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Houses in Fishpool Street, , England
Houses in Fishpool Street, St Albans, England

For other meanings of the word "house", see House (disambiguation).

A house in its most general sense is a human-built dwelling with enclosing walls and a roof. It provides shelter against precipitation, wind, heat, cold and intruding humans and animals. When occupied as a routine dwelling for humans, a house is called a home (though animals may often live in the house as well, both domestic pets and "unauthorised" animals such as mice living in the walls). People may be away from home most of the day for work and recreation, but typically are home at least for sleeping.

A house generally has at least one entrance, usually in the form of a door or a portal, and may have any number of windows or none at all.


Types of house

See also list of house types.

There are three basic house types:

  • houses standing on their own (detached house houses)
  • houses attached to one other house (semi-detached houses)
  • houses attached to two other houses, possibly in a row (terraced (GB) or rowhouse (USA) houses).

In Britain terraced or semi-detached houses are the most common type of accommodation, with 27% of all British people living in a terraced house and 32% in semi-detached houses (2002). In the USA in 2000, 61.4% of people lived in detached houses and 5.6% in semi-detached houses, the rest living in rowhouses or apartments, except 7% living in mobile homes.

An interesting example of a modern genre of housing is the so called "Cheese House" designed by leading UK architects Marshman Warren Taylor; this was developed for the mass-middle-class market of the 1970's housing boom.

A treehouse is built in one or more trees; though its most common use is a fort or playhouse for children, it is increasingly commonly used as a house for adults.

Inside the House

Houses consist of many specific designated rooms. Each house will at least contain a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and a living room. These rooms should be designed to meet the needs of the people who live in the house. This designing is known as interior design and it is a popular subject in universities. In Chinese, Feng shui is a method of designing house interiors so they can give harmonious effects to the people living inside the house.


Forms of shelter simpler than a house include dugouts, tents (see also camp), campers, huts , roofs without walls, or a structure with roof and partial walls, such as often at a bus stop (see picture there), and a gazebo.


Popular modern house construction techniques include light-frame construction in areas with access to supplies of wood, and adobe or sometimes rammed-earth construction in arid regions with scarce wood resources.

Alternative building structures have recently gained (or regained) popularity in recent years. Examples of these are cordwood construction, straw bale construction , and geodesic domes.

Animal houses

Humans often build houses for domestic or wild animals, often resembling smaller versions of human domiciles. Familiar animal houses built by humans include bird houses and dog houses , while domiciles for agricultural animals are more often called barns.

However, Human interest in building houses for animals does not stop at the domestic pet. Bird houses, Bat Houses, Nesting sites for wild ducks, and more.

Usage in language

As a verb, to house (pronounced "howz") is to provide a routine locale for an object, a person or an organization. Historic or artistic artifacts, for example, are said to be housed in museums. A business may be housed in a storefront, or a family may be housed in an apartment or a house. A collection of domiciles, either for persons, for organizations, for animals or for objects, is often called housing. An individual person or a single object might also find housing in an appropriate domicile.

In English the word "house" on its own usually refers to a dwelling for one family, or for more than one family living together, sharing the house. In other languages the translation for "house" often covers other types of building such as tower blocks or commercial property: in German, for example, a "Haus" can also refer to a hotel or a block of flats.

In English, the word "house" can be used in combination with other words to describe buildings other than residential dwellings, such as an opera house, a "monkey house" (a building for several cages) in a zoo, etc. A "madhouse" is a disparaging term for a mental hospital or insane asylum (also see House (disambiguation) for more.) The White House also has only a secondary use as a dwelling.

A house is also called a home, but a house is not a home. Home has a more abstract and poetic meaning.

The "home plate" is a part of the baseball game.


The house is an exceedingly rare charge in heraldry.

See also



External link

Last updated: 08-28-2005 21:01:28
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