Can You Name These Parts of a House from a Description of Their Functions?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you a budding or wannabe architect? How well do you think you can identify the parts of a house? Take this How Stuff Works quiz to find out.

The leg bone's connected to the hip bone... oops, sorry, wrong quiz. Anyway, each component of a house, like many other structures, work together to not only form the whole dwelling but to support the remaining parts. And, although each part of a house has been specifically designed and enhanced to perform its own function as well as possible, it must also be compatible with the remainder of the structure.

According to one recent Quora discussion, a house has roughly 2,160 parts. Now, we're not going into how the commenter arrived at this answer (you can go look for yourself if you're that interested), but suffice it to say, that's a lot of parts.

Is every one of them completely necessary? Well, we would hazard a guess and say "no." You could probably do without every single board, nail, and peg, so we're not going to include those minor pieces parts in this quiz. We will, however, include the big stuff.

So, put on your hard hat and dig into this quiz.

Which part of a home provides protection from weather, sunlight, wild animals and more?

A roof is one of the most important parts of a house. It's the shelter that keeps weather and wild creatures (and creepy people) from clambering over the walls and into your living room.


Which part of the house allows you to look through the walls?

Primitive houses of yesterday didn't have any windows. The result? Dark, scary interiors that Martha Stewart definitely would not approve of.


What part of the house is much longer than it is thick, providing protection from all almost every angle?

Long, thin walls are key to home construction. They provide support for the roof and serve as a critical barrier that keeps the outside world at bay.


What part of a house helps to discharge water away from the structure?

Gutters are a system of channels intended to funnel water away from the house. If you've ever forgotten to unclog your gutters during a rainstorm, you might have found water in your basement.


Which part of a house allows heat and gases from the fireplace to be carried into the outdoors?

The chimney is a stack that carries gases and other byproducts of combustion into the outdoors. Without a chimney, an indoors fireplace would be exceedingly unpleasant, and you know, probably deadly.


What part of a house stops water from intruding through the chimney and other roof protrusions?

Flashing is a strip of metal meant to divert water away from protrusions (like chimneys) that push through the roof or walls. Improperly installed flashing is a common cause of destructive water problems.


What part of the house is attached to the walls and helps to keep out the weather?

Siding is a barrier that's attached to the walls of a house. Paired with the roof, siding helps to keep most weather outside where it belongs instead of allowing thunderstorms to sweep through your kitchen.


Which part of the house is meant to control indoors environmental conditions?

The HVAC system controls all aspects of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, thus the acronym. It integrates the furnace and air conditioner into a series of ventilation ducts that send warm and cool air throughout the structure.


Which portion of a house helps you move from one level to another level?

Not every home features more than one level. But for those that do have a basement or second floor, stairs are a necessary component that helps you walk from one level to another.


What are the overlapping components that protect the roof?

Roof shingles are a critical aspect of home construction. Affixed to the roof (and sometimes, walls) they repel rain and other weather elements.


What's the name for a window that's installed in a roof?

A skylight is a window that's installed in the roof. Skylights are a fabulous way to bring natural light into a structure … but improperly installed, they can result in serious water intrusion.


What part of a house protects the flooring in front of the fireplace?

The hearth is the portion of the floor directly in front of the fireplace. Often made of stone or brick, it protects the flooring from damage and reduces the risk of fire.


Which overhead part of a home may help insulate living spaces from extreme temperature changes?

In a home with a pitched roof, the attic is the space above the living areas, and a properly insulated attic can drastically affect temperatures in the home. Some attics are converted to living spaces, but often they are left empty because they're difficult to access.


Which roof overhang helps to increase ventilation in your home?

The soffit is the underside portion of the roof that overhangs the walls. Vented soffits (evident by holes or slats) allow for greater air circulation in the attic.


What part of a home helps to guide water into the gutters?

The drip edge is a type of metal flashing that's meant to guide water into gutters. Properly installed drip edges guide water into the gutters … not behind them.


Which part of the home provides cool air in hot and humid weather?

Air conditioners cool the air and then distribute it throughout a home. In very hot weather, central air conditioning drastically improves quality of life.


Which part of the house supports the foundation wall?

The footing of a home is the area that supports the foundation wall. The footing is usually made of reinforced concrete.


What's the part of the wall that supports other construction materials?

Wall sheathing is panels that are used to brace walls and to provide support for other materials, such as siding. Plywood is often used for the sheathing.


Which part of a house helps to keep interior temperatures comfortable?

Insulation is a vital component of house construction. In the walls and attic, fiberglass insulation with a high "R" value keeps the home cozy and comfortable in all types of weather, particularly when paired with an effective HVAC system.


Which part of a home creates important ventilation in the attic?

Gable vents placed on the ends of a home's roof make a tremendous difference in the amount of air that flows through the attic. That, in turn, makes the temperatures in the living spaces much more comfortable.


What part of a home adds a decorative touch to the top of an interior wall?

Crown molding is like a fancy baseboard, but it's for the top of your wall instead of the bottom. Crown molding may be incredibly intricate woodwork, or perhaps a prefabricated bit of plastic.


What's the name of the board that supports the roof rafters?

A ridge board built into a roof helps to support the ends of the rafters. It helps to move the load of the roof toward the walls and foundation.


What portion of a construction is meant to support the house?

A home's foundation is buried into the ground and supports the entire structure. A properly built foundation increase the integrity of the home as a whole.


What part of a house keeps precipitation from draining into the chimney?

A flue top (or chimney cap) is a piece of material that covers the top of the chimney. Without this cap, precipitation can drain directly into the chimney … something that you definitely want to avoid.


Which part of a home provides support for the subfloor?

Floor joists are the large pieces of lumber that support the subfloor. In places where the joists also support walls, the floor joists are often doubled or tripled for extra strength.


Which portion of a home provides basic support for a wall?

Wall studs are typically 2 x 4 boards that provide the basic framework for a wall. Drywall or other materials are attached to the wall studs.


Which portion of a home is meant to keep the structure from sliding off the foundation during, say, an earthquake or severe storm?

The sill plate is often made of treated lumber, and it helps to secure the home to the foundation. The fact that the wood is treated helps to protect against rotting and termites.


What's the name of a structural element that helps to protect the foundation?

Backfill is soil that's placed next to the home's foundation. It is sloped and graded to move water away from the structure.


What are the horizontal pieces of concrete that provide support for floors and ceilings?

Concrete slabs are sections of horizontal concrete often used to support floors and ceilings. Most slab homes don't have basements.


What's a name for a support beam used in many types of construction?

Girders are horizontal support beams used in many types of buildings. They are often I-beams, and sometimes connected to other girders. Together, they have incredible strength for construction purposes.


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