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A Brief Look At Types Of Houses

Aug 17, 2007
So you want a new house! Then, why not get one?

You could buy it, but it's more fun to build it. One of woman's oldest problems has been how to keep a roof over her family.

Let Us Take a Quick Look at How the Problem Has Been Solved in Other Times and Places

We have no intimation that Adam and Eve had any kind of structure in the Garden of Eden that they used for a home, and in a perfect climate a house might not be necessary. But in this tempestuous world with its great variety of inclement weather, a family would be pretty much out in the cold without some kind of shelter.

Although caves are said to have been the earliest dwellings, they certainly were not very comfortable at best aside from the fact that they were also rather scarce.

The earliest constructed dwellings doubtless consisted of branches or pieces of bark placed at the base of a large tree, thus enclosing a living area partially protected against wind and rain. This was later elaborated into a fairly satisfactory place in which to live. The word "rooftree" still persists in our language, indicating an early relation between trees and houses.

Bamboo huts with palm leaf roofs are widely used in many parts of the world, and people are very happy with them, but they are not yet the accepted dwelling in this country. If the cost of construction and the tax rate go much higher, we may have to find cheaper ways of building, even here.

The hogans, made of crooked logs and clay by the Navahos in Arizona and Utah, are really very comfortable on windy and cold wintry nights, but for everyday living some people might complain of the inadequacy of the storage space, and the lack of a picture window. (You know there is just one room, and the only light and air come through a hole in the center of the roof.)

One early type of construction, which is still used in many places, is called "daub and wattle" and consists of setting sticks and poles in the ground, tying twigs and branches to them, and plastering both sides with a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. The roof was made of grass or leaf thatch, or cedar bark. This made a surprisingly good, permanent building. A little patching was sometimes necessary after a heavy, driving rain, but if kept in repair these buildings last a long time. Sometimes they were built on a foundation of stones, which kept moisture from soaking up from the earth into the walls, and made a much better building.

The sod shanties of the early days of the prairie settlements served their purpose well, until better houses could be built. The modern adobe house is a very satisfactory development from this type of construction.

The Western part of America could hardly have been settled without something like the log cabin, which was quickly and easily built, with materials readily available. A sharp axe was the only tool really needed to put up a good building.

Where people are constantly on the move seeking pasture for their flocks or fresh hunting grounds, portable dwellings have been developed. The teepees of the Indians and the mohair tents of the Arabs are perhaps the best known of this type of dwelling. The American trailer house is the latest development in this long line of portable living units.

A small tribe in the Malay Peninsula lives without building houses of any kind. They just wander through the tropical forest like a herd of deer, sleeping on the leaves under a friendly tree and finding their breakfast where they can, from the fruit, flowers, roots, birds, animals, and insects of the jungle.

They do not have history or literature, music or art, science or handicraft. Their life is completely barren of even the simplest elements of culture as we know it. Someone might add that they probably do not have ulcers, either. Let's not have a stampede to join them.
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