The ancient Khmer houses, to the ordinary eye, are similar to those houses which can be found in contemporary Cambodia. Traditionally they are aligned to "face the East for prosperity and as a mark" of respect for the sun. They were also elevated about two and a half meters above the ground, supported on stilts. The access to the house is normally via a wooden ladder. The roofing was made of similar materials which is thatched leaves or straw. The shady space underneath are used for storage and for people to relax at midday.
It is only upon closer examination that it is revealed that there are actually five distinct forms of housing, which have existed since Angkorian times. These five are known as Khmer houses, Roong houses (today called Kantaing houses), Roong Daul houses, Roong Duong houses and Bet houses. An entirely separate style of housing is used to accommodate the monks. These are referred to as Keng houses.
The Khmer House
The Khmer house style begins with the erection of four lines of pillars and crossbeams. Crucial to the structure is the king post, used to build the roof, there is a high and steeply sloped roof and a big lower gable. The high roof was meant to add to the beauty of the house: resembling the roof of a temple from a distance. There are two floors, the lower floor for receptions and the upper floor for living. They usually build this kind of house small and short, approximately four by six meters.
The Roong House or kantaing 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 Daul 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.
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, 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."