Where Builders Place Their Space

NAHB asked single-family builders how they distribute the finished floor space in their typical new homes. A total of 204 single-family builders across the country answered the questions, which NAHB added to its NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index survey. Figure 1 below shows the average percent distribution calculated from their answers.

The survey asked about space allocated to ten different types of rooms—plus a great room that could be a combination of several types of spaces—and allowed builders to describe any other areas in their own words. A separate question covered the space devoted to walk-in pantries and closets.

Figure 1

The survey showed that builders always designate one larger bedroom as the master—respondents said they include a master bedroom in 100 percent of homes. And while every new home also contains a kitchen area, this is sometimes combined with other space in a great-room configuration, so only 93 percent reported including a kitchen as a completely separate room. Other rooms included in more than 90 percent of new homes are a master bathroom, additional bedrooms, other bathrooms and a laundry room.

Figure 2 shows these percentages as well as how much space is allocated to each room in small, medium and large homes. The share of new homes built with separate dining rooms, separate family rooms, and walk-in pantries increases regularly as the homes get bigger. The same is not true, however, for a separate living room, great room or other finished space. Entry foyers are present in more than 90 percent of new homes with at least 2,000 square feet, but are slightly more common in these medium-sized homes than in homes with 3,000 or more square feet of space.

Figure 2

The survey shows some irregularity in the great room statistics—not surprising given the variable nature of that space. Sometimes builders reported the same space in the home as both a great room and a separate family room (in which case it is counted as both in Figure 2). But more often builders described great rooms as some combination of family room, living room, dining room and kitchen.

In addition to the average space breakdown, Figure 3 also shows the breakdown for a small home and a large home.

Figure 3

Bedrooms in total account for just under 29 percent of the floor space, irrespective of home size. On a square footage basis, the area covered by bedrooms increases from 468 square feet in the average small home (of about 1,600 square feet) to 1,080 square feet in the average large home (about 3,800 square feet). In smaller homes, the master bedroom takes up a greater share of the floor space. Apparently, this is one area of the home that builders don’t want to sacrifice for affordability.

The percentage of bathroom square footage as a share of the total area is 12.3 percent on average, with more space in a large home, less in a small home. Like bedrooms, the master suite accounts for a greater share of total bathroom space in smaller homes.

The proportion of space used for the laundry room—which is present in the vast majority of homes, irrespective their size—is 3.7 percent and varies only to a minor extent with the size of the home.

The share of space allocated to kitchen and dining rooms declines only modestly with house size. The 195 square foot kitchen accounts for 11.9 percent of the space in the small home, while the 420 square foot kitchen amounts to 11.1 percent of the large home. Similarly, the 126 square foot dining area takes up 7.8 percent of the space in the small home, while the 266 square foot dining room uses 7.0 percent in the large one.

Builders said they use a little more than 11 percent of the home for the family room in all three sizes—the small, medium and large home. The living room, on the other hand, takes up nearly 12 percent of the space in the small home, but only 7.5 percent in the large one. As a result, slightly less space is devoted to the family room than living room in the small home; but in the large home family rooms are more than 50 percent larger than living rooms .


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