Houses and Homes


Houses are buildings that people can live, eat and sleep in. They protect you from dangers and bad weather. Most houses show the lifestyles, traditions and cultures of the people who live in them. Homes and houses have different shapes and sizes . They are built of different materials that depending on the climate of the area you live in.


Building materials

Long ago, people built homes with whatever building materials that they had. In Africa and some islands of the South Pacific they used grass or leaves that grew nearby. In the south-western part of the United States the Pueblo Indians used sun-dried bricks to build their houses.

Even though today you can transport materials all over the world, it is still easier and cheaper to use the materials that are at hand . There are four basic kinds of material that are used today.

In the northern part of North America and in northern Europe wood has been the main building material for many centuries . Early settlers in America built log cabins and in Scandinavia people designed wooden houses with large beams and balconies.

Log cabin in Russia

Log cabin in Russia - copyright by Лесной Волк 


Brick is among the oldest and most popular building material . It lasts long and is easy to get. Brick is often used to build row houses . Early Dutch settlers brought bricks across the Atlantic to build their first houses.

Stone is the longest lasting of all building materials. Weather cannot destroy it so much and insects and animals cannot bore into it as they can into wood. Stone has been used for many centuries because it cannot be destroyed by fire. It has been used for all sorts of houses, from palaces to farmers' cottages

In modern buildings we use concrete instead of stone and brick. It is cheaper and can be produced almost everywhere. Concrete is a mixture of sand , broken stones, water and other materials. Cement is added to hold it together. Steel rods are often put into the concrete , to hold it together when buildings get higher.



Building a house

Before you actually build a house there a lot of things you must do first. You must have a piece of land on which your house can be built, then you should ask an architect or builder to find out if there are any restrictions or limitations on building in the area. A construction drawing of the house shows the size, order of the rooms, where doors and windows are and other details . Then you usually need a building permit to start building your house.

The foundation supports your house. Construction workers start digging holes for the footings , which support the walls of the house. They are made by pouring concrete into forms that reach down below the frost line so that the house cannot move when it freezes in winter. The area that is below the ground is called the basement or cellar. Many basements have extra rooms that are used for the house’s heating or for storage . Not all houses have basements, those in wet regions are often put on stilts .

The frame is the skeleton around which the rest of the house is built. Workers put beams into the foundation that support the outside walls. Slabs are the horizontal parts of the frame that separate the floors . When the frame is finished the walls are raised .

The roof protects the house from rain and sun. Some roofs are flat others are slanted to lead rain and snow down. They are built of different materials, depending on the climate and amount of rainfall.


Interior construction

When the outside of the house is finished you must start working on the interior . Windows, doors have to be built into the frame. Wires must be laid for electricity and power . Plumbers install the pipes through which water flows through. A new house has to be insulated in order to reduce heating costs and to save money. Most houses have central heating system. A furnace or boiler, mostly in the basement, warms up the water which then leads through pipes through the whole house. Cold water returns through the pipes and into the furnace where it is heated up again. More and more houses install air conditioning to cool down in the summer months. Finally , the walls are painted and the rooms decorated .




Culture and Lifestyle

Home styles around the world are different because of culture and tradition. Western-style houses and buildings are found all over the world. With their simple design they are slowly replacing traditional houses in the Middle East and Asia.

In big cities where there is not enough space people often live in apartments. They appear in all kinds of sizes and forms - from one-room apartments to apartments with balconies or terraces or even penthouses . Town or row houses are often found in cities . They have separate street entrances but often share the same walls.

Many suburban residents live in single-family houses with their own yards and gardens. Sometimes they are built in groups that are owned and sold by a company.. In rural areas farmhouses usually stand alone, surrounded by fields, barns and huts.

In some parts of the world people don’t always live in the same place. They move their homes constantly . The Plains Indians in America took their tepees with them when they were following buffalo herds. In Central Asia nomads live in tents which they carry with them . In other counties people live in houseboats on rivers. Mobile homes are becoming more and more popular , especially in America . They can be loaded onto a truck and towed from one place to another.


Mobile Home in America
Mobile home in America - copyright by Muffingg



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  •   amount = how much , quantity
  •   appear = to be seen
  •   at hand =available , something that exists
  •   barn = a large farm building in which you have crops or keep animal
  •   basic = main
  •   beam = a long heavy piece of wood or metal that is used to build houses
  •   bore = to make a deep hole into an object
  •   brick = a hard block of baked clay used for building walls and houses
  •   buffalo = an animal like a cow with curved horns
  •   century = a hundred years
  •   concrete = a material that you get when you mix sand, stones, water and cement together
  •   constantly = always
  •   construction drawing = an exact plan for a building or a house
  •   cottage = a small house in the country
  •   decorate = to paint the inside of a room and make it look more attractive
  •   depend =directly affected or decided by something else
  •   design = plan, make
  •   destroy =to damage completely
  •   dig = to make a hole in the earth
  •   Dutch = the people or the language of the Netherlands
  •   electricity =the power that travels through wires and cables; it gives us light and heat and runs machines
  •   entrance = a door to get in
  •   footing = the bricks and stones that are under a building and hold it to the ground
  •   foundation = same as “footing”
  •   frame = the structure and main outside parts of a building
  •   furnace = heater, oven
  •   insulated = to cover something with a material that does not let heat or electricity from getting in or out
  •   interior = inner
  •   lay –laid = put, place, install
  •   lead = guide
  •   limitation =controlling or reducing something
  •   load = put on
  •   log cabin = a small house made of logs
  •   mobile home = a house that you can pull with a car from one place to the other
  •   own = to have
  •   palace = a large , beautifully decorated house
  •   penthouse = a very expensive and comfortable apartment on the top floor of a building
  •   permit = a written statement that gives you the right to do something
  •   pipe = a tube through which water or gas can flow
  •   plumber = someone who repairs water pipes, baths, toilets etc.
  •   popular = well liked , common
  •   protect =defend, guard
  •   raise = to put up
  •   reach down = go down to
  •   replace = exchange; to use instead
  •   resident = a person who lives or stays in a certain place
  •   restriction = a rule or a law that controls what people can do
  •   row house = house that is part of a line of houses that are connected together
  •   rural = in the country
  •   separate =divide
  •   settler = someone who goes to live in a place where not many people have lived before
  •   shape = form
  •   share = here: have together
  •   size =how big something is
  •   skeleton =frame, structure of a building
  •   slab = a thick flat piece of hard material, like stone
  •   slanted =slope, at an angle
  •   steel rod = a long thin pole made of steel
  •   stilt = a pole that support a building or a house above the ground or above water
  •   storage =to keep in a special place until you need it
  •   suburban = in a suburb
  •   support = hold up, keep up
  •   surround = to be around
  •   tepee = a round tent with a pointed top, used by Native Americans
  •   though =while
  •   tow = pull
  •   truck = a large car used to carry goods (British English: lorry)
  •   wire = thin long piece of metal through which electricity passes