A big part of the American Dream for many people involves going out and building your perfect home. However, what the perfect home looks like has changed over time.
The U.S. Census Bureau provides information on different characteristics of newly built houses from the 1970s to 2012. We looked at how those characteristics have changed over the last few decades.
Houses are getting taller, with an increasing share of new houses having at least two stories. Split-level houses, while popular in the mid-twentieth century, have all but vanished:
Houses are also getting more bedrooms. The share of houses built in 2012 with at least four bedrooms reached 41%, nearing the 46% of new houses with three bedrooms:
Going along with the themes of bigger and more, in every year since 1998, a majority of new houses were built with at least two and a half bathrooms:
Basements, on the other hand, have been going out of style. Since 2002, a majority of new houses have been built with a slab-style or other foundation, without a basement or a crawlspace:
Exterior wall materials have dramatically changed over the last few decades. In 1973, 65% of newly built houses had wood or brick exteriors. In 2012, only 30% of new houses had these traditional exteriors. About a third of houses in 2012 were built with vinyl siding:
Central air conditioning has gone from being a rarity outside the South to being nearly ubiquitous:
Along those lines, heat pumps, which can double as heating and air conditioning systems, have become somewhat more common in recent years, although warm-air furnaces are still the most common method of heating a house:
Fireplaces rose in popularity throughout the 1980s, with about two-thirds of new houses built in 1990 having at least one. Since 2010 however, less than half of newly built houses come with this amenity:
All these bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplaces, and air conditioning units have more and more space to fit into. Aside from a short dip from 2007-2009 in the wake of the housing bubble and financial crisis, houses have been getting bigger since the 1970s:
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