Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 5 pm


  • A/C

    An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.

  • A/C Condenser

    The outside fan unit of the Air Conditioning system. It removes the heat from the freon gas and “turns” the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.

  • A/C Disconnect

    The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C Condenser.

  • Aggregate

    A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.

  • Air space

    The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings. Normally a 1″ air gap.

  • Allowance(s)

    A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items which have not been selected and specified in the construction contract. For example, selection of tile as a flooring may require an allowance for an underlayment material, or an electrical allowance which sets aside an amount of money to be spent on electrical fixtures.

  • Amortization

    A payment plan by which a loan is reduced through monthly payments of principal and interest.

  • Anchor bolts

    Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete , or masonry floor or wall.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Annual cost of credit over the life of a loan, including interest, service charges, points, loan fees, mortgage insurance, and other items.

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  • Back Charge

    Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. Owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general contractors bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something damaged by another subcontractor, such as a tub chip or broken window.

  • Backfill

    The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.

  • Backing

    Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item, such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid wood rather than weak drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall. Carpet backing holds the pile fabric in place.

  • Backout

    Work the framing contractor does after the mechanical subcontractors (Heating-Plumbing-Electrical) finish their phase of work at the Rough (before insulation) stage to get the home ready for a municipal frame inspection. Generally, the framing contractor repairs anything disturbed by others and completes all framing necessary to pass a Rough Frame Inspection.

  • Ballast

    A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.

  • Balloon

    A loan that has a series of monthly payments with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment at the end.

  • Balloon framed wall

    Framed walls (generally over 10′ tall) that run the entire vertical length from the floor sill plate to the roof. This is done to eliminate the need for a gable end truss.

  • Balusters

    Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as ‘pickets’ or ‘spindles’.

  • Balustrade

    The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.

  • Barge

    Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.

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  • CO

    An abbreviation for “Certificate of Occupancy“. This certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy and live within the home. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.

  • Caisson

    A 10″ or 12″ diameter hole drilled into the earth and embedded into bedrock 3 – 4 feet. The structural support for a type of foundation wall, porch, patio, monopost, or other structure. Two or more “sticks” of reinforcing bars (rebar) are inserted into and run the full length of the hole and concrete is poured into the caisson hole

  • Cantilever

    An overhang. Where one floor extends beyond and over a foundation wall. For example at a fireplace location or bay window cantilever. Normally, not extending over 2 feet.

  • Cantilevered void

    Foundation void material used in unusually expansive soils conditions. This void is “trapezoid” shaped and has vertical sides of 6″ and 4″ respectively.

  • Cap

    The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.

  • Cap flashing

    The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

  • Capital

    The principal part of a loan, i.e. the original amount borrowed.

  • Capital and interest

    A repayment loan and the most conventional form of home loan. The borrower pays an amount each month to cover the amount borrowed (or capital or principal) plus the interest charged on capital.

  • Capped rate

    The mortgage interest rate will not exceed a specified value during a certain period of time, but it will fluctuate up and down below that level.

  • Casement

    Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash. May be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.

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  • Dado

    A groove cut into a board or panel intended to receive the edge of a connecting board or panel.

  • Damper

    A metal “door” placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally closed when the fireplace is not in use.

  • Dampproofing

    The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall.

  • Daylight

    The end of a pipe (the terminal end) that is not attached to anything.

  • Dead bolt

    An exterior security lock installed on exterior entry doors that can be activated only with a key or thumb-turn. Unlike a latch, which has a beveled tongue, dead bolts have square ends.

  • Dead light

    The fixed, non-operable window section of a window unit.

  • Deck, decked

    To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the floor joists, rafters, or trusses.

  • Dedicated circuit

    An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance (ie, dishwasher) or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.

  • Default

    Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).

  • De-humidistat

    A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.

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  • Earnest Money

    A sum paid to the seller to show that a potential purchaser is serious about buying.

  • Earthquake Strap

    A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house. Intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and causing a gas leak.

  • Easement

    A formal contract which allows a party to use another party’s property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.

  • Eaves

    The horizontal exterior roof overhang.

  • Egress

    A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4′ X 4′ window is the minimum size required

  • Elbow (ell)

    A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.

  • Electric lateral

    The trench or area in the yard where the electric service line (from a transformer or pedestal) is located, or the work of installing the electric service to a home.

  • Electric resistance coils

    Metal wires that heat up when electric current passes through them and are used in baseboard heaters and electric water heaters.

  • Electrical entrance package

    The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the ‘strike’ or location where the overhead or underground electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much power is used and (3) The ‘panel’ or ‘circuit breaker box ‘ (or ‘fuse box’) where the power can be shut off and where overload devices such a fuses or circuit breakers and located.

  • Electrical Rough

    Work performed by the Electrical Contractor after the plumber and heating contractor are complete with their phase of work. Normally all electrical wires, and outlet, switch, and fixture boxes are installed (before insulation).

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  • FHA strap

    Metal straps that are used to repair a bearing wall “cut-out”, and to “tie together” wall corners, splices, and bearing headers. Also, they are used to hang stairs and landings to bearing headers.

  • Face nail

    To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header or beam.

  • Faced concrete

    To finish the front and all vertical sides of a concrete porch, step(s), or patio. Normally the “face” is broom finished.

  • Facing brick

    The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall. Usually these have a finished texture.

  • Fascia

    Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.

  • Felt

    Tar paper. Installed under the roof shingles. Normally 15 lb. or 30 lb.

  • Female

    Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.

  • Ferrule

    Metal tubes used to keep roof gutters “open”. Long nails (ferrule spikes) are driven through these tubes and hold the gutters in place along the fascia of the home.

  • Field measure

    To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs, shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead of using the blueprints.

  • Finger joint

    A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings and are normally painted (instead of stained).

  • Radiation

    Energy transmitted from a heat source to the air around it. Radiators actually depend more on convection than radiation

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  • GF C I, or G F I

    Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter- an ultra sensitive plug designed to shut off all electric current. Used in bathrooms, kitchens, exterior waterproof outlets, garage outlets, and “wet areas”. Has a small reset button on the plug.

  • Gable

    The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.

  • Gang nail plate

    A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint of a truss. Sometimes called a fishplate or gussett.

  • Gate valve

    A valve that lets you completely stop—but not modulate—the flow within a pipe.

  • General Contractor

    A contractor who enters into a contract with the owner of a project for the construction of the project and who takes full responsibility for its completion, although the contractor may enter into subcontracts with others for the performance of specific parts or phases of the project.

  • Gas lateral

    The trench or area in the yard where the gas line service is located, or the work of installing the gas service to a home.

  • Girder

    A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.

  • Glazing

    The process of installing glass, which commonly is secured with glazier’s points and glazing compound.

  • Globe valve

    A valve that lets you adjust the flow of water to any rate between fully on and fully off. Also see gate valve.

  • Gloss enamel

    A finishing paint material. Forms a hard coating with maximum smoothness of surface and dries to a sheen or luster (gloss)

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  • H Clip

    Small metal clips formed like an “H” that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.

  • Hardware

    All of the “metal” fittings that go into the home when it is near completion. For example, door knobs, towel bars, handrail brackets, closet rods, house numbers, door closers, etc. The Interior Trim Carpenter installs the “hardware”.

  • Haunch

    An extension, knee like protrusion of the foundation wall that a concrete porch or patio will rest upon for support.

  • Hazard insurance

    Protection against damage caused by fire, windstorms, or other common hazards. Many lenders require borrowers to carry it in an amount at least equal to the mortgage.

  • Header

    (a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed inframing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

  • Hearth

    The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace. The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.

  • Heating load

    The amount of heating required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the winter, usually 65° F, regardless of outside temperature.

  • Heat meter

    An electrical municipal inspection of the electric meter breaker panel box.

  • Heat pump

    A mechanical device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.

  • Heat Rough

    Work performed by the Heating Contractor after the stairs and interior walls are built. This includes installing all duct work and flue pipes. Sometimes, the furnace and fireplaces are installed at this stage of construction.

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  • I-beam

    A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter I. It is used for long spans as basement beams or over wide wall openings, such as a double garage door, when wall and roof loads bear down on the opening.

  • I-joist

    Manufactured structural building component resembling the letter “I”. Used as floor joists and rafters. I-joists include two key parts: flanges and webs. The flange of the I joist may be made of laminated veneer lumber or dimensional lumber, usually formed into a 1 ½” width. The web or center of the I-joist is commonly made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Large holes can be cut in the web to accommodate duct work and plumbing waste lines. I-joists are available in lengths up to 60 feet long

  • Incandescent lamp

    A lamp employing an electrically charged metal filament that glows at white heat. A typical light bulb.

  • Index

    The interest rate or adjustment standard that determines the changes in monthly payments for an adjustable rate loan.

  • Infiltration

    The passage of air from indoors to outdoors and vice versa; term is usually associated with drafts from cracks, seams or holes in buildings.

  • Inside corner

    The point at which two walls form an internal angle, as in the corner of a room.

  • Insulating glass

    Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known as Double glass.

  • Insulation board, rigid

    A structural building board made of coarse wood or cane fiber in ½- and 25/32-inch thickness. It can be obtained in various size sheets and densities.

  • Insulation

    Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, and will reduce the rate of heat flow.

  • Interest

    The cost paid to a lender for borrowed money.

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  • J Channel

    Metal edging used on drywall to give the edge a better finished appearance when a wall is not “wrapped” Generally, basement stairway walls have drywall only on the stair side. J Channel is used on the vertical edge of the last drywall sheet

  • Jack post

    A type of structural support made of metal, which can be raised or lowered through a series of pins and a screw to meet the height required. Basically used as a replacement for an old supporting member in a building. See Monopost.

  • Jack rafter

    A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.

  • Jamb

    The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening. Includes studs as well as the frame and trim.

  • Joint

    The location between the touching surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.

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  • Keeper

    The metal latch plate in a door frame into which a doorknob plunger latches.

  • Keyless

    A plastic or porcelain light fixture that operates by a pull string. Generally found in the basement, crawl space , and attic areas.

  • Keyway

    A slot formed and poured on a footer or in a foundation wall when another wall will be installed at the slot location. This gives additional strength to the joint/meeting point.

  • Kilowatt (kw)

    One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see watt.

  • King stud

    The vertical “2 X’s” frame lumber (left and right) of a window or door opening, and runs continuously from the bottom sole plate to the top plate.

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  • Laminated shingles

    Shingles that have added dimensionality because of extra layers or tabs, giving a shake-like appearance. May also be called “architectural shingles” or “three-dimensional shingles.”

  • Laminating

    Bonding together two or more layers of materials.

  • Landing

    A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction. Normally no less than 3 ft. X 3 ft. square.

  • Lap

    To cover the surface of one shingle or roll with another.

  • Latch

    A beveled metal tongue operated by a spring-loaded knob or lever. The tongue’s bevel lets you close the door and engage the locking mechanism, if any, without using a key. Contrasts with dead bolt.

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  • Male

    Any part, such as a bolt, designed to fit into another (female) part. External threads are male.

  • Mantel

    The shelf above a fireplace opening. Also used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.

  • Manufactured wood

    A wood product such as a truss, beam, gluelam, microlam or joist which is manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued or mechanically fastened to form a larger piece. Often used to create a stronger member which may use less wood. See also Oriented Strand Board.

  • Manufacturer’s specifications

    The written installation and/or maintenance instructions which are developed by the manufacturer of a product and which may have to be followed in order to maintain the product warrantee.

  • Masonry

    Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.

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  • Nail inspection

    An inspection made by a municipal building inspector after the drywall material is hung with nails and screws (and before taping).

  • Natural finish

    A transparent finish which does not seriously alter the original color or grain of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually provided by sealers, oils, varnishes, water repellent preservatives, and other similar materials

  • NEC (National Electrical Code)

    A set of rules governing safe wiring methods. Local codes—which are backed by law—may differ from the NEC in some ways.

  • Neutral wire

    Usually color-coded white, this carries electricity from an outlet back to the service panel. Also see hot wire and ground.

  • Newel post

    The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.

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  • O C- On Center

    The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.

  • Oakum

    Loose hemp or jute fiber that’s impregnated with tar or pitch and used to caulk large seams or for packing plumbing pipe joints

  • Open hole inspection

    When an engineer (or municipal inspector) inspects the open excavation and examines the earth to determine the type of foundation (caisson, footer, wall on ground, etc.) that should be installed in the hole.

  • Oriented Strand Board or OSB

    A manufactured 4′ X 8′ wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.

  • Outrigger

    An extension of a rafter beyond the wall line. Usually a smaller member nailed to a larger rafter to form a cornice or roof overhang.

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  • Padding

    A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.

  • Pad out, pack out

    To shim out or add strips of wood to a wall or ceiling in order that the finished ceiling/wall will appear correct.

  • Paint

    A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings. Can be oil based or latex water based.

  • Pallets

    Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material. Forklifts and hand trucks are used to move these wooden platforms around.

  • Panel

    A thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door (or cabinet door), or fitted into grooves of thicker material with molded edges for decorative wall treatment.

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  • Quarry tile

    A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally 6″ X 6″ X 1/4″ thick .

  • Quarter round

    A small trim molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.

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  • Rabbet

    A rectangular longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.

  • Radiant heating

    A method of heating, usually consisting of a forced hot water system with pipes placed in the floor, wall, or ceiling. Also electrically heated panels.

  • Radon

    A naturally-occurring, heavier than air, radioactive gas common in many parts of the country. Radon gas exposure is associated with lung cancer. Mitigation measures may involve crawl space and basement venting and various forms of vapor barriers.

  • Radon system

    A ventilation system beneath the floor of a basement and/or structural wood floor and designed to fan exhaust radon gas to the outside of the home

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  • Saddle

    A small second roof built behind the back side of a fireplace chimney to divert water around the chimney. Also, the plate at the bottom of some—usually exterior—door openings. Sometimes called a threshold.

  • Sack mix

    The amount of Portland cement in a cubic yard of concrete mix. Generally, 5 or 6 sack is required in a foundation wall.

  • Sales contract

    A contract between a buyer and seller which should explain: (1) What the purchase includes, (2) What guarantees there are, (3) When the buyer can move in, (4) What the closing costs are, and (5) What recourse the parties have if the contract is not fulfilled or if the buyer cannot get a mortgage commitment at the agreed upon time.

  • Sand float finish

    Lime that is mixed with sand, resulting in a textured finish on a wall.

  • Sanitary sewer

    A sewer system designed for the collection of waste water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry drains, and is usually not designed to handle storm water.

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  • T & G, tongue and groove

    A joint made by a tongue (a rib on one edge of a board) that fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of another board to make a tight flush joint. Typically, the subfloor plywood is T & G.

  • Tab

    The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.

  • Tail beam

    A relatively short beam or joist supported in a wall on one end and by a header at the other.

  • Take off

    The material necessary to complete a job.

  • Taping

    The process of covering drywall joints with paper tape and joint compound.

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  • UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories)

    An independent testing agency that checks electrical devices and other components for possible safety hazards.

  • Undercoat

    A coating applied prior to the finishing or top coats of a paint job. It may be the first of two or the second of three coats. Sometimes called the Prime coat.

  • Underground plumbing

    The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.

  • Underlayment

    A ¼” material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under finish coverings, such as vinyl flooring, to provide a smooth, even surface. Also a secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or water-resistant, installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other roof-finishing layer.

  • Union

    A plumbing fitting that joins pipes end-to-end so they can be dismantled.

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  • Valley

    The “V” shaped area of a roof where two sloping roofs meet. Water drains off the roof at the valleys.

  • Valley flashing

    Sheet metal that lays in the “V” area of a roof valley.

  • Valuation

    An inspection carried out for the benefit of the mortgage lender to ascertain if a property is a good security for a loan.

  • Valuation fee

    Th fee paid by the prospective borrower for the lender’s inspection of the property. Normally paid upon loan application.

  • Vapor barrier

    A building product installed on exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them. Normally, polyethylene plastic sheeting is used.

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  • Wafer board

    A manufactured wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing.

  • Walk-Through

    A final inspection of a home before “Closing” to look for and document problems that need to be corrected.

  • Wall out

    When a painter pray paints the interior of a home.

  • Warping

    Any distortion in a material.

  • Warranty

    In construction there are two general types of warranties. One is provided by the manufacturer of a product such as roofing material or an appliance. The second is a warranty for the labor. For example, a roofing contract may include a 20 year material warranty and a 5 year labor warranty. Many new homebuilders provide a one year warranty. Any major issue found during the first year should be communicated to the builder immediately. Small items can be saved up and presented to the builder for correction periodically through the first year after closing.

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  • Y

    A “Y” shaped plumbing fitting.

  • Yard of concrete

    One cubic yard of concrete is 3′ X 3′ X 3′ in volume, or 27 cubic feet. One cubic yard of concrete will pour 80 square feet of 3 ½” sidewalk or basement/garage floor.

  • Yoke

    The location where a home’s water meter is sometimes installed between two copper pipes, and located in the water meter pit in the yard.

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  • Z-bar flashing

    Bent, galvanized metal flashing that’s installed above a horizontal trim board of an exterior window, door, or brick run. It prevents water from getting behind the trim/brick and into the home.

  • Zone

    The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.

  • Zone valve

    A device, usually placed near the heater or cooler, which controls the flow of water or steam to parts of the building; it is controlled by a zone thermostat.

  • Zoning

    A governmental process and specification which limits the use of a property e.g. single family use, high rise residential use, industrial use, etc. Zoning laws may limit where you can locate a structure. Also see building codes.

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