A BU-tiful Glossary of Terms

September 29th, 2015 | 2 comments

When you’re walking around a Build Urban home in awe, you might care to know a bit more about what’s behind those walls. While we can’t all tote around the construction cache of vocab, here are a few terms you may hear tossed around that you can easily fit in your tool belt.



What:  A portion of a house or building that is jutting out from the rest of the building.  Cantilevering is where the beams are anchored at only one point, the portion of the building extending off from the rest of the building is supported by the beams. A cantilever can only over hang by 1/3 of the beams total length. For example, if you have a 12′ long beam, the cantilever can only extend 4′, leaving the other 2/3 of the beam as support.

What it is NOT: Unlike popular belief, a cantilever isn’t a question whether or not you can leave a female you are with.

Why does BU Care: We use cantilevers in many of our projects to accommodate fireplaces and to add character to the exterior appearance of our homes.




A portrait of an astronaut, studio shot

What: California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the clean air regulatory board for the state of California. CARB was established before the federal government set regulatory policies for clean air, so CARB policies are still widely honored in new construction of Green homes. CARB created the (ATCM) Airborne Toxic Control Measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. NAUF MDF is, No Added Urea Formaldehyde Medium Density Fiberboard. Urea and Formaldehyde have been added to composite wood products because together they create a resin used as a permanent adhesive. Per CARB, these chemicals emit dangerous toxins into the air.

What it is NOT: Some sort of weird astronaut carbohydrate. Fear not, there is no need to count these.

Why does BU Care: Build Urban constructs all our homes to 4 and 5 star Built Green standards. all of our hardwoods, cabinets, and millwork are NAUF or up to CARB II standards.



Closed Cell Spray Foam

What: Unlike the fluffy pink insulation that might look like it would make a great napping pad, were it not to be a death nest of skin irritating fiberglass, closed cell spray foam is a nice hardened, itch-free barricade of warmth. Closed Cell foams are a two-component mixture that is made on-site and sprayed in wall and ceiling cavities. the two components create a chemical reaction when mixed, the mixture is heated and sprayed, where it expands, dries, and hardens in place. Closed cell foam has one of the highest R-value at 6-6.5 per inch. R-value is the measure of insulation’s thermal resistance, the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. It is also air and moisture resistant.

What it is NOT: Shaving cream found in a prison cell.

Why does BU Care: We install closed-cell spray foam at the ceilings of all our homes with roof top decks. This provides our homes with the best insulation while also protecting against moisture damage should any leaking occur.



Ductless Mini Splitaddtext_com_MTg1MzE3NTAyODI

What: A ductless mini-split-system is used in houses with “non-ducted” heating systems. Mini splits have two main components, an indoor air-handling unit and an outdoor compressor/condenser. A conduit links the two units.

What it is NOT: A banana split, hold the ducks please.

Why does BU Care: We install mini-splits in many of our homes. Mini-splits are energy efficient, while ducted systems can lose up to 30% of heat in the ducts, ductless mini splits lose none; mini splits are also space efficient being small and easily installed in walls or ceilings, they can be inconspicuous and not the eye-sore of a big clunky vent.




What: Glulam is timber that is comprised of many layers of wood that have been tightly compressed and bonded together with a strong, moisture-resistant glue.10

What it is NOT:  A lamb that produces glue. Let’s stick to horses for that…?

Why does BU Care: We use Glulam stringers in the construction of all our homes but many of our homes feature an open glulam stringer stair, where the glulam is stained to bring out the many grains of wood, creating a dramatic structural centerpiece to the home.




What: Hardie is a manufactured material used for siding. It is 90% sand and cement and can mimic the look of any other siding. Hardie is rot, fire, and insect resistant, durable and has a longevity that out-does most other siding material.

What it is NOT: A reference to Frank and Joe *Hardy. Who are too busy solving mysteries to worry about construction practices anyway.

Why does BU Care: We use Hardie siding on most of our homes. It allows us create many different designs without sacrificing safety or quality of material.





What: A parapet is a low, protective wall on the edge of a roof or balcony.

What it is NOT: When you declare a cute looking pear your pet.

Why does BU Care: We build many of our homes with roof top decks to offer our homeowners the best views of beautiful Seattle. Parapet walls are a necessary part of the rooftop decks for safety and to protect the roof’s edge from being uplifted and damaged by wind and weather.



Party Wall

What: A party wall is a wall dividing two adjoining units within a building. The wall is shared by both units.

What it is NOT: A wall where one parties, or the designated wall at a party where one leans and mingles.

Why does BU Care: We build many town homes and apartments that have party walls. Special rules and building codes apply to party walls and it is important for us to be intimately familiar to deliver a safe and sound proofed unit.




What: A scupper is an opening in a parapet wall to allow for water drainage.

What it is NOT: A mispronunciation of skipper.

Why does BU Care: We think our rooftop deck are pretty cool. Wading pools are pretty cool too. And maybe one day we can have a wading pool rooftop deck. In the men time, we like to scupper it out.



TJI Joist

What: TJI joists are engineered I beams that frame the flooring of a home. They are structured to resist the warping, twisting, and shrinking that cause squeaky floors.

What it is NOT: A Bostonian ordering juice at a T.G.I. Friday’s.

Why does BU Care: We frame out our floors with TJI joists to provide a sturdy, safe, and not so squeaky structure to our homes.



Triple Glazing767310_5_0

What: Insulated glazing (IG) refers to the number of panes a window has. There is typically double glazing, two panes, or triple glazing, three panes. There is a vacuum between each pane to reduce the transfer of heat. The more panes, the better the insulation.

What it is NOT: When a cinna-roll or other sweet pastry has an excess of glazing goo.

Why does BU Care: We have set a standard of triple glazed windows in all our homes.



Wedi Pan

22What: An engineered pan that acts as an underlayment in a tile shower. Wedi pans are completely water resistant and have zero capillarity. The pan is a paperless fiberglass mesh with a cement-based resin coating that cannot be delaminated nor ignited.

What it is NOT: A toddler training potty. Not even a cutesy name for a toddler training potty.

Why does BU Care: We install Wedi pan systems in all our tile showers to protect against water damage and to ensure our tile lays flush and beautifully.

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