American Dream Squeezed Between 2007 And 2009: Who Knows Why?

squeeze on american dream photo
Small vintage Las Vegas home. Image credit:VeryVintageVegas

American new-built homes have been getting smaller lately; saving energy and materials. National Association of Home Builders reports, based on recent US Census data, that: "After increasing continually for nearly three decades, the average size of single-family homes completed in the United States peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007. It was essentially flat in 2008, then dropped in 2009, so that new single-family homes were almost 100 square feet smaller in 2009 than in 2007." Equally stunning, are the following Census facts from this period.

In keeping with their slightly smaller size, new single-family homes completed in 2009 had fewer bedrooms than previously. After increasing for almost 20 years, the proportion of single-family homes with four bedrooms or more topped out at 39 percent in 2005; it was 34 percent last year. The proportion of single-family homes with three bedrooms increased from 49 percent to 53 percent between 2005 and 2009.

New single-family homes completed last year also had fewer bathrooms than previously. The proportion of homes with three or more bathrooms was 24 percent last year, a decline from the peak of 28 percent in both 2007 and 2008. The percentage of single-family homes with two bathrooms increased from 35 to 37 last year, and the percentage with 2½ bathrooms was at 31 percent for the third consecutive year. The proportion of single-family homes with 1 or 1½ bathrooms has been below 10 percent for more than a decade.

Are Americans suddenly happier to have fewer choices about where to pee - or is there just less urinary urgency in general?

Not sure if this is good news or bad, but the high regional variation of housing design and materials selection, evidenced by the same Census data, is fascinating. For example,

The Census Bureau began reporting statistics on fiber cement siding, which is relatively new to the market, in 2005. It already accounts for 24 percent of the market in the West

All of this is reminding me of my early courses in 'tavernology' which taught that a new club could only remain popular for about 2 years, wherein-after some new dive with aluminum foil covered walls and a new speaker arrangement would steal most of the market share.

Maybe the facts simply follow a greener American lifestyle propensity and I am being too cynical. What do you think?

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