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Home Building - The Parts Of Your Home

Throughout the Home Building process you will need to be familiar with the various parts of the home.
As a broad overview, we have broken the elements into eight categories as follows:
Let's take a look at each one of these categories and see what specific elements may be included in each.


This is pretty self-evident. It’s the land your home will sit upon.

Flat Work

This part includes all the flat concrete work in your home including slab, basement floor, walks, driveway, patio, etc.


The structure of your home is an extremely important "part" of the home. It's what makes the home stand up! The structure carries the weight of the home to its supporting element - the ground.

It is convenient to think of these structural "parts" in the order in which they support the load of the house. This is also the order in which they are constructed - from the bottom up. So learning them in this order helps you start to think in terms of the construction sequence


The following is a brief description of what is included in each of these parts of the structure of your home.
The Footings are where the house meets the ground. Everything is supported by the footings.

Footings (or footer) may be poured concrete, caisson piers, gravel, or even a turned-down portion of a slab.

Which one you would use is determined by the area you live in, the soils conditions, local building code requirements, and by the recommendations of your architect or structural engineer.
The Foundation consists of the foundation walls (sometimes called “stem” walls) and other vertical elements needed to support the floor (piers and steel columns).

Foundation walls may be formed concrete, treated wood, masonry (brick or concrete block) or nonexistent - in the case of slab construction, where the walls go up directly on top of thickened portions of the slab.
Floor systems are either wood or concrete. In residential construction, concrete floors are slab-on-grade (concrete poured on the ground).

You will usually use this type of floor system for the garage and basement, or for the main floor in southern areas where slab-on-grade is feasible for the first floor.
For the rest of us, the wood floor is the standard. The wood floor consists of the supporting members - beams and joists - and the flooring material, usually a plywood product.

Typically, there is a beam supporting the floor joists. The beam is supported by the foundation walls and intermittent piers or posts (the latter must have their own footing). Beams are made of a variety of materials including wood and steel.
The Walls divide the interior space into rooms. They may support a load from above (load-bearing) or simply their own weight (partition wall).

Ceilings are supported by the walls below or by a ceiling beam.The ceiling does not actually support a vertical load. It is included in the load bearing elements of the home because it does support the rather significant weight of the drywall attached to it.
The Roof Structure will either be “stick built”, trussed, or a combination of the two.

The weight of the roof, with the wood members, the plywood decking, and the roofing shingles, is significant.

All of this weight must be carried down through the walls, floor, foundation walls, and footings to the ground.


The Plumbing, Electrical, and Mechanical - heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) - are the three major systems of the home. Included within the electrical system would be the security, communication, and entertainment systems for your home.
The Enclosure is a category we have included to hold those elements which form the surfaces or as we sometimes say, the “skin” of the home. These would include the drywall; windows and door exterior sheathing, siding, and veneer; and roofing shingles.

You could even include the flooring in this category. There is a gray area here, because some of these items also impart structural integrity to their underlying structural system, i.e. the OSB (oriented strand board) sheathing applied to the exterior walls stiffens them.
Trim and Finishes
This part contains all of the interior trim (base mould, casing, crown mould, chair rail, etc.), exterior trim (shingle mould, skirt board, corner stiles, shutters, etc.), ceiling treatment, carpet and tile, paint and wallpaper, and so forth.
Fixtures and Equipment
Here are your appliances, cabinets, hardware (door, window, and bath), mirrors, fireplace, garage door opener, etc.
Outdoor Elements
This category includes all the outdoor elements not included elsewhere. This may include the sprinkler system, landscaping, decks, and so forth.

Please note that the placement of some items is somewhat arbitrary. For example, “patios” could be placed in “Flat Work” or "Outdoor Elements!"The idea is not to legalistically categorize very item in your home, but to understand the broad categories of elements and how they all work together to form the whole!
As you can imagine, each of the "Parts of Your Home" listed above is but a "box" into which we will put dozens of related "parts" as we get deeper and deeper into this wonderful journey - the journey of Building Your Own Home!