Robert Heinlein wrote a story, “And He Built A Crooked House,” about SFnal architects. In it one of the laymen says that, broadly speaking, a house is a device to keep the rain off. And this is true. If the house has no roof, it’s not a house, it’s a sheepfold. The most basic of houses is four walls and a roof:
This, a shepherd’s hut, is made of stones laid dry. It would be highly unsatisfactory if you had to live in it for any time — drafty (until you plaster the outside), and in constant need of maintenance otherwise the roof falls in. But it does keep out the rain! Plus, there’s a careful gap at the apex of the roof, laid over with large flat stones, so that smoke can seep out. Tolerable, but you can see how a roof like this would make for a vast improvement:
These are modern replicas of Roman terra cotta roof tiles. There are two kinds of tile in this photo, the flat ones and then the arched ones that cover the joins between the flat tiles. But there are many other tile styles, depending on local custom or conditions. Fired terra-cotta tiles truly last forever — there are roof tiles older than Christianity in museums across Europe. When they break, you can use the pieces to chink your stone walls before you plaster and stucco. Tiles were the preferred roof material except in areas like northern Europe where you could get slate. They’re less buggy and flammable than thatch. Only recently, with the invention of corrugated metal, have we been able to do it cheaper and better, and now of course there are many modern refinements. The one in this picture is especially fun. As you can see it’s an ordinary modern house with a tile roof. But, to allow more light into the window directly below, there’s a section of clear plastic let into the tile roof. The plastic is, however, shaped like roof tiles. Notice also the modern use of a gutter at the roof edge.
So, you see how it works. You build your house walls out of stone, or timber plus whatever, as in the last blog post. You go as high as you need to, working timbers in if you want to have a second or even third story. Also put in the window and the door openings, because it’s horribly difficult to remodel a stone house. Then you erect a framework for the roof. Houses in northern climates have steeper roofs to shed snow, so you consult local knowledge for the right way. Then, tiles. Plaster it inside and out and you have yourself a house that will stand (with upkeep) for thousands of years. This is the main house recipe (except for things like sod huts) that everyone preferred until the invention of structural steel.