New Homes: Bigger and Better

Tue, 08/08/2006 - 1:03pm
By: The Citizen

By Jeff Waddle,
President, Home Builders Association of Midwest Georgia

Houses are getting larger and amenities more abundant, according to a report on new homes released by the United States Census Bureau.

“Home builders are listening and responding to the needs of today’s consumers,” according to Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington, D.C. “Central air conditioning, more bedrooms, large garages, fireplaces and multiple stories have worked their way into the majority of homes built today.”

Between 1975 and 2005 the portion of new homes built with central air rose 43 percent. In the southern U.S. last year, 100 percent of new homes were built with central air conditioning.
Garages are getting larger. Twenty percent of new garages have space for three or more cars. An average garage door used to measure seven feet by nine feet, but has expanded to eight feet by 10 feet. Data from NAHB indicates that growth in garage size may be related to an increase in vehicle size as sport utility vehicles become more commonplace.

The percentage of homes built with four or more bedrooms has steadily risen to a high of 39 percent. However, the vast majority of new homes are still built with three bedrooms, as has been the case for the last three decades.
The use of the once common “split-level” design has mostly disappeared. Split-level homes made up less then one percent of the market share of new homes in 2005.

In 2005, 55 percent of new homes were built with two or more stories. One-story homes made up 44 percent of the market share.

The report also showed that homeowners are getting more use from their outdoor space. The proportion of homes built with patios increased to 46 percent and the percentage with porches grew to 53 percent. In contrast, deck popularity is declining in most regions of the U.S. Only 27 percent of new homes had decks in 2005. The northeastern U.S. was the exception in the deck-building area with an 18 percent growth in new homes built with decks.

There was a small growth in fireplaces in new homes. The number grew to 55 percent in 2005, up from 52 percent three decades ago.
The report also sheds light on new trends in exterior wall material. Vinyl siding is now the most-used wall exterior. According to NAHB data, vinyl siding is most popular in the northeast, where 83 percent of new homes last year were clad in the material. The use of stucco also rose, being used in 22 percent of new homes last year. Brick and wood exteriors both declined over the same period.

“Because of the high cost of labor, builders have increasingly limited the use of brick to the front of the home,” said Howard “However, it is still very popular as an exterior material in many areas.”

Warm air furnaces remain the most common way to heat a home, accounting for 67 percent of the 2005 market, down from 72 percent of the market in 1975.

The decline, according to NAHB research, is most likely because of construction practices in the southern U.S. The use of warm air furnaces fell from 82 percent of new construction to 47 percent over the last 30 years in the South. Heat pumps are found in just over half of the southern market.

Lot size has been shrinking because of the rising cost of developed lots. Census data showed a drop from a nationwide median of 10,000 square feet in 1990 to 8,500 square feet today.
For more information about housing trends, contact your local builders association or visit NAHB at HYPERLINK To sign up for NAHB’s free consumer e-newsletter for all things home, visit HYPERLINK ""

(Jeff Waddle, who is with David Weekley Homes, is 2005-’06 president of the Home Builders Association of Midwest Georgia, which serves a membership of approximately 650 builders and associate members in Fayette, Coweta, Spalding, Meriwether, Heard, Pike, Upson, Lamar, Butts and Jasper Counties. The Midwest Georgia association can be contacted by calling 770-716-7109 or at

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