Because this type of farm combines living quarters, stalls and hay storage under one roof it is also described as an Einhaus ("single house" or "all-in-one house") and the attached farmyard as an Eindachhof ("single-roofed farmyard").
A special feature of the Low German house is its longitudinal division, also referred to as dreischiffige or "triple-aisled".
From the outset, and for a long time thereafter, people and animals were accommodated in different areas within a large room.
Gradually the living quarters were separated from the working area and animals.
This is considerably different from all-in-one farmhouses elsewhere in Germany and Europe which are built with traditional transverse divisions, as in the Ernhaus, not to mention other common farm layouts where the farm comprises several buildings with different functions, usually around a farmyard.
As the demand for comfort and status increased, one or more rooms would be heated.
The longhouse first appeared during the period of the Linear Pottery culture about 7,000 years ago and has been discovered during the course of archaeological excavations in widely differing regions across Europe, including the Ville ridge west of Cologne.
The longhouse differed from later types of house in that it had a central row of posts under the roof ridge. To start with, cattle were kept outside overnight in Hürden or pens.
Such uprights, called Ständer, were very strong and lasted several hundred years.
These posts were first used for farmhouses in northern Germany from the 13th century, and enable them to be furnished with a load-bearing loft.The prefix Niederdeutsch ("Low German") refers to the region in which they were mainly found.