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A house is a building that functions as a home, ranging from simple dwellings such as rudimentary huts of nomadic tribes and the improvised shacks in shantytowns to complex, fixed structures of wood, brick, concrete or other materials containing plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems. Houses use a range of different roofing systems to keep precipitation such as rain from getting into the dwelling space. Houses may have doors or locks to secure the dwelling space and protect its inhabitants and contents from burglars or other trespassers. Most conventional modern houses in Western cultures will contain one or more bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen or cooking area, and a living room. A house may have a separate dining room, or the eating area may be integrated into another room. Some large houses in North America have a recreation room. In traditional agriculture-oriented societies, domestic animals such as chickens or larger livestock (like cattle) may share part of the house with humans. The social unit that lives in a house is known as a household.
Most commonly, a household is a family unit of some kind, although households may also be other social groups, such as roommates or, in a rooming house, unconnected individuals. Some houses only have a dwelling space for one family or similar-sized group; larger houses called townhouses or row houses may contain numerous family dwellings in the same structure. The design and structure of houses is also subject to change as a consequence of globalization, urbanization and other social, economic, demographic, and technological factors. Various other social and cultural factors also influence the building style and patterns of domestic space. A house may be accompanied by outbuildings, such as a garage for vehicles or a shed for gardening equipment and tools. A house may have a backyard or frontyard, which serve as additional areas where inhabitants can relax or eat.
The English word house derives directly from the Old English Hus meaning "dwelling, shelter, home, house," which in turn derives from Proto-Germanic Khusan (reconstructed by etymological analysis) which is of unknown origin. The house itself gave rise to the letter 'B' through an early Proto-Semitic hieroglyphic symbol depicting a house. The symbol was called ,,bayt", ,,bet" or ,,beth" in various related languages, and became beta, the Greek letter, before it was used by the Romans.
Ideally, architects of houses design rooms to meet the needs of the people who will live in the house. Such designing, known as "interior design", has become a popular subject in universities. Feng shui, originally a Chinese method of moving houses according to such factors as rain and micro-climates, has recently expanded its scope to address the design of interior spaces, with a view to promoting harmonious effects on the people living inside the house, although no actual effect has ever been demonstrated. Feng shui can also mean the "aura" in or around a dwelling, making it comparable to the real-estate sales concept of ,,indoor-outdoor flow".
The square footage of a house in the United States reports the area of ,,living space", excluding the garage and other non-living spaces. The "square metres" figure of a house in Europe reports the area of the walls enclosing the home, and thus includes any attached garage and non-living spaces. The number of floors or levels making up the house can affect the square footage of a home.
Many houses have several large rooms with specialized functions and several very small rooms for other various reasons. These may include a living/eating area, a sleeping area, and (if suitable facilities and services exist) separate or combined washing and lavatory areas. Some larger properties may also feature rooms such as a spa room, indoor pool, indoor basketball court, and other 'non-essential' facilities. In traditional agriculture-oriented societies, domestic animals such as chickens or larger livestock (like cattle) often share part of the house with human beings. Most conventional modern houses will at least contain a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or cooking area, and a living room. A typical ,,foursquare house" (as pictured) occurred commonly in the early history of the US where they were mainly built, with a staircase in the center of the house, surrounded by four rooms, and connected to other sections of the home (including in more recent eras a garage).
A building or edifice is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, shapes and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a wide number of factors, from building materials available, to weather conditions, to land prices, ground conditions, specific uses and aesthetic reasons. To better understand the term building compare the list of nonbuilding structures.
Buildings serve several needs of society - primarily as shelter from weather, security, living space, privacy, to store belongings, and to comfortably live and work. A building as a shelter represents a physical division of the human habitat (a place of comfort and safety) and the outside (a place that at times may be harsh and harmful).
Ever since the first cave paintings, buildings have also become objects or canvasses of much artistic expression. In recent years, interest in sustainable planning and building practices has also become an intentional part of the design process of many new buildings.
The word building is both a noun and a verb: the structure itself and the act of making it. As a noun, a building is 'a structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place'; ,,there was a three-storey building on the corner"; ,,it was an imposing edifice". In the broadest interpretation a fence or wall is a building. However, the word structure is used more broadly than building including natural and man-made formations and does not necessarily have walls. Structure is more likely to be used for a fence. Sturgis' Dictionary included that ,,[building] differs from Architecture [sic] in excluding all idea of artistic treatment; and it differs from Construction [sic] in the idea of excluding scientific or highly skilful treatment." As a verb, building is the act of construction.
Structural height in technical usage is the height to the highest architectural detail on building from street-level. Depending on how they are classified, spires and masts may or may not be included in this height. Spires and masts used as antennas are not generally included. The definition of a low-rise vs. a high-rise building is a matter of debate, but generally three storeys or less is considered low-rise.
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