Abutment - an intersection, usually between a
roof and a wall.
Access Tower - a portable scaffold that allows
quick and cheap access to high areas.
Aggregate - broken stone, gravel or sand used
with cement to form concrete. Aggregates may be coarse or fine and are often
used in the construction of "soakaways".
Airbrick - a perforated brick, terracotta or
plastic vent built into a wall for providing ventilation. Often used to
ventilate the underside of timber ground floors, fireplaces or a roof space.
Apron - a metal strip, usually lead or zinc, used as a seal. Often fitted to
chimney stacks and tile hanging. Also a section of wall below a window.
Apotropaic Markings - Apotropaic, ritual or
'witches' marks were carved into doors, windows and fireplaces where air,
and therefore witches, could enter a building to protect them from such evil
spirits. Although common on doors and jambs of doorways, they are most
likely to be found around fireplaces. The most common markings are
interlocking circles (some carved to create a six-petalled daisy flower
effect), concentric circles and intersecting lines creating crosses and M's
representing the Virgin Mary or double V's for 'Virgin of Virgins'.
Architrave - a moulding around a doorway or
window opening. It usually covers the joints between the frame and the wall
finish, thus hiding any shrinkage gaps, which may occur.
Asbestos - material used in the past for
insulation and fire protection. Can sometimes be a health hazard and
specialist advice may be needed if asbestos is suspected or found. Typical
locations in houses are roofs, soffit boards, textured (Artex type) ceiling
and wall finishes, rainwater fittings and older plastic tiles etc.
Asbestos Cement - cement mixed with up to 15%
asbestos fibre as reinforcement. Fragile -will not usually bear heavy
weights. Hazardous fibres may be released if cut or drilled. The material is
usually safe if left in-situ. If disposal is required the waste should be
taken to an appropriate disposal site. At present, there is no requirement
for this to be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Ashlar - Finely dressed (finished) stone -
usually in high quality construction.
Asphalt - black, tar-like substance impervious
to moisture. Used on flat roofs and floors.
Bakelite - an early plastic often used in old
Ball Valve (Ballcock) - valve operated by a
ball floating in a cistern. Barge Board - a sloping board built along a
gable edge of a roof. Balanced (or room sealed ) Flue - common flue type
normally serving gas appliances, which allows air to be drawn to the
appliance whilst also allowing fumes to escape.
Baluster - a post or vertical pillar
supporting a handrail or parapet rail.
Balustrade - a collective name for a row of
balusters or other infilling below a handrail on a stair or parapet.
Batten - thin strips of timber, commonly used
to support roof tiles or slates.
Bay Window - a window formed in a projection of
a wall and carried on foundations.
Beam - a structural component spanning an
opening and designed to carry the weight of the structure above. Usually
concrete or steel in newer construction. Often timber in older buildings.
Beetle Infestation - larvae of various
species of beetle, which tunnel, into timber causing damage (often called
woodworm). Specialist treatment normally required. Can also affect
Bellcast - thickening out of render, in a
curved shape, to form a drip to deflect water. Usually found at the base of
a wall, above the damp-proof course.
Benching - shaped concrete slope beside
drainage channel within an inspection chamber. Also known as "haunching".
Binder - a cross timber laid over ceiling
joists to reduce their effective span and prevent sagging.
Bitumen - black, sticky substance, similar to
asphalt. Used in sealants, mineral felts and damp-proof courses.
Blistering - trapped air bubbles below felt,
asphalt or painted surfaces usually indicating imminent failure of the
Bond - the regular arrangements of bricks,
blocks or stones in a wall so that the units may be joined together. The
principal types of "bond" used in domestic construction being English,
Flemish, header, stretcher, rat-trap, diagonal or garden wall bond.
Bonding Timbers - timbers built into the walls
in older houses to provide restraint. Unfortunately, these can easily rot
and are often affected by wood-boring insect attack.
Bonnet tile - a hip tile with a bonnet-like
Box Gutter - square shaped gutter, often found
behind a parapet wall.
Breeze Block - originally made from clinker
cinders (or "breeze") -the term now commonly used to refer to various types
of concrete building blocks.
Bressumer - A lintel, often timber, over a
shop front, fireplace or bay opening.
Building Paper - Heavy-duty paper, usually
incorporating a bitumen layer. Was often used as a lining under roof tiles
in the 1960's. Tears easily.
Butterfly Roof - 'M' shaped roof usually
hidden at the front with a parapet wall. The hidden central valley gutters
are often a source of nuisance.
Buttress - a wall, usually triangular in
shape, built to restrain bulging. Temporary buttresses can be constructed in
timber and are used during construction, typically if a facade is being
retained and built behind.