Glossary of Scottish Building Terms
This Glossary of Scottish Building Terms will help you understand some of the terminology used in valuation and survey reports.
Wide board fitted below tiles of overhanging verge to gable.
Pieces of metal, usually lead, copper or zinc which run between a flat roof and sloping slated roof, to prevent water penetrating junctions.
Timber members to which roof tiles are fitted.
Plain course, usually stone, forming a low parapet superimposed on a cornice usually concealing a gutter.
In roofs, the ornamental cresting of cast or wrought iron crowning a roof, but sometimes also found applied to cornices and other ornamental features.
See “collars” below.
Occurs where the layers of the stone are vertical and run at 90 degrees to the plane of the wall. Projections such as cornices and pediments should be edge bedded.
Perforated wall, comprising inner and outer “skins”, of either brick or some form of block with space between of about 2”. “Skins” linked by wall ties, which should be kept clean of mortar droppings during construction, otherwise “bridging” can occur, leading to dampness internally. Properly constructed cavity walls are more resistant to damp penetration than solid walls and thermal insulation is also higher. In modern timber framed dwellings, timber framing forms an inner “skin” then often clad with an outer skin of brick or similar to give a traditional appearance.
Cavity Wall Insulation
In recent years cavity filling with insulation materials has come into use to preserve warmth in buildings. Not always suitable for exposed positions. Unless properly done can form “bridge” between skins of wall across which moisture could pass. Some doubts have also been expressed as to the possibility of toxic fumes emanating from some forms of foam insulation. There is no evidence that this is a significant problem in this country, but this type of insulation is not generally suitable for timber framed walls. It is essential that work is done by an experienced and reliable company.
Mortar, introduced in mid-nineteenth century, in which the binding agent, hydraulic Portland cement, is mixed with fine aggregate.
Watertight chamber in which sewage effluent is collected. Has to be emptied at regular intervals, a service usually provided by the Local Authority for which a charge is made. Sometimes outlet provided from cesspool to allow soakage into surrounding ground.
Cill or Sill
Sloping area below a window or door opening to facilitate rainwater run off.
Collar (in roof)
Timbers around a chimney breast within roof structure, sometimes referred to as “Bridles” or Trimmers”.
Collar (in drain)
Wider end of pipe into which another pipe fits.
The covering course of a wall, designed to throw water off it, also called capping.
Steps on a gable upstanding from the plane of a roof.
Small domed roof structure over stair, typically glazed to let light in.
Externally the area of wall usually below damp proof level often having an alternative finish to the brickwork or roughcast on the sections above damp course level.
Damp-Proof Course (DPC)
A course of impermeable material to prevent damp rising from the earth and penetrating a wall. In older buildings, slates often used. When inserting a new DPC in older buildings, a “chemical” form is frequently used consisting of impregnating wall at ground floor level with silicone, which percolates walls and forms barrier against rising damp.
Similar to DPC, but in solid ground floor to prevent rising damp rising up through floor. Should be connected to DPC in surrounding walls to be fully effective.
A window placed on the inclined plane of a roof, the frame being placed vertically on the rafters.
Round or square cast iron or plastic tubing to take water from the gutters to the drainage system.
A rough textured finish in which clean small pebbles or crushed rock chippings of a suitable size are thrown onto a freshly applied coat of mortar and left exposed.
Overhanging edge of a roof.
Vertical board at eaves level to which guttering is often attached.
Glazed area above a door, if rectangular rather than semi-circular, semi-elliptical or segmental, more correctly an over-door light.
Glass fibre insulation. It should be noted that there is some medial evidence to suggest this form of insulation may be carcinogenic.
Fresh-Air Inlet (FAI)
Perforated brick or grating set into wall to provide ventilation. Most frequently used at the base of walls to ventilate areas beneath joist and boarded ground floors.
Method of weather-proofing joist between roof covering and brickwork; formed in lead (in good quality work) or other metal.
Two types: Suspended or solid. Suspended means system of joists covered with floor boarding or chipboard supported by small “sleeper” walls on the solum at ground floor level. cavity between solum and floor boarding should be ventilated by air bricks set into external walls to avoid formation of stagnant pockets of damp air, conducive to growth of rot. Suspended can sometimes also be concrete beam or reinforced concrete particularly in flats.
Solid floor usually formed and incorporating a damp-proof membrane with surfacing of cement screed,
Side end of property.
Open piping at lowest point of roof for the collections of rainwater and formed in plastic or cast iron in older properties and to two standard designs. Half-round; a semi circular section, fixed to fascia with brackets. Ogee; a moulded pattern commonly sitting on the wallhead. In more recent times, plastic guttering commonly used, these have the advantage of not requiring painting, but can fade and/or become brittle.
Small storage tank linked with the central heating system to top up water in that system (normally independent of main cold water storage tank).
External angle formed by roof instead of ending in a gable.
See “Floors” above.
Method of disposal of water beneath ground. Usually comprises a drain laid with open joints and surrounded by pea shingle or similar material through which water can disperse into surrounding soil.
Lath and Plaster (Brander and Plaster)
Traditional way of forming plaster surface in ceiling or timber partitions. Comprises a number or horizontal battens or laths, which form a key for the plaster. Now largely obsolete and replaced by plasterboard by regularly found in properties built pre-1940.
Lintel or Lintol
Beam normally of concrete or metal (sometimes timber) spanning doors and window openings to wall to support the building materials above.
Vertical member between a window sill and a window lintel. Usually of stone or precast reinforced concrete.
Sections of wall protruding above the external wallheads. Usually with internal parapet gutters behind. In older properties, these are commonly of lead in good quality work. Normally only found in Victorian or older properties.
The seal between window frames and adjacent walls.
Inclined timbers in roof space, which provide intermediate support to rafters.
Inclined timber immediately beneath the roof covering to which the tiling battens or sarking for sloping roofs are fixed. (Sometimes referred to as a “Spar”).
Vertical side of face of an opening for a window or doorway between the frame and face of the wall.
The horizontal line at the apex of a roof. Usually has tile, zinc or lead covering.
Triangular framework of structural members supporting a roof, carrying horizontal members (purlins) which in turn support common rafters.
Material laid on top of rafters to which slates/tiles are fixed.
Sewage disposal system normally comprising two or three linked chambers within which self purifying (bacterial) process takes place, beyond which is an outfall to drains (land) or soakaways, for the purified liquid effluent. Occasional emptying may be needed, but dependent upon soil conditions and method of use, septic tanks can remain undistributed for a number of years. New land drainage or soakaways may also be required, but on average probably at intervals of not less than 10 years.
Wallhead details normally above slating level.
Method of water disposal usually for surface water, ie hole dug in ground and then filled with brick, rubble or similar material and covered over. Disperses water from drains leading to it, provided surrounding soil conditions are suitable.
The underside of an overhanging eaves.
Load bearing timbers normally supporting purlin and fixed to an angle down to a wall or some other load bearing point.
The area at the base or a door or window opening often incorporating draught strips or similar.
See “Collars (in Roof)”.
A secondary barrier against wind-driven rain penetration at roof level and also acts to conduct any rainwater which may get access beneath the slates back into the gutters. Laid between the external roof covering and sarking.
Angle formed by the outside surfaces of two adjoining roof slopes. Can be tiled or formed in lead or, less durably, in felt or zinc, particularly between two parallel adjacent sloping roofs.
An impervious layer, usually heavy gauge polythene sheeting, used to prevent passage of moisture in vulnerable parts of a structure.
Edge of a roof which runs from eaves to ridge at a gable (usually cement pointed).
The uppermost section of an external wall.
Horizontal timber at top of wall on which roof timbers, rafters or joists rest.
Metal or plastic connector used to provide structural link between inner and outer skins or cavity walls.