Test Your Skills With Our Construction Quiz


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Hey, you! Are you in a building right now, one with a comfortable ambient temperature? Is the floor level under your feet? Does the roof keep the water out when it rains? Have you, say, not died recently from a fire or a carbon monoxide leak? All these things, though you might take them for granted, are the hallmarks of good construction. 

It takes a lot of people and a lot of expertise to make a building safe, comfortable and durable. This includes architects and carpenters, plumbers, electricians, building inspectors and more. The methods they use to create buildings depend on factors as varied as the climate, soil type, water table, and, of course, the budget. 

Maybe you've spent some time working in construction. But even if you haven't, we suspect you've picked up a bit of knowledge here and there about the trade. Are you curious to see just much? Do you know, for example, what the purpose of a joist is? What kind of tool has a "chuck"? Or, if your house has a "cripple stud," does that mean it's faulty and needs to be removed?

Settle into your favorite room in your (hopefully well-constructed) home and take our quiz. It might get you thinking about what you want in a dream home, if you can afford to build one from scratch!

Claw, sledge and ball-peen are all types of what?

These are three common types of hammer. You're probably most familiar with the claw hammer, which is split at one end to pry nails out of boards.


The process of destroying a building is known as _______.

A building might be demolished because it is too old and unsafe for occupation. Alternatively, the owner might have a building torn down simply to rebuild on the same lot.


When a house uses solar energy, you'll usually see ______ on the roof.

Solar energy comes from photovoltaic solar panels. This is an increasingly popular option for powering homes.


Interior walls can be load-_______ or non-______.

The walls inside a house are considered "load-bearing" or "non-bearing." The former means they support the weight of the floor above them or the roof. This makes a difference when you want to knock out a wall to create a larger open space.


What is another name for a non-bearing wall?

This makes sense, when you think about it -- a curtain is used as a flimsy divider, like in fitting rooms at a clothing store. So a curtain wall in a house is just for privacy or decoration, not to support the weight of the roof.


Which direction does a wall stud run?

Wall studs are vertical pieces of lumber that are part of the wall. Even if you're not involved in construction, you've probably dealt with these when hanging pictures, a flat-screen TV or similar. Hooks for heavy loads must screwed into a stud, not into drywall.


If a stud doesn't run all the way from top to bottom of a wall, it is called a ______ stud.

Hey, is this really sensitive terminology? It's 2018, you know!


What tool has a bubble in it?

These are a bit like the scales at a doctor's office -- when the bubble of air in the clear tube is perfectly centered, the object it rests on is horizontally level. If it's off to one side or the other, you've got some corrective work to do.


"Wallboard" is another name for _______.

Drywall commonly covers the wall studs of interior walls and the joists of ceilings. It is easier to use than traditional wet plaster.


Which of these is a benefit of vinyl siding?

Vinyl siding is easy to maintain and cost-effective. However, it is not a great insulator.


This term dealing with building safety has been borrowed by the cybersecurity industry.

In building, a firewall slows the spread of a fire, just as the name indicates. In cybersecurity, it keeps blackhats from getting through to your data.


Who decides if a building is up to code?

Ultimately, this determination is made by an inspector from the city or county in which the building is located. But all parties working on a building, like an electrician or architect, have an interest in making sure that it is up to code.


Which of these would NOT be an issue related to building codes?

Building codes generally apply to safety. Whether you can keep pets, and how many, is dependent on an HOA or neighborhood association. City ordinances can come into play, too -- for example, if a pet owner is "hoarding" -- but that's not the same as a building code.


A Ground Fault Circuit ________ keeps you from an electric shock -- potentially, a life-threatening one.

This mouthful is commonly abbreivated to "GFCI." It disconnects (or "interrupts") the circuit when the flow of electricity is unbalanced, presenting a shock hazard.


Where would you find a party wall?

A party wall is one you share with a neighbor, not a roommate. It sounds festive, but many people find them irritating, especially when they don't block sound well.


A waterproof material that keeps moisture out of a house is called ______.

The origin of the term "flashing" is unknown. It is applied around joints in a building's construction, around chimneys, et cetera.


What kind of paint can help in fire prevention?

Intumescent paint expands and becomes less dense when exposed to high heat. This slows the progress of a fire.


Which of these is a main component of drywall?

Gypsum is formally called calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is also used as a fertilizer.


Siding in which an upper layer overlaps the next lower one is called ______.

Shiplap siding is commonly seen in single-family homes. It creates many vertical rows of wood, in which each board slightly overlaps the board below it.


Which of these would you use a ball-peen hammer for?

A ball-peen hammer is commonly used in metalwork. It's easily recognized by its spherical head.


"Slab," "basement" or "crawl space" are types of _______.

The word "basement" might have tipped you off that this is something under the house. The foundation is key to a safe and stable house, so architects and contractors put a lot of care into creating it.


A strong board or timber that runs parallel to the floor or ceiling and supports it is called a _____.

Joists are part of the framing process, like studs and rafters. They can be made of wood or metal.


Which of these contractors would be most likely to use grout?

Grout is to tile as mortar is to bricks. You see it between the gaps of tiles in kitchens and bathrooms.


Hydraulic cement requires what to work?

As the name indicates, it's water that causes a chemical reaction among the dry ingredients in hydraulic cement. Hydraulic cement is not very susceptible to water damage after it dries, and is therefore desirable in wet conditions.


What is another name for hydraulic cement?

Although Portland cement is durable in wet conditions, it isn't named for the famously rainy city in Oregon. It was named for its similarity to "Portland stone," found in England.


Which of these is a reason to use stucco on a wall?

Stucco is a very durable building material. But it's most often applied over plain brick or other basic, unattractive building materials because of its appealing texture. Stucco has even used in art, often in the Middle East.


Which of these building materials would you not use as flooring?

Flooring materials have gotten more diverse in recent decades, with wood laminate, concrete, bamboo and more on the shelves of housing-supply stores. But asphalt remains mostly an outdoor products, used on driveways.


What does rebar usually shore up?

Rebar is a steel bar, often with rifling around it, that shores up concrete and masonry work. It has better tensile strength (ability to bear loads that lengthen or stretch, not compress) than concrete, so the two work well together.


Which of these construction types is the oldest?

Rammed earth construction uses natural materials like soil, lime or gravel, compressed into bricks or similar, placed in a temporary frame, and tamped down. Rammed earth buildings have been found on six of the Earth's seven continents (the exception being Antarctica).


"Solar gain" affects a building's what?

"Solar gain" is passive energy -- it's heat gained from the sun without use of solar panels. Maximizing windows on the north side of a building and putting fewer on the south side uses solar gain to help heat a building in the colder months. (At least, in the northern hemisphere. In the Southern, it'd be reversed).


Which of these tools has a "chuck"?

The chuck is the "mouth" of the drill. You widen it to insert the base of a drill bit, then tighten it until it grips the drill bit firmly.


What part of the house has a "jamb"?

You don't have to work in construction to have heard the words "door jamb." These are the sides of the door, and need to be carefully constructed so there's a good fit, without excess space that can cause drafts.


What is a downside of straw-bale construction?

Straw-bale building is actually eco-friendly, low-cost, a great insulator and not susceptible to fire. However, in damp conditions, rot is a possibility -- so plans have to be made with care.


A piece of wood or plastic with a thin, tapered end, used to balance something, is called a _____.

These resemble door-stops, but are usually thinner. They're used to prop up or level something that's off-balance.


What is "grading?"

Grading comes very early in the construction process. Before anything else happens, the ground under the foundation has to be level.


What is usually the next step after grading a site?

Batter boards are guides for the lines of twine that mark the boundaries of the foundation. It is usually the next step after the site is cleared and graded.


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