Inspection and Home Owner Glossary

The myriad of terms involved in the home buying/selling process can suddenly thrust us into a netherworld, somewhere between real estate and construction. What do these words mean? This glossary, which is being compiled by Good Home Inspection can be of great assistance. It is a compilation of over 200 definitions, continuously growing, and is welcome and free for all to share. – Bud Rozell ACI, TREC PI 4088.

< : Less than this measurement.

≤ : This measurement or less.

> : More than this measurement.

≥ ; This measurement or more.

~ : About.


ACI: ASHI Certified Inspector. A home inspector whom has been certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). ASHI Certified Inspectors are the only true 3rd party certified Inspectors in the industry that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs, which were created in the mid-1970s, were the first standards developed by the credentialing industry for professional certification programs. The NCCA Standards were developed to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public.
AFCI: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a type of duplex receptacle or circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent electrical fires.
ASHI: The American Society of Home Inspectors. The oldest and most trusted home inspection association.
Access: The right and/or ability to enter and leave a property, structure, or a part of a structure.
Accessible: (TREC) In the reasonable judgment of the inspector, capable of being approached, entered, or viewed without: hazard to the inspector; having to climb over obstacles, moving furnishings or large, heavy, or fragile objects; using procedures; specialized equipment or disassembling items other than covers or panels intended to be removed for inspection; damaging property, permanent construction or building finish; or using a ladder for portions of the inspection other than the roof or attic space.
Acknowledgment: The act by which a party agrees and authorizes a contract, a agreement, and/or terms of conditions, whether it be verbal or in writing. • To recognize the authority or claims of.
Addition: (IRC) An extension or increase in floor area or height of a building or structure.
Aggregate: Granular material, usually mineral, such as sand, crushed stone or gravel used with hydraulic cement to form concrete mortar.
Air Admittance Valve: (IRC) A one-way valve designed to allow air into the plumbing drainage system when a negative pressure develops in the plumbing.
Air Break (Drainage System): (IRC) A plumbing arrangement in which a discharge pipe from a fixture, appliance or device drains indirectly into a receptor below. • See Vacuum Breaker.
Air Conditioning System: (IRC) A System that consist of heat exchangers, blowers, filters, supply, exhaust and return-air systems, and shall include any apparatus in connection therewith. • See HVAC System.
Air-Gap, Drainage System: (IRC) The unobstructed vertical distance through free atmosphere between the lowest opening from a water discharge and the flood-level rim of the fixture or receptor into which it is discharging.
Ampacity: (NEC) The electrical count, measured in amperes, that a conductor (usually a wire or cable) can cary continuously under the conditions of use without exceeded its temperature rating.
Apron Flashing: A term used for a flashing located at the juncture of the top of a sloped roof and a vertical wall, chimney or steeper-sloped roof. Sometimes called wall flashing.
Apparent: Clearly visible or understood; obvious. Seeming real or true, but not necessarily so.
Appliance: (NEC) Utilization equipment, generally other than industrial, that is normally built in standard sized sizes or types and is installed or connected as a unit to perform one or more functions such as clothes washing, air conditioning, water heating, and so forth.
Approved: (NEC) Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker: A back-flow prevention device used in plumbing to prevent backflow of non-potable liquids into the drinking water system. Sometimes referred to as an AVB.
Attractive Nuisance: A condition, structure or environment which is dangerous or hazardous, which also might appear intriguing enough to attract the attention of a curious child or person.
Authority Having Jurisdiction: (NEC) Also known as AHI, the origination, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure (e.g. a code inspector or official, a fire marshal).
Automatic Safety Controls: (ASHI) Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from unsafe conditions.


Back-Flow Preventer: device or means to prevent back flow. most common is the reduced pressure zone type. This calve consist of two independently acting check valves separated by an intermediate chamber. these valves prevent water from flowing backwards through the plumbing system and reintroducing water which may have become contaminated into the drinking supply.
Balustrade: A railing supported by balusters, especially an ornamental parapet on a balcony, bridge, or terrace.
Base Flashing: The flashing between the bottom courses of a brick wall and typically a slab foundation outer perimeter. Used as a diversion for water and moisture away from the sole plate, or sill plate, or interior structure of the exterior wall, and/or the living space.
Batt: (NAWC) A unit or roll of insulation designed to be installed between framing members.
Bedrock: Solid rock that underlies soil and other unconsolidated material. (NAWC) Solid rock which underlies any superficial formation; hence a firm foundation on which to erect a building especially a heavy structure.
Blistering: The absence of ceramic granules on a composition shingle surface cause by delamination, wind, heat, and/or a defective manufacturing process. Blistering often rambles impact or hail damage and sometimes it’s difficult to ascertain the difference between blistering and hail. Since latent hail damage on a roof covering surface is beyond the scope of a TREC inspection, further evaluation by a specialist is recommended. • The irregular raising of a flat roof covering surface where the top later is rising above the lower layers or substrate.
Bonding (Bonded): (NEC) The permanent joining of metallic parts to form an electrically conducive path that ensures electrical continuity and the capacity to conduct safely any current likely to be imposed.
Bonding Conductor: (NAWC) A length of cable or wire which grounds cable sheaths, conduits, motor cases, or metal frames of electrical apparatus.
Built-Up Roof Covering: (IRC) Two or more layers of felt cemented together and surfaced with a cap-sheet, mineral aggregate, smooth coating, foam or similar surfacing material. A common roof covering for buildings with relatively flat roof systems. • A low-slope or flat roof covered with alternating layers of roofing felt and hot-mopped asphalt and topped off with a layer of gravel.
Butyl Rubber: (NAWC) A synthetic rubber based on isobutylene and a minor component of isoprene. It can be vulcanized and features low permeability to gases and water vapor and a good resistance to aging, chemicals and weathering.


CO/ALR: Receptacles and switches rated 20 amps or less with are marked and listed approved to be directly connected to aluminum conductors or wires.
Cantilever: A projecting beam or overhanging portion supported at one end only. (NAWC) A projecting beam or beams supported only at one end; a large bracket(s) for supporting structural elements such as a balcony, extended living space, or cornice.
Cap Sheet: A roll type material used to create a water-tight surface on low pitch or flat roof covering systems.
Check Valve: A device used to prevent the flow of liquids in a direction not intended in the design of the system. A check valve can work as part of a back-flow prevention system but are not actually back-flow preventers.
Clean Cracks: White cracks on the surfaces inside of a fireplace firebox and/or flue are an indication or symptom that a fire(s) has been starved for combustion air, creating a negative pressure and pulling make-up air from the exterior into the fireplace system. This issue is more than a heat and crack issue where heat infiltrates the wall system, it’s also a interior air quality and heath issue.
Closed Water System: A closed water heater system means that the hot water cannot expand beyond the valves and mix with the municipal water. The valves that are usually found in the closed systems are the check valve, pressure reducing valve, mixing valve, back-flow preventer and other. Water heater tanks in a closed system require expansion tanks.
Combustible Material: A material of or surfaced with wood, compressed or composite paper, plant fiber, plastics, or other material that can ignite or burn, whether flame proofed or not or weather plastered or unflustered. (NFPA211).
Common Areas: Land or structural improvements designated for the use and benefit of all residents, property owners and tenants.
Common Room: (NAWC) A central air conditioned gathering-room in a home, dormitory or clubhouse.
Common Wall: A wall separating two living units. (NAWC) A wall between two distinct sections of a building or structure, a section between one and two story sections of a residence, or between the living space and the garage.
Component: (TREC) A part of a system.
Composition Roofing: (NAWC) A roofing consisting or materials such as an asbestos felt and/or fiberglass matt saturated with asphalt cement; also called composition shingles and modified roll roofing.
Condensate: (IRC) The liquid that separates from a gas due to a reduction in temperature.• Liquid formed by condensation.
Condensing Unit: The condensing unit is an HVAC split system component located outside of the living space. It handles one half of the cooling function of the indoor air space, and if it’s a heat pump system then under normal operating conditions it also handles one half of the heating system. They are typically located near the structure and sometimes located on a flat roof.
Conical Broach Roof: This circular roof is shaped like a cone pointing upwards. The drip edge flares out a little for a dramatic affect. These systems are typically accents to a more conventional roof system, usually located at one or more corners of a structure. These roofs are similar to a sloped turret roof except that they have a genital inwards slope to their side(s).
Conducive Conditions: Conditions on or around the close proximity of a structure which attract or promote the activity of wood destroying insects such as termites, carpenter ants, et all. Some conducive conditions are unavoidable, such as the plumbing in a home. some conducive conditions can and should be corrected, such as wet conditions or rotting wood near the ground.
Conduit: (NAWC) A tube, metal or plastic, for receiving and protecting electric wires and/or cables.
Condulet: A separate of a conduit or tubing system that provides access through a removable cover that provides access so that cables or wires can be pulled through the conduit system.
Corbel: (NAWC) A pice of wood, stone, brick or metal projecting from the face of a wall to form a support for a timber, countertop or other weight.
Corbeling: (NAWC) Courses of masonry set out beyond the face of a wall in order to to form a self-supporting projection.
Core Holes: Sometimes called finger holes. These holes create insulation because dead air can be trapped in them without having to spend money on materials in producing them. These type of bricks are known as extruded bricks. The holes (core holes) permit the heat during the firing to pass through which results in a more even process.
Cornice or Cornice Trim: (NAWC) A projection at the top of a wall; a term applied to construction under the eaves or where the roof and side walls meet; the top course or courses of a wall when treated as a crowning member. The exterior finish on a building where the sloping wall meets the vertical wall. • The wood or metal finishing at ends or edges of building, including a fascia, frieze, or rake.
Cosmetic: (TREC) Related only to appearance or aesthetics, and not related to performance, operability, or water penetration.
Counter-Flashing: (NAWC) Sheet metal strip in the form of an inverted “L” built into a wall to overlap the roof covering deck flashing and help mage the roof covering system water tight, • The flashing that is embedded, or attached, and sealed at its top in a wall or other vertical structure and is lapped down over base flashing. Courses Horizontal rows of shingles or tiles.
Crawl-Space: The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the ground floor.
Cripple: (NAWC) A structural member that is cut less than full length, such as a studding piece above a window or door; framing member used to support rafters.
Cupola: A steeple at the top center of a roof structure, sometimes including turret lights or windows.


Dado: (NAWC) Decorative moulding on lower interior wall. • Sometimes called chair moulding or chair railing.
Dead Front: Without energized parts attached, an exposed cover plate or panel cover on the operating side of a cabinet or box protecting the operator from exposure to an energized electrical system. Dead fronts are installed to help prevent accidental or negligent electrocution.
Dead Load: Vertical load due to the weight of all permanent structural and nonstructural building components, a constant wight or pressure. (IRC) The weight of all materials of construction incorporated into the building, including but not limited to walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, stairways, built-in partitions, finishes, cladding, and similar incorporated architectural and structural items, and fixed service equipment.
Dead Valley: Where two sloping roof sections come together with insufficient pitch to efficiently drain water off of the roof covering system.
Decommissioned: A state in which a system or component has been removed or discontinued from service and/or cannot be operated by normal operating controls.
Decorative: (ASHI) Ornamental; not required for the proper operation of the essential systems and components of a home.
Deficiency: (TREC) In the reasonable judgment of the inspector, a condition that; adversely and materially affects the performance of a system, or component; or constitutes a hazard to life, limb, or property as specified by these standards of practice.
Deficient: (TREC) Reported as having one or more deficiencies. • Deficient can be any combination of; operational, insufficient installation, safety issues, or design obsolescence.
Dismantle: (ASHI) To take apart or remove components, devices, or pieces of equipment that would not be taken apart or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal maintenance.
Drip Edge: (NAWC) The edge of a roof from which water drips water runoff into a rain gutter or onto an open area such as the ground .• The strip of metal extending out beyond the eaves or rakes to prevent rainwater from curling around the shingles back into the wooden portion of the house.
Due Diligence: Reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling something. • Comprehensive appraisal of a property undertaken by a prospective buyer, especially to establish its assets, condition, liabilities, and potential. • A risk assessment.
Duplex: A structure that provides housing accommodations for two families by having separate entrances, kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and bathrooms. A two-family dwelling.


e.g.: For example.
e.i.: That is.
Etc.: Etcetera.
Economic Life: The amount of time it would be reasonable to assume a system or component should last. A loss in value of an improvement, system or appliance due to functional inadequacies, often caused by age, neglect, abuse or poor design. In the inspectors opinion it would be more prudent to budget for replacement of such an item that has exceeded its economic life, rather than spending additional money on it.
EIFS: Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems is a synthetic blended system that most often resemble stucco exterior finishes. If improperly installed, and most of it has been, synthetic stucco has been known to cause damage to the structure such as wood rot and trapped moisture.
Elastomeric: (NAWC) Any of various elastic substances resembling rubber.
Engineering: (ASHI) The application of scientific knowledge for the design, control, or use of building structures, equipment, or apparatus.
Errors and Omissions Insurance: A form of insurance which may, under certain conditions, cover liabilities for errors, mistakes and negligence in the usual course of performing a paid home inspection.
Escutcheon Plate: (NAWC) A shield or plate to protect plumbing or flue penetrations through walls or ceilings. • An escutcheon plate is the disc around a plumbing pipe at the wall penetration that seals the wall opening. Escutcheon plates are also found at the pipe penetrations under sinks and behind water heaters. The base plate that seals a faucet to a sink and the large disc around a mixing valve in a shower are both also escutcheon plates.
Et all: Et al. is an abbreviation for phrases meaning “and others.” Et al means two or more.
Ethics: A system of moral principles, rules and standards of conduct.
Evaporator (coil): (NAWC) That part of a refrigerating system in which refrigerant is vaporized (through loss of pressure) to produce refrigeration.
Expansion Joint Fiber: A black rope like product that fits into the void between flatwork such as a driveway and the cement slab foundation. It’s used used to prevent to concrete from cracking when the moisture content in the soil changes or the weather changes temperature.
Expansion Tank: An expansion tank is a small tank used to protect closed (not open to atmospheric pressure) water heating systems and domestic hot water systems from excessive pressure.
Expansive Soils: Usually clay and will move; some more than others. Some expansive clay soils in North Texas can swell or shrink by as much as three inches between when the soil is hydrated and dehydrated. This movement can affect the foundation of homes and buildings and may cause cracks to appear in walls or other parts of the building. Additionally, if a structure is newly constructed, the concrete curing process may also cause the foundation of the building to move. Finally, seasonal changes in the moisture in the soil may also cause foundations to move.


Fenestration: (NAWC) The design and disposition or arrangement of a window, door or other opening in a building wall. Typically referred to an exterior wall.
Final Walk Through: Before closing the sale, it is the buyers responsibility to walk through the property and inspect, to verify that any repairs are complete to their satisfaction and to make certain that the property conditions have not changed. It is the buyers responsibility to notify their agent before closing if the condition of the property does meet their approval and/or does not satisfy contractual provisions.
Fireblocking: (IRC) Building materials or materials approved for use as fireblocking, installed to resist the free passage of flame to other areas of the building through concealed spaces.
Flashing: (NAWC) Sheet metal, tin, copper, lead, and some plastics used to cover or line open joist of exterior construction such as roof or wall joints or fenestrations to help them shed water away from the living space.
Flatwork: Flat cement or concrete surfaces around or near a house such as driveways, walkways, porches or patios.
Floating Slab Foundation: A concrete reinforced slab poured inside of a foundation wall perimeter and/or footings and separated by an expansion joint.
Flow Pressure: (IRC) The static pressure reading in the water supply pipe near near the faucet or water outlet while the faucet to outlet is open and flowing at capacity.
Flue: (NAWC) An enclosed passageway such as a pipe or a chimney, for exhausting or carrying off smoke, gasses or air. • An appliance exhaust vent-pipe.
Footing: A portion of the foundation that transfers the structural load to the ground. (NAWC) A foundation for a column; spreading courses under a foundation perimeter wall.
Forced Air Circulation: (IRC) A means of providing space conditioning utilizing movement of air through ducts or plenums by mechanical means.
Foul Line: An area around a sink or lavatory counter-top rim which is not flush and/or smooth for proper draining. A Foul Line can allow bacteria to collect and grow beneath a ledge or lip near the counter-top surface.
French Drain: A well or vertical tunnel covered with a grate top, a coarse floor or bottom, and which has perforated lateral lines to accept water, hold and discharge surface and subsurface water away from a structure.
Frieze or Frieze Board: (NAWC) A horizontal board at the top of a wall. • A board at the top of the house’s finished wall, forming a corner with the soffit.
Functional Obsolescence: A loss in value of an improvement, system or appliance due to functional inadequacies, often caused by age, neglect, abuse or poor design. In the inspectors opinion it would be more prudent to budget for replacement of such an item, rather than spending additional money on it. See Economic Life.
Furr Down or Furr Down Ceiling: (NAWC) Drop ceiling in kitchens, baths or halls; most commonly used to conceal air ducts, mechanical or plumbing systems.
Further Evaluation: (ASHI) Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, tradesman, or service technician beyond that provided by a home inspection.


GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or Residual Current Device (RCD) is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person.
Gambrel: A traditional barn type roof structure. • (NAWC) A type of roof which has its slop broken by an obtuse angle, so that the lower slope is steeper than the upper slope; A roof with two pitches. • Sometimes referred to as Half Hipped, a Curbed, or a Reverse Gambrel roof.
General Liability Insurance: A form of insurance which may, under certain conditions, cover liabilities for abuse or negligence in the usual course of performing a paid home inspection.
Girder: A larger horizontal structural member typically used to support floor joist in a pier and bean foundation but sometimes used for upper floor support and/or used in attic structures to provide an additional measure of support to the superstructure. With a pier and beam foundation the piers support the girder and transfer the load to the ground. Other girders transfer the load land the load paths to the ground. (NAWC) Any heavy, strong or principal flexural member, usually horizontal, on which the weight of a floor is carried; a main supporting beam, either timber or steel; used for supporting a superstructure; used to support loads at isolated points along its length.
Glazing Putty: The putty which helps hold the window lens or pane in place.
Glazing Strip: A vinyl or plastic strip which helps hold the window lens or pane in place.
Good and workmanlike ManorThe implied warranty of good and workmanlike performance of services generally applies to the repair and modification of existing tangible goods. It is a common law warranty that was first recognized by the Texas Supreme court in Melody Home Mfg. v. Barnes, 741 S.W. 2d. 349 (Tex. 1987). “Good and workmanlike manner” means the quality of work performed by a person who has the knowledge, training, or experience necessary for the successful practice of a trade or occupation and preformed in a manner generally considered proficient by those capable of judging such work.
Good Faith: An act is done in good faith if it is in fact done honestly, whether it be done negligently or not.
Grandfathered: Refers to allowing the continued use of a structural, or mechanical system, or appliance as it was required to have been built or installed at the time of the building or installing. There is much lively and conflicting debate about the definition and application of this term.


HVAC: (IRC) A System that consist of heat exchangers, blowers, filters, supply, exhaust and return-air systems, and shall include any apparatus in connection therewith. • See Air-conditioning System. • Heating, Venting and Cooling system.
Habitability: A statement declaring that a premises is acceptable to live in and ready for occupancy.
Hail Damage: Damage to a roof covering system from impact events such as, but not limited to, hail. Since latent hail damage on a roof covering surface is beyond the scope of a TREC inspection, further evaluation by a specialist is recommended.
Heat Pump: (IRC) An appliance having heating or heating/cooling capacity and that uses refrigerants to extract heat from air, liquid or other sources. • (NAWC) A refrigerating system employed to transfer heat into a space or substance. By shifting the flow of air or other fluid a heat pump system may also be used to cool the space.
Heat Exchanger: (NAWC) A device specifically specifically designed to transfer heat between tow physically separated fluids.
High Soil or High Soil Conditions: The landscape or grading around the structure which does not proper water drainage away from the structure to help maintain foundation and other structural performance.
Home Inspection: (ASHI) The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and describes those systems and components.
Homeowner’s Association: A non-profit association of homeowners organized pursuant to a declaration of restrictions or protective covenants for a neighborhood, subdivision, a town-home, multi-use building, or a condominium.


IBC: The International Building Code. The building code on which most structures which are to large or complex to be covered by the International Residential Code (IRC).
IECC: The International Energy Conservation Code.
IRC: The International Residential code. The building code on which most home building codes and inspectors Standards of Practice are based upon. This code applies to one to four family living structures.
Improved Land: Real property whose value has been enhanced by the addition of on-site and off-site improvements such as roads, sewers, utilities, buildings, etc.; as distinguished from raw land.
Improvements: Additions made to property intended to enhance the value of the property. Improvements of land would include grading, sidewalks, sewers, streets, utilities, etc. Improvements on land would include buildings, fences, and the like.
Impact Marks: See Hail Damage. Damage to a roof covering system from impact events such as, but not limited to, hail. Since latent hail damage on a roof covering surface is beyond the scope of a TREC inspection, further evaluation by a specialist is recommended.
Inaccessible: The inability to enter and leave a property, structure, or a part of a structure.
Indoor Air Handler: Sometimes simply referred to as the furnace. The indoor air handler is an HVAC component which handles serval functions. It is the ventilating system inside of a structure, it serves the heating function of most structures (unless it’s a heat pump system), and it served as one half of most cooling systems (unless it’s a package system). It can be located inside of the living space, or inside of the attic space, and on some rare occasions they can be found in a crawl-space or garage.
Inspect: (TREC) To operate in normal ranges using ordinary controls at typical settings, look at and examine accessible systems or components and report observed deficiencies as specified by these standards of practice. (ASHI) The process of examining readily accessible systems and components by applying a recognized Standard, and operating normal operating controls, and opening readily openable access panels. • Before closing the sale, it is the buyers responsibility to walk through the property and inspect, to verify that any repairs are complete to their satisfaction and to make certain that the property conditions have not changed. It is the buyers responsibility to notify their agent before closing if the condition of the property does meet their approval and/or does not satisfy contractual provisions.
Inspector: (ASHI) A person hired to examine systems and components of a building using a recognized Standard.
Installed: (ASHI) Attached such that removal requires tools.


Joist: (NAWC) A heavy piece of horizontal timber or a metal I-beam to which the boards of a floor, or the lath of a ceiling, are fastened. Joist are positioned edgewise for optimum support. They rest on the wall or on girders. A horizontal structural member supporting deck sheathing; usually rest on triggers or ledgers.
Junction Box: A box found at an electrical outlet used to house circuit junctions or connections. Sometimes referred to as a J-box.


Kick-Out Flashing: (IRC) A flashing shall be installed to divert the water away from where the eave of a sloped roof intersects a vertical sidewall. • A section or insert used to direct water away from a vertical wall.
Knee Wall: A structural element in an attic which provides a change in direction of the interior ceiling. Sometimes a wall between an interior room and the attic space.


LSASHI: Lone Star ASHI, sometimes also referred to as LSA. Lone Star ASHI is the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
Latch-Set: A locking mechanism or catch to help secure or keep a door closed.
Ledger: (NAWC) Horizontal formwork member, especially one attached to a beam side, that supports joist; also may be called sill, purlin or stringer.
Ledger Board: (NAWC) A board installed into the face of studding to support on its upper edge the floor joist or deck covering rafters.
Letter of Intent: A preliminary piece of writing indicating that a certain action has been scheduled to take place (e.g. an inspection) and that a contract such as a real estate contract or inspection agreement has been agreed on, and that certain intentions are being made between all parties involved without necessarily spelling out every provision.
Level Grading: The landscape drainage around the house does not properly divert water away from the structure to help maintain foundation and other structural performance.
Lintel: (NAWC) 1. A piece of wood, stone or more commonly steel placed horizontally across the top of a door, window or other openings to support the wall(s) imdeialty above the openings. 2. In steel work, the horizontal steel member spanning an opening to support the load above.
Luminaire: (NEC) A complet lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps and to connect the lamps to the power supply.
Luminary: An artificial light such as a light bulb. A lamp.


Maintenance: The care and work put into a building to keep it in operation and productive use; the general repair and upkeep of a building. If maintenance is deferred, the building will suffer losses such as; value, marketability, quality of living, comfort.
Mottling: (NAWC) Uniform, rounded marks; a defect of sprayed coats. • An irregular arrangement of spots or patches.


NEC: The National Electrical Code.
NAWC: The National Association of Women in Construction.
Negative Drainage: The landscape drainage around the house does not improperly diverts water towards the structure causing negative conditions and occurrences to the foundation and other structural performance.
Normal Operating Controls: (ASHI) Devices such as thermostats, switches, and valves intended to be operated by the homeowner.
Not Inspected: If an item is listed on the inspection report but was not inspected then it should be indicated that it was not inspected and an explanation as to why it was not inspected should be given.
Nose, Nosing Projection: The front overhang of a step tread above a riser. A nosing projection should not be less than 3/4 inch, should not be more than 1 1/4 inches, nor should the nosing projections dimensions vary more than 3/8 inch (IRC).
Not Present: There are some items which are prevalent enough in home construction that they are listed in the TREC promulgated inspection report form but may not be present in every home. Items such as stairs, decks, or microwave ovens which are listed on the report cannot be removed from the report, although they may not be present. It should be noted on the mandatory inspection report form that these particular items are not present.
Nuisance: An action or byproduct of a property, its improvement(s) and or improvement system(s) which results in an actual physical interference with another person’s reasonable use or enjoyment of his property for any lawful purpose. A few common examples of nuisance include; water drainage, exhaust pollution, noise pollution, light pollution.
Null & Void: Null and Void. Having no legal force or effect; not valid; of no worth; unenforceable; not binding.
Numerous: Consisting of an undetermined but great number. Many.


OSB: Orientated Strand Board. A structural sheathing panel used for exterior wall panels and roof covering decking.
Open Water System: A open water heater system means that the hot water can expand through the pipe(s) out towards the municipal water supply to help reduce extreme pressure inside of the water heater tank.
Opinion: A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. An estimation of the quality or worth of something.
Outlet: (NEC) A point in the electrical wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment. • Sometimes referred to as a Junction Box or a J-Box.
Over-Improvement: An improvement which by reason of excess size or cost is not the highest and best use for the site on which it is placed.


Package System: The entire HVAC system, excluding the air distribution ductwork. A package system is located outside off the living space in areas such as the ground or sometimes on a flat rooftop.
Palm Bracing: Sections of a 2”X4” lumber or a similar pice of lumber laid out horizontal over a truss or similar vertical support to help proved a continuous supported load path from the roof ridge through the building structure to the foundation. These are most common where the roofing details are more complex.
Parapet: (NAWC) A protective or decorative railing or low wall along the edge of a flat roof, balcony or terrace.
Parapet Wall: (NAWC) A portion of any wall which extends past the roof line.
Parge Coat: (NAWC) To coat with plaster or a thin coat of cement, particularly foundation walls and rough masonry. Often for refinement of the surface or for damp-proofing. • Sometimes used to finish or conceal repairs. • Can help promote a positive draft in chimney flues with exposed interior corbeling, and to limit heat infiltration from a chimney flue into a wall structure.
Patina: (NAWC) Color and texture added to a surface by time weathering (including moisture) and various allies, particularly the green coating on copper or its alloys.
Performance: (TREC) Achievement of an operation, function or configuration relative to accepted industry standard practices with consideration of age and normal wear and tear from ordinary use.
Pergola: (NAWC) An open, structural framework over and outdoor area. Sometimes covered with climbing vines to create an arbor.
Pig-Tail: A colloquium use to describe the twisting of a copper wire onto the end of an aluminum circuit wire to make a better connection at a receptacle or switch.
Pintle: The hinge pin which holds two hinge plates together.
Porcelator: A small hole located on the interior side of a lavatory basin near the flood line, used to divert water overflow into the drain line to help avoid flooding.
Porte Cochere: Built on Carport.
Portico: (NAWC) An open space before the door or other entrance fronted by columns.
Positive Drainage: The proper removal of excess water away from there foundation.
Post Tension Cable: (NAWC) A method of prestressing reinforced foundation concrete in which pre-pour steel cable tendons are tensioned soon after the concrete has hardened. his makes the foundation much stronger. Also called post stressing.


Rafter Spread: The event where tension stress has caused the attic rafters to separate from a ridge beam. Sometimes the rafters had never been originally installed flush an tight.
Rafter Tail: (NAWC) That part of a rafter which extends beyond the wall plate – the overhang.
Rail: The horizontal section of a door, such a the top rail or a bottom rail. • A horizontal fence support, such as a top rail, a middle rail or a bottom rail. • (NAWC) A horizontal bar of wood used to separate drawers on the face of a cabinet.
Readily Accessible: (ASHI) Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or actions that will likely involve risk to persons or property. • (IRC) Accessible without the removal of a panel or similar obstruction.
Readily Openable Access Panel: (ASHI) A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that is readily accessible, within normal reach, can be opened by one person, and is not sealed in place.
Rebar: (NAWC) A term used for reinforcing steel; a deformed steel put in concrete to improve its tension strength.
Receptacle: (NEC)A receptacle is a contact device installed at an outlet for the connection of an attachment plug. A single receptacle is a single contact device with no other contact device on the same yoke. A duplex receptacle is a double contact device on the same yoke. A multiple receptacle is two or more contact devices on the same yoke.
Receptacle Outlet: (NEC) An outlet where one or more receptacles are installed.
Recreational Facilities: (ASHI) Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, exercise, entertainment, athletic, playground and other similar equipment, and associated accessories.
Refrigerant: (IRC) A substance used to produce refrigeration by its expansion or evaporation. • The fluid used for heat transfer in a refrigerating system, which absorbs heat at a low temperature and pressure of the fluid rejects heat at a higher temperature and pressure of the fluid, usually involving changes of state of the fluid.
Refrigerating System: (IRC) A combination of interconnected parts forming a closed circuit (closed system) which refrigerant is circulated for the purpose of extracting, then rejecting, heat.
Report: (TREC) To provide the inspector’s opinions and findings on the standard inspection report form as required by §535.222 and §535.223 of the TREC Standards Of Practice.
Representative Number: (ASHI) One component per room for multiple similar interior components such as windows and electric receptacles; one component on each side of the building for multiple similar exterior components.
Roof Drainage Systems: (ASHI) Components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building.


S-Trap: Two traps installed in tandem to resemble the shoe of an S. Water filling the downstream vertical portion of an S-trap will cause siphoning and loss of the trap seal, allowing sewer gases and vermin to enter the living space.
SEER: The efficiency of air conditioners is often rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The Performance Rating of Unitary Air-Conditioning and Air-Source Heat Pump Equipment. The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.
SIP: Structural insulated panel. A structural sheathing panel used for exterior wall panels.
Sacrificial Anodes: (NAWC) Anodes used for cathodic protection. • Sacrificial Anodes are highly active metals that are used to prevent a less active material surface from corroding. Sacrificial Anodes are created from a metal alloy with a more negative electrochemical potential than the other metal it will be used to protect. • For the purpose of most home inspection reports: the sacrificial anode in a water heater tank is to help prevent rust and corrosion to the tank and its parts or components.
Sailor Brick: A brick laid out in a horizontal or lengthwise position.
Sconce: (NAWC) A detached defensive work. An electric light fixture patterned after a wall bracket candlestick. • Wall mounted light fixture sometimes resembling a carriage lamp.
Screeded Slab: The screeded slab is a combination of both a slab and a pier-and-beam, in that it consists of a concrete slab foundation with a wood deck built on top. The house will appear to be a slab, but will have a slightly higher than normal floor height from the outside soil level. Also, the floors will be wood and have a hollow sound when tapped or walked on. The screeded slab does not have access to be able to address some problems without removing the floors. Sometimes referred to as a modified slab or a Hollywood slab.
Scupper: (NAWC) An opening in a wall or parapet that allows water to drain from the roof.
Several: More than two, but not many.
Shower Pan: A shower pan, also known as a shower base, is a single-construction waterproof floor that protects the structure and/or subfloor in a shower area.
Shut Down: (ASHI) A state in which a system or component cannot be operated by normal operating controls. • See Decommissioned.
Siphon Jets or Siphon Jet Rim: The top rim of a commode bowl where the seat rest; beneath the rim are ports or jets where water escapes and fills the bowl to create a siphon action or flush.
Sloped Turret: This circular roof is shaped like a cone pointing upwards. The drip edge flares out a little for a dramatic affect. These systems are typically accents to a more conventional roof system, usually located at one or more corners of a structure. These roofs are similar to a conical broach roof except that their sides are straight instead of having a curve.
Soffit: (NAWC) The underside of any subordinate member of a building, such as under the surface of an arch, cornice or a stairway. Any undersurface except a ceiling. • The area that encloses the underside of that portion of the roof that extends out beyond the sidewalls of the house.
Soft Metal: Generally the roof covering flashing around plumbing penetrations, attic vents, and rain gutter. These metals or alloys are softer than other metals and are more susceptible to impact damage like that of hail.
Soil Closet: Sometimes called a water closet. The closet inside of a bathroom which houses the commode. A separate room in a bathroom where someone can use the commode privately while another washes or does other things such as dressing in the same bathroom. Most commonly seen in bathrooms which also have a clothes closet.
Soldier Brick: A brick inalalled vertically or positioned “on end.”
Some: An undetermined about more than one.
Spalling: (NAWC) The cracking or flaking of apricots from a surface. • The flaking of the topcoat of a surface such as flatwork or a swimming pool liner.
Specialized equipment: (TREC) Equipment such as thermal imaging equipment, moisture meters, gas or carbon monoxide detection equipment, environmental testing equipment and devices, elevation determination devices, and ladders capable of reaching surfaces over one story above ground surfaces.
Specialized procedures: (TREC) Procedures such as environmental testing, elevation measurement, calculations and any method employing destructive testing that damages otherwise sound materials or finishes.
Split System: An indoor air handler and a condensing unit system working in conjunction with each other. An indoor air handler located inside and a condensing unit which is located outside of a structure. The condensing unit handles one half of the cooling function of the indoor air space, and if it’s a heat pump system then under normal operating conditions it also handles one half of the heating system.
Squash Blocks: Blocks of wood that are slightly taller than the depth of the joist. The function of Squash Blocks is to transfer loads created by walls and roofs above to a sill or wall plate below the I-Joist.
Standards Of Practice: (TREC) TREC §§535.227 ‐ 535.233.
Stiffener: A structural member added to a slender beam or column to prevent buckling.
Stile: (NAWC) A vertical framing member of a door. The vertical edge of a door.
Striker Plate: (NAWC) The meter of a lock latch set that is fastened to the doorjamb it engage the lock or latch and at the same time to prevent damage by the latter to the edge of the jamb.
Structural Component: (ASHI) A component that supports variable and non-variable forces or weights.
Subfloor: (NAWC) A floor laid out on top of the floor joist, to which the finished floor is fastened. • A rough floor laid on floor joists and serving as a base for the finish floor. A subfloor may also be used as a structural diaphragm to resist lateral loads.
Substantially Completed: (TREC) The stage of construction when a new building, addition, improvement, or alteration to an existing building is sufficiently complete that the building, addition, improvement or alteration can be occupied or used for its intended purpose.
Sumping: (A term attributed to a Owens Corning installation guide) A notable deflection, dip or sagging on the roof covering surface. These areas are typically related to weak and/or damaged roof decking.
Surface Drain: A grate top drain cover connected to a lateral lines to accept surface water and subsurface it away from a structure.
SYNTHETIC STUCCO: Synthetic stucco (sometimes known as EIFS) is an exterior siding product. If improperly installed, and most of it has, synthetic stucco has been known to cause damage to the structure such as wood rot and trapped moisture.
System: (ASHI) A combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.


Tear-Off: regards to a home inspection, this refers to the process of removing a previous roof covering in order to replace it with a newer roof covering.
Tension Cables: Steel cables routed inside of a slab foundation to supply reinforcement designed to carry tension stress.
Tension Stress: Stress that is is caused by forces tending to draw a structural member apart longitudinally.
Trap: A passive device or U shaped design of plumbing pipe that allows water and sewage to flow through it while blocking the flow of air and gas from the other direction (into the living space). It can be of various forms defined as a running trap, P-trtap, S-trap etc.
TREC: The Texas Real Estate Commission. All Texas home inspectors are beholding to the authority and laws set forth by this commission.
Tamper Resistant: Designed to discourage or prohibit children from dangerous curiosity or protect them from an attractive nuisance.
Technically Exhaustive: (TREC) A comprehensive investigation beyond the scope of a real estate inspection which would involve determining the cause or effect of deficiencies, exploratory probing or discovery, the use of specialized knowledge, equipment or procedures. • (ASHI) An investigation that involves dismantling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, or other means.
Thimble: An escutcheon plate or collar, most often installed on the ceiling but sometimes installed on a wall. This plate sealed the hole around a fas appliance flue (e.f. furnace, water heater).
Transition Boot: A flexible connector or coupling used to connect two different types of plumbing or irrigation systems (e.g. the corrugated connector between a rain gutter downspout and the underground drainage system).
Transom Window: a window set above the transom of a door or larger window; a fanlight.
Truncated roof: A gable roof or hipped roof whose top has been cut off, forming a flat horizontal surface. • A roof with sloped sides and a flat top for a terrace; may have a balustrade around the flat center section.


UFFER: (NAWC) A coper ground wire which is laid into the foundation footer attached to rebar and connected to the electric device panel cabinet. • (NEC) 250.52 Grounding Electrodes. (3) Concrete-Encased Electrode.
Under-Floor Crawlspace: (ASHI) The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the floor. • See Crawl-Space.
Underlayment: (IRC) One or more layers of felt, sheathing paper, nonbitominous saturated felt saturated felt, or other approved material over which roof covering is applied. The underlayment for roof covering is the initial layer of weather protection installed over a roof deck. • (NAWC) A layer of sheathing that protects from moisture and prevents wind driven rain from entering structures.
Unidentified Organic Substance: Unless one is a botanist or microbiologist it’s difficult to determine exactly what a mold, fungus, to mildew may or may not be, or what type of organism this substance might be.
Unsafe: (ASHI) A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component that is judged by the inspector to be a significant risk of serious bodily injury during normal, day-to-day use; the risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, or a change in accepted residential construction practices.


Vacuum Breaker: A plumbing arrangement in which a discharge pipe from a fixture, appliance or device drains indirectly into a receptor below. This allows air to diffuse a vacuum which could create a back-flow of water water into the portable water supply. • See Air Break.
Valve Stem: The part of a faucet where a movable interior part is fitted into a stationary part in order to control the flow of water though the faucet or a fixture.
Valley: Where two sloping roof sections come together.


WDI: Wood destroying insects such as Termites or Carpenter Ants.
Wainscot or Wainscoting: (NAWC) 1. The wooden paneling of the lower part of an interior wall up to dado height in a room. 2. The wooden panel-like materials used in lining the interior of walls(e.g. mud rooms, dining areas).
Wall Covering: (ASHI) A protective or insulating layer fixed to the outside of a building such as: aluminum, brick, EIFS, stone, stucco, vinyl, and wood.
Water Closet: Sometimes called a Soil Closet. The closet inside of a bathroom which houses the commode. A separate room in a bathroom where someone can use the commode privately while another washes or does other things such as dressing in the same bathroom. Most commonly seen in bathrooms which also have a clothes closet.
Wire-Nut: A plastic twist on cap used to secure an connection on an electric circuit.
Wiring Method: (ASHI) Identification of electrical conductors or wires by their general type, such as non-metallic sheathed cable, armored cable, and knob and tube, etc.