A house is a building that is made for people to live in. It is a "permanent" building that is meant to stay standing. It is not a place to live that can be easily packed up and carried away like a tent, or moved like a caravan. If people live in the same house for more than a short stay, then they call it their "home".
Houses come in many different shapes and sizes. They may be as small as just one room, or they may have hundreds of rooms. They also come in many different shapes, and may have just one level or several different levels. A house is sometimes joined to other houses at the sides to make "row houses", but it is not part of a big building with lots of levels. That type of home is called an "apartment" or a "flat" or a "unit". One of the differences between a house and an apartment is that a house has a front door to the outside world, whereas the main door of an apartment usually opens onto a passage or landing that can be used by other people in the building.
Houses have a roof to keep off the rain and sun, and walls to keep out the wind and cold. They have window openings to let in light, and a floor. Houses of different countries look different to each other, because of different materials and different styles.
Types of houses.
Most modern houses have special areas or rooms for a person, or a family group to do the things that they need to live comfortably. A modern house has a place to cook food, a place to eat, places to sleep and a place to wash. These things are usually done in separate rooms, which are called the kitchen, the sitting room, the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the toilet (or lavatory). Many houses have a separate dining room for eating meals and a separate laundry where the clothes are washed. In some houses the toilet is in the bathroom, and in other houses it is separate. Many houses may also have a "study" or computer room and a "family room" where the children can play games and watch television.
Detached house.
Most families would like to own their own house. In some countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand many families live in a "detached house" which is separate from other buildings and surrounded by its own yard, but is close enough to town to have shops, good transport and entertainment nearby. In many other countries, including most of Europe, owning a house like this is something that only the richer families can afford, and is just a dream for most people.
Houses in very poor places.
In many very poor countries, a lot of people live crowded in houses with only one room. They often have to share a toilet with many other families, and have to do the cooking outside. The house might be made of materials that can be found nearby like mud bricks and grass or from second-hand materials like corrugated iron and cardboard boxes. In many cities there are thousands of small houses crowded together with narrow alleys between them.
A small house is often called a cottage. In England, where this word comes from, it is used to mean a house that has one main storey, with a second, lower storey of bedrooms which fit under the roof upstairs. Cottages are usually found in villages or in the countryside. They are nearly always built from material that can be found nearby. In many places the word cottage is used to mean a small old-fashioned house. In the United States the word cottage is often used to mean a small holiday home.
Semi-detached or duplex.
A semi-detached house is a building that has two houses side by side and covered over by just one big roof. Each house has a pathway to one side, leading from the front to the backyard. Semi-detached houses are very common in some cities, and can be single storey or several storeys high.
A rowhouse, which is sometimes called a "terrace house", (see the picture in the introduction) is a house that is part of a row of houses which are joined at the side walls. Many cities and towns have thousands of row houses because they were a good way to build lots of houses close together. Many row houses have two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs, with a kitchen or wash area out the back. Houses like this were built for poor factory workers and coal miners in many cities and towns.
Rowhouses are not always small. Some cities have large beautiful rowhouses like the Royal Crescent which was built 200 years ago at Bath in England and is a famous example of Georgian architecture.
In some places, the word "bungalow" is used for any house that is all on one level. The word came from India and for a long time was used for a house that is built all on one level and has a veranda where people can sit or work outdoors, but under a shady roof. A bungalow often has a hall down the middle of the house to let the breeze blow through. Bungalows are often seen in countries with hot summers, in India, South East Asia, South Africa, parts of the United States, South America, Australia and New Zealand. In regions with flooding, a bungalow is often built up on wooden "stilts" or a high basement. In the 1800s, bungalows were nearly always built of wood, but from the 1920s it became fashionable to build them of brick as well.
A farmhouse may look like a cottage, a bungalow or a mansion, but in many countries a farmhouse can look quite different to a house in a town, because, as well as having a place for people to live, it also has a place for animals. Three typical types of farmhouses are found. Many farm houses are long and have two doors. One door leads to the rooms used by the family. The other door opens into a stable for the cows, sheep and chickens. The stable part often has a loft where hay can be kept to feed the animals in the winter. Another type of farmhouse has two storeys with a big stable and storeroom underneath, with the rooms for the family on the upper floor. Another type of farmhouse has buildings such as the family house, the barn and the stable all joined together around a central courtyard. Old farmhouses of these three types can be found in many parts of Europe and Great Britain.
A mansion is a big grand house, usually with two storeys and sometimes more. A mansion often has beautiful architecture, and shows that the person for whom it was designed and built was rich. Mansions often have beautiful gardens. Sometimes a mansion does not belong to a private family, but to a town council, to a big business company, to a church or college and is a place for a person with an important job to live and to entertain guests. A mansion often has rooms which are not found in ordinary houses, such as a drawing room, a ballroom, a library and a music room. Mansions often need servants to help keep them in order and there are often special rooms where the servants do particular jobs such as cleaning the silver tableware. Well-known mansions are the White House in Washington, D.C. where the President of the United States lives and Mansion House in London where the Lord Mayor of London lives.
A palace is a house that is very grand. Palaces are some of the most famous and beautiful houses in the world.
They have often been built by people who were extremely rich, and who wanted to leave behind them a sign that their family was important. Some palaces have taken a long time to build. They have been changed and added to by different family members or changed by people from different families that have owned them over many hundreds of years.
One of the best-known palaces in the world is Buckingham Palace where the monarch of England, who is currently Queen Elizabeth II, lives. The largest palace in the world is the Louvre which was built in Paris for the Kings of France. It now holds a famous art gallery.
What are houses built from?
Houses are usually built from types of material that can easily be made or bought near the place where the house is built. Because of this, old houses in different towns and different villages look quite different to each other, even in the same country. In modern times building materials can be transported easily and this means that a builder has much more choice about the types of material to use for a house.
Mud and clay.
In many parts of the world, mud or clay are the main building materials. Clay is a type of soil that sticks together more strongly than most other types of soil. There are three main ways of building walls with mud and clay.
Houses made of timber are found wherever there are, or there has once been big forests. Timber houses are also often found in seaside towns where the sea air makes brick and stone houses feel cold and damp.
Half-timbered houses.
A well-known type of old-fashioned house is the "half-timbered" house. These are seen in the British Isles, France, and across northern Europe and the Alps. These houses date mainly from about 1200 to about 1800.
Stone houses.
In places where there is lots of stone, many houses are built of it. In many parts of the world, little cottages are built of stone. Many mansions and palaces are also built of stone.
Making modern houses.
Modern houses are often made of "pre-fabricated" parts that are partly built in a factory, and are easy to put together at the site of the building.
Many different types of materials for making houses have been developed in the 20th century.

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