Home is a word that we hear daily, but what exactly is a ‘home’? In its simplest form, home is a general term for a permanent or semi-permanent domicile, a place of residence of a family, individual, or multiple families. Home is commonly used to refer an apartment, house or a building. Although, it can also mean a houseboat, mobile home, yurt, or various other portable places of shelter. Whereas, as stated by law in various countries, constitutional law relates ‘home’ as a place of refuge and shelter of an individual.
Usually, a home will provide a facility or area for a person to prepare food, sleeping, hygiene, and eating. Although, there are communities, such as children’s homes, nursing homes, and similar facilities. Meanwhile, homesteads tend to include areas for agricultural and/or domesticated animals. Furthermore, when there is a lack of a more secure location, individuals might refer to informal places or shacks, sometimes illegal, as home. On a wider scale, ‘home’ can be used to describe geographical areas as well, such as a country, city, village, town, or suburb.
Individuals have used buildings as shelter and for living in for thousands of years. Research and evidence has indicated building structures, such as longhouses and huts have been used since the late Neolithic period. The Neolithic period started in 10,200 BC, and lasted somewhere between 4500 – 2000 BC. In addition, Neolithic period is often considered to bet he final stage of the Stone Age era, leading to development of human technology with farming, and the increase of metal tools being used.
Between the Upper Paleolithic to Neolithic era, shelter drastically changed. Usually, those in the Paleolithic period did not have permanent constructed shelter. However, people in the Neolithic period often created longer lasting shelter using ‘mud bricks’, giving a plaster coated appearance. Because agriculture was becoming more popular, this also aided in the creation of more permanent structures for shelter.
For example, doorways were added to roofs, ladders being placed at either end of a structure. Roofs had beam structures for support within the structure, and platforms were laid over rough ground using skins or mats used for sleeping on.
There is evidence that settlements of stilt-houses were a common structure in certain areas, such as the Pianura Padana and Alpine regions.
As described earlier, homes are often a building that has the function of survival for humans and/or domesticated animals. These structures can range in size, from small dwellings (huts, shacks, etc.) to larger and more complex structures created from a combination of building materials, such as brick, wood, metal, and plastic with electrical systems and plumbing. A home today commonly contains at least one bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom, and living area.
In more traditional societies that were more agriculture-oriented, domesticated animals would share parts of the structure with humans, such as chickens to cattle and other livestock. Within society, units used for living in are considered a household. Households commonly refer to a type of structure that provides shelter for a family, but it can refer to individuals or social groups as well. Due to consequences of urbanization, globalization, among various other social, demographic, economic, and technological outcomes the structure and designs of shelter used as a home has changed over time. Many cultural factors will also influence the style of and patterns of domestic buildings.
For example, terraced houses are medium-density housing, a style where building structures are constructed in rows, with identical design and shares the side walls. Meanwhile, semi-detached housing structures are designed as pairs that are build beside each other or back-to-back (uncommon), while having identical designs and sharing a party wall.
Apartments (American), or flats (British) are constructed as self-contained units which takes up space in a larger building. In American English, this type of real estate can be referred to as apartment house or an apartment building. Whereas, in British English, they may be referred to as a tower block, block of flats, hire-rises, or sometimes mansion blocks, more so if there are many apartments/flats available for renting.
Within Scotland, they refer to these type of structures as block of flats, or a tenement for traditional sandstone buildings. Apartments/flats are generally rented by a tenant or by a leasehold tenure.
Homesteads are considered dwellings, typically with more land. For instance, a farm house or other types of structures associated with large amounts of land, or facilities that house domestic animals.
Types of Structures
There are various types of structures that can be considered a ‘home’, below is a list of some examples:
- Mobile Homes
- Children’s Home
- Nursing Home
- Log Cabin
Occupants of a home can be either the owner of the property, or a tenant. Including, individuals, a single family, multiple families (such as a tribe), or a household. Occupants can be part of groups, such as orphanage of kids, or residents in a nursing home.
Other examples include having a roommate.
Regarding financial arrangements where a person or persons have the ability and rights of living within a home, most common as a tenancy where the individual or family pays rent to the property owner, also known as a landlord. Although, there are multiple types of tenure.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 which was adopted in 1948: “Every person has a right to standard adequate living for the well-being and health of themselves and family, including clothing, food, medical care, housing, and other necessities”.
In 2004, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the United Nations defines a homeless household as being: “Households that do not have shelter and carry possessions with them, sleep in the streets piers or doorways.”