who are not P.E.´s or R.A.´s are not licensed to practice engineering or architecture, these home inspectors may not perform associated design work for uncovered defects.

Footings

Footings are the lowest portion of the foundation walls.

Foundation Wall

Foundation walls support the structure of a house. Typically, foundations walls are constructed of poured concrete, concrete block, cinder block, field stone, rubble stone, or brick.

Framing

The framing of a home is the structural skeleton of the home much the same as bones in a human body.

General Contractor

A general contractor is a person who is retained to oversee the construction of a residential or commercial building and typically retains the services of sub-contractors who specialize in particular trades, such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, etc.

Girder

A girder is a main supporting member of a house and typically supports smaller members such as joists.

Header

A header is a beam that is installed over an opening in a structure such as a door or a window.

Joist

A joist is a beam that typically supports a floor.

Knee Wall

A knee wall is a wall whose height is short in comparison with the other walls in the structure.

Licensed Professional Engineer

A Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) is State licensed to design residential and commercial structures, inspect and evaluate residential and commercial buildings including structural problems and design structural repairs, etc.

Lag Bolt

A lag bolt provides a strong connection for certain applications, such as connecting a deck header to the exterior wall of a house.

Latent Defect

A latent defect is one which is not readily apparent at the time of inspection but may become apparent at a later date. An example is concealed termite damage in a wall.

Lally Column

A lally column is a concrete filled steel pipe column typically used to support a girder or other beam.

Lintel

A lintel is a structural member that typically is installed over a window or door opening, typically in a masonry wall.

Load Bearing

A load bearing wall, or other similar structure, is a structural component that can not be removed without providing an alternate means of support. Advice regarding load bearing walls are best directed to a licensed professional engineer (or registered architect) and thus the advantage of retaining the services of a P.E. to conduct your home inspection rather than a home inspector who is not licensed to practice engineering.

Maintenance

Every home requires a maintenance program to keep it in good condition.

Material Defect

A material defect is a defect that is apparent and may be sizable enough to affect a buyer´s decision to purchase a home or may affect the buyer´s bid.

Modular Home

A modular home is factory constructed and delivered to the home site in modules where it is assembled on foundation walls which have been constructed on the site.

NABIE

NABIE, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, is a national society of Licensed Professional Engineers who specialize in the inspection of residential and commercial buildings. Unlike other home inspection societies, NABIE accepts as members only Licensed Professional Engineers whereas a high school diploma is not a necessary requirement for some of the other home inspection societies. Membership in NABIE is a credential that home buyers are advised to look for. NABIE is an affiliate member society of NSPE.

NSPE

NSPE, the National Society of Professional Engineers is a 70,000 member national society of Licensed Professional Engineers.

Partition Wall

A partition wall is a wall that has no structural function and is installed to divide the living space of a home.

Permit

A permit is issued by the local municipality at the start of a construction project.

Post

A post is a wooden structural component that is typically utilized to support a  girder or other beam.

Rafter

A rafter is a structural member that supports a roof.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is undertaken when there is considerable damage or deterioration to a component of a residential or commercial structure.

Repair

Repair is undertaken when there is damage or deterioration to a component of a residential or commercial structure.

Registered Architect

A Registered Architect is State licensed to design residential and commercial structures, inspect and evaluate residential and commercial buildings including structural problems and design structural repairs, etc.

Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a wall that supports the earth on a hill. Retaining walls can be constructed of concrete block, poured concrete, fieldstone, brick, railroad ties, etc.

Ridge

The ridge is the peak of the roof.

Roof Deck

The roof deck is the structural member upon which the roofing material (shingles or tiles) are installed. The roof deck is typically constructed of plywood, tongue-and-groove boards, or hardboard.

Settling

Every home settles to a certain extent after construction; problems occur when the settling is uneven and cracks occur in the foundation walls.

Sheathing

The sheathing on a home is the structural wrapper of a home and is located between the structural skeleton of the home and the exterior siding and roofing.

Slab-On-Grade

A slab-on-grade home has no basement or basement floor slab; the slab in constructed directly on the ground.

Sill Plate

The sill plate is the first component of the framing of a house that rests on the foundation walls; the sill plate supports the house structure.

Structural Integrity

Structural integrity is a measure of the quality of construction and the ability of the structure to function as required.

Stud

A stud is typically a vertical structural component of a wall; in most homes, wall studs are 2”x4”´s but in newer more energy efficient homes, wall studs are 2”x6”´s.

Sub-Contractor

Sub-contractors are trades specialists such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, etc. that are retained by the general contractor to install portions of a residential or commercial building.

Sub Floor

A sub floor is installed over floor joists to provide a surface for the installation of finished flooring such as wood, ceramic tiles, carpet, etc. The sub floor can be plywood, tongue-and-groove, hardboard, etc.

Truss

A truss is a special structural member that has more strength than a typical beam and is typically used for roof rafters and floor joists.

Underpin

Underpinning is a method of re-supporting a failed foundation wall.

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