How Home Builders Allocate Home Spaces

Home Destination, a Minneapolis residential Realtor with RE/MAX Results, analyzes a recently released special report from the NAHB.

 Trends in new construction reveal how home builders allocate home spaces in typically residential single-family homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The go-to-place for data on characteristics of new homes, the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC), provides one level of insights. NAHB’s Special Study on SOC data goes deeper at determining how a home’s space is allocated in current new construction trends: the median size of a home built in 2012 was 2,315 square feet with an average of 2.56 bathrooms and 3.38 bedrooms.

“Every family has unique needs and deserves to tailor their home around their daily life. However, when it comes time to sell a home, sellers benefit from being aware of what the average home buyer is looking for in their next home,” states Jenna Thuening, owner of Home Destination, adding  NAHB’s survey lets us know how large the specific rooms tend to be or how much of the square footage is typically dedicated to spaces like bedrooms, baths, a living room, etc. in new home construction. 

The survey on spaces in new homes took the form of specific questions appended to the monthly survey that underpins the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released in summer 2013.

The three home size categories NAHB used are established by square home footage:

1) under 2,000 square feet

2) 2,000 to 3,000 square feet 

3) over 3,000 square footage in a home


It is interesting to see which spaces are allocated more square footage when the home itself is larger and which room generally remain unaffected. “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,” states NAHB.

The survey showed that on the average, builders are building homes that allocate space in the following manner: 


Family Rooms — 550 square feet

Great Rooms — averaging 404 square feet

Living Rooms — averaging 330 square feet

Master Bedrooms — 309 square feet

Secondary Bedrooms — account for 481 square feet of space

Kitchens — 306 square feet

Walk-in Pantry — average size is 37 square feet

Bathrooms — as a share of the total home area is 12.3 percent

Laundry Room — irrespective of a home’s size, is 3.7 percent


“Total construction spending hit an unknown level in August because the Census Bureau was unable to release new data as a result of the federal government shutdown,” according to the Association of General Contractors (AGC) of America.

“We can see the average size of particular rooms and spaces that are often included in new homes, which is great data for many in the housing industry,” Thuening states. “If you are considering a major home renovation, it helps to have an average of what [your region’s] home builders have found to be what homebuyers want. If you sell your home later, it may well be one factor that determines the strength of your home buyer pool. With positive real estate housing recovery news all around us, homebuyers are out in force to find the living spaces they want.”

NAHB states that they did not seek to define room types nor to explain what constitutes a room. With challenges to identify and count individual interior spaces since they can serve different functions, the survey sticks to traditional room types. Creative combinations of partial walls, arches, columns, cabinetry, etc., with or without various sizes of pass-throughs may define a “room.” 

With the housing trend toward more open living spaces, removing walls between rooms and substituting other architectural features for a natural flow while still designating distinct rooms within the home, has become a common type of home remodeling project. The determination and classification of rooms is left up to the builder’s interpretation in the NAHB survey as they glean how home builders allocte home spaces.


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