House

Concise Bible Dictionary:

There are but few things mentioned in scripture that throw light upon the construction of the houses in the East. Of modern eastern houses it may be said the backs of the houses are in the street. There is a door, with perhaps a lattice over it, and one or two lattices high up, with all the rest a blank wall. A house may be watched all day, and not a soul be seen, unless some one comes to the door, though all going on in the street may be seen from the lattices. The door opens into a porch or passage, which leads into an open court, but so arranged that no one can see into the court when the door is opened. The court is large, sometimes open to the sky, in which visitors are received and business transacted: some have two courts, or even three. Often there is a fountain and trees in the court. Around the court are entrances to more private rooms, where meals are served and to chambers where the inmates repose. The “parlor” where Samuel entertained Saul would be one of such rooms.
Stairs in the corner of the court lead to upper private rooms; and often there are stairs outside the house that lead to the roof. These enabled the sick man to be carried to the roof in Mark 2:44And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. (Mark 2:4), when entrance could not be obtained by the door. The roof is often made of sticks, thorn bushes, mortar and earth; which often have to be rolled to consolidate the structure after rain. A hole could easily be broken through such a roof to let down the paralytic. Other roofs were more substantial, with a parapet round them for safety. On such roofs persons retired for private conversation and for prayer (1 Sam. 9:2525And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house. (1 Samuel 9:25); Acts 10:99On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: (Acts 10:9)); and in the evening for coolness (2 Sam. 11:22And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (2 Samuel 11:2)).
The Lord speaks of the disciples publishing on the housetop what He had told them privately (Matt. 10:2727What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:27); Luke 12:33Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Luke 12:3)). This mode of proclamation may often be seen in the East when the public crier calls out from the housetop the information he has to make known.
Houses were mostly built of stone, that being plentiful and wood comparatively scarce. In Bashan there are still numbers of ancient houses, solidly built of stone, some with the ancient stone doors still on their hinges, or rather pivots, many of the houses having no inhabitant.