GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Real Estate News

August 20, 2012

Basic Home Construction Vocabulary

Syndicated — One of the smartest things residential architects have done in recent years is to stop talking to their clients like architects. We've gotten a lot better at conversing like regular people instead of like college professors.

Even so, we sometimes lapse into saying silly things like:

"Communicative inheritance, remembered as the true conveyance of cultural integrity, fosters an exchange of the sacred geometrical building blocks."

Supposedly, that's about "the future of residential architecture." Mmm-hmm. (If you have any idea what that means, please let me know).

I don't relate well to that kind of "archi-speak," and I bet you don't either. I do relate to quotes like this one:

"In the same way that music inspires us to certain feelings, space can do the same thing ...."

That's a simple truth from Sarah Susanka, author of "The Not So Big House" books. Refreshing, stimulating and understandable. Thanks, Sarah.

The "language" of architecture - especially when we're talking about home design - doesn't have to be difficult to understand; after all, if we're not communicating clearly, how do we know when our designs are successful?

There are some things that can't be simplified, however. The pieces and parts of a building have names, and we'll all communicate better if we use the same terms to refer to them.

Some are a little arcane to be sure, but at the other end of the scale, you and I are both confused when you say you don't like that "thingy" on the roof.

So while I promise to do all I can to talk (and write) in more or less plain English, may I ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, to meet me halfway? If I show you a few proper terms for some basic house parts will you try to use them now and then? Just a few, really, and they're pretty easy (plus, there are pictures).

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