We're Building Giant Houses Again

The average single-family house built in 2012 was 2,505 square feet in size, just shy of the all-time high.

Image
Shutterstock

The Census Bureau released updated statistics this morning on new single-family housing completed within the past year, a snapshot of the latest demand for fireplaces (in 43 percent of new homes), fourth bedrooms (41 percent) and three-car garages (19 percent) in the housing construction market.

Most notably, Census has also been collecting data since 1973 on the average size of new homes in America, a number that has trended upward for decades (as, oddly, the size of the average U.S. household has actually gotten smaller). It appeared after the housing crash that the American appetite for ever-larger homes was finally waning. And this would seem a logical lesson learned from a recession when hundreds of thousands of households found themselves stuck in cavernous houses they neither needed nor could afford.

The latest data, though, suggest that we're building big again. The average single-family house completed in 2012 was 2,505 square feet in size, just shy of the all-time high. In fact, a larger share of those homes had a fourth bedroom than at any time since the Census started counting.

Perhaps we have not changed our minds after all.

Data via the Census Bureau's Characteristics of New Housing.

Top image: pics721/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.