Santa Fe Real Estate Glossary

Date February 4, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Author Editor


Categories Real Estate


Acequia: An irrigation ditch that runs through a yard or garden from a central water source. Traditionally a shared resource, can only be used with deeded water rights.

Adobe: The traditional building material of southwest-style houses, adobes are large rectangular bricks made of mud and straw. Once a cheap material, adobes are now expensive because of the labor involved – most “adobe” style homes are no longer made with adobe.

Alacena: A cupboard dug into an interior adobe wall. See nicho.

Arroyo: Refers to a dry riverbed that may fill with rainwater during a flashflood.

Banco: A plastered adobe bench built into the base of a wall. Many traditional-style homes have bancos, either built near the kiva fireplace, in a sitting room or outside on a verandah or a portal.

Canale: A drain spout leading from the flat-roofs of adobe homes to allow rain water to flow off the roof and protect walls from falling water.

Casita: Literally “small house,” a casita is generally used to refer to a guest house behind the main dwelling.

Corbel: A wood support that distributes weight of roof beams, often decoratively carved.

Coyote Fence: A fence formed by wiring the large branches or saplings together, generally made with aspen or cedar.

Entrada: An entryway between rooms.

Hacienda: Traditional Spanish house built in a half-circle design around a central Plaza.

Horno: A rounded outdoor oven used for cooking and baking.

Kiva Fireplace: A rounded, plastered adobe fireplace with a narrow opening built in the corner of a room. Logs are stacked upright inside.

Latillas: Juniper sapling branches arranged above Vigas to form the ceiling in an adobe home. (See Vigas.)

Lintel: An exposed beam above a window or a door – often carved with decorative designs.

Nicho: A sculpted indentation in an adobe wall, used as a shelf, and often housing small religious shrines.

Northern New Mexico-style: Pueblo-style house with a pitched tin roof.

Placita: An inner courtyard in the back of a house.

Plaza: A city center, square, or public market.

Portal: A porch or covered patio with a roof supported by vigas projecting from the houses.

Pueblo: A village or small town. In northern New Mexico, pueblo is used to refer to the villages of the Native Americans.

Pueblo-style: The classic Santa Fe home, Pueblo-style houses feature flat-roofs with protruding vigas and canales, along with earth-tone colored walls formed by adobe bricks. Today, many Pueblo-style homes are wood-frame rather than adobe, and can be two or three story while the originals were almost all single story houses.

Territorial-style: A Pueblo-style home modified with sharp-cornered walls, brick coping around the roofline, and milled woodwork details such as pedimented lintels on windows frames.

Vigas: Large exposed wooden ceiling beams that hold up the roof in an adobe home.