Home Inspection Glossary – C – Caisson Foundation to Condominium

Caisson Foundation: 

A caisson foundation is a foundation system in which holes are drilled into the earth down to bearing strata and then filled with concrete.

Cantilever:   A structural member which projects beyond its supporting wall or column.

Cant Strip:   A strip having triangular cross section which provides support for felt layers of a roof as they curve form a horizontal to a vertical position.

Cap:   The top part of a structural member, such as columns, doors, moldings; a cornice, a lintel.

Cap Flashing:   That portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Cape Cod House:   A type of architectural style which is a development of the one-story cabinet. Generally, the main cornice line is at the second-story level. The roof is sloping and there may be rooms on the second floor, served by dormer window. A detailed entrance features pilasters and cornices.

Carport:   A roofed auto shelter without walls.

Case:   The framework of the structure; the external facings of a building when made of material superior to backing.

Casement Window:   A type of window with a sash and side hinges.

Casing:   A piece of trim material around the sides and top of doors, windows and other openings in a wall.

Caulk:   To fill a joint with mastic or asphalt cement to prevent leaks.

Cavity Wall:   A wall, usually of masonry, that consists of two vertical components with air space between.

Ceiling Joists:   The horizontal structural members to which the ceiling is fastened; may support a floor above.

Cellar:   A storage space, usually but not necessarily below ground.

Cement:   A substance made of powdered lime and clay mixed with water and used to fasten stones and sand together to form concrete.

Cement Blocks:   Blocks composed principally of cement and gravel formed into shape under pressure; typically used for walls.

Central Air Conditioning:   A system which uses ducts to distribute cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and which is not plugged into an electric convenience outlet.

Cesspool:   An underground catch basin for household sewage or other liquid waste.

Chalk Line:   A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.

Check Rail:   The horizontal members or rails, that form the top of the lower sash and the bottom of the upper sash into a double-hung window; two rails in combination.

Check Valve:   A plumbing valve that closes automatically, preventing the backflow of water or other liquids.

Childproof:   An item designed to hinder entry by a child; normally surrounding dangerous areas such as swimming pools.

Chimney:   A stack that extends above the surface of the roof and carries smoke outside.

Chimney Back:   The rear wall of a furnace or fireplace.

Chimney Cap:   Ornamental stone, concrete or metal edging at the top of the chimney stack that protects the masonry form the elements and improves the draft in the chimney.

Chimney Flashing:   A strip of material, usually metal, placed where the chimney meets the roof to make the joint watertight; used wherever the slop is interrupted by a vertical structure.

Chimney Pot:   A fire clay or terra-cotta pipe projecting from the top of the chimney stack; is decorative and increases the draft of the chimney.

Cinder Block:   A concrete block made using cinders as the coarse aggregate to achieve a lighter weight.

Circlehead Window:   A small half-oval window used for decorative purposes, usually over a door. It is shaped like an open fan, the ribs of which are simulated by the sash bars.

Circuit:   Two or more wires that provide a path for electrical current from a source through some device using electric (such as a light) and back to the source.

Circuit Breaker:   Automatic safety switch installed in a circuit to break the flow of electricity when the current exceeds a predetermined safe amount.

Clapboard:   Exterior wood siding having one edge thicker than the other and laid so that the thick butt overlaps the edge of the board below.

Class A:   The highest fire-resistance rating issued by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for roofing. Indicates roofing is able to withstand severe exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Class B:   UL fire-resistance rating that indicates roofing material is able to withstand moderate exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Class C:   UL fire-resistance rating that indicates roofing material is able to withstand light exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

Cleanout:   Opening that provides access to a drainpipe or to a trap under a sink and that is sealed with a threaded plug.

Clear Span:   The horizontal distances between structural supports.

Cleat:   A piece of wood or iron with two projecting ends, round which ropes are fastened used to move small sea crafts.

Clerestory Window:   A window or series of windows placed in a building above the roof of other parts of the structure providing additional light and ventilation for the interior. A style of architecture usually found in churches and similar structures but also used in modern residential design.

Clock Thermostat:   A device designed to reduce energy consumption by regulating the demand on the heating or cooling system of a building.

Closed Cut Valley:   A method of valley treatment in which shingles from one side of the valley extend across the valley while shingles from the other side are trimmed 2 inches from the valley centering. The valley flashing is not exposed.

Coastal High Hazard Area:   Any areas of special flood hazard extending from offshore to the inland limit of a primary frontal dune along a open coast and any other area subject to high-velocity wave action from storms or seismic sources.

Coat:   A single layer of paint, plaster or other material.

Coating (Asphalt):   A layer of viscous asphalt applied to the base material into which granules or ground talc embedded.

Code Approved:   Accepted by either Building Code Congress International or the National Evaluation Service.

Collar:   Pre-formed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roof around the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve or lead boot.

Collar Tie:   A device used to tie together the sides of a structure to prevent bowing outward.

Colonial Architecture:   Traditional design, most commonly following the characteristics of New England Colonial homes, usually two story houses with balanced openings along the main facade, windows subdivided into small panes, shutters and dormer windows.

Column:   A vertical structural member that supports horizontal members, e.g., beams, girders, designed to transmit a load bearing material at its base.

Combination Door:   A outer door frame with an inside removable section into which a screen panel is inserted in warm weather and a glass panel in winter.

Combination Window:   An outer window frame with an inside removable section into which a screen is inserted in warm weather and a glass storm panel in winter.

Combustion Chamber:   Fireproof compartment in a boiler or furnace that contains the flame of an oil or gas burner.

Comments:   Additional information provided by the inspector.

Commercial Buildings:   Structures designed and used for business purposes.

Compliance:   The act or process of conforming to official requirements or to a desire or proposal.

Component:   A readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up the component.

Concealed Heating:   See radiant heating.

Concealed Nail Method:   Application of roll roofing in which all nails are driven into the underlying course of roofing and covered by a cemented, overlapping course. Nails are not exposed to the weather.

Concrete:   A hard, stone-like material formed by mixing sand, an aggregate, e.g., crushed stone, gravel and cement with water and allowing the mixture to harden.

Concrete Block:  Concrete compressed into a block, hardened and used as a structural masonry unit.

Condensation:   The change of water from a gaseous state to a liquid one when warm, moisture-laden air comes in contact with a cold surface.


A condominium is a structure of two or more units, the interior spaces of which are individually owned; the balance of the property (both land and building) is owned in common by the owners of the individual units. The size of each unit is measured from the interior surfaces (exclusive of paint or other finishes) of the exterior walls, floors and ceiling. The balance of the property is called the common area.