Chinese houses are most often made from earth and wood, with clay tiles for the roof and most framing being made from wood timbers. In places where wood is a rare commodity, earth is pounded into shapes or used to make bricks for the walls.
The very poor in China cannot afford clay for the roof of their home. Thatch and bamboo is often used in lower economic areas. While the regular citizen could build a normal home, the framing is often left to experts.
Chinese houses consist of an odd number of bays with a courtyard in the center. An even number of bays is considered bad luck, so three and five bay homes are usually the most common. In a Chinese house, there are no windows on the outside walls. The windowless walls provide both privacy from people who try to look in, and protection from burglars.
The size of the courtyard in a Chinese home is often a symbol of wealth. The larger the courtyard, the wealthier the family. Also, the number of courtyards a family home has is a good indication of how wealthy the family is. Courtyards are also a feature in many palaces and temples in China.