Khmer House Construction

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Bet House

Bet houses, were built without shoulders to join the main rafters of the porch and the roof, both feet of the rafters of the porch and the roof are joined at the top of the main rafter of the roof near the top of the center pillars.

Keng House

Keng house, they build with two classes of roof and a lower part. They enveloped the top floor and the lower floor surrounding them by a handrail. But this Keng house laymen rare build, usually, built in the compound of pagoda for Royal monk called "Keng of monk house."

Roong House

The Roong house, or Kantaing house, is built without front or back porch, some people build them long, ten by six meters, with three main columns supporting ridgepoles However, some people build short ones, six by four meters, with two center columns.
A Kantaing house was built with short and a gently sloping roof to make the building easier. At the turn of the century it was mostly housing used by Chinese and Vietnamese, however, it became increasingly more popular amongst Cambodians. If they cut obliquely at the front and the back of the main roof carving it into the shape of an animal's mouth then it is called a "Baknok Kantaing house". Usually this type of dwelling is about ten by six meters.

Roong Duong House

Roong Duong housing, they build with a large roof and there are both the end piece of the roof at the front and the back.
There are three styles of Roong Duong house: the first gets its name from the alteration to accommodate a large foot powered rice mortar called a Kduoung mortar. The overhang at the back of these houses provides such a place.
The second style of Roong Duong house was developed for storage and an additional line of pillars was included in the original design. Hence, this kind of Roong Duong house has three lines of pillars with five compartments.
The third kind of Roong House was especially for high ranking or wealthy subjects. This was a further extension and made a much longer and larger dwelling. This was achieved by four lines of pillars, which formed five compartments.

Main characteristics

The building consists of a supporting framework, which stands on individual foundations. There are no bracing or shear walls to strengthen the structure. The roof is built before wall cladding is applied.


The load bearing piles of the building stand on single foundations. To comply with the specific conditions of the generally loamy soils, single foundations are laid in the following manner: At the bottom of a 1 metre deep excavation several wooden poles of 1.5 – 2.00 metres length are rammed into the ground and then covered with a layer of compacted stone, followed by a hewn stone or prefabricated concrete slab, which provides the base for the pile. The excavation is then filled with soil. In a modern version the single foundations are linked with concrete slabs and prefabricated pillars extending to the upper floor are used.


For each pile, a single round hardwood tree trunk, such as .(…) is used. Extending from the foundation to the roof, and in the centre as far as the roof ridge, the piles, together with the horizontal joists, form the bearing structure of the house.


Rectangular-sawn hardwood (such as …) is used for the joists. In earlier built, traditional houses these continuous elements run through the vertical piles, whereas in more modern houses joists consist of two elements running either side of the piles.


Piles, joists and rafters, on which battens are laid, are linked together to form a rigid roof truss. This construction helps to stabilise the whole structure of the house, and can be described as a rigid prism on stilts.


Given the absence of diagonal bracing or shear walls, the stability of the structure depends on the joints. In traditional houses transversal and longitudinal rigidity is achieved by passing the horizontal joists through the piles, in close proximity, one above the other. Wedges are used to lock the joists in position. Nowadays this labour intensive technique is no longer used and joists are no longer passed through the piles; instead the joists consist of two identical beams that are placed to each side of the piles, to which they are fixed by screws or nails.

Wall cladding

Differences in the design are basically dependent on the financial means of a family and the materials available. Houses of simple farmers generally have walls made of palm leaf matting, the preparation of which is labour intensive but does not rely on imported materials. The palm leaf matting is fixed directly to the structural framework. Fine bamboo struts are often used to anchor the matting. In more sophisticated houses wooden boards are used to clad the walls, aligned either horizontally or vertically. The horizontal version is fixed like weatherboarding, with the upper board overlapping the board below. Boards are butt jointed; in some cases joints are covered with a strip of bamboo.