Construction Gibberish

It’s not complicated enough that a novice DIYer has to learn the skills, tools, techniques and best practices for what is otherwise a simple job in the hands of the All Knowing. He also has to learn the Babylonian nomenclature for the stuff he needs to do it. For instance, last year I was derailed for two days trying to find the name for a particular type of moulding I needed for the wainscot in my master bedroom renovation.

old roof cap I had the same problem trying to find the rooftop vent “thingie” for my bathroom fan. The not-too-bright helper for the GC I’d hired to rough-in my upstairs bathroom a few years ago had installed the wrong kind. It’s not called a “fan vent”. It’s called an “exhaust roof cap”. It took me an hour in Google just to find the correct name for it.

Igor may have known what it was called but not what it was for. It’s intended for a pitched roof. I have a flat roof. As a result, this was the source of three years of water leaks which were damaging my pristine walls and kept me scratchin’ and fixin’ until I sussed out what the problem was. After finding the product (a Broan #636 roof cap) it took three seconds with the literature to find “DO NOT INSTALL ON A FLAT ROOF”.

On a pitched roof, the exhaust port (on the right) is oriented “downhill” (I’m sure there’s a construction term reserved for that). What happens on a flat roof is that any storm force wind blowing into that port will pop open the lightweight damper and the rain will pour in. What I needed was one of those vents that looks like a mushroom. You know what I mean. Of course it’s not called a “mushroom vent”. It’s got its own special ConstructionSpeak nomenclature. It’s called a “flat roof jack”. It took me longer to find the name so I could buy one than it would have taken me to install it.

While waiting for it to be delivered, Brooklyn is once again being hammered by a storm this morning. An hour ago, I climbed up on the roof and stuffed three wadded-up plastic garbage bags into that port. That should, I hope, stop the leak.

In the meantime, I’m selecting paint colors for the entry and hallways.

I bought several 2oz Benjamin Moore color samples and painted them on the wall for comparison. I’ve decided on a gold-ish color to blend in with the woodwork and also not clash with the deep red and green of the dining and living rooms respectively (not to mention the pumpkin bronze of the kitchen). It’s not an exciting color but with all the strong colors I used here I’ve got to be careful about having a Barnum & Bailey house.

But none of these colors do it for me. They’re either too dark, too yellow or too brown.

To the rescue, Benjamin Moore’s online Color Viewer. A couple of the color samples interested me (#1 and #3 from the right) but I wanted to see them in a paler hue.

I entered their names, picked a sample photo and found the color I want: Lion Heart. I’ve been burned by online colors before (see the atrocious tub color in my bathroom reno) so I’ll get a quart of this first and make sure it works.

For an extra ten bucks, I could have this tool use my own photos. What a great online resource!


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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.