Glossary of Construction Terms

Do you ever feel as if your contractor is selling you polyisocyanurate foam when what you really needed was a setback thermostat? Here is a handy guide to common (and not so common) construction terms. Scroll through the glossary below or sort by the letter that starts the word you're looking for. For example, to find polyisocyanurate foam, select P and click Submit.

A (7) | B (6) | C (18) | D (8) | E (9) | F (8) | G (2) | H (4) | I (1) | J (1) | L (4) | M (3) | O (2) | P (11) | R (10) | S (19) | T (7) | U (1) | V (1) | W (4) | Z (2)
Title Definition
Earnest Money Agreement

An earnest money agreement is a contract between a buyer and a seller of real estate. It is also called a real estate purchase and sale agreement.

See also Topics: Real Estate Legal Terms

Earthquake Strap

A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house. Intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and thus causing a gas leak.


A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.

See also: Topics: Real Estate Legal Terms


See, "Calcium Carbonate."

See also: Q&A: Basements and Crawl Spaces

Electrical Entrance Package

The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the 'strike' or location where the overhead electrical lines connect to the house, (2) the meter which measures how much power is used and (3) the 'panel', 'circuit breaker box 'or 'fuse box' where the power can be shut off, and overload devices such as fuses or circuit breakers are located.

See also: Topics: Electrical Systems, Q&A: Electrical

Energy Dissipation Basin

A pit or ditch sometimes filled with gravel which is used to collect storm water. Water in the ditch soaks into the ground slowly, thus preventing soil erosion runoff and flooding.

See also: Topics: Downspout Drain Systems, Q&A: Yard Drainage


The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.

See also: Topics: A Building and Remodeling Checklist, Q&A: Estimating

Exposed Aggregate

A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture of the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.

Exterior Envelope

Consists of all of the elements protecting the building from the elements: roofing, siding, windows, exterior doors, porches, flashing, trim, caulking, waterproof decks, venting systems, chimneys and other elements which relate to the exterior surfaces of the structure.