Classical feng shui students learn about the four major house types within the first few days of instruction. These house s are described in broad brush strokes. Two of the four are supportive for health and relationships and two are not. Two of the four are supportive for financial luck and the other two are not. But to place too much emphasis on these four categories of house types, is like judging a book by its cover or a painting by its frame.
In the 20th century, these four house types were given catchy descriptions, translated from more non-literal Chinese terms, whereby we have one house type that is now labeled "good for people / good for money" (aka Wang Shan Wang Shui). The exact opposite house type is referred to as "Reversed," as in the reverse of the best house. Then there are the two mixed house types, with one being deemed "good for people / bad for money (Double Sitting) and the other one" good for money / bad for people "(Double Facing.)
In reality, we know that life is more complicated, and yet we all know someone who is wealthy, but unhealthy or wealthy but very unhappy. We also know of people who are strong physically and mentally, with loving family members and close friendships, but maybe chronic financial struggles.
So it is easy to assume that these four major house "personalities" cast their influence on the occupants to create these real discrepancies. In studying Xuan Kong Fei Xing, there are actually 144 different house charts, but these 144 "flying star charts" can all be grouped into the four major categories. These categories are determined based on when a house was built and what direction it is sitting or facing, so it is not like seeing a house with certain physical characteristics which would be so obvious.
One of the most frustrating things I encounter frequently is a prospective client who wants me to assist them in house hunting and they have heard about this "good for people / good for money" house and they only want to live in that house type and no others. This is a very myopic way to go house hunting since what qualifies as good Feng Shui overall is based on a lot of criteria which is not determined based solely on the house's orientation or year built. In fact, there are so many instances when a floor plan lay-out is flawed, that it seriously undercuts or over-rides the nature of the so-called best house of these four major categories.
For example, I had one client whose house was deemed this "Wang Shan Wang Shui" (good for people / good for money house type.) Meanwhile, the actual floor plan demonstrated that the bedrooms, entrance and home office were in the worst parts of the house. To backtrack a little, it should be understood that no house on the planet has all inherently positive areas. On average, there are about four of the total eight basic directional zones in any structure that are considered better or worse than the others. Here is a specific example: For a house which was built in 1985 and facing south between 160-170 degrees, the best locations (in the flying star chart) will be in the northwest, north, northeast and east sectors. The other directions (west, southwest, southeast and south) are not as inherently positive in the current times for that particular house type.
So at this point, we have not even studied the floor plan. We are just speculating about the most positive influences for that one house, being one of the 144 total flying star charts to consider.
So with this house in mind which was supposed to be so good, that client had perpetual financial problems, marital woes, problems with his children, legal issues, kidney problems for both husband and wife, as well as a serious burglary where they lost valuables totaling $ 100,000.00. So, I would not call that a "good for people / good for money" house. In contrast, I have a client who enjoys world-wide fame as an actor in TV and film and yet he lives in a "Reversed" house type, which is supposed to be "bad for people and bad for money." He has a happy home life and does quite well in his career which has spanned more than 30 years. So, how is that possible? Well, aside from destiny which over rides Feng Shui, this man happens to naturally dwell in the most positive parts of his house instead of the most negative parts. His bedroom and office and convenient back door entrance totally support his good fortune. This is why I sometimes beg my clients to provide me with a floor plan when they are house hunting. So many people get the mistaken impression that all I need is an address, to look up the year built and compass reading on the internet. Without a floor plan to study, about 80% of the information is missing or based on guesstimates.
So, now I hope I have well established that the four major house types cannot and do not predict exactly what kind of fortune or misfortune the occupants may experience. The basic house type must be collaborated with the unique floor plan, and understanding of qi flow, the impact of the immediate exterior environment and even personal compatibility with the house based on the occupants' birth data and occupation.
The lesser known fact about the four major houses styles still eludes many long time practitioners. And that important fact is that the four house types do not retain their status into perpetuity. Many practitioners assume "once a Reversed house, always a Reversed house." And they assume the same fate for the other three house types. But this is actually, technically not so. What established the four major house types to begin with is based on criteria relevant to the Period in which a house was built. Once a house surpasses its own Construction Period, it relinquishes its title as one of the four major house types.
For example, Period 5 was from 1944 through 1963. For houses built during that 20 year Era, they are referred to as Period 5 houses. However, they are no longer the Wang Shan Wang Shui, Reversed, Double Sitting or Double Facing house type that they originally were. In each 20 Year Era, there are sixteen different house types based just on orientation and then they get further grouped into the four major house types. However, after 1964, those Period 5 houses ceased to be defined by those definitions. In Period 8, which is from 2004 through 2023, we have houses built during this time frame which are correctly classified as one of the four house types, but those terms will end in 2024 when Period 9 begins. At that point in time, only Period 9 houses will qualify as one of the four major house types. Houses from all other Periods are exempt. We have 9 Periods that each last for 20 years. This means that most houses are not one of the four major house types, even though it sounds like a category that all would fall into.
I was part of a large group of practitioners who were not initially taught all the ramifications of these house classifications. Old habits die hard and it may be a long time before the teachings are standardized to the point where every classical school or individual teacher will have this more nuanced and technically correct understanding of the four major house types, their duration, and their overall influence. Until then, many people miss out on buying or leasing great houses because they have a kind of Feng Shui-tunnel vision, as if the so-called "Wang Shan Wang Shui" house is the be all-end all of house types to seek out. Not so. This might be like a person feeling they can only function and be happy in one city in the world. We know that can't possibly be true, but this is just one of many examples where people judge properties based on too little information.