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Housing the Family

The following will be covered in this topic:

1) Types of Houses

2) Methods of Providing Family Shelter

What is a house?

A house is a building made for a family to live in and provide protection frorm bad weather, wild animals and thieves. It also gives a sense of well being and provides privacy.

Types of houses

There are two types of houses found in Kenya:
  • Traditional houses
  • Modern houses
  • Objective

    By the end of this lesson you should be able to identify various types of houses.

    Traditional Houses

    Traditional houses are constructed using materials such as palm leaves, grass, mud and cow dung, which are not durable. Examples of traditional houses include:

    Manyatta (Maasai hut)
    Kikuyu hut
    Borana/ Somali hut
    Giriama hut
    Luo hut

    A Manyatta

    Manyatta Hut (Maasai)

    • Oblong in shape.

    • Uses poles, sticks, grass leaves which are smeared with a plaster of
      cow dung and mud on both walls and roof.

    • The house has small openings for ventilation.

    Kikuyu hut

    Kikuyu hut

    • Circular in shape.

    • Constructed using poles, sticks and grass.

    • Walls are plastered with mud and then smeared with clay.

    Borana/Somali hut

    Borana/Somali hut

    • The Borana/Somali people are nomads and as such their houses are constructed in a way that they can easily be dismantled and moved to
      new locations.

    • Constructed using poles, sticks and grass. Long grass is neatly woven
      and tied together with strings into portions.

    • The portions are secured in an overlapping manner onto a supporting frame
      in both the roof and walls of the house.

    • These portions can easily be rolled up and secured for ventilation.

    Giriama hut

    Giriama hut

    • Cone shaped with no apparent difference between the wall and the roof.

    • Made of overlapping long grass tied using strings to a framework of poles
      and sticks.

    • Palm leaves and twigs are closely woven together to form a detachable door.

    Luo hut

    Luo hut

    • Round in shape.

    • Made of poles, sticks and grass for the roof.

    • Wall and floor are smeared with mud and cow dung and beautifully patterned.

    • There are holes on the wall for ventilation.

    • The floor is smeared with cow dung and mud.

    Improved Traditional Houses

    These are houses that are constructed by a combination of both temporary and permanent materials. Unlike traditional houses, they are partitioned.

    Modern Houses

    Modern houses are more durable as they are made using strong materials like stones, cement, bricks, metal, and concrete hence making them permanent. Examples of modern houses include:



    • A house where all rooms and facilities are constructed on the ground floor.

    • Comes in different shapes like L-shaped, U-shaped and rectangular shaped.



    • House where different areas are constructed on two or more floors
      hence occupying less ground.

    • Different floors are connected by stairs.

    Flats or Apartments

    Flats or apartments

    • Housing units where one complete house is built on top of another.

    • The compound is a common ground floor shared by all


    There are three ways of providing family shelter. These are:

    Renting a house
    Building a house
    Buying an already built house


    By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

    • Explain different ways of providing family shelter.

    • State factors to consider when providing family shelter.

    Advantages of building

    One is able to:

    • Build according to taste and specifications that meet the family
      needs and values.

    • Rent it out and generate income.

    • Have an investment for future.

    • Have a feeling of permanence and stability.

    • Use it as security for loans.

    • Alter and renovate it.

    • Choose the type of materials to use.


    • Expensive

    • If expertise is lacking the quality of work may be sub-standard.

    • It is involving and time consuming.

    Advantages of Buying a house

    • The house is available for occupation as soon as the
      transactions are complete.

    • One can choose a location that he/she likes.

    • One can select a house design that best meets his/her family requirements.

    • One can use it to secure loans.


    • Expensive if bought through mortgage.

    • If mortgage is not completely paid, the house can be repossessed.

    • A house already built may not meet all the family requirements.

    Advantages of Renting a House

    • The owner is responsible for maintenance.

    • The tenant rents a house that suits the income and family size.

    • The tenant may vacate the house at will.

    • The tenant chooses a desired location. For example, near social amenities or place of work.


    • Renting is expensive in the long run.

    • One lacks a sense of permanent land ownership.

    • The owner may decide to increase the rent.

    • One cannot modify the house to suit his/her liking.

    • Repairs may not be done on time as required.

    1.Family Size

    The house should take care of family members as well as different sexes and ages.This factor is considered for all the methods.

    An over crowded room

    Scroll to view other factors

    2. Cost

    Choose a house within your means. One that you can afford.

    3. Social Amenities

    A house should be in close proximity to social amenities.

    4. Security

    Ensure a safe locality and hazardous free zones far from factories, industries, airport and sewages for health reasons.

    5. Construction

    Quality of material used in building the house should be durable.
    Workmanship should be of high quality.

    6. Type Of Soil

    The type of soil affects the cost of building e.g. black cotton soil is most difficult to manage and hence increases the cost

    7. Drainage

    The site should be well drained to avoid flooding which leads to dampness, pests and damage to property.

    8. Orientation

    The positioning of the house in relation to the sun and direction of wind should be considered.

    9. Ownership

    Ensure you are the legal owner of plot/land house and that all legal requirements are taken care of.

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