Ordinary people's dwellings in the Middle Ages were often composed of wood. However, several were erected or rebuilt in stone or brick in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Even impoverished people resided in brick or stone dwellings during the late 17th century. They were far superior to timber buildings. A building access ramp's ideal ramp slope is 1:12, or 1 inch of rise for 12 inches of horizontal run—roughly an 8% slope, often expressed as a 4.8 degree angle. An 8% slope is a fairly gentle grade, appropriate for walking up or down.
The word "house" was used broadly to describe any structure which provided shelter for humans or their livestock. Houses came in all shapes and sizes. Some were simple shelters with only one room, while others were large institutions with many chambers for guests or employees. No matter how small or large, all houses had four common areas which served as walls: a door way, windows, and a roof.
The typical house type for most people was some form of dwelling place that included a ground floor and first floor. The ground floor usually consisted of one open area known as a hall where food was prepared and clothes were washed. Adjacent to the hall was a kitchen where meals were cooked. At the end of the hall was a door leading outside. The first floor contained two rooms: a living room and a bedroom. A staircase with no more than six steps led from the first floor to the second. Attached to the side of the house or located next to it was a barn for storing crops and a stable for keeping horses.
The Nobility of those times lived in far nicer medieval buildings and had easier lifestyles, and the fact that some of their houses are still surviving now attests to the greater quality of the construction. Noblemen's residences were built of stone, as opposed to peasants' huts, which were composed of twigs, straw, and mud. The homes of the rich and powerful tended to be larger and more luxurious than those of the poor.
The most common type of house for ordinary people was the cottage, which was usually only one room with a thatched or tile roof. These were usually only found on farms, but sometimes there would be several together forming a small village. There were also half-houses, where part of the ground floor was taken up by a shop. These were often found in market towns where merchants would want to show how wealthy they were. Larger houses consisted of apartments in blocks of rooms called "tenements". These might be rented out as separate units or perhaps even be converted into hotels today. The largest medieval houses were royal castles. These were usually made of wood with thick walls and an upper storey accessed by wooden stairs. They would have had large open fires inside for heating and cooking.
People didn't just live in houses, of course. Houses were used for storing food, keeping animals, and making things like clothes and tools. Sometimes these activities would be done in separate buildings, such as barns and mills.
The first examples of medieval cottages erected for aristocrats date back to the 13th century. They were made of wood and had few solid materials such as bricks or stone. The roofs were thatched or covered with tiles. Windows were mostly small and high up on the walls, often only accessible by ladder. Doors were usually large and required a servant to open them from within.
Inside the house, rooms were arranged around a central courtyard. Water was brought in from outside and cleaned up before being sent out through toilets located behind closed doors. Bathrooms did not exist until much later in history. When they were built, they were like small alcoves where a servant would fill a tub with hot water for his master to wash in. A wooden box held scented oils that could be spritzed onto the body.
The upper class used their houses as offices where they conducted business affairs and maintained personal records. Middle-class families lived in houses similar to those of the nobility, but less grand. Only the very poor lived in tents or hovels.
Noblemen rode horses or drove carriages. Women tended to do the cooking and cleaning at home while their husbands went to war or managed estates.
Wood and stone were often utilized by medieval builders, and timber framing remained the primary technique in many regions of England throughout the Middle Ages. Brick and tile were also used in their place when necessary. The English word "mason" comes from the French maçon, which in turn comes from the Latin term for a builder's worker, macellarius.
Medieval buildings tended to be heavy and solid, which is why they last so well today. The wood used in construction was usually oak or pine, but buildings made of straw were not uncommon either. When constructing a large structure such as a castle or cathedral, multiple teams of workers may have been employed over a period of years. They would have started with the simplest jobs, such as digging foundations, and once those were done they could move on to the more intricate work such as installing windows or carving furniture.
The most common form of home during the medieval times was the cottage or small house. These were usually built of wood, with a thatched roof. There are still some remaining examples of these today. In time, people began to build larger and more sophisticated houses, using any kind of material available including brick, stone, and even glass.
Stone age dwellings were rectangular and made of timber throughout the Neolithic period (4000 BC to 2500 BC). These houses are no longer standing, although the foundations may still be seen. Some buildings featured thatched roofs and walls made of wattle (woven wood) and daub (mud and straw). In more advanced areas people began to build with stone, using tools such as axes and knives to cut down trees and then fire to harden the wood into a stable shape. However, most villages didn't have access to stone so they built using materials available in their area including clay, grass, and sticks.
In Europe, the neolithic is divided into three stages: the Linear Pottery culture, the Meidum culture, and the Swifterik culture. The first two cultures developed along the European coast, while the third one appeared in the central part of the continent. All had similar living standards and produced similar types of pots, but they also differed in style and technique which shows that there were diverse groups behind all these settlements.
The first neolithic inhabitants of Europe were hunter-gatherers who came from outside of Europe. They traveled across the ocean and ended up in different parts of the continent because there was already human activity there when they arrived. For example, there are traces of neolithic people in Italy because early immigrants passed through that country on their way to France. After some time, some groups started to grow crops and raise livestock.