Glossary

Pat Miller has specialized in residential architecture and home renovations since 1980 in Connecticut. Although having designed houses nationally, Pat, as a long time resident of lower Fairfield County, CT, has created most of her designs in this area, for the most part in Westport, Weston, Greenwich, Wilton and Fairfield. Pat’s residential architecture renovations have run the gamut from traditional to shingle style to contemporary, and her approach to design is: “to create something special for each Connecticut client that belongs only to them. I love residential architecture renovation work because it is so personal. Taking a space that people have lived in, and then changing it, means that they want to change the way they live.

CONSTRUCTION STYLES
A-Frame – The steep slope of the A-frame roof is designed to help heavy snow to slide to the ground instead of remaining on top of the house and weighing it down. At the same time, the sloped roof provides two other benefits. It creates a half floor at the top of the house which can be used for lofts or storage space, and because the roof extends down either to the ground or to the top of the foundation, it minimizes the amount of exterior maintenance required on the house. On the other hand, the sloped roof creates a triangular "dead space" at the base of the walls on each floor. A-frames have limited living space and are usually built as vacation cottages for the mountains, lake, or beach.

Bungalow - Usually single story or one and a half story house. On a per unit area basis bungalows are more expensive to construct than two story houses because a larger foundation and roof area is required for the same living area. The larger foundation will often translate into larger lot size requirements as well. Though the 'footprint' of a bungalow is often a simple rectangle, any foundation shape is possible. For bungalows with brick walls, the windows are often positioned high and are right to the roof. This avoids the need for special arches or lintels to support the brick wall above the windows. In two-story houses, there is no choice but to continue the brick wall above the window (and the second story windows may be positioned high and right to the roof.)

Cape Cod -A style of house originating in New England in the 17th century. It is traditionally characterized by a low, broad frame building, generally a story and a half high, with a steep, pitched roof with end gables.The style has a symmetrical appearance with front door in the center of the house, and a large central chimney for fireplaces in each room. A cape-style house also commonly had a master bedroom on the first floor and an unfinished loft on the second floor. A typical house had little or no exterior ornamentation. Colonial-era Capes were most prevalent in the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. They were made of wood, and covered in wide clapboard or shingles. Most houses were smaller, usually 1,000–2,000 square feet in size. Originally, they did not have dormer windows. There were generally an odd collection of windows in the gable ends, and in these windows nine and six panes were the most common.

Colonial – The defining characteristics of colonial architecture are its square, symmetrical shape, central door, and straight lines of windows on the first and second floor. There is usually a decorative crown above the door and flattened columns to either side of it. The door leads to an entryway with stairway and hall aligned along the center of the house. All rooms branch off of these. Georgian Colonial buildings, in the English manner, were ideally in brick, with wood trim, wooden columns and entablatures painted white. In the US, one found both brick buildings as well as those in wood with clapboards. They were usually painted white, though sometimes a pale yellow. This differentiated them from most other structures that were usually not painted. A Georgian Colonial-style house usually has a formally-defined living room, dining room . The bedrooms are typically on the second floor. They also have one or two chimneys that can be very large.

Craftsman – This was a dominant style for smaller houses from the early 1900’s to the early 1920’s. The style was identified with low-pitched gable roofs, usually facing the street, with wide, unenclosed eave overhangs, exposed roof rafters, decorative beams and braces commonly added under gables, porches with roofs supported by tapered square columns, which usually extended to the ground beyond the porch. 4-over-1 or 6-over-1 double-hung windows, Frank Lloyd Wright design motifs, hand-crafted stone or woodwork and mixed materials throughout structure

Dutch Colonial – Central to the style is a broad gambrel roof with flaring eaves that extend over the long sides, resembling a barn in construction. Earlier homes were a single room with additions added to either end (or short side) and very often a porch along both long sides. Typically, end walls were made of stone and a chimney was located on one or both ends. Common were double-hung sash windows with outward swinging wood shutters and a central entrance door divided into separately opening upper and lower halves.

Federal - The stylistic characteristics that set the Federal Style apart are numerous and include: a low pitched or flat roof that was usually concealed behind a balustrade and moldings of a low relief and delicate ornamentation. When a classical order is present (i.e. doric, ionic, etc.) the capital is diminutive and the columns are slender. Emphasis is placed on the central entrance, which is often set apart with a small, one story portico, a crowning fanlight and narrow sidelights. Other ornamentation is primarily based on curved lines, as well as a Palladian window set within a recessed wall arch, and circular or elliptical windows. Interior space is set apart from colonial architecture by the use of asymmetry; the oval is introduced as a room shape and the century-old layout of four square rooms arranged around a central hallway was cast aside.

International Style - This popular avant-garde style of the 1930’s was identified by features such as flat roof, usually without ledge (coping) at the roof line, windows, Usually metal casements) set flush with outer walls, smooth, unornamented wall surfaces with no decorative detailing at doors or windows and the façade being asymmetrical. The style was also called Modern and in the following years the style became softened and was called Contemporary. In the 21st, the style is now known as Mid-Century.

Prairie – The style originated in Chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright being the master of the Prairie style. The identifying features were low-pitched roofs, usually hipped, with widely overhanging eaves, two stories, with one story wings or porches, eaves, cornices and façade detailing that emphasized horizontal lines, and often with massive, square porch supports.

Ranch - A single-story house noted for its long, close-to-the-ground profile, and minimal use of exterior and interior decoration. The houses fuse modernist ideas and styles with notions of the American Western period working ranches to create a very informal and casual living style. Their popularity waned in the late 20th century as neo-eclectic house styles and a return to using historical and traditional decoration became popular.

Saltbox - Originated in New England, and is an example of American colonial architecture. A saltbox is a wooden frame house with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back. A saltbox has just one story in the back and two stories in the front. The flat front and central chimney are recognizable features, but the asymmetry of the unequal sides and the long, low rear roof line are the most distinctive features of a saltbox, which takes its name from its resemblance to a wooden lidded box in which salt was once kept. The earliest saltbox-like houses were created when a lean-to addition was added onto the rear of the house.

Shingle - Shingle architecture is relaxed and informal with wall cladding and roofing of continuous wood shingles. Architects emulated colonial houses' plain, shingled surfaces as well as their massing, whether in the simple gable or in the complex massing which looked almost as if a colonial house had been fancifully expanded over many years. This impression of the passage of time was enhanced by the use of shingles. The Shingle Style also conveyed a sense of the house as continuous volume. This effect—of the building as an envelope of space, rather than a great mass, was enhanced by the visual tautness of the flat shingled surfaces, the horizontal shape of many shingle style houses, and the emphasis on horizontal continuity, both in exterior details and in the flow of spaces within the houses.


Split-Level – is a style of house in which the floor level of one part of the house is about half way between a floor and its ceiling of the other part of the house. The one story section typically contains a family room, living room, dining room, and kitchen. There are typically two small sets of stairs that attach the one story section of the house to the two story section. One set leads up, typically to bedrooms and a bathroom. The other set leads down to a large family room and basement area. Often, the basement level also includes the garage and is level with the driveway. The first floor is built halfway between the basement and second floor, with the second floor being above the basement. Alternately, both halves of the house may be two stories tall, with a basement beneath the "first story" section described above. Additions to the house are possible by adding a third floor above the first or expanding outward from any side.

Raised Ranch - The front door opens to a landing between the two floors . One short flight of stairs leads up to the top floor; another short flight of stairs leads down. The top floor tends to be full height ceilings with the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. The lower floor often has lower ceilings and is partially below ground. However, in many modern homes the lower level is at grade, which necessitates an outdoor staircase to reach the front door. These homes often also have very high ceilings on the lower level to accommodate the home's HVAC ducting.

Tudor –The style is based loosely on a variety of English building traditions. The emphasis was on the simple, rustic and the less impressive aspects of Tudor architecture, imitating in this way medieval cottages or country houses. The style is identified with steeply pitched roofs, half-timbering often infilled with herringbone brickwork, tall mullioned windows, high chimneys, jettied (overhanging) first floors above pillared porches, dormer windows supported by consoles, and even at times thatched roofs.


Some of our Rennovations
Shingle Houses

Contemporary Houses
Traditional Houses
Cottage House
Colonial Houses
Victorian Houses


DEFINITIONS

Balcony
A platform projecting from an upper story and enclosed by a railing. A balconet is a low, slightly projecting, ornamental railing around the lower portion of a window: a false balcony.

Baluster
A small molded shaft, square or circular, in stone or wood, sometimes metal, supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase. A series of balusters supporting a handrail or coping forms a Balustrade.

Baseboard
Is generally a wooden board covering the lowest part of an interior wall. Its purpose is to cover the joint between the wall surface (usually plaster or drywall) and the floor. It covers the inevitable uneven edge as flooring meets the wall. As a secondary function, it protects the wall from kicks and abrasion and sometimes prevents furniture from being pushed right against the wall. As a tertiary function, it can serve as a decorative molding, also called skirting board, skirting, mopboard, floor molding, as well as base molding.

Beveled Edge
Refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular (but instead often at 45 degrees) to the faces of the piece. The words bevel and chamfer overlap in usage.

Building Code
A set of laws drafted by the governing body of a borough, town or city to control building construction and "to promote the public health, safety and general welfare" of the people in that locality.

Cantilever
A projecting element, such as a beam or porch, supported at a single point or along a single line by a wall or column, stabilized by counterbalancing downward force around the point of fulcrum.

Casing
Refers to the trim bordering the inside or outside of a window or door, commonly referred to as "inside" or "outside" casing.

Clapboard Siding
A long narrow wooden board with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped horizontally to cover the outer walls of frame structures.

Crawl Space
A crawl space is a type of basement in which one cannot stand up. The height may be as little as a foot, and the surface is either soil or a topping of concrete. It offers a convenient access to pipes, substructures and a variety of other areas that may be difficult or expensive to access otherwise. While a crawl space cannot be used as living space, it can be used as storage, often for infrequently used items

Cupola
Is a small, most-often dome-like structure, on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome.

Dormer
A vertical structure, usually housing a window that projects from a sloping roof and is covered by a separate roof structure. It is called a gable dormer if it has its own gable or shed dormer if a flat roof. Most often found in upstairs bedrooms.

Eave
Is the edge of a roof. Eaves usually project beyond the side of the building generally to provide weather protection. Some buildings, such as Craftsman and Bungalows, have very wide eaves with decorative brackets. The word eave can also refer to the lower part of a sloping roof which projects beyond the wall or the soffit.

Fascia Board
In a steep-slope roofing, a board that is nailed to the ends of a roof rafter; which caps the end of rafters outside a building, which can be used to hold the rain gutter.

Flashing
Weatherproofing construction material used to prevent the passage of water into the structure. Sheet metal, copper and aluminum, is fitted around chimneys, valleys, drip caps, etc. to seal out moisture.

Footing
The supporting base or groundwork of a structure, as for a monument or wall. Also called footer.

Foundation
A supporting structure that transfers loads to the earth. Foundations are designed to have an adequate load capacity with limited settlement by a geo-technical engineer, and the foundation itself is designed structurally by a structural engineer. The primary design concerns are settlement and bearing capacity. When considering settlement, total settlement and differential settlement is normally considered. Differential settlement is when one part of a foundation settles more than another part. This can cause problems to the structure the foundation is supporting. It is necessary that a foundation is not loaded beyond its bearing capacity or the foundation will fail.

Gable
Is generally the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used (which is often related to climate and availability of materials) and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable.

Gazebo
A gazebo is a pavilion structure, often octagonal, commonly found in parks, gardens, and spacious public areas. Gazebos are freestanding, or attached to a garden wall, roofed, and open on all sides; they provide shade, basic shelter, ornamental features in a landscape, and a place to rest.

Header
This term applies to several construction features; the top horizontal support of a rough opening, the support for joist- ends on the foundation walls sill and the support for joist- ends in a floor or roof opening.

Joist
Wood framing used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls; usually set 16" apart on center, carefully chosen to support all "live" and "dead" loads.

Knee Wall
In architecture, a knee wall is typically a short wall, usually less than three feet in height.

Leader
A horizontal or vertical cylinder usually made of metal, which carries water from the gutter to the ground.

Molding
Is a strip of material used to cover transitions between surfaces or for decoration. It is traditionally made from solid milled wood or plaster but may be made from plastic or reformed wood. In classical architecture and sculpture, the molding is often carved in marble or other stones. A decorative band of varied contour, used to trim structural members, wall planes, and openings. Crown molding is decorative molding where the wall and ceiling meet or the uppermost molding along furniture or cabinetry.

Pediment
A pediment is a classical element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature), typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice molding. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculptures and reliefs demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures.

Roof Pitch
Relates to the slope and inclination angle of a roof in building construction. A roof is considered pitched with a gradient greater than 15 degrees (slope greater than 3.215 in 12). Carpenters frame rafters to "pitch" a roof. A roof's pitch is the measured vertical rise divided by the measured horizontal span, the same thing as what is called "slope" in geometry. A simple (without hip or valley) shed roof is pitched with one plane. A simple gable roof is pitched with two equal opposed-slope planes. A simple salt box roof is pitched with opposed planes of unequal split and, or, differing slopes (like two opposed shed roofs with differing pitches) sharing a common ridge. A combined pitched form has a vertical offset along a common ridge line. Hip and mansard (quad-pitched, very often mistakenly called double-pitched, hip) roofs are pitched with uniform slopes on all sides. Other roof styles include: flat (unpitched), domed, gambrel (quad-pitched, very often mistakenly called double-pitched, gable or barn), and A-frame, barrel-vaulted. The lower plane's slope is steeper than the upper plane's slope on quadruple-pitched roofs.

Porch
Is a structure attached to a building, forming a covered entrance to a vestibule or doorway. It is external to the walls of the main building proper, but may be enclosed by screen, latticework, broad windows, or other light frame walls extending from the main structure.

Portico
A small porch composed of a roof supported by columns, often found in front of a doorway,that is leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls

Rafter
A roof beam sloping from the ridge to the wall. Is one of a series of sloped structural members, designed to support the roof deck and its associated loads.

Rise/Riser
Rise-The vertical distance from one stair tread to the next. Riser -The vertical portion of a step. The board covering the open space between stair treads.


ROOF DESIGNS

A- Frame -A roof shape with a very steep pitch forming a gable or "A" shape.

Butterfly- A roof shape with two opposing roof surfaces sloping towards the middle

Flat -A pitch less than 3.215 in 12, most favorable in dry climates

Gable- A type of roof similar to a hip roof but with gables forming the top part of the end slopes.

Gambrel -A roof where each side has two slopes; a steeper lower slope and a flatter upper one; a 'barn roof'. Often found in Colonial revival houses in the "Dutch" style.

Hipped -A roof with slopes on all four sides. The "hips" are the lines formed when the slopes meet at the corners

Mansard- A roof type with two slopes on each of the four sides, the lower slope being steeper than the other; capped off with usually a flat roof, typically Victorian.

Salt-Box -A saltbox is a wooden frame house with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back. A saltbox has just one story in the back.

Shed -A roof type with one high pitched plane covering the entire structure.

Shingle
A unit composed of wood, cement, asphalt compound, slate, tile or the like, employed in an overlapping series to cover roofs and walls.

Soffit
The finished surface below the fascia and rafters is called the soffit or eave. A soffit is also often installed between the ceiling and the top of wall cabinets in a kitchen, set at a 90 degree angle to the horizontal soffit which projects out from the wall

Stucco
Is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as a coating for walls and ceilings and for decoration. Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials such as concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe. The difference in nomenclature between stucco, plaster, and mortar is based more on use than composition. Until the later part of the nineteenth century, it was common that plaster, which was used inside a building, and stucco, which was used outside, would consist of the same primary materials: lime and sand (which are also used in mortar). Animal or plant fibers were often added for additional strength. In the later part of the nineteenth century, Portland cement was added with increasing frequency in an attempt to improve its durability. Sometimes additives such as acrylics and glass fibers are added to improve the structural properties of the plaster. This is usually done with what is considered a one-coat stucco system, as opposed to the traditional three-coat method.

Tread
The horizontal portion of a step, usually with a rounded edge, or 'nosing' which overhangs the riser.

Vestibule
Is typically a small room or hall between an entrance and the interior of the building or house. Also a lobby or entrance hall

Wall Stud
Is a vertical member in the light frame construction techniques in Balloon framing and platform framing of a building's wall . They carry the vertical loads, and the rectangular platforms made of floor joists, headers and sub-floors, hold the outward forces in check and keep the walls in parallel and from bulging). In the mostly obsolescent and now rare balloon framing method, the wall studs are very long and tall and run from sill plate to roof plate, with the walls holding up the floors. In tall balloon framed buildings, studs are usually augmented by substantial posts, especially in the corners or mid-points of long walls. Traditionally, studs are made of wood, usually 2×4 or 2 x6.

WINDOW TYPES
Awning - A window hinged along the top edge. An awning window is a casement window that is hung horizontally, hinged on top, so that it swings outward like an awning

Bay - A set of two or more windows that protrude out from the wall. The window is moved away from the wall to provide more light and wider views. A multi-panel window, with at least three panels set at different angles to create a protrusion from the wall line. It is commonly used in cold country where snow often falls. The panels are thus set in three different directions, from where a person would have a view from the interior of a building.

Casement - A window that opens by swinging inward or outward much like a door. Casement windows are usually vertical in shape but are often grouped in bands. In the USA these are usually opened using a crank, but in Europe they tend to use projection friction stays and espagnolette locking. Formerly, plain hinges were used with a casement stay. Handing applies to casement windows to determine direction of swing.

Clerestory - A vertical window set in a roof structure or high in a wall, used for day lighting.

Double-Hung - This sash window is the traditional style of window in the USA, and many other places that were formerly colonized by the UK, with two parts (sashes) that overlap slightly and slide up and down inside the frame. The two parts are not necessarily the same size.

Leaded - A window composed of small panes, usually diamond- shaped or rectangular, held in place by narrow strips of cast lead.

Palladian - A three part window featuring a large ached center and flanking rectangular sidelights.

Skylight – A flat or sloped window used for day lighting, built into a roof structure that is out of reach.

Transom - A window above a door; if an exterior door the transom window is often fixed, if an interior door it can often open either by hinges at top or bottom, or can rotate about hinges at the middle of its sides. It provided ventilation before forced air heating and cooling.

Pat Miller,
Residential Designer

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