Dream symbols: Houses and buildings – and what they mean [with examples]

We’ve all had those dreams: Dreams about our childhood home; dreams in scary old buildings; dreams of moving into a beautiful new house; etc…

I bet you have had some dreams like that! But have you ever wondered what they mean?

This article explores the most common meanings, and gives you some pointers so you can interpret them in your own dreams. We will also consider some bible references, and how to apply the dream meaning to our lives.

The symbolic nature of dreams

Firstly, if you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Dreams as parables and Symbolic language in dreams to give you a foundation.

Secondly, remember that dreams are personal, so the meanings that I suggest may not apply to your specific dream. But please feel free to use my ideas as a springboard to thinking and praying about dreams yourself. Don’t take my ideas as gospel, but rather let them help you start to think metaphorically.

Having said that, I have found that houses and buildings are one aspect of dreams that are fairly universal in their meaning!

I will focus on houses primarily, but at the end I will suggest some meanings for other buildings so you can get the general idea of how it works in practice.

  1. Houses – familiar and unfamiliar
  2. Extensions, renovations and moving house
  3. Larger houses
  4. Church building
  5. Workplace buildings
  6. Other buildings

What does a house symbolise?

A house is actually one of the most common dream symbols, and is extremely helpful in the dream interpretation process. Often a dream takes place in a house, and so it provides the setting of the events. This can help us determine what area of our life it is about. (See Considering the context).

We normally live in a house, so a house often represents our life, or an aspect of our life. Occasionally it can represent another person (if the dream is set in their house).

A house (or building) can also symbolise a group of people. This could be something that we are involved in like a church, workplace or other organisation. In this instance it is usually represented by a bigger house, or another type of building.

Houses in the bible

The bible is full of imagery and can help us understand dream symbols. (See The bible as a dream dictionary).

The apostle Paul describes our physical (earthly) body as a tent or house:

For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

A family is sometimes describes as a ‘household’. The word translated ‘household’ in the verse below means a house or physical dwelling place. But we can see that it also refers to the people belonging to that household:

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation. Genesis 7:1

A church or Christian group, is sometimes referred to as a ‘house of God’:

You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

It is important to remember that a church (or any organisation) is the people and not the building. But, paradoxically, the building can be used in dreams to symbolise the people that meet there!!

This imagery – of a building representing a person or group of people – can be extended to any family or organisation.

Some specific examples

We will now consider some examples, to help you start to think symbolically!

The following examples were originally a number of individual posts on Facebook, which have been combined into this blog post by popular request!

To see the original series, visit my Facebook Group – a place where we share tips about interpreting dreams, and also discuss our own dreams.

A familiar house

Dreaming of an actual house we have lived in is very helpful in telling us what part of our life the dream is about.

OUR CURRENT HOUSE: This is usually about something that is happening currently in our life, or relevant to our current situation.

A CHILDHOOD HOME: I find that if we dream about a childhood home, it is generally about our character and identity – because these things were formed early on in life.

From a personal perspective: This often works out as me being my current age, but the dream is set in my childhood home. This usually means the dream is about an aspect of my character/identity which is relevant to my life now. It could be something helpful or unhelpful, depending on the context!

A FORMER HOME: Any former home that we have lived in, including a childhood home, can be about things in our character (and issues that we face) that originated from the time we lived in that house.

An unfamiliar house

It’s quite common to dream that we are in a house that is ‘supposedly’ our house, but actually isn’t. This happens because the house is representing our life, or an area of our life.

Often we ‘know’ that it is meant to be our house. But it’s worth stopping to reflect on what the house actually looked like in the dream. Was it really our house, or did it look different in the dream? (This is a useful exercise and works for many dream element, not just houses!)

It is worth stopping to reflect on what an element actually looks like in the dream. Do we ‘know’ that it is somewhere/someone, but it isn’t really? This is a BIG clue that it is symbolising something else.

In this case, or if it is just a random house/building, it is more important to note other details. These things can help us work out what area of life it represents – and why our dream is set there!

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • What type and size of house is it?
  • What is its appearance?
  • What is it made of?
  • Is there anything unusual about it?
  • Where is it located?
  • What is happening in the house?
  • How do I feel about this house?

Extensions, renovations and moving house

Our lives are in a constant state of growth and adaptation. Our dreams often act like a mirror, revealing our blind spots and helping us succeed. That’s what the dreams in this section are all about! They can encourage us, but also reveal things that need to change.

Be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. Romans 12:2 (TPT)

HAVING WORK DONE: E.g. an extension or renovation. This indicates that work is going in in our life: either we are expanding / growing in certain areas, or working on our character. Conversely, knocking part of a building down could be highlighting thoughts or activities that are no longer helpful for us.

MOVING HOUSE: These dreams can help us see how our life can change for the better (if we are moving to a nice house), or how we can avoid bad choices (if it feels negative).

DODGY FOUNDATIONS: I have sometimes dreamed that my house was sloping or crooked. I took this to indicate that some of my basic assumptions were wrong and needed rethinking.

If I have this type of dream it puts me on alert, and I keep my spiritual ears open, asking God to show me what it relates to.

These are all good dreams to pray about, so we can cooperate with the changes that God wants to bring. I have these dreams so often that I’ve become quite used to the fact that my life is a constant journey of transformation!

Larger houses

Sometimes a house can represent a group of people or organisation. If this is the case, it is usually a larger house or building. We can gain some clues about what area of our life it represents from some of the following:

  • The type of building
  • The size of building
  • The people who are in it with us

If you think about it, houses and buildings are usually made of bricks, and each brick is like a person. So a house can represent any organisation made up of people. The size of the house gives you an idea of the size of the organisation that it is representing in our dream.

Real dream example

Dream: Visiting a house in the woods

I dreamed I was visiting a large house in the midst of some trees. It was about the size of a place you might take a group for a weekend away. I was looking for a short cut to walk across to the house from the side road, but ended up going the longer way to walk up the main drive.

The dream symbols: The size of the house indicated that it was representing a reasonably sized group or ministry. In the bible, trees can represent leaders. So this house in the woods was representing a group with leaders.

It turned out to represent the ministry where I was training in dream interpretation at the time. I could relate the things that happened in the house to the real life situation.

The interpretation: The dream came at a time when I was frustrated, and felt it was taking me too long to understand dreams. The dream was telling me that I needed to persevere and work through the dream interpretation process they had taught me, and not be focused on looking for short cuts!

Other buildings

Here is a list of some buildings that I (and people I know) have dreamed of, and what they turned out to mean.

Remember, in your dream it may not mean exactly the same as it did in mine; you always need to think and pray about it yourself. But I have found it really helps to have some examples to get my mind thinking in a ‘symbolic’ way:

Church buildings

I have dreamed a lot about church buildings. This is usually symbolic, and relates to my spiritual life.

A CHURCH: Being at my current real life church is usually about what God is doing in my spiritual life at the moment.

A CHURCH I USED TO GO TO: This is often about an area of my spiritual life I should have moved on from, but haven’t quite managed to yet!

A LARGER CHURCH: This could symbolise a bigger spiritual organisation such as a family of churches; a cathedral could be a global ministry / denomination.

Extra note on churches: When a dream is about my church family itself, I find that God generally uses a different situation to symbolise it. For example, it could be set at the church leader’s house or their spouse’s house; or it could be represented by my family or a large family gathering.

Workplace buildings

Dreaming of a workplace is commonly about what we do (i.e. our ‘work’). Or it can be more generally about the way we work/operate.

CURRENT WORKPLACE: Dreaming of our current workplace could be about our actual job, but for me it has more usually been about what I am meant to be doing, or the way I am currently operating.

OLD WORK PLACE: This is usually about something I was meant to have moved on from, but haven’t, or an old habit coming back.

A LARGE OFFICE BLOCK / WORKPLACE: This would normally represent a larger business, ministry or organisation.

The same principle applies for work as it does for churches: I have found that when it is about my actual job, God often uses a different setting to represent it. This is not always the case though. Keep an open mind and consider all possibilities!

Other buildings

Here are some of the common reoccurring buildings in my dreams. I’m sure you could add your own examples!

CASTLE: A castle could be positive (if we are protected within it); the bible describes God as a safe fortress. But for me, it usually represents what we call a ‘stronghold’: something God wants to set me free from. If I have a dream like this, I start asking God to show me what it is!

HOLIDAY HOME: This is usually positive for me, representing being at rest or at peace; maybe spending time away with God; spiritual refreshment.

HOSPITAL: God has used a hospital to represent the church in a few of my dreams, as a place of healing.

POLICE STATION: Policemen have usually represented angelic help in my life, often bringing correction, a message from God, or protection. A police station could be about a similar type of thing.

PRISON: I have dreamt of being in prison, and most of us would understand what that means! It suggests needing to be set free from something, or feeling trapped/frustrated.

SCHOOL: This is usually about something God is showing or teaching me; something I am meant to be learning or understanding. The stage of school (junior, senior, university) usually indicates how new this area is in my life; whether I am just starting to learn it, or whether it is something I am maturing in.

If you actually work in one of these places, the meaning could well be be different for you – it could just be a normal setting to illustrate things that are going on in your life. (See ‘workplace dreams’ above).

Conclusion

Houses in dreams usually represent aspects of our life. Larger houses and buildings usually represent groups of people such as churches, businesses and organisations.

Here are a few closing thoughts:

  • A house or building in a dream could represent any number of things. The above ideas should give you a good starting point. 
  • I believe that only God can tell us what a symbol means in a specific dream, so you could try asking Him!
  • Consider the colour, atmosphere and context of the dream to see whether the house or building is being used in a positive or negative sense.
  • In additional to the meanings that I have shared, remember that it could mean something personal or culturally significant to you, that isn’t mentioned here.

When you figure out what a symbol means in your dream, make sure to keep a record of it somewhere, for future reference!

And most importantly – don’t give up! It takes time to learn your own personal dream language.

Have fun dreaming!

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