A home is a permanent or partially permanent place of residence used as a dwelling place by a household, an individual, a family, or numerous families in a tribe. Also referred to as a domicile, a home is likely to be an apartment, a house, or some other type of building. In other cases, a home could be portable such as a houseboat, mobile home, or yurt. In a more general sense, a home may refer to a geographical location such as a country, city, town, suburb, or village.

A home will typically have facilities and areas specifically designated for everyday functions such as hygiene, food preparation, eating, and sleeping. There are institutions which are much larger than the conventional home and accommodate larger groups, such as a convent, children’s home, nursing home, and others. Normally, transitory accommodation like a treatment facility wouldn’t be regarded as permanent enough to be called a home, which is a more stable dwelling. A home which has facilities and land for domesticated animals and farming is called a homestead.

In situations where people don’t have access to more secure accommodation, they may have to live in often illegal, informal shacks in the type of settlements seen in shanty towns and slums. It was estimated in 2005 that about 100 million people around the world were homeless.

Buildings used as homes

Buildings used as homes may be houses or apartments and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and layouts. They could range from simple accommodations like the basic huts, prevalent among nomadic tribes to more elaborate dwellings with proper ventilation, plumbing, and electrical systems as found in urban areas.

A hut is a single room often designated for sleeping, and the dweller may have a separate building for other functions such as preparing food and hygiene. Meanwhile, a typical modern house will be comprised of a minimum of a bedroom, a bathroom, a cooking area or kitchen, and a living area. In societies that are heavily agriculture-oriented, it is not uncommon to find that domesticated animals or livestock such as chickens or cattle occupy a part of the house with the owners.

Houses may be constructed using various types of materials including mud, brick, wood, and stone. The material used in the construction of a house will depend on the raw materials and resources prevalent within and around an area. For instance, in Egypt where there are no forests, ancient Egyptians could not build their houses with wood because it was scarce. Instead, they built huts from papyrus reeds and later bricks made from mud, while the wealthier ones used stones.

While a house would typically be occupied by a household of some sort of family unit, a household could also be an individual or some other social group. Many factors may result in changes to the architectural style, structure, and design of homes, including urbanisation, globalisation, and other economic, cultural social, demographic, or technological factors.

While the word “flat” is used in British English, and “apartment” is used in American English, both terms refers to a self-contained residential unit which takes up only a part of an entire building. A building containing apartments is called an apartment building or an apartment house by speakers of American English while speakers of British English would call it a block of flats, mansion block, high-rise, or tower block.

Other types of houses include the semi-detached house where two identical houses are built such that they share a common wall, usually on one side, and less commonly, the backs of both buildings are joined. Terraced houses are identical houses built side by side with each house sharing both side walls with another house, except the first and last house in the row which would share only one wall.

Portable homes

A portable home is one that can be moved from one location to another and may be a mobile home, houseboat, or yurt. A mobile home, trailer home or caravan is constructed in a factory and then transported to its final destination where it will serve as a permanent or semi-permanent dwelling. It may be also be used as a holiday home, and is typically only moved when there are legal reasons to.

A houseboat is a boat that has been modified or designed to be used as a home. While some are mobile, others are often left tethered to land or kept stationary at a permanent spot. A rough house may be referred to as a shanty while a house on a raft or float called a ‘float house’ in America and Canada. Houseboats in Western countries are usually rented out to tourists or owned by private individuals. In certain canals on the European continent, people live in houseboats throughout the year.

A yurt is a round tent which serves as a portable dwelling for Central Asian nomads. A traditional yurt is covered with felt or skins and has ribs or poles, latticework walls of bamboo or wood, a wheel or crown, and a door frame. Now there are yurts which are built to stay permanently on a wooden platform and may be constructed using modern materials like wire rope, tarpaulin or canvas, steam-bent wooden framing or metal framing, Plexiglas dome, or radiant insulation.


Shacks are the predominant form of accommodation in high density areas with extremely high levels of poverty. A shack is similar to a hut in that it is constructed by hand using readily available resources. The difference, however, is huts are made from natural raw materials such as rocks, mud, or sticks, while shacks are constructed using repurposed waste often scavenged from refuse dumps, abandoned construction debris, and other discarded objects which are easily obtainable and useful enough to build with.

It is believed that up to a billion people worldwide may live in shacks. A slum or shanty town is a settlement where most of the dwellings are shacks. Small and densely packed, slums are susceptible to fires.

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Published on 8th June 2017

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