Home Inspection Glossary – Part Two

As a home inspector and former builder, there are many technical terms that I may use that are unfamiliar to the average home owner. While I always try to break things down to layman’s terms while conducting the home inspection, I thought it might be useful to have a home inspection glossary to refer buyers to. This is the second of several of these posts to build the glossary. I’ve tried to keep it simple and these are not intended to be exhaustive definitions.

backflow preventer  A device that prevents potentially contaminated water from mixing with a homes potable water supply. Typically installed on hose bibs, also required on hydronic heating systems.

balloon framing: The simplest and lightest form of multi-story structural framing. Studs run from the foundation to the attic, with bad joists nailed to the studs. No longer an approved framing method as the stud cavities provide an easy route for fire to spread.

balusters: The vertical components in a railing, filling in the space between top and bottom rails.

base molding: Decorative trim running the length of a wall along the bottom edge. Provides an attractive transition between wall and floor coverings.

baseboard heat:- Hot water or electric resistance heating supply through radiators running along the baseboards.

batt insulation: Insulation supplied in sections sized to bit in between typical joist spacing. May or may not come with a kraft paper or foil vapor barrier attached to one side.

beam: A large section of dimensional lumber typically used to support joists or other load-bearing structures.

bearing wall: A wall constructed to bear other structural components above and beyond it’s own weight.

below grade: Below the surface of the soil outside the structure.

bifold doors: Door constructed of two panels, hinged in the center. Typically used a closet doors, may be installed in pairs.

blown-in insulation: Loose cellulose or fiberglass insulation, installed in wall cavities or loose on attic floors.

branch circuit: A group of wiring that serves a number of devices connected to a single circuit breaker in the main panel. (Or a sun-panel thereof)

breaker box: An electrical enclosure containing a number of circuit breakers. May be a main breaker box or a sub-panel drawing power from the main.